When his bell rang Alex yelled "The door's open, Sandy! Come on in and get your clothes off and let's get right to it, shall we?"
But when the door opened the girl that walked in wasn't Sandy at all. Alex looked up from loading a whole arsenal of cameras to see a slim, hesitant blonde poised in the doorway looking a bit puzzled.
"Sandy's in Las Vegas. She said I should come instead."
"Oh, shit!" Alex said, slamming a Minolta down on the desk. "Damn it, she knew I still have three more contracts to fill this week!"
"She said a week's work in Vegas at twice what you could pay just couldn't be ignored. Besides, a body's a body, isn't it?"
"But I Know Sandy's body. I've filtered every camera for a red-head. Oh well -- turn around, will you?" She did as she was told. "What agency are you with?"
"Who've you worked with, then?"
"No one. Sandy and I go to the same disco a lot, and she's always said I should try modelling. She was going to introduce me to you, but never got around to it."
"Oh, God, not a fucking amateur!"
"No, as a matter of fact," she said coldly, "at that I have had Plenty of experience! I've just never done any nude modelling before. Sandy said you'd probably be legitimately pissed, but she also said you're very good with models and everything would work out."
Alex glared at her for one long, fuming moment, and then, saying "Well.. " he stepped around her and closed the door. "The honest truth is, I need two hours' worth of pictures, no matter what body I use, and I couldn't get another girl tonight on such short notice. Tell you what: if you're very, Very good, I'll pay you minimum scale. Ten dollars an hour less otherwise. If I go beyond that no professional model will ever so much as spit on me again. Agreed?"
"Agreed. Sandy told me to insist on fifteen under scale as a rock bottom minimum. But she also said you would be fair."
"And she probably said I'd be desperate, which is true! Okay, I'll have to re-filter and maybe change some lighting. There's a robe behind the screen." He paused and looked at her. "You've never done anything like this before?"
"I've never done Any modelling, with clothes or without."
"Oh great!" he groaned. "Well, let me explain what's going to happen. I'd like you to go behind that screen and take everything off, then put on the robe."
"You don't want to look at me first?"
"Let me finish please? It'll take at least fifteen or twenty minutes for the marks made by your clothing to disappear. After that, you can take the robe off and you'll probably want to spend a little time getting comfortable with me nude. And I'll .. "
"Oh, I've been nude in front of men before," the blonde interrupted smugly.
"Look lady, let's get something straight right now: I am not a lover, I am not a rapist, I am not your date for tonight, and I am not going to be looking at you the way any man has looked at you before. You may find that hard to adjust to. A professional model Expects to be looked at that way, and a good one helps me do it. I've worked with new models before, and I can assure you it is important to Me for you to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible. We have Work to do together, and if you have anything else in mind say so now and I'll call the agencies to try to get someone who can help me get that work done."
The girl shrugged apologetically. "Okay, I'm sorry. Maybe it just proves I'm more nervous than I realized. Just tell me what to do and I'll try to do it."
"Thanks. I think we'll work out all right. Oh, and the fading of the marks and the acquainting will come out of Your time. I pay for shooting-time only. Agreed?"
"You're the boss."
"Fine. Once you're undressed, just make yourself at home and we'll get better acquainted later." Alex was already switching his filters, and trying to remember which cameras had been switched and which hadn't.
The girl shed her clothes behind the screen and emerged in a richly colored oriental-print wrapper. She stood quietly for a few minutes watching Alex diddle about with several flood-lights focused on a bed that stood in one corner of the loft apartment. She watched him doing things, then looking at the result, checking a light-meter, and then doing them all over again, even though she saw no discernible difference in the result once he'd made his changes.
The bed, with a bedside table with a lamp and some books, the rug on the floor beside it, the Miro print framed on the wall -- all of it, in the glaring floodlights, was gleamingly colorful and fresh and clean, cleaner and more carefully kept than the rest of the studio.
The girl got a bit bored watching Alex's diddling, and began exploring the apartment. The bed in its bubble of glare was obviously a stage-set, for in the farther corner of the room she found a water-bed, and beside it on a low chest a digital clock- radio and a clutter of papers and books -- all of them much well- worn with reading, in contrast to those oh so carefully disarrayed volumes on the stage-set. There was a cold cup of coffee and a cocktail-glass on the chest, as well as a grimy ash-tray with the remains of two roaches and a roach-clip inside. Beyond the bed she found a table and two chairs in front of a small refrigerator, a tiny stove, and a kitchen sink.
The vague clutter of the living-parts of the studio -- clothes spilling from bureau drawers and hung or draped on any available surfaces -- contrasted with the careful order of the dark-room stuff -- enlarger, trays, print-presses, boxes of papers, timers -- in another part of the room. Also, the girl noticed, the books and records that were Shelved were neat and carefully alphabetized. There were a lot of big art books and photograph collections, and a lot of photography manuals, but there were also a healthy selection of novels, a complete set of the Signet Classics Shakespeares -- with all the bindings cracked -- and two shelves of science-fiction.
