In your dreams
Not everyone can look back and say, “You won’t believe this but…” and then go on to tell the most unbelievable story. But I can.
It starts when I was a photographer on Sutter Street and a call came from my Chicago agent, Jack Kapes.
The call went something like this: “Jack Allen, we want you to photograph a package design solution for a new product from Avon. It’s an after‐bath lotion. And they want to call it “Birthday Suit”.
Nick Sidjakov will be designing the package and promotional material and you need to find a high‐fashion model that will pose in the nude. But all in good taste, of course.”
Now I don’t know about you but calls like this don’t come out of the blue for me, ever.
Adjusting my teeth which had fallen to the floor, I gulped an….. “OK” and stumbled off on my model search.
This sounds like an easy job but finding incredible “high fashion” young ladies willing to strip is not duck soup. Believe me.
For days I combed the SF modeling agencies feeling like a pervert and finally gave up on the City by the Bay. I ventured south to Hollywood and contacted some of the photographer friends I had down there.
They sent me tons of modeling sheets but none in the area I needed. So, I hopped on a plane and visited “the” nude modeling agency in LA. “Nudes, sure, we got loads of them.” And they did. I looked through a dozen books of lovely ladies hoping to wind up in movies, magazines, on TV and who knows, what else. I didn’t know women came in such various shapes and sizes. I was flabbergasted.
I found a beautiful young lady and booked her to fly up to SF and spend a week with me and Nick Sidjakov. Now Nick, ever the charmer, had to be in the studio to supervise the design of the packaging and he asked if he could bring his assistant with him. “Sure”, I said before I even asked the model if she minded three of us gawking at her naked loveliness parading around the set.
On day one of the “shoot” the art director and the copywriter from Needam, Harper and Steers flew out from Chicago and we now had five drooling, stammering idiots plus two assistants sitting in canvas chairs awaiting the great strip just before the police could arrive and take us all to the pokey.
As calmly as Gypsy Rose Lee the young lady dropped her robe and day 1 began. She had the most incredible body any of us had ever seen. We took ten rolls of film before I called “break” and reloaded the film magazines. Not a pin was heard to drop.
She calmly sat down in one of the canvas chairs “sans clothes” amidst the by then stunned boy’s choir. Hallelujah!
We tried to carry on a conversation with her while looking into her eyes but had to give up. I finally told her if it bothered her too much I would clear the set of all the idiots while we reloaded.
“No, its fine”, she said. “I’m from a family of nudists and when I come home from high school off come the clothes. One day we had a small house fire and the local fire department couldn’t decide whether to turn the hose on the fire or on us. The firemen were so cute”
When she said “high school” I started looking for a place to hide, Thank God I hadn’t ferried her across state lines.
The story just got better as the days turned into a week and hundreds of pictures turned into thousands and we sadly shipped her home safe, sound and fully clothed.
She was so uninhibited and un self‐conscious that we were able to provide Nick and the Art Director, Tom Gorey, with a ton of material for the assignment. Why I didn’t save some of the film for posterity I’ll never know. I shipped it all to Needam, Harper. I just wasn’t thinking straight. It must have been a touch of the flu.
And now, in case you’re looking for the product, the idea was shelved eventually. Don’t ask me why.
And I won’t give you the name of the young lady for obvious reasons.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t believe the story either.
Only in my dreams.