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Ex-area man gets paid to girl-watch

| Saturday, May 29, 2004

He works for one of the country's most powerful and richest men, has an office overlooking New York City's trendiest neighborhood and jet-sets across the country in search of beautiful women.

It's an exciting, non-stop lifestyle, and former Charleroi resident Duane Gazi worked long and hard for his success.

Gazi, 38, is director of scouting and development for Trump Models Management, a New York based agency owned by Donald Trump. His office is at 91 Fifth Ave., surrounded by such famous boutiques as Gucci and other top designers.

Long before he became known as a top model scout among the country's largest modeling firms, Gazi was just another comic book collecting kid from a small town.

But he had big aspirations even at a young age.

"When I was 11, I told my mother I wanted to work for Ford models as an agent," Gazi said.

Gazi grew up attending Charleroi schools and living in Charleroi, Fallowfield Township, Roscoe and Stockdale. During his high school years, his family moved to Port Allegheny, where he graduated.

He went to Edinboro University for two years, majoring in English and theatre.

In 1985, an invitation by a cousin to go to Washington, D.C., ultimately changed his life.

While there, he attended several fashion shows and eventually started recruiting and casting area models for shows.

He started earning profits for his scouting talents.

"My career escalated from there," he said.

It wasn't long after that he attended a casting party for Ford Models in 1991, where he met company president Katie Ford.

The encounter again changed his life. In 1992, he interviewed with Eileen Ford, and won the job of director of style and development for Ford Models' New York City agency.

His career took him to other prestigious modeling firms such as Elite and Wilhelmenia before he landed his current position as director of scouting and development for Trump Model Management, an agency Trump opened five years ago.

Gazi has met Donald Trump several times.

"He's a very nice man, but is very busy," Gazi said of Trump, now famously known for his new reality television show, "The Apprentice."

As a modeling scout, Gazi travels around the world searching for the next top model, or the face that a client is looking for.

Gazi said most people would be surprised to know how much hard work goes into putting a model on the cover of a magazine.

When he's not on the telephone, setting up bookings or checking his 200-plus e-mails each day, Gazi is going from meeting to meeting all day.

Gazi works with modeling agencies all around the globe and travels to countries to meet the prospective models.

"It's a very high-stress and cut-throat business," Gazi said. "You have to be on the go and on top of the business at all times."

Trump Model Management has clients such as Lisa Cant, a model currently gracing the cover of Italian Vogue, Tatjana Patitz and Isabella Rosalini, to name a few.

Gazi said his success largely comes from his determination and natural ability.

"You have to know what you're looking for and have an eye for what your clients want," Gazi said. "It's not something that comes easy for everyone."

When he's not working, Gazi's other passions are movies and music. He hosts an Oscar movie party each year at his New York City home.

He is still an avid comic collector, with over 7,000 books in his collection.

He started collecting super hero comic books as a youngster, but lost his collection when his stepfather made him clean his bedroom.

"I've got most of them back now," Gazi said with a laugh.

While he says he could never live anywhere else but New York City, he still enjoys visits home.

His mother and stepfather, Emily and Martin Dietz, live in Roscoe. He has two brothers, Michael Gazi of Ellsworth and John Gazi of Roscoe, and a sister, Marcia Major of Port Allegheny.

He says visits "home" to Roscoe are the only times he can truly put his hectic life behind him.

"It's just so calm and relaxing, and I don't give anyone the phone number," Gazi said. "I have a great family I'm so proud of."

Not a day goes by that Gazi doesn't call his mother - proof that Gazi didn't lose his small town values living in the big city.

"Whether I'm in Prague or Estonia, I call my mom no matter what every day," he said.

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