Along the only unbroken, unshelved wall in the studio she found a set of carefully matted and framed photographs. They were all very close, careful studies of desert rocks and plants, all subtle black-and-white prints that repaid the closer scrutiny she lavished on each one in turn. The shapes of the rocks, their textures and shadows, the patient determination of the cactuses, the gritty glare of arid noon were all explored thoroughly.
"Are these Westons?" she asked. "I never knew he did a cactus series."
"He never did," Alex called over his shoulder. "They're not Westons. They're Wentworths."
"Oh, you mean they're yours! Well, I think they're awfully good. I mean, I really like them. They ought to be in a gallery show somewhere."
"They were. And I even sold some prints." Alex backed almost reluctantly away from his set and came into the living area. "I'm going to make a big pot of strong Ceylon tea. Care for a cup?"
"Oh yes, please."
"You're surprised?" he asked, preparing tea-things.
"That a sleazy porno-photographer would go out in the desert to take pictures of rocks in his spare time?"
"Well, photographing one sort of thing is a lot like photographing the other, isn't it?"
"The hell it is!" He said it with some heat, as the water boiled. "I spent two weeks getting to know that saguaro over there, for six exposures, and another week printing and rejecting and trying again. But that goddamned cactus is Mine now, and no one else's. On the other hand six, maybe seven different naked- lady magazines next month will have sets by Alex Wentworth in them. Each one exactly what the editors ordered. Strictly commercial, all cut and dried, cash on the barrelhead. Anybody could do it, if he can afford a light-meter, a good enlarger, and a decent model."
"I doubt that very much," the blonde said, still mesmerized by the cactus. "Sandy says you couldn't do a dull set of pictures even if you worked at it. She hated like hell to miss this session. She says everything you do proves you're an artist, and that some day editors will catch on to how good you are and start paying you what you're worth."
Alex glanced up, filling a large tea-ball, with a surprised expression on his face. "I guess I really must go discoing with Sandy sometime. All she ever discusses with me is how much over scale I've got to pay her and why. Okay, if you're ready why don't you pull up a chair, take off the robe, and let's have some tea."
The girl's face clouded for an instant, as though she had been brought back to an unpleasant reality. But she did pull up a chair and then, standing behind it, she whipped off the wrapper with a wild flourish, draped it over the chair-back, and struck a flapper-like Charleston pose. "There. TaDaaah! Like what you see?"
"I'll tell you later," Alex said, pouring tea and then draping a towel carefully back around the pot. "Sit down. You and Sandy seem to have done more talking about me than dancing. What else did she tell you?"
The girl sat, a little hastily, and buried her nose in the warm, fragrant steam rising from her cup. "Well, she said you've been working too hard, and that you take your work too seriously. Maybe you Should come disco with us time time."
"I don't know how to dance."
"We could teach you! Or you could just sit and watch, relax, unwind. Sandy really has been worried about you lately." She took a few hesitant sips and said, "This is excellent tea, by the way."
"I'll relax enough next month, in England. But first I've got to do enough work to Pay for a month in England."
"I wish I were going with you!"
"Been there before?"
She nodded eagerly. "Only a couple of weeks over break in college. Oh, I envy you going back!"
"Well," Alex said standing up, "I won't Be going back if I don't sell a lot of pictures of naked ladies. Ready to go to work?"
"Oh sure," she said, jumping up.
"Bring the cups, while I carry the pot. We'll break every ten or fifteen minutes, and I like to have a cup while I'm thinking."
Pot and cups were arranged out of camera range. "Okay, now just sit on the edge of the bed while I take a few preliminary polaroids. I just want to check that everything's where it should be before I do any serious shooting. Okay?"
"Fine," she said, sitting nervously at the edge of the bed, fidgeting and trying not to, all at once. Finally she said, "You haven't told me yet."
"Hmmmn? Told you what?"
"Do you like what you see? Damn it, am I pretty!"
Alex snorted. "You know what the mother says in OUR TOWN when her daughter asks that question? 'Emily, you're pretty enough for all practical purposes!' That's still the best answer, I think. Would you stretch out for a minute? I think this gobo really isn't bouncing the way I expected it to; but what the hell, let's go with what we've got. You can sit up if you want, while I move some lights a little."
She did. "They're not really big enough, are they? Don't you like them bigger? Do you mind my talking like this?"
"Not at all. It'll give my mind something to do while I'm trying to think."
"What do you really like in a girl? What's your ideal?"
"What do you mean? In a model?"
"Yes! What do you look for in a model?"
"Relatively long legs, and slender thighs. Stretch out again, please?"
"And that's All?"
"Hell, most everything else can be dealt with by proper poses or masked by draperies. But most editors don't like a broad to be broad where she's broa-hoa-ha-hoa-ha-hoa-hoad! --as they said in SOUTH PACIFIC. A rump of almost any size is okay, but meaty thighs reap only rejection-slips."
"But what about personally?"
"What about what personally?"
"How should a girl look! Should they be bigger? Or do you prefer the tall, willowy type? Do you like brunettes, or red- heads? What?"
"You mean what attracts me in a woman?"
"Yes! What turns you on?"
