Forgive me if in my previous post I have seemed to be condescending towards the adult photographers shooting next to me. Some of them were, I believe, far superior to me when it came to doing studio photography. Certainly they had much more experience doing it than I did. Furthermore, they made their living this way, whereas I did a bit of everything–doing the writing, shooting pictures, polishing up my images, doing web site work–so I found myself a jack of all trades yet a master of none. Nevertheless, as I mentioned in my last post, ironically the best of my colleagues were oftentimes put at the greatest disadvantage when it came to doing the best stage action photography. And the most highly paid among them were the ones that were at the greatest disadvantage. I could shoot a thousand pictures in a single evening of entertainers doing their shows, edit the images myself using a graphics arts program and send them directly off to whoever I wanted to–for instance Xtreme Magazine or the Pure Talent Agency using the Internet, and I could even show off my pictures to the entertainers on my laptop between their shows right in the night club. But the best photographers near me had to send their negatives to the magazines they were shooting for or have them developed elsewhere which was a slow lengthy process during which they gave up control of what their final output was to become. Most of them wanted the latest digital pro cameras but found themselves stymied by the outmoded technology victimizing them. Later they’d be capitalizing on the new digital high tech with a vengeance. One of them would later start carrying around not one but two Nikon D-1 x’s just like mine while another, who I had a huge amount of respect for, was just starting to get into digital by the time I was moving to Thailand. But whenever I start thinking back of the men shooting near me in all those night clubs I keep fondly remembering him. He was a real pro, who made a good living by his photography alone whereas I was making my living farming of all things and was only doing my writing and photography as a lark.
I remember back a long time ago before I knew better ogling all those erotic fully naked glossies in the magazine he was shooting for. Back then I could visualize the photographer who actually did the work. The man was dark headed, slender but with a muscular build, and he had beady eyes because only someone like that could produce such pictures. Later, I’d find myself working side by side with him, and not just once, but many many times although never enough. The picture accompanying this post was taken of me and a girl I had never met before at Nudes-A-Poppin. There are a hundred female and male entertainers all around me in the swimming pool area where Sunday’s shows are being performed. The Nudes-A-Poppin pageant is a two day affair with the competitions being held on a large outdoor stage next to the pool. If you look closely you might be able to see a fence on the perimeter of this pool area. There is a crowd of paying customers just outside this fenced in area. I think it costs them $50.00 a person to get into the Ponderosa Sun Ranch. Ponderosa Sun Ranch is a nudist colony, but one weekend per year it hosts the Nudes-A-Poppin festivities. That is me pretending to fall asleep in the pretty girl’s lap. I am within the fenced in perimeter which means that I’ve not paid a dime to be here for one thing. The customers outside the fence are allowed to come onto the Ponderosa Sun Ranch property only on Sunday. The rest of us have been here since 6:30 on Saturday morning. On both Saturday and Sunday mornings our day starts off with entering a small outbuilding on the property where we will spend the next four or five hours doing our release work. There’s only four or five photographers in the building, and I’m one of them. Bob’s standing next to me. He’s the guru among us. He’s the old pro, so if we have any questions, he’s the man we will ask.
The entertainers will start entering this outbuilding from around 7 a.m. on so we have to be here until 11 or 12. Since there are to be no competitions until Sunday, this leaves all of us free to simply wander around the place taking pictures or just getting to know people. Bob will be our fearless leader. All the entertainers know him. After all he’s been shooting their pictures for years and has developed quite a following. The more prominent among them have been in his private photography studio at least once. He’s far from being the beady eyed, dark headed predator I had imagined when I used to ogle his stimulating pictures in the magazine he was shooting for. His hair has long ago started to grey, and he’s probably not as slender as he used to be. He is soft spoken and very accommodating. One cannot help liking him.
Upon entering this small building all entertainers must produce at least two id’s which will verify who they are and that they are over 18. There are four or five people working for the Ponderosa Sun Ranch who are here to assist the entertainers and to make sure that all the release work gets done properly. There’s a row of several long tables where the entertainers now sit. Here they have to fill out their paperwork. Bob and I and the other photographers each have over one hundred releases handy. At this point each of us must make sure that someone gives each entertainer a copy of our magazine’s release. A copy of each entertainer’s id’s is made and this submitted to the people in charge. My release has a space on it for the id number which is usually the person’s driver’s license. Each entertainer must now completely fill out five or six releases, which include mine and Bob’s. Once an entertainer fills out all her releases and gets up from the table it is our job to shoot pictures of her. Bob might be the first, or it might be me or someone else. But we all work together so that the whole process goes like clockwork. When it’s my turn to take an entertainer’s picture I have her place the Xtreme Magazine release up in front of her (but not in front of her face. She also must show her number which identifies her when she’s up on stage the next day or even if she’s having her pictures taken as she wanders around the place.
I enjoy the company of the other photographers around me and as I have already mentioned there’s only four or five of us. Outside the building the entertainers will be meeting a few other photographers all of whom have been carefully screened by Scarlet, who is the owner of the Nudes-A-Poppin pageant. Either that or it’s her parents who technically own it along with the Nudist Camp, but one can be sure that it’s Scarlett who’s the ramrod. And you don’t just show up here expecting to shoot pictures. It is up to Scarlett to determine whether you are worthy or not. Her primary criterion is that she has to think that you are able to provide Nudes-A-Poppin with some rather significant publicity. I’ve been here before, the first time covering Nudes-A-Poppin for Exotic Dancer Publications and Xtreme Magazine after that. Looking back on it all, I feel that I was among the elite of the elite. Only four or five photographers get to do their release work inside the little building, and I’m working side by side with Bob who’s simply one of the best. One can just imagine the prestige a photographer gets with all the entertainers just by being with such a small group.
