Boob Campaign

The email I'd received said 2811, which, frighteningly, corresponded with a mail box in a row of three in front of a series of houses.  So, not a business or a fancy studio, as I had hoped.  The butterflies dwelling in my stomach, that I had though of too late to drown in pharmaceuticals, roared at the thought of going into a stranger's home.  I drove by the offensive little white mailbox and turned around up the road, and drove by again.  Verification and dying hope.  I pulled my little Subie in to a driveway a little ways away from the screaming 2811.  What the hell was I thinking?

After pulling up my Gmail account and finding the previously proffered cell phone number, I sent a terse text: Where exactly am I going?  The reply confirmed it:  oh, the first green house and park next to the (dilapidated and fugly) Honda.  I pulled out of my little overhung sanctuary and drove back to the damned mailboxes, pulling in just behind the Honda.  I won't die!  He's a professional!  Someone would know where to find my body, surely.  Oh, sweet Jesus, what the hell was I thinking?!  I can't do this!

I steeled myself, pulled the emergency brake on my sweet Subie, and wrapped the strap of my Kavu around my neck.  I'm here.  I can do this. Stepping out of the car, I walked towards the green house - a typical SCAD style property, complete with mild overgrowth and a hammock - when a voice, emitted from said hammock, said hi.  He introduced himself, this master photographer dressed more like my tattooer in his scruffy facial growth, pin-striped pants and sideways cap.  I started to judge, to question further my decision, then remember being down on my knees in the grass, trying to capture the best smile that Tito, the min pin, could give me.  I have lost my mind.

He explained his story to me as he walked me into the green house.  Why he, who was out there, achieving fame and financial gain, was doing this private pro bono project.  A grandmother, a struggle, and a loss to breast cancer.  I know the story was supposed to put me at ease, but I was more inclined to focus on the one thing in the entire environment that I truly understood:  two little toy dogs, jumping on my legs and licking my fingertips.

Our back and forth emails had told me a little bit of what he hoped to achieve.  I knew clothes were coming off and that I'd be wearing a mask.  My legs started to shake.  It sounded like the worst start to a snub film, because I was dumb enough to volunteer.  After greeting and abandoning the precious little puppies, Master Photographer showed me an image that had already made its way through processing.

It was stunning.

A woman, clearly a woman from her displayed assets, peered at us under the mummy trappings, provocatively angling her body both towards and away from us.  Her sole visible blue eye popped under the dulled and dirty white wrappings, all set against a pink background.  The image was simple and beautiful and this man had captured it in his little green house.  I win.

He led me to what once had been the dining room for the house, little white paws scampering after me, and showed me a laundry basket of ghoulish and furry masks.  He showed me the ones that he had already used - this campaign of ten strange and equally insane women - and the ones that had yet to be used.  A cheetah print, a soulless face, generic horrors.  And, finally, the face that spoke to me, with an ode to Donnie Darko.

I was to be a rabbit.

And then he asked what color my undies were.

Having been with my husband for several years, having been happily devoted for even longer, my heart stuttered.  Horrified.  Little did I know that this photo shoot would have lingering feelings of guilt.

We talked about the logistics.  Where would my hands go?  How would I protect what little bit of decency that kept this from being smut?  My legs were still shaking.  My butterflies were dying the deaths of insects poisoned - hyperactivity due to toxicity until their hearts exploded.  As reassured as his obvious talent made me, I was still being asked to do something I had never done before.

If my nerves showed, he never mentioned it.  He lapsed into a professional mode.  I spoke of trying my hand with photography, of the animals and the volunteering and the one horrible portrait class.  He had me stand in front of his flashes - gladly, I was able to recognize the umbrella lighting, the key flash - as he tested my white balance and set things up.  To have that skill!

He hurriedly looked at his histogram, his screen giving him details I haven't figured out yet, and he ran off to another part of the house, muttering to me to take my clothes off.  But.. but.. 

Seconds or minutes or years later found me behind and beside the flash stands again, all protection from the outside world seemingly lost.  I was bare but for my little color-balanced undies.  We had to maneuver to get the mask on, to get it to stay, to pin in to my hair and then to get my hair fluffed back up.  He asked me what I did for a living and I told him about my job, which immediately garnered the question of whether my distinguishable tattoos would need to be edited out.  I said no.  I highly doubt I'll make in to one of the magazines for which he does his art, so how else would any of my coworkers find out?  What friends?

The shoot itself lasted a small eternity.  At no point did he make me feel like I was less than his best friend and he seemed genuinely grateful for the anxiety-ridden torment I was putting myself through.  I learned a lot, actually.  If I ever delve into the world of people, I now have a better understanding of how to angle the female body to get it the most flattering.  And how to speak, calmly explaining what to do.

For the last few scenes, he wanted me to glisten.  I'm not sure if it was something he used with the others, but he did have a spray bottle of water handy.  And, man, if I wasn't uncomfortable before.  His quick analyzation of what position we would be contorting me into and how best to spray to highlight - the speed and the tilt of my head and holding, holding, holding of a pose.

When it was over, he ran off again.  Muttering, again, to put my clothes back on.  I ripped the mask off so quickly that the clips holding it in my hair went flying.  I was still drenched and he had offered nothing by which to dry myself.  My mind immediately began to torment me with questions about how I appeared on his screen.  I've done enough self-portraiture to know that only one out of every ten will meet my standards.  In the fifteen minutes that I stood unclothed in his dining room, just me and my mask, surely he got something exceptional.

I dressed - butterflies now zombies crawling up my sides - and wondered.  When he came back into the dining room, I was presented with an online model agreement.  Oh, Beks, when you do something, you don't half-ass it.  First modeling session is a peekaboo?!  And he explained the rest of the details - the things I ought to have asked prior to agreeing to anything.  The prints would be advertised online.  The proceeds would be given to the Komen Foundation and to private individuals.  And then it was time to leave.

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