Alex frowned into space a moment. "Actually I doubt that it's any special size, or shape, or proportion, per se. I think what impresses me most when I look at a woman is the way all the parts fit together in a harmonious whole. But then, too, anyone who is really comfortably Herself is probably more fascinating no matter what sizes and shapes and proportions. Does anything I'm saying make any sense to you?"
"Yeah. You couldn't care less if they were bigger or not, could you?"
Alex laughed. "You want to see these polaroids, don't you?"
"Whatever gave you that idea?" she giggled. "Oh yes, please, may I? Have you any idea what it means to have your body photographed by a really good professional like this?"
Alex handed her the polaroid snaps, and stood looking over her shoulder at them with her.
"Oh God, they aren't very big at all, are they? And look at the way my belly bulges! You're not going to want me standing like that, are you? Don't I look four months pregnant? And here it looks like I have legs like a logger!" She glanced up over her shoulder into his mild grin. "You sure you still want me to pose? What are you grinning at! Okay, Mr. Professional, tell me what you see when you look at these pictures!"
Alex looked, pointing vaguely. "I see f8 at 1/250th is under- exposing. I see shadows that I think moving this photoflood will erase. I see too much red and orange in the room for your coloring.. "
"And do you see anything when you look at ME?"
"Yes. I see you're a natural blonde, and we'll have to exploit that fact whenever possible."
She looked at him incredulously. "And that's all?"
"Well, I also see that you like to swim, but you haven't been to the beach in quite a while."
"How the hell can you see that!"
Alex grinned. "Elementary my dear Watson. Most models just lie about soaking up sun in micro-bikinis and never go near the water. But the rather faint tan-marks on your body are from a one- piece suit, which indicates you meant business, not merely tanning. You see, I really Do look at your body." He glanced at her with a smile. "You know, it's odd how tastes change. In the early days of PLAYBOY, they would have painted over all the white parts with body-makeup -- even though they insisted their models were 'The Girl Next Door' and they tried to project a supposedly Natural look. But then, of course, they also shaved their girls from neck to ankle back then. But I digress. Sorry for the lecture."
"Oh no. I never realized this business was so complicated." She glanced through the polaroids again. "But, you must have liked Something when you looked at me, right? I mean, besides the slim thighs.. "
"Damn it, hardly anyone ever really Sees themselves objectively. You're obviously a pretty girl, or Sandy would never have sent you to me. But my job isn't to pay you compliments no matter how hard you fish for them; it's to find out what there is in this obviously beautiful girl that I can Use to make Pictures, most of which will probably look like pictures of strangers to you when I'm done." He took a long sip of tea. "Okay, I think we're ready to begin work in earnest now. Did you bring some heels?"
"What? Well, no. I thought when you said pose nude you meant it. I didn't bring anything."
"No sweat. There's a whole bunch of stuff in the closet over there. See if any of the shoes will fit well enough."
"Just shoes. And I agree, it makes no sense whatever. But even otherwise totally nude and almost orgasmically stretched on satin sheets, most editors want models wearing high heels. They do great things for the legs and the ass when she's standing of course, but I must admit the idea that millions of American males enjoy the fantasy of jumping into the sack with a pair of stiletto-heels makes me suspect this is a nation of sado- masochists! Found something?"
"These okay?" They were stiletto-heels, mostly little else than a couple of Kelly-green leather baskets and ankle-straps.
"Fine. They'll even match your eyes, more or less. Okay, now that you've gotten acquainted with me, now you have to get acquainted with my friend the camera. I want you to stand next to the bed, and just look at the pillow for a moment. Fine." The Minolta snickered. "You'll hear that sound a couple hundred times in the next two hours, and I hope you will ignore it." Alex moved and there was another whicker. "Now turn your right shoulder toward me just a little." Snicker. "Turn from the waist and look over at me please?" Whicker. Change angle. Snicker. "Now put your left knee on the bed please." Snicker. "Turn back to the pillow, and fluff your fingers up through the back of your hair.. No with the left hand please." Snicker. "Again." Snicker. "And again." Whicker. "Okay, stand again, and face me? Now, can you cross your ankles? Good!" Whicker. "Now, turn your hip away from me a little. Okay, and from the waist again turn your upper body full face?" Snicker. Whicker. "Throw your shoulders back. Smile." Whicker. "And fluff your hair again?" Snicker. "Again?" Snicker. Whicker. Snicker. "Now, turn and reach over, and put your elbows on the bed please. Now look over your shoulder at me? Great." Snicker. "Can you put your boobs on the bed, please? Fine. But hold your ass high? Great." Whicker. Snicker. "Knees a little wider, please?" Snicker. "Okay, fine. Now up on the bed, on your back please. Good. Could you smile at me?" Snicker. Whicker. "Hands behind your head?" Snicker. "All right, now will you raise that right knee please? Okay, raise your right shoulder, and put your right hand on your knee? Great." Snicker. Whicker. Snicker. Snicker. "Can you smile?" Whicker. "Fine. Lie back, and heels together? Can you pull them higher? Great." Whicker. Snicker. "Try putting your right forearm across your forehead. Stare at the ceiling." Whicker. "Deep breath." Snicker. "Could you pull your hair over your left shoulder please? Smooth it down along your breast please? Okay, take your hand away." Whicker. Snicker. Change angle. Snicker. "Stroke your hair again?" Snicker. "Okay, I'm about out of film. Take some tea and relax a bit."
