God, do I envy Katie Holmes! Not for reasons you might think. Not for her wealth, her celebrity, her fashion, or her youth. I envy her for that spectacularly clever 10-day-divorce. What a swift excision of an albatross. Here, in the antiquated state of North Carolina, you have to be legally separated for ONE YEAR before you can even file for a divorce. Surely they must be jokin or smokin! Someone certainly got this one back asswards. You can marry any fool on the planet in a nanosecond, but wake up one day and realize you have married Satan’s Spawn, and the process of amputating the critter takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R.
Now that’s off my chest, let’s continue with Part 2 of Truman Capote and the Mystique of Redheads. It’s been awhile since I posted Part 1, which wasn’t my intent, but since going to court has become almost a full-time job, things can get a bit hung up. Here’s a link to Part 1, in case you’ve forgotten where we were.
After a blissful two weeks on holiday with Jack in St. Martin, the morning finally arrived for my short flight to St. Barts. Other than missing Jack for the week, I was giddy with excitement.
When the handful of passengers disembarked from the tiny plane I was surprised to find only Sergio waiting for me on the tarmac, wearing nothing but a smile, a sarong, and an erection stretching to Honduras. There simply were not enough places for my eyes to light to avoid his rather obvious ‘situation’. He handed me a pareo and nonchalantly told me I’d be wearing that and going topless henceforth, in order to avoid “spoiling your perfect tan”.
A premonition of how this week might go flashed in front of me, as I cast one last longing look at the tantalizingly close island of St. Martin. My safety net vanished in the distance as Sergio whipped the little Jeep up the mountain to the villa that would be home for the week.
After meeting the clients, hair and make-up people, and the Playboy Bunnies, several things became painfully obvious. Sergio treated the three Playmates like something smelly he’d unearthed in a rubbish heap. He only reluctantly photographed them, but would fawn and fret over my lighting and set ups for hours. He made frequent reference to “those chunky California babes”, and his mouth turned down in disgust when any of the girls spoke to him.
I, on the other hand, was having great fun with these ladies. I’d never met any real Playmates before and was expecting over-the-top glamour. Instead, they were all so normal. Two were single moms and their Playboy gigs were just one more way to pay the rent and put food on the table. Sergio’s ill treatment of them cut them to the quick and probably caused embarrassment to more than just me. Oddly, the editorial staff from Playboy did nothing to stop the behavior.
My striking resemblance to Sergio’s estranged wife Starla soon became a thorn in my side. Sergio was one determined little MOFO and simply never stopped hitting on me. The presence of my 6’3″ husband ten minutes away dissuaded him not one whit. With every tiny adjustment of a lock of my hair or a slight repositioning of my shoulders came yet another innuendo or outright suggestions of all the extra-curricular fun we could be having if I’d just be reasonable and loosen up. For the entire seven-day shoot the three of us were inseparable. Me, Sergio, and his ever-present hard on. Good God man, take that thing in hand and vanquish it, even if for just a little while!
Other than his Supreme Horniness and constant pursuit, one memory really stands out. There was to be a full moon with passing clouds one evening. It was decided that I would be placed on a giant cactus plant in a revealing leopard jump suit. Sergio and crew would be waiting at the bottom of the hill and snap a home-run photo at the precise moment the moon and clouds passed over the cactus. I was supposed to stretch and arch on the cactus branch like a wild cat at exactly the same moment.
After much discussion with a meteorologist, it was determined the perfect time for our shot would be 3:22AM. The client didn’t want me sleep deprived, so right after dinner they slipped me half a Valium so I could have a wee nap. At 1:30am, I was roused from my slumber for hair and makeup and lifted in a bucket truck to the cactus branch. It was extremely dark up there, with no ambient light whatsoever. I couldn’t even see my own hands. Terrible crawling, slithery sounds surrounded me, almost causing me to lose my balance on that prickly perch and tumble down the hill. By 2:30, with still another 52 minutes to go, it was obvious something vital was missing from our little tableau. A PortaPotty, STAT. I should have realized that a truly delectable Franciscan Cabernet is only for rent, not for keeps. Note to self for future bookings. No liquids prior to going on set, especially those involving cacti.
Back comes the bucket truck and down I go. It took two dressers to get me out and then back into that silly cat suit. Sergio was hyperventilating and exhorting me to hurry and get back on my perch. It was 3:15.
The actual shoot took no more than a single roll of film and Sergio was over the moon about what he’d captured through his lens. For both models and photographers there is always one signature shot they hope for. One that will have the industry buzzing and lay people shaking their heads in amazement. Sergio was sure this was his Mona Lisa.
When we returned to NYC Wilhelmina was ecstatic about the photos. A lavish viewing party was planned at Sergio’s studio. I couldn’t wait to see what we had created and knew I would be safe from Sergio because Jack would be at my side.
Unfortunately, the afternoon of the party, I suffered what would be the first of seven miscarriages and spent the evening in the hospital. Sergio never forgave me for being a no-show and would never share any of the photos with me. The perfect revenge for not sleeping with him.
In a bizarre twist, neither the photos nor the story ever appeared in Playboy in America, though I heard the Japanese version picked it up some time later. The reason? What happens to red hair when exposed to too much time in the sun? Our hair oxidizes and turns yellow, thereby nullifying the whole ‘redheaded mystique’ concept. I was smiling though. I’d escaped the persistent Sergio, spent three weeks in the Caribbean, and pocketed $10K. You gotta love the modeling biz!
This is the only Polaroid I snagged from that shoot, hair already turning yellow and eyes shooting daggers at Sergio!