But mostly we’re welcomed all over with a lot of enthusiasm. Our press conference attracts 300 print and television journalists and the limelight shines on all of our girls with their elegantly dressed glamour shots flickering on television screens and on the society pages of most prestigious of the newspapers. Sumer of course is the most popular with her full head of floating blonde tresses and her sweet and seductive smiles and according to Jan, also because of her extravagant décolleté.  They also love the French, Nathalie Galan,  whom the prominent daily El Universal  calls despampanante rubia – a stunning blonde.

Luiza Brunet from Brazil is stunningly beautiful and yet the Mexican press doesn’t  pay her much attention probably because she is a mulatta,  dime a dozen with the Mexican streets filled with their own pretty morenas.  But Luiza is already a super model in her country and the official mascot of the Brazilian team.  She considers Pele to be her friend, with whom she is to make a movie in the near future. She is low key, unpretentious and soft spoken, but when she first appears, she is accompanied by her boyfriend Armando. To have boyfriends and husbands around is always pain in the butt. She is a professional so she is there when we need her, but then she has “him” waiting for her. But he stays in the background and I don’t remember any major disruption. Except that Armando is robbed of US$ 2400.- in cash. You can’t completely ignore it. You have to try to help him – one more thing to worry about.

One evening when our group walks into the restaurant El Refugio, Jan observes the look on the faces of the crowd gazing at us as them having witnessed a bunch of Martians having landed in their valley. We begin shooting in little Venice, that is the remote town center of Mexico City and goes by an exotic name, Xochimilco – literally soft milk. Once a lake, it has evolved into various canals filled with flower bedecked gondolas called trajineros, They are actually built flat like pontoons. We hire two of them. The girls in one and the crew in another one. We let the girls loose sans script and let Pompeo and his assistant Steve Conway just point and shoot. The girls are getting into the spirit, some on the deck even taking off their tops. The poor gondola drivers and the young onlookers on the canal banks. Only if the girls know what they are doing to those poor bastards!!  Fortunately there are no keepers of the morality around in this little paradise of Mexico City to throw us overboard.

But if only everything would go that smooth. That night we witness the Japanese candidate Emi Kojo  and her chaperone/interpreter, Yuko Kato suddenly break out in a violent cat and dog fight. No idea about what, because it is obviously all in the Japanese. We are sitting in a café and everyone gets to experience the war of two beautiful roses. I butt-in like a thorn in the middle and play referee. Détente comes with hugs and me taking them to San Angel Grill, where Mexican edition’s top executive, Alfred Amescua is hosting dinner to welcome the group. But the peace is short lived. Two nights later, we are in Hotel Real de Minas in Santiago de Querétaro, one of the World Cup venues.  In middle of the night, Jan calls my room informing me that Emi is complaining about a serious stomach ache. She is hysterical and wants us to call a doctor for her. We are practically in the middle of nowhere. Besides, I am not convinced of how serious her ache is. So I sit her down on the bed and reason. Ask her a few questions and tell her to drink a glass of warm milk, which we promptly order from the room service. I tell her that is what  my mother would have done. But she continues to squirm. To which I respond probably a bit sternly that I want her to try it and go to bed. Should it not work, I promise her we would get a doctor for her. She doesn’t call during the night but continues to complain about her stomach and refuses to join the other girls at the stadium in the morning. So we go ahead and shoot with the remaining eight. The individual nudes are to be shot in Puerto Vallarta, and it becomes clear to me that Emi would be more trouble than she would be worth. I have her to be the first to be photographed soon as we begin in the morning and ship her back to Tokyo on the first available flight. A month or two later, I receive a sweetest little letter from her:

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