"Wow! Why is it so exhausting? I'm pooped!" She poured a cup of tea and heaved a huge sigh after taking the first sip. "How was I?"
"Lousy, actually, but I expected that," Alex said matter-of- factly.
"Hey, don't take it personally! Christ, did you expect to be a natural at all this, first crack out? Hell, what I meant to say is that you behave just like any amateur would."
"But I'm the Model damn it, I'm Supposed to pose!"
"Bullshit. You're supposed to BE, supposed to do what I tell you in as simple and unaffected a way as possible. Which is hard to learn. Hell, have you ever looked into one of those magazines that print nude shots of readers taken by their husbands or boyfriends?"
"Well, most of the time you'll find the poor lady standing very tense, grinning from ear to ear, obviously Showing herself to the camera. She's conscious of only one thing: that a quarter of a million pairs of eyes are looking through the lens of her boyfriend's polaroid at her! She is posing, she is showing off, she is Not being herself! Same with you. Oh, don't worry about it. I got a couple of good shots there, despite your nervousness. And maybe now you've gotten used to being in the same room not only with me, but with my camera. But you Are nervous, I expect that. I'd be astonished if you weren't nervous, and I'm trying to Use your nerves whenever I can. Still, I Do want you more relaxed. You like to dance, do you?"
"Damn right I do."
"Okay, next set of shots why don't you dance? Got any favorite record you'd like to dance to? Try something slow for choice."
"Whatever you like," she said, gulping some Ceylon tea. "I just groove on the music, any music."
"Well," Alex said, pawing through his record collection. "I haven't any rock, if that's your speed. Some old jazz? Georgie Auld's sax solos? They're a little lush, but the beat is slow."
"You name it, I'll play it."
Alex dropped the needle and the slow, fat, breathy saxophone began licking its way around 'Tenderly'. "Sorry about the scratches," he apologised, adjusting the volume, coming back to his arsenal of cameras. "I'm going to use a much faster shutter- speed this time, so rather than stop you all the time I'll be trying to stop the action without interrupting. Try to stay inside the lighted area if you can, move slowly -- that's why I picked this tempo -- and let Me pick my moments. I may just watch for a while before taking any shots. Think you've got the beat?"
"Okay, let's go."
The girl stood, just swinging her arms in rhythm for a moment, then twirled and took a step, then giggled. "Oh boy, do I jiggle! Maybe they're big enough after all! You ought to be using movie-film for this!"
"Shut up and dance!" Alex called gaily, circling her in the shadows behind the lights. The songs were paced slow, with little runs and fills decorating the melody, and the girl found herself almost caressing the air, much the way the saxophone's low notes caressed the beat. It took her a few moments to match her motion with the soloist's style, but once she did she seemed to lose herself in it, to pull her entire concentration inward, feeling her body feel the trills and extensions of the melody. She heard the first whicker of the camera somewhere off to one side, but paid no attention to it. The first song ended, but the next was equally lush, equally decorated. Rococco jazz, she thought, closing her eyes and spreading her arms with the expanding sounds as her slowly bouncing heels kept the insistent bass-beat. She had never heard these old records before, but began grooving on her attempts to match motion to melody.
She sighed. "How'm I doin'?" she cooed, almost to herself.
"You're doing fine," Alex said quietly. Whicker. "You know, you jiggle just a little back here, too." Snicker.
"Flatterer!" She snickered, but she didn't miss a beat.
The camera whickered again. "Think you could run through that sequence again, more or less? Swing your hair around again the way you did?"
"Maybe," she said languidly, "if it still feels good. Like this?"
Snicker. "You said it! And, if you repeat that phrase with your arms extended, could you maybe face toward the bed so I can get enough light?"
"Oh, you like the jiggle back there, don't you? You an ass man at heart, Mr. Wentworth?"
"I like what the camera likes, lady." Whicker. "Just to be fair, if you run through that sequence again try it facing Away from the bed. Give the camera a chance to be impartially objective."
"You name it, I'll play it!"
But before she got much farther, the side finished and the record-player clicked off.
"Okay, take a break," Alex said. "Heat up your cup?"
"I'm pretty warm as I am!" she said, enthusiastically. "That was good! I could have gone on like that forever. But I didn't hear you taking many pictures."
"No, I had to pick shots a lot more carefully with you in motion. But they were better."
"Can you tell before you look at the prints?"
"Hell, if I couldn't tell what I was getting the moment the shutter snapped I'd make more money as a shoe salesman! That's why I have to try a lot of different things with a new model, to find out just what it is that will work best. We're doing all right together."
"Well, at least you've finally decided you like my ass! I noticed you haven't paid so much attention to my poor little titties, though, have you?"
"God, you really have a thing about your boobs, haven't you?"
