There Is An Endless Story

Haresh Shah

One of the first times I met with Patrick Magaud is him walking into the offices of the French editor-in-chief Patrick Eynaud at Euredif headquarters located in a highrise in the thick of Paris’ Quartier Chinois. Accompanying him is not only a stunningly beautiful photo model but also a baby tiger on a leash being lead in by Patrick as if this adorable little cub were his pet dog. Not an unusual sight in the French editorial offices to find a dog snoozing under one of the editor’s desks or cats curled up at their feet. But a tiger? Well, because it’s Patrick.

Patrick is an idea man. The man who is perpetually excited about life. A daring one at that. He is known for pulling off stunts – the kind no one else would even dream of. Like the one he would tell me about over a dinner once we got to know each other better. He tells me about how once he rented a mini van, packed it with his photographic gear, an assistant by his side and a couple of gorgeous females, already unrobed, styled and made up and ready to jump in and out of action and proudly and provocatively pose in the front of the Paris streets and the landmark monuments.  Such as walking in the middle of  ChampsÉlysées with Arc de Triumphe in the background, biking topless around Café de Flores with a couple of baguettes sticking out of the career, prancing at the foot of the mighty Eiffel Tower, two of hem flaunting their wares from a Ferris wheel rotating in the Tuileries, jet skiing in the river Seine, frolicking at the curve of the iconic restaurant Fouquet’s.

Patrick and his assistant already poised with their cameras at ready and voila, he would start shooting as the model tries to blend in with the scenery. The traffic coming to standstill, pedestrians breaking their strides doing a double take and the café crowd shaking their heads in amazement. Suddenly, they would hear the shrill screaming of sirens and the twirling blue flashes of the flag lights closing in on them. Everyone would be sucked back inside the gateway van standing in the middle of the street  with its motor running. The doors slammed, tires screeching and they would be on their way before the gendarme catch up with them. Ensconced back in the van, everyone is laughing and feeling mighty smug at the feat they together have pulled off. As the sirens fade, Patrick and his assistant are already unloading the films from their cameras and tucking them away in their gear bags, loading new films.

Their next destination? Père Lachaise Cemetery. The model Nathalie’s naked body is painted black – the color of tarnished bronze. Soon as the van stops, she climbs out and runs to the the grave of the 19th century poet Victor Noir and promptly mounts his life size horizontal  statue with her legs wide apart and her crotch rubbing against his sculpted bulge of shiny copper.  No, she is not just acting ecstatic, but as Patrick would recount later, during the shoot Nathalie really got turned on, leaving behind the residue of her feminine scent on the poor Noir. Over the period of time, the statue has become a symbol of fertility of sorts like that of Shiva’s erect lingam, (Living Dangerously, Playboy, May 1990, also collected in the book Exhibition in Paris)

And then he takes one of his models – of course au naturell up on a helicopter ride, hovering at low altitude, the whole Paris looking upwards with their necks craned while he is floating aboard a balloon at the parallel height and shooting her sight-seeing.

If not as daring, following the success of Playboy pictorial about The Women of Russia – shot by Alexander Borodulin (Mission: Implausible, Playboy February 1990), while talking about other such pictorials, the photo editor Jeff Cohen  and Patrick utter almost simultaneously – Cuba. The island verboten to us poor Americans. A bit of a problem. But Patrick is not the kind to shy away from them. Through the Cuban counsel in Paris, he works towards acquiring permission to do just that, The Girls of Cuba (Cuba Libre, Playboy March 1991). Equally as adventurous, Jeff finds a way to make it to the island via Mexico – his passport bearing no proof of him swilling Cuba libres under the nose and the protection of the people of Fidel Castro. Considering the political situation and restrictions, they come back home with the images of some tantalizing island beauties – among them, Idolka de Erbiti. Patrick promptly falls in love with her, and does something he has avoided doing so far. Marry Idolka and bring her back to the city of lights.

But when he can, Patrick is not satisfied just shooting glamorous nudes. What turns him on and gets his creative juices flowing are the extreme fantasies and making them come to life in his photography. On that day he has shown up with the beauty and the beast to propose a pictorial with the girl and the tiger cub frolicking. What was there not to agree?

