British supermodel Naomi Campbell began a week of cleaning bathrooms and mopping floors at the New York City Sanitation Department on Monday as part of a community service order for throwing a cellphone at her maid last year.
Wearing black stiletto ankle boots, brown pants and a knee-length black jacket, Campbell arrived at the distinctly unglamorous Lower East Side facility with a pair of combat boots slung over her shoulder.
Sporting a black hat and dark glasses, she ignored a crowd of waiting reporters and television crews as she got out of a black sports utility vehicle and strode towards the riverside facility in freezing temperatures.
“She will be sweeping, cleaning, mopping. We have windows that need to be cleaned. We have plenty of work for her to do,” said Sanitation Department deputy chief Albert Durrell. “If they are dirty, she will be cleaning toilets.”
Campbell would be working in the garage, offices, locker rooms and bathrooms at the facility, which sits near an elevated stretch of highway in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, Durrell said.
“She hasn’t got to the toilets yet, she’s still just doing the floors,” added Deputy Commissioner Vito Furso.
Campbell, who was given a pair of gloves, face mask and yellow and orange vest to perform her duties, was working with three other people in an eight hour shift with a break for lunch.
As ordered by the court, she was performing her duties inside and well away from the glare of television crews and paparazzi.
The distinctly unglamorous setting, with garbage trucks coming and going, was a far cry from the Park Avenue apartment where she threw a cellphone that hit maid Ana Scolavino on the head in March last year.
As well as the five days of community service, Campbell (36) was also ordered to attend a two-day anger management course and pay more than $350 to cover Scolavino’s medical expenses after pleading guilty to reckless assault over the incident.
Campbell said in a recent newspaper interview she would auction off the jeans and boots she wears during the mopping duties for charity.
“It’ll go straight to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund,” she said.
The supermodel’s lawyer, David Breitbart, had asked officials to ensure Campbell served her sentence indoors and preferably on a project that reflected her interests in Aids charities and children’s organisations.
Breitbart had said he was especially keen to avoid a repeat of the situation British DJ Boy George found himself in August when serving a community service order in New York for filing a false police report.
The singer was followed by hordes of journalists as he swept the streets in Manhattan, forcing justice officials to put him on a less conspicuous detail.
“She has a history of people stalking her. She has a history of people threatening her,” Breitbart said in January, appealing for her sentence to be served in a more private location. “We’re very concerned about her security.”
Campbell was arrested by New York police in March last year after Scolavino alleged the supermodel had thrown the cellphone at her head and accused her of stealing a pair of jeans. Police said the wound required several stitches.
Campbell, who shot to fame after being scouted by the Elite modeling agency in London when she was just 15, said recently that yoga and anger management classes were helping her to keep a lid on her famously hot temper.
“It’s part of recovery,” Campbell said of her three months practicing yoga, in an interview with the New York Daily News published last week.
“I’m trying to stay at a peaceful place inside.” – AFP