"Well, hasn't every woman? And isn't that the thing a man looks at first? Hell, every little girl wants to be the first on her block to need a training-bra, and she's nervous every day about whether they'll get any bigger. And the guys are just as interested.. "
"Okay, okay, you've made your point. You Do have a thing about your boobs. Okay, if that's the case, why don't we just run with that awhile, and see what develops."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean for the next set of shots, let's concentrate all our attention on those 'poor little titties' of yours and see what will come of it. I think you'd be surprised what they are Really like, to the camera, instead of how you feel about them from the inside."
She smiled quizzically at him. "You mean you think you can make my boobs look good?"
"You name it, I'll play it! So, if you're ready, why don't you nipple yourself up and we'll give it a whirl."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean rub your breasts a little and make your nipples stand up. We may as well go the whole hog."
The blonde did as he directed, but with little success.
"Maybe I'm just nervous. Maybe they've died!"
"Would you like me to try?" Alex asked softly. "Sometimes its a lot easier if it's a man's hand. Psychological factor. Come here a minute."
She came, suddenly a little shy and hesitant. "Nothing personal, you understand," Alex said, as his fingers touched the smooth firmness of her left breast. She shivered and smiled nervously. "Sorry," they both apologized. Alex's hand gently cupped and squeezed the fruited fullness, and pinched her nipple a bit with the base of his thumb -- and that was all it took. Warming, reddening, the firm young nipple sat up on the globe of her breast like the stem of a pumpkin. "There we are," Alex said, admiring his handiwork.
"Thank you. Aren't you going to do the other one too?" She turned, presenting her right breast.
"Bet I won't need to. Bet I can just stare it erect. Watch!"
For a moment he and the blonde concentrated on the nipple which, like a dutiful puppy, stood at attention just like its sister.
"God, you got them trained or something?"
"Psychological factor," Alex repeated. "Now, touch them, feel them, inside and outside both. Feel your fingers touching them, feel them pressing back against your hands. Concentrate your attention on them, keep that sensation in them, keep them nippled up as long as possible, and we'll go to work, like this." Snicker. Whicker.
Alex came a good deal closer this time, pushing his Pentax at her breasts."Okay now, show them to me!" Snicker. "Head back, shoulders back. Let them stand proud! Fine." Whicker. "Now fold your forearms under and cuddle them a little. But let them peep out at the world, too." Whicker. Snicker. "Touch them, caress them." Snicker. "Now take them in your hands and offer them to me." Snicker. "Fine, but when you do it, smile! Yeah! That's it. And now arch your back. Deep breath! And smile!" Whicker. "Okay, now you're really getting into it, aren't you? Turn sideways a moment? Turn this shoulder a little more in my direction. Good. Cuddle them again -- no, just with the left arm. Fine." Whicker. "That's great. Now spin full face toward me and really throw them at me! Yeah!" Snicker. "Again!" Whicker. Snicker. "Shake your shoulders a little and feel them move. Okay freeze! Got it. Fine. Now how about up on the bed. Uh, first on your stomach a moment." Alex came and knelt close to her head. "Now give me a slow push- up. Fine, hold it. Head back and smile! Good. Brush their tips against the sheet once or twice. Okay. Now over on your back please?" Alex changed ends, sitting near her toes. "Head back a little, shoulders up, and elbows back? Okay, now touch them again, play with them. Freeze? Fine." Alex came around again to the side of the bed, getting closer still. "Okay, arms extended, raise that right shoulder just a little, and just offer them to me, sunnyside up on a platter! And smile, baby, smile!"
She smiled. Then as Alex's exuberant enthusiasm raged on, bouncing around her, leaning in for close-ups, urging her to flaunt herself for him, inventing the most outrageous hyperboles, soon she began to giggle. It was probably his enthusiastic comment that her nipples were standing out "..like little pink Vesuvii" that set her sniggering. "Yeah, shake 'em up baby!" Alex responded. "Earthquake time in the Pyrenees!" And before they realized it both of them were collapsed in heaving, giggling, howling fits of uncontrollable mirth. Each time they tried to regain control one or the other would gasp "Sunnyside up!" or "Vesuvii!" and they were off and rolling again. Finally Alex staggered over and raised a teacup. "Here's to earthquakes. Long may they roll!" and, snickering and smiling and sighing contentedly, they came a little more back to normal.
"Now I see why Sandy likes working with you so much!" the blonde said, pouring a fresh cup. "You know, I never really did like my boobs before. And maybe I don't like them so much more now, but I don't Care any more. They're .. what did you say? .. they're pretty enough for all practical purposes! And we had such Fun with them, didn't we? God, what have I been missing all my life? I should have gotten into this business years ago!"
"Well, it's not always like this, you know. I haven't had that much fun in months. In years maybe! Actually, the professional model that can relax and not take her body extremely seriously is very rare. But in this business you just have to have a little giggle-time once in a while, if only to restore perspective."
"Well, now that you have immortalized my monstrous mammaries for all the world, I don't think I will ever take them seriously again!"
"I can assure you, at least, that I will not have to use the enlarger on them, no matter what you think."
"Do you have to do that often?"
"Well, I don't. It's not my style. But there are some magazines that practically insist on it. They believe they sell unreal fantasy. Now and again I'll deepen a shadow to exaggerate a 3-D illusion, shave a hip here or there. But generally I prefer to go unretouched. It's a lot less work than some things they ask for."
