Archives for posts with tag: Life

Haresh Shah

The Fine Art Of Getting Away With Murder

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By the time I heard this story of excess and padding of expense account by one of Life magazine’s star photographers, it had already acquired legendary proportions. There is nothing Life wouldn’t do to cover the world events and be the first and the fastest to bring it back to their nine million readers in words and living colors. Spreads and spreads of images – known among us at Time as fast edits. We were practically an assembly line of  experts from the reporters to the photographers to the writers to the editors and the art directors and at the tail end – us the production people. We would stand by days and nights, weekdays or weekends – and jump in so the magazine would be on its way to its loyal readers on time, week after week.

So it was no wonder that people at the front end of the making of Life were the most pampered, nurtured and spoiled rotten. The darlings among them were the photographers. The story I am told of is that of one of Life’s photographers most notorious for padding his expenses and constantly getting away with it to everyone else’s envy and chagrin. Padding itself was not too difficult, considering that we were not required to submit any receipts for the expenses under $25.00. If you happen to be on the road for several days, how much you can get away with writing off depended entirely on your own creative audacity.  No one ever questioned things you put down on your expense sheet – if for nothing else, not to sound cheap or earning a reputation of being a grouch.

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Haresh Shah

Every Life Untold Is A Pandora’s Box

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The reason I decided to write Playboy Stories is: However I try not to talk about me having worked at the magazine for twenty one years, it always comes up. Like the afternoon when I was visiting my childhood friend Deven at his brother Madhu’s house in Elgin. I also met for the first time Madhu’s son Mehul and his wife Priti. We’ve had a leisurely late afternoon lunch and were just trying to catch up when out of a clear blue sky, Deven comes out and says to Priti that I worked for Playboy. No wonder you’re so cool! She exclaimed. Whatever that meant. As I began to answer some of her questions and mentioned I was thinking of starting a blog about my years at Playboy, suddenly her husband Mehul’s antenna popped up. Up until then, he hadn’t said a word other than the initial hello, beyond that his nose remained buried into the screen of his I-Pad.

About a month earlier, I had invited for dinner my two young neighbors, Alex and Evan with their  girlfriends Jessica and Tara. When Alex happened  to mention my Playboy connection, that answered the girls’ curiosity regarding why half of my wall in the guest room is filled with every single issue of the last fifty years of the US Playboy, as well as the landmark issues of the international editions of which I was editorial director. The girls had questions. Tara 22 and Jessica 23. What was it like to work for Playboy? Had I ever met Hefner? Had I been to his mansion? Was I ever present at photo shoots? What are those girls like? They can’t all be that perfect. And so on, is when Alex said good humouredly, Don’t ask many questions. Its like opening up Pandora’s Box. A week later, when I ended up sharing a steak dinner with Alex and Jessica, I couldn’t help but think how pretty she was, and how unpretentious, down home simple. Just like, yes, the girl next door. I said out loud, that she could be a Playmate.

‘No, I can’t. With my height, and…’ She didn’t finish the sentence, but I presumed, she didn’t think her breasts were ample enough.

‘No Jessica, not all Playmates are tall and buxom. For example…what’s her name?’ As it often happens to me, even though I could clearly picture Jenny McCarthy standing next to me, fitting snuggly under my arm – a whole head shorter than me. And I am only five-five (1.65m). After they left, I rummaged through one of my many shoe boxes of photographic prints waiting to be included in an album I may make someday or never get around to ever doing it. But our brief conversation inspired me to do just that – to throw together all the stray photos depicting bits and pieces of my life at Playboy in a scrapbook  ostentatiously titled,  La Vie Playboy – Das Leben und Zeiten von Haresh Shah – 1972-1993.

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