Even the Los Angeles Times has trouble keeping Rod Stewart’s love life straight. “Rod Stewart and his wife Kelly Emberg made a quick entrance and exit,” read the story after a Grammy party. Oops! For starters, Stewart, 46, and Emberg, 31, were never married. Furthermore, it wasn’t Kelly by Rod’s side but Rachel Hunter, 21, Stewart’s wife of two months. The Times’s confusion is understandable though. Hunter is tall, blond and beautiful. Emberg is tall, blond and beautiful. Alana Stewart. Rod’s ex-wife, is—surprise!—tall, blond and beautiful. And all three are. or have been, models.
Emberg, whose relationship with Stewart began in September 1983 and ended last fall, is suing Rod for palimony, asking $25 million for lost earnings from her abandoned modeling career and $10 million for emotional distress. Emberg also sued Stewart in December for $40,000-a-month child support. (Their daughter, Ruby, was born in June 1987.) Papers for both lawsuits were served on Stewart while he was attending functions at Ruby’s school. “He is disappointed that Kelly felt so badly that she would go to this extreme,” says a friend of Stewart’s. “And the first suit was served two days before his wedding. Rachel, who was so empathetic toward Kelly, ain’t feeling so empathetic now.”
Stewart, of course, is used to drop-in visits from process servers by now. Britt Ekland (who was also tall, blond and beautiful) sued him for $15 million in palimony around the time he married Alana. That suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed figure. And Alana, in turn, won a reported $1 million, a house and $10,000 a month in child support.
Stewart isn’t the only rocker with a penchant for models over, say, insurance adjusters, as the photographs on these pages attest. But he does seem to carry it to extremes. Arnold Stiefel, Stewart’s manager since 1984, denies that Rod is occupation-compulsive when it comes to women. “It’s not that Rod falls for models,” says Stiefel. “He falls for beautiful girls who happen to be models.”
As for the symbiosis between often-aging rockers and always-young models, Stiefel has a theory to explain the attraction, at least on the guys’ side. “Rock stars date models because they can,” he says. “If you’re free to go out with anybody, wouldn’t your first choice be some gorgeous 21-year-old blond, before it would be that sweet secretary down the hall with the thick arse?” Elegantly put, Arnold.
And why do willowy young models feel this compulsion to make rockers’ dreams come true? Valerie Trott, president of Elite Models in L.A., attributes it to youth and naïveté. “The bottom line is this,” she says. “Models are only 19 or 20. To them, rock and roll is the thing.”
And model-agency head Nina Blanchard explains the attraction as a sort of celebrity-mating imperative. “They’re sort of thrown together—at parties and clubs,” she says. “From the girls’ point of view, it’s, ‘Maybe when you were in Cleveland you were dating the local dentist, but are you going to do that when you’re on the cover of Vogue?’ You may be better off with the local guy, but when you’re a celebrity, you don’t meet him anymore.”