"Oh, some art directors are so into what a friend of mine refers to as the Gynecological Approach that they've been pasting yawning cunt-lips into pictures whether the positions would show them or not."
The blonde grimaced. "Yuck! That's gross. Whatever for?"
"As I said, they've gone beyond the bounds of simple fantasy into dream-worlds."
She sipped at her cup thoughtfully. "Then you have some sort of theory about what you're photographing, don't you?"
Alex stretched, working at a crick between his shoulderblades, and grunted. "Who, me? I told you, lady, I'm a pro! I shoot what they tell me. They want contortionists flashing Pink in every shot, I'll bend you like a pretzel. They want vaseline over the lenses and pseudo-Garbo compositions, that's what they get. They want punk-rock masochism, or Tennessee Williams tawdry, or garters and corsets -- you name it, I'll play it! Here's to professionalism!" He toasted with his teacup.
"Hmmm? But what?"
"But then why does Sandy say everything you do proves you're an artist?"
He smiled. "Because I like my models to look directly into the camera."
"Damn it, that was a serious question!" she bristled. "Look, Sandy's a pretty hard-nosed broad with x-ray eyes when it comes to put-on artists, but everything I've heard about you has been complimentary. It can't just mean your models look into the lense!" She looked quizzically over at him. "Can it?"
Alex sniggered and stretched out. "Maybe I can explain with a little history lesson. Nude photography has been around almost as long as cameras, but magazine spreads of naked ladies only became accepted as legitimate newsstand fare with PLAYBOY. The centerfold girl was the very first.. "
"To show her ass to millions!"
"If you keep interrupting, little girl, you'll never learn anything. No, the centerfold girl was the very first to look Back at the camera. Oh, not just Look, but look in a very specific way. She looked out, directly at whoever was looking at her, and she Smiled! She implied with that smile that her nude body had obviously turned that spectator on, that she could See that he was aroused, and -- and this was new -- and that she was Glad he was aroused."
"All that in one look?"
"You asked about art, didn't you? Okay, a couple of hundred shots of a naked lady, out of which maybe a dozen at the most see print. And of those, almost always, what I describe is what happens or is at least implied in the picture. What I mean is that the naked lady isn't just showing herself, or even offering herself. She is pleasantly aware that she is being watched. For probably the first time in pornographic art, the spectator was the subject of the picture. That one shift in emphasis moved mountains."
The blonde looked at Alex with a kind of awe. "And is that really all you do, then? Include the spectator?"
"If the editorial guidelines permit, I like to do that, yes. I'm not after an impersonal study of your flesh. If I were, I'd get something like a sexy cactus -- a nude that was as erotic but unapproachable as a statue. No, what I hope to get is a dialogue between model and observer, in which it is obvious that each one likes what they see, that his being turned on by her turns her on. I believe the term for that is seduction. When it works, whether the editor or the reader knows it or not, that is what makes them like to look at my picture. And if that is what Sandy wants to call art, I will grudgingly agree with her, no matter how much I get paid to do it."
The girl's face suddenly beamed. "You mean that's what you've done with me!"
Alex grinned and shook his head. "Well, let's say what we've been doing so far is a bit more, er, primitive, a bit more pre- PLAYBOY than that. Not bad, mind you. You would probably be impressed. And I can and will sell some, sell a lot more than you'd believe after careful cropping. But I can't say that I, or even Sandy whose taste is a little more enthusiastic than mine where my own work is concerned, will see many worlds being set on fire."
"But you will do it, won't you? You'll make me a work of art? Or no," she shook her frowning head and groped for precision. "What I mean is that you can make a work of art With me, out of me. Isn't that what you want to do?"
"My God, the little lady does pay attention after all! Well, I suppose now that you've got me talking about it, that is always the guilty hope lying under it all, isn't it?"
"But you Do think we can, don't you? How? What should I do?" She was all eager attentiveness, straining, begging to be set tasks, commanded, molded as Pygmalion did Galatea.
And Alex stared at her in awe. "Good God you're really serious, aren't you?"
"Well, why not? You did sort of say I was pretty, didn't you? Frankly, I thought all Sandy ever did was spread her fuzz and wriggle a little, and you went snap-snap-snap, and a lot of guys masturbated over the results and that was about it. But you make it sound .. Hell, what are we waiting for, let's try! What do you want me to do? Tell me where to stand, what to do, how to.. "
"Hold it, hold it! Back up a moment." She was on her feet and posing, but Alex also rose and captured her arms. "Look, if we're going to have a dialogue, we're going to have to have a respondee, and we're going to have to have a situation. Let's see. You have a boyfriend? A husband? A lover?" no response. "Un affair de coeur?"
"No, I'm afraid I'm between affairs at the moment."
"Okay, fine, then you're ripe for a new one. Okay, say you've gone dancing, discoing with Sandy. Go to the closet and pick out something you'd probably wear to a disco. As close as possible. Go, choose while I'm talking." She went, enthusiastically. "Oh, and include underwear. If you don't find anything appropriate, wear your own. And stockings with garters -- or a garter-belt. Even if you don't usually wear them, or usually wear tights. Gartered stockings just happen to be part of the tradition."
