One of the many types of slimy little men we have to purge from our fair city is profiled in the New York Times today. "Some people see models all the time. They recognize these creatures despite their oversize sunglasses and disheveled hair. They can look past baggy shifts and mismatched patterns, beyond gaudy makeup and cheap earrings. These people are called model scouts, and their numbers include Roman Young of Elite Model Management, who chose Union Square as his hunting ground one Saturday in May." The vile "hunt" after the jump.

"See her?" Mr. Young asked as he pointed to a tall, narrow-framed girl with slightly protruding hips. "She's too big."

"That one, over there by the hot-dog stand, is cute," he continued, "but she's too short and, eh, bad skin."

At 5 feet 7 inches, Mr. Young barely grazes the chins of some of the models he scouts. But he claims that his height, combined with the fact that he is gay, gives him an advantage. "The physicality of a scout counts for a lot," he said. "You don't want to be a perceived threat to their safety."

Although the best hunting grounds are teenage gathering spots like schools and clubs, the next Gisele Bündchen can be found anywhere. Near Union Square, for example, Mr. Young pointed to a statuesque couple cuddling in front of a Duane Reade. "Hey, look right there," he said. "I'm almost positive he's a model, but I'm not sure about her."

He followed the couple into the drugstore to check them out.

"Hi, excuse me, are you guys models?" he asked when an opportune moment presented itself.

The pair looked down at him from their towering, modelesque heights.

"Um, yeah," the man replied.

"Oh, I'm just wondering because I'm a scout with Elite Models. What agencies are you with?"

They answered his question, but backed up warily as they did so. All model scouts encounter such skittishness, but the scouts themselves operate in very different ways. Some, like Mr. Young, are full-time agency employees - the New York Yellow Pages lists 130 agencies in Manhattan - but others are freelancers working on commission, or scam-minded photographers with a convincing business card and a knack for gaining the confidence of aspiring models. [NYT]