Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Help Me Howard: Trashing Teeth
South Florida is well known for its unique fashion, but one model says a designer went a bit too far with her outfit and she's got the chipped teeth to prove it. Here's Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser and this fashion faux pas.
WSVN -- Belaxis Buil is no run-of-the-mill runway model. She is a performance artist, and her body is her canvas.
Belaxis Buil: "What's the best part? That I am, I'm sharing myself with the public."
Some of her work is unusual, like the show where a South Florida fashion designer wanted her to wear something a little trashy.
Belaxis Buil: "All I know is that he is someone that does green art. He works with recycled materials and then he points at what I was wearing, and it's a metal garbage can. Exactly what Oscar the Grouch use to live in on Sesame Street, a garbage can."
That's right, the designer wanted her to wear a trash can.
Belaxis Buil: "So, yeah, it was a little surprising to me when I saw it, and, but you know, it's the artist's vision. You don't want to disrespect."
Turns out, she should have disrespected him.
Belaxis Buil: "So, the designer starts to put, you know, the can on top of my wrists. He's holding it. It's about yay big cause I'm, you know like standing up. I'm like, does he really think that I can do this? And as I'm saying that, he lets go, and the can hits me right on the tooth."
Belaxis says the can chipped two of her teeth.
Belaxis Buil: "And my first initial reaction was, uhh. I freaked out, and I held my teeth, and I remember that I swallowed, and I swallowed a little piece of tooth."
But, Belaxis is a professional, and she did the show after the fashion designer made a promise.
Belaxis Buil: "He's like, don't worry, I will call my dentist, and we'll get it taken care of."
But, when the lights dimmed, and the next day came, Belaxis says the fashion designer tried to disappear.
Belaxis Buil: "He didn't call me back, and I kept calling, and I kept calling."
Finally, he did return her calls-- to chew her out.
Belaxis Buil: "To tell me, 'You are making me feel very uncomfortable. I don't ever want to work with you again. You're lying. You probably had a cracked tooth.'"
When the designer refused to pay, Belaxis found a dentist who charged her $190 to bond her two broken teeth, but with the bill came a frightening warning.
Belaxis Buil: "I don't know what kind of trauma and what kind of nerve damage you could or could not have. The probabilities of you losing that tooth in a year or five years, 10 years, or 20 years, three months down the line could happen."
Belaxis doesn't have dental insurance and worries about what it would do to her career if one fell out in a year or two.
Belaxis Buil: "I have to be on film. I have to go to auditions, so what am I suppose to do if I can't go to an audition?"
Well, Howard, Belaxis agreed to wear the garbage can, but the designer trashed her teeth, so who is responsible here?
Howard Finkelstein: "If the designer dropped the can, allowing it to hit Belaxis, then legally he is negligent and has to repair her teeth, but if she accepts the $190, and a year from now the tooth falls out, she would have to pay those costs."
After several calls, the fashion designer finally talked to us. He says the trash can was his design, but that Belaxis put it on herself. As for payment for the tooth damage, he said, 'She has talk to my lawyer.' Howard says that sounds like good advice for Belaxis.
Howard Finkelstein: "If Belaxis sues the designer in court and wins, not only will she get the $190, if she can prove it's likely the tooth may suffer further damage, she will get the money to treat that as well."
With the designer armed with an attorney, Belaxis says that's the model she will have to follow.
Belaxis Buil: "I need to take care of myself, so I need an attorney to pursue this."
And I always tell Howard, let's not encourage people to sue. In this case, it may be the only way for Belaxis to protect herself. However, if the designer had paid for her dentist the next day, he wouldn't be facing a lawsuit in the coming days. Sometimes it's best to pay a little to avoid paying a lot.
One man's trash, another man's troubles. Let us sink our teeth into it, cause we have that can-do attitude.