Since there’s no entertainment scheduled once the release work is completed, the other photographers and I accompany Bob, who’s become our unofficial fearless leader, in a pilgrimage about the place. For the next hour or two Bob assembles groups of entertainers for group photos. There’s also outdoor games the women participate in. By mid-afternoon most of us are hungry so we wind up wandering off in our cars in small groups to visit various restaurants throughout the area. That’s how I found Dirty Heather. She had ridden down with two men from Iowa. One of them would eventually end up shooting Pure Talent’s showcases about the time I had finished shooting them. They invited me to accompany them to lunch at the Olive Garden, two girls were with them, so that’s how I started getting to know Heather pretty well.
One thing about Nudes-A-Poppin. It’s held at a nudist colony for one thing so the nudist colony’s rules must be religiously adhered to. One of the rules is there’s no swimming in the colony’s pool unless one is completely nude. On at least two occasions I found myself in a group of men and women completely naked in the pool drinking with the people around me. One time it was with Bob and several of the other photographers along with several very well known feature entertainers; the other time it was with several attractive unknown strippers who just happened to have the hotel room next to mine.
Now I don’t know if this is another rule or not, but I’ve heard that hard ons are not allowed on the Ponderosa Sun Ranch’s property, at least not in public. If true, I don’t know what the nudist colony does with the offending member. Does it chop it off or does it expel its host from the community? I will say that I’ve never been physically stimulated in a single one of my several visits there as a photographer. Of course we photographers are always fully clothed at Nudes-A-Poppin except when we are in the swimming pool. This is not the case with the entertainers. In fact we are being so constantly surrounded by all those naked female bodies that it all gets to be very ho hum. We aren’t allowed to get hard ons even if we felt like getting them so what’s the whole point? Oh yes. The point is to get as many outstanding pictures as possible.
So take a look at the picture at the top of this post again? The girl is one of the very few who’s got any clothing on. I’ve got a lot more pictures of me with my head on the laps of fully naked entertainers. But is there really a difference? Pleasure and Pain will be featured in my gun article on the Baikal 12 gauge shotgun and I’ve got pictures of me lying all over a fully naked Pleasure, but there’s nothing going on here. And there isn’t with the girl in this picture either. The only thing is although I’d first meet Pleasure at Nudes-A-Poppin, I’d later become good friends with her whereas the girl in this particular picture I’d never see again. She was very cute, but she simply never showed up at any of the adult industry events I’d later be covering.
But back to Bob. Bob was no doubt one of the finest photographers in the adult entertainment business. He was also one of the most respected. For instance Lolly Tops who appears in “Extreme Guns and Babes for an Adult World” with the SKS rifle, used to call me up every week just to see how I was doing and to exchange the latest gossip. But she’d also call Bob up about every week. For one thing she knew Bob could be very influential to an entertainer’s career. He was shooting for a very well known adult magazine and when he wasn’t he was shooting a lot of promo for entertainers. Promo is a term for advertisements for adult entertainers that are centered around one or more professionally done pictures. These pictures are usually done in a studio setting where special lighting and props are being used. From what I gathered, when an entertainer told me she had gotten her promo done by Bob, I knew she was pretty serious about her career.
I suppose that if someone were to see pictures of me naked in the Nudes-A-Poppin swimming pool with all those naked women that all kinds of thoughts would be floating around about all the evil things we were doing to each other. The reality, however, was all too mundane. I no longer think of Bob having sex with all his models. I’m sure that a lot of people must think the same way of me that I used to have of Bob. The truth is that it really makes no sense to be banging one’s bread and butter. All kinds of problems crop up starting with one’s getting a very bad reputation in the adult community. The truth is men like Bob are true artists, which brings us back once more to the Rodin sculpture.
The sculpture is of two completely naked figures, one male and the other female embracing one another. Now one could call this pornographic because it goes so far as to suggest a sexual act. But it’s considered art instead. Yet I’ve had my web site removed by IX Hosting a few years ago without any warning whatsoever. The reason given was that I violated their service agreement by showing “adult content” whatever that means. And I showed a lot less of the female anatomy than Rodin and many other famous artists. I will argue, however that artists such as Rodin, have performed a very valuable service for the betterment of humanity. Sculptures such as a Venus show the female body in an idealized state and since they are idealized they give women something to strive for in a quest to improve their bodies. The same is true for men because with a Rodin sculpture they can visualize men the way the Greeks saw them–strong in intellect and body alike.
A great misfortune for all of humanity would have occurred if great artists like Rodin and Michelangelo would have had adult service agreements imposed on them. I really think that humanity would have lost the measuring rod such sculptures represent that influence mankind to attempt to measure up to the physical excellence represented by the sculpture. Take a look at the Rodin sculpture again. The male figure is built with a sturdy chest without a sagging beer gut. Its arms are powerful while the legs are muscular yet not overly thick. As to the female, her waist is slender, her breasts ample and firm but not overly large. Her backside is trim and well proportioned. Her legs are firm and nicely tapered. She is built the way women were meant to be built, and if you don’t believe me just use Google and see what you can dig up on paintings, frescoes and sculptures of Spartan women. Spartan women were not fat. They were wonderfully slender and beautiful. Now one can say, as I already have that a Rodin captured men and women in an idealized state in his sculptures, and that in the real world men and women don’t really exist, but the artwork still survives that suggests otherwise in Sparta.
What we are stuck with today is the Gunny Sack example, and as long as we are stuck with adult service agreements and strip club closures for their not measuring up to the ill conceived standards of those who wish to hide the human body, we will have lost sight of the beauty of the human form. More than ever, we need more nudity, not less of it while recognizing the true genius of photographers such as Bob, who are the real artists of their time.