starlets or aspiring to be one or the other.  Now with the genuine Playboy hook, his modus operandi must have become even smoother.  I could just imagine him using a line such as: You’ve got to meet my good friend Haresh from Playboy. To his credit, I must say, he never misled or promised them anything – other than insinuating that as beautiful as they were, they just may have a chance of becoming  Playmates.  But mainly they came along because mine was an open house where friends felt comfortable walking in with a friend or two of their own. These visits would often turn into an impromptu party.  Nothing wild by any stretch of imagination. Hanging out, going out to eat and dance, stop at cafes and bars that were also art galleries, sit around for hours at the stammtisch – a  large table reserved for the regulars in good old German tradition – at one at one of our favorite wine lokals.

Britt came up with several girls. None of them quite qualified to be a Playmate. The first one he brought over was flat chested, the second had already posed in the nude, the third was cute but her breasts sagged,  and also there was something about her face that looked perpetually tired. Britt calling me up every so often and asking me to look at a Playmate candidate had started to irritate me.  Annoyed, I was about to put a stop to his assault on my time.  Just then he came up with a winner.

Barbara  – a strikingly pretty and yet easy-going, unpretentious Bavarian beauty, with an oval face. Tall, lithe curvaceous figure, a brunette with her hair floating down below her shoulders, and a set of penetrating brown eyes. What struck me the most about her was her mischievous innocence.  And she didn’t come hanging on Britt’s arm.  Accompanying her was her American boyfriend, Scott.

We were just starting out so there was no procedure in place. I knew, at the US Playboy they would just bring in the girl into the studio, place her on an existing set and do some Polaroids and test shoot a few quick rolls of films. I didn’t want to approach Freddy about how we would go about doing a test shoot. That would give him one more excuse to back out. But I mentioned it to Rainer who let me have a few rolls of Ektachromes cooling in the photo department’s refrigerator.  The less fuss we made about it, the better it would be.

My apartment in Munich was a spacious two bedroom fifth floor unit with wrap around balcony, facing North and West and the outer glass walls through which cascades of light filtered in.   And yet it offered total privacy of an attic with sky lights.  Even though I had studied photography and  was a serious amateur and in possession of semi-professional photographic equipment, I hadn’t any experience in doing  serious nudes, other than having done some hobby nudes of my friends Jan and Marilyn in Chicago years earlier.  Since what I was going to do was just a test shoot – should she be approved, we would have a professional photographer take over. So without much a do,  I pulled out my Pentax Spotmatic and various lenses from their black case and loaded the camera with one of the Ektachromes.

Unlike most other girls requiring a glass of champagne or wine to loosen up, Barbara was naturally relaxed.  She was completely at ease with her clothes off. She moved and laughed and made faces, came up with some good suggestions and good poses. I just put George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass on the turn table, placed her in the front of my bare white wall and let her dance to the music.  We shot two rolls.  The next morning I dropped off the films at the in-house lab for processing.

When the processed strips of the films were delivered to my office  that night, to my horror, they contained no more than washed out barely visible ghost images of Barbara. Absolutely bummed out, when I checked my camera, I realized that the battery powering  the light meter was dead, causing the needle indicating the exposure to be stuck. I had overexposed to oblivion in my brightly lit apartment.

Nothing I could do.

© 2012 Haresh Shah

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Next Friday, December 14, 2012

SMUGGLING SMUT: Its one thing to work for the magazine banned in India. Quite an ordeal trying to sneak several copies of it past the customs. But how else could I show off my family and friends the product I was so proud of and had a part in making?

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