Patrick and I hit of off almost right away and soon he would take me along to show real Paris. It is Patrick who takes me to the Paris off the beaten tracks. For the first time I get a taste of Moroccan and North African food and savor how delicious the humble couscous could be. He takes me to small and inexpensive bistros in the neighborhoods that are far away from the center. Often we would be accompanied by some of his friends and his beautiful models. What he shows me is the different Paris than what I have been exposed to so far, and I am loving it. Those soirées bring us closer and the more I get to know him, more I am amazed at how impish and child like he is. His face wears a continuous mischievousness in that he is amazed at everything that is life. Sometimes I feel that he is living as if every day were the last day of his life.

What I know of Patrick is that strictly speaking he is not your run of the mill French man. He is of Arabic descent. You can see that on his square but angular face. Even his accent is slightly lilting compared to the way others speak French. Could have even come from Algeria, as did the existential philosopher Albert Camus. Living in the moment. Existing to the fullest in the world capital of the existentialism. So we find a lot in common to talk about.

But what we talk about the most are girls. Our experiences with them and the misadventures. Like two adolescents still in awe of the mystery that every woman is. And how we absolutely love and adore them. And we talk about sex. Not your day-to-day variety, but the fantasy of it.

‘You know what turns me on more than even having sex itself?’


‘The thought of it. The imagination. The fantasy.’

And then he tells me of one of his most yearned for fantasies coming true.

We have had a long day. I was shooting multiple models all day long and we’re all tired and also hungry. The group of us is sitting around a large round table at a restaurant. When you’re shooting and busy doing your work, no matter how beautiful they are, how you may have developed a crush on one of them, you can’t just conjure up a fantasy of undressing her, because you have seen her totally naked all day long. But it’s when she is fully dressed and is sitting next to you is when your imagination gets wild. Chantal was her name. She is sitting next to me. My assistant and the crew are busy talking, eating, drinking, laughing and just unwinding from the hard day’s work. There are about eight girls, but the only one on my mind is Chantal. I don’t have to imagine what she looks like underneath her clothes. But I had had a long time fantasy, something I hadn’t tried out so far, but as we have a few glasses of wine and I am liking Chantal more and more, and she seems to like me too. But that’s not unusual for a model to fall for her photographer, at least in the moment. But I am thinking to myself, maybe I can try out with Chantal what I have hesitated doing so far. She notices that there is a momentary lull in our conversation and I have gone quiet, as if lost in deep thoughts.’

‘What are you thinking?’

‘Oh, nothing special. Just thoughts!’

‘Come on, you look quite serious.’

‘Well, I am thinking… never mind, it’s silly.’

‘I want to hear it.’

‘Promise you won’t laugh if I told you!’

‘I promise.’

‘Okay, what I am thinking of is – actually It’s an old fantasy.’ And I stop. I feel her gaze irretrievably fixed on me

‘All right. I hope you don’t freak out with what I am about to ask you.’

‘Come on. Don’t torture me. I am a big girl.’

‘Okay. What I am thinking of is, what I would love you to do is to excuse yourself and go to the bathroom, take your panties off and bring them back to me. I will slip them into my pants pocket and I am the only one around this table who would know that you’re naked underneath your skirt!’

Chantal looks at me, a bit amazed but not exactly shocked.

‘Is that it?’

‘Yeah. Would you do it for me?’

She doesn’t answer, just smirks and after a minute or so, excuses herself and kicks her chair back and I watch her walk over to the bathroom. When she comes back, she discreetly hands her crumpled panties over to me under the table and I tuck them in to my pocket.

‘Haresh, let me tell you, I have never felt as excited and as aroused up until then and since as when I was in the possession of those panties, her sitting next to me and only me and her knowing that she is bare underneath her skirt, and there are all these other girls and my assistant sitting around, and hoards of other diners of the restaurant, nobody else but only I know! You have no idea how incredible turn on it was!!’

And he smiles. And the distant dreamy look he has on his face communicates the rest.

© Haresh Shah

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks


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Next Friday, December 5, 2014


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