"Oh, occasionally I like to wear garters just for the sheer decadence of it!"
"Well this is the occasion!"
"Oh wow, this dress is a knockout!" came a muffled explosion from the closet. "And these panties! I'd better wear my own bra, though.. "
"Fine, dress! And I'll keep talking.. "
"But what about the strap marks?"
"Look, if we actually get anywhere, whoever notices strap- marks is going to call them Realism! Okay, the logical situation is that you go dancing, and someone you've never seen before makes a play for you, someone who makes all the right moves, looks right, fits your standard pattern, or fits your mood for the evening. For whatever reason, you want him. Got it?"
"Way ahead of you, Alex!"
"Great! Anyway, not only do you want him, you want him to want you, you want to be the turn-on of his entire life. You're going to take him home and blow all his gaskets! Let's say as you danced he whispered in your ear something like 'I really dig the dress, baby, but I think I'd like to see the stuffing even more.. '"
"Let's say he didn't Alex, please!" came her giggled response.
"Okay, I'm corny. But you've been dancing, and you've been taken home, and when you get there everything you do will not only turn you on, it will turn on the eager little spectator crouched lasciviously in the lense of my little camera. Got that?"
"Got it," she said emerging into the light. "How do I look?"
Alex beamed appreciatively. "Gee, I really dig the dress, but I think I'd rather see the stuffing eve.. "
"Oh shut up! Everything okay? Do you like it?"
"I like it, I Like it! Girls always know their needs in clothes much better than guys. Okay. Now, you're going to come into the room, he's going to close the door and turn toward you, and you're going to turn toward him, look him full in the face -- that is, in the camera -- and you're going to make it, Vesuvially, together. Ready?"
"Okay! Mind if I talk to him?"
"However you want. Go!"
And she did. She strode into the light, paused a moment beside the bed and then slowly, languidly turned, smiling, toward the first soft snicker of Alex's Minolta.
"So, your eyes were on me, even across the room, were they? You liked what you saw and wanted to see more? You couldn't wait for a slow, cuddly ballad so you could touch me, eh?" Rooted, heels punching out a slow rhythm, the blonde's arms slowly expanded, caressing the air. "Catch the jiggle? Like what you see? Here.." She whirled around and repeated the dance gesture. " ..How about the jiggle from this angle? Like it, don't you? Couldn't take your eyes off it, could you? Here, want a better look?" Her hands came around and slowly split the long zipper down her subtly rocking back. "Yes, you can see just the hint of tan-lines, can't you?" As her shoulders shrugged out of the frock, a sly smile turned back over one of them. "Slow enough for you? You want to catch the glint and shadow on every little muscle, don't you? Want to catch my lacy ass come writhing out of its cocoon? Oh, and look at the relatively long legs, the slim, slim thighs! Don't they grab you? Left thigh, right thigh, and the frilly little green garter here on each one!" Posturing, posing, caressing, the girl emphasized every point, hearing only the whicker of the shutter as response.
"But you don't like just my ass, do you? Shall I show them to you? Even snugly cradled as they are?" She turned and, throwing head and shoulders back, took a deep breath and smiled. "You want to see more, don't you? Want them resting on a platter, sunnyside up? There we are!" As her hands dealt with the clasps there were quick snickers in the shadows. Again she arched her back, and fluffed her hair with one negligent hand. "Oh, and look how well behaved they are! You really do have them trained! All you have to do is smile at them and they sit right up and giggle back at you! Oh, and you should feel them, like this! How warm and velvety, whether they're big enough or not. Here, don't you want them? Let me hand them to you! Let me fluff my hair down across one of them, and let it peep out at you! Can't take your eyes off them, can you? Never even noticed how much tummy I'm showing, you're so fascinated by them! But I Want you to look at my nice, soft little tummy. Here, let me slide these frilly panties down so I can show it all to you. Isn't it round, and smooth, and oh look what we have down here! The mark of the genuine blonde! Let me just sit back on the bed and slide these useless little frillies off. And, oh look, those awkward old heels just fell right off too! Well, let them lie where they are: I've never been to bed with my shoes on in my life, and I don't intend to start now. Ah, but I forget, you're something of an ass man, aren't you? So perhaps you'd like me to put my boobs on the bed? To rub their tips against the satin, with my nice, juggly little ass up in the air for you? Hmmm. I think I can hear how much that turns you on, can't I? Oh, but you can't see much of my poor little titties unless I roll over again, can you? There. That better? Yes, come closer and let me hold them out to you, in all their erupting glory! There, now you have the whole, relatively long-legged length of me spread out like a banquet. Like what you see? Oh my look, I've been in such a hurry to get into bed I still have my stockings on! But somehow, in these frilly green garters, I don't mind in the least. See how long and silky they make my legs look? See how smoothly they lead your eyes right up to this big blonde bush of mine? Oh, you can't guess how soft and fuzzy and warm it feels! Or can you? Care to touch it with me? Care to slide those oh so professional fingers up my slim, slim thighs and into my bush, like this? Oh, look how that affects my Vesuvii! Yes, be sure to have them framed by my high-spread knees, my oh so naturally blonde bush! Oh, you should feel my boobs now, from the inside And the outside! And you should feel me down here, too! Don't you want to feel me? Here? And here? And down here? Don't you? Don't you!!!"
