Our meeting took place on 22nd of May of 1987. We all had a little over six months to bring the project to life. Soon as I had gotten Chicago’s approval, each one of our editions went to work. This is the kind of a project, if you stop to think of the enormity of the task, overwhelmed, you never would do it. So the best was to just begin. I am not quite sure how the idea of tying-in a major pictorial came about, but I believe it had to be Jan Heemskerk, the editor-in-chief of our Dutch edition. We had partnered a year before in producing of Mundial ’86 – the soccer world cup in Mexico, and now we would work together to do the same with the Beauty Pageant. Gary Cole – the photography director of the mother edition loaned us his star editor and producer Jeff Cohen, we got Tom Staebler – the art director as a bonus. In addition, Gary hired and made available to us the renowned British photographer Byron Newman, who as it turns out, also went to London College of Printing to study photography, probably around the same years as I was studying Photolithography also at LCP, and his wife/stylist, the French actress Brigitte Ariel, who played Edith Piaf in the movie, Piaf: The Early Years. And  he would contribute substantial sum towards the expenses of the photo production. My division and the editions would pick up the rest.

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The infrastructure in place, on December 2, 1987, Jeff, Tom and I, accompanied by Playmate Lynne Austin (July 1986) – who is to represent the United States – board Tokyo bound Japan Airlines Flight 009, which would connect us with an onward flight to Hong Kong.

Us four are sitting in the middle row – happy to be pulling away from our respective day-to-day grinds, we are looking forward to our two week long adventure in Hong Kong. Half way through the flight, Jeff and Tom have either drifted away, snoozing or have withdrawn within themselves, while Lynne and I are quite animated, chatting away. I love her down home southern  natural self. And her Texas twang. We talk about things and the conversation veers towards the beauty pageant. She asks many relevant questions about the contest and its organization. I tell her what I know and then she asks.

‘Who will be the judges?’

‘Albert Cheng, our Hong Kong publisher for one, and other local dignitaries.’

‘Will they all be men?’

‘I am not sure, but of the group, I think one or two are women.’

‘Hum!’ She grunts and then looks at me with an impish smile on her face.

‘Do you think Chinese men like blow jobs?’

She is of course kidding. Or is she?  Anything to win? The more I get to know h, the more I like the real woman that she is and I am charmed by her natural beauty and her sense of humor.

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There is absolutely no rest for the wicked. We left Chicago the day before at around noon, arriving in Hong Kong at three in the afternoon the next day. Soon as we check into Hotel Prince, the instant meeting breaks out and lasts until one in the morning. Already there or arriving  simultaneously are Byron and Brigitte, Jan and Lucienne Bruinooge of Holland. There is no time to waste, so we get into the production of the pictorial the very next day. Most of the themes are conceived by Byron and Brigitte and are discussed among us. The concepts basically present  the stereotypes of each country, which makes their nationalities easily recognizable.

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