From nude model to TV personality: Dale Madison now looks 0) to the soaps
Dale Madison's goals in life are these: To be a nude model, a TV personality and a soap star.
So far, he's two for three.
"After I get a job on a soap," he says, chuckling, "I can retire."
In the meantime, Mr. Madison is content to help the likes of soap diva Susan Lucci and exercise guru Richard Simmons sell their wares on the QVC cable shopping network.
"I've sold everything from frying pans to fur coats," says the 34-year-old host, who grew up in Baltimore.
After a year of working the 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. graveyard shift, he has graduated to the more prestigious noontime fashion slot. He doesn't see his work as kitschy; he sees it as the future.
"We're where shopping by catalog used to be," he says.
Mr. Madison, who is also an actor and storyteller, has merchandising interests of his own. For the last year, he has been creating elaborate African-American dolls, now carried in stores from Baltimore to Houston.
He began the business as a fluke, after sewing a doll for a Christmas benefit that required one toy as admission.
"By the end of the night, I had four or five orders," he says. "I had to stop myself and say, 'Is this something I want to do?' "
One thing he may not be able to do again is model sans attire for art students.
"That," he says, patting his stomach, "was 20 or 30 pounds ago."
Val Smalkin hears music in her dreams.
Sweet lullabies and sambas sung by creatures beneath the sea.
Now others can listen, too.
After six years of hard work -- and several nights when inspiration came at 2 a.m. -- she has made music out of the storybook adventures of Maryland's beloved crustacean, Chadwick the Crab. On her first cassette, "Chadwick Sings: A Little Bay Music," Ms. Smalkin has written the music and lyrics to 13 songs -- assuming the voices of an oyster, an egret and even a jellyfish, characters created by author Priscilla Cummings.
When Ms. Smalkin began the project, she would sit at the piano in her Monkton home cupping her hand like a crab. Her children, Fred, 10, and Kate, 7, let her know how she was doing.
"My children are always the first critics," says Ms. Smalkin, 42. "But they have that tendency, like all children, to go, 'Oh, Mom.' "
The tape doesn't represent her first foray into music. A flutist and pianist, she abandoned a professional music career in the early '70s after playing in too many seedy bars. After a successful career as a lawyer -- during which she met her husband, U.S. District Judge Frederic Smalkin -- she began Val & Pam KinderSingers, an entertainment group for children.
Youngsters, she says, have turned out to be the ideal audience.
"They like to sing at 10 in the morning," she says. "They're sober. And they don't smoke cigarettes."