"Oh God that's great!" Alex cried. "Really terrific! But I haven't a camera full of film left! We'd better break here, and you can probably.. "
"Alex don't you Dare leave me alone like this, you bastard!"
"Alex? Alex please? Help me? Please? And please, will you hurry can't you?"
He stared down at the panting, writhing blonde mumbling "But I didn't.. " and then ripping his clothes clumsily away he joined her on the bed. For a moment everything was all rushed and eager, confused groping, until he found her, splitting her warm and sighing insistence, matching her hungry risings with his thrusts.
"Here Alex, kiss them please? I'll give them both to you. Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes, oh my God yes!"
They came to climax in just a few frantic, shuddering minutes and fell gasping, gulping, tingling, limp. In the soft moments after their release he heard her whisper, kissing him repeatedly, "Oh Alex thank you. Thank you dear, sweet Alex!" And then they both slid for long, silent, huhhing moments into a blissful semi- oblivion.
At last Alex's hands began delicately exploring the breathing softness clasped close in his arms, finally whispering down into the blonde hair: "I hope that finally convinces you how very much I like this sexy little body of yours. But God, I'm really sorry for seducing you like this. I mean, it's so damned Unprofessional! I hope you won't believe all I do is entice innocent girls up here on the pretext of photographing them, and then just leap on them like this! I've never had anything like this happen to me before. Please let me apologize."
"Oh, but I was just going to apologize for seducing You! Maybe when I visualized someone I wanted to take home to bed, it shouldn't have been you I was visualizing. But, well, I guess it Was true, damn it. So maybe we should both stop apologizing and admit it felt just great!"
"Oh, I haven't any regrets! It's just that if word gets around that I, well, slipped like this, I'd never get another model to pose for me again. This is not how I have made my reputation as an artist!"
"Well, there Was a certain artistry involved," she grinned. "But your secret's safe with me. I won't tell if you don't"
"Say, are you perhaps as starved as I am?"
"Famished! What did you have in mind?"
"There's a little Mandarin restaurant right around the corner that will deliver. And their strange-flavored chicken is of a subtlety you would not believe. Game?"
"Game! With rice, and Ceylon tea!"
"Great. And after that, well.. "
"Well," said Alex, exploring the faint tan-marks around the top of her one-piece, "I was hoping you might also like to have breakfast here too. Unless you had other plans."
"Frankly, I'd be insulted if you didn't ask."
"Ah, then it's really me and not my Pentax that turns you on!" He hugged her close for a long, grateful kiss and then grinned down at her, gloating.
"You know, Alex," she said, slowly, deliberately, "Sandy likes you. I mean Really likes you! She always said it was a damn shame she just wasn't your type. When she said she wanted to introduce me to you, she said she hoped I would be your type."
He frowned. "You mean old Sandy sent you here Expecting we'd end up like this?"
"Well, she might have been wrong you know!"
"But Was she wrong?"
"The hell she was!" And she kissed him.
"You know," Alex said, once he got his mouth back, "this may sound silly, and sudden, but there's something else I have been wanting to ask you."
"Well, ask away."
"You think you'd like to come to England with me?"
She smiled. "You mean you want my big tummy and tiny little titties to model for you on a permanent basis?"
"They don't feel so tiny to me. But, model? Oh hell no! After this I can't ever use you as a model again."
"Was I that bad!!"
"Damn it, No! You were fine! But I don't sleep with my models. At least, I never had till now. No, I mean, I realized, I Like explaining things to you. You actually listen to the silly things I say. And I think I'd like showing you things in England, and having you show me things. And then.. "
"And BOAC prefers that you go double-occupancy, don't they?"
"And I'd like That, too! Please say yes. I want you around while I try to take pictures of Stonehenge, and Avebury Henge, and Silbury Hill. There's an agent trying to get me some freelancing for naked-lady magazines over there, and if you were along it'd be unlikely that I'd slip with another model ever again. Think about it, at least."
"Oh Alex I'd love to come!"
And so he kissed her again, and phoned out for double-fried pork and strange-flavored chicken. While they waited for the delivery, Alex smiled down at the blonde nakedness of her.
"You know, I really Do like looking at that sexy body of yours. Maybe, after we've gotten to know each other really well for a long, long time, I'd like to try some serious nude studies, for that gallery that showed my desert stuff."
She wriggled impishly. "Would you pay me scale?"
Alex frowned. "No, we said ten under, as I recall."
"Not if I was very, Very good you said. And besides, next time I'll be an Experienced model, won't I? So -- I'm serious! Will you pay me scale?"
"Sheeeeesh!" Alex grinned, reaching for her again. "Doesn't anyone do it for fun any more?"
This story is dedicated to Ed Alexander, whose sets for many years made the pages of MAYFAIR Magazine doubly satisfying.
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