I was quite reluctant to write this year’s story of the calendar shoot, it’s a big task. I’m guessing there are not that many people reading this because it’s just so long. I’ll forgive you if you don’t read it all as long as you give your money to help stop cancer. I guess you can look at the pretty pictures anyway.
So the first shoot was in March with Marcel Lucont and certain cabaret troupe that got into some hot water later in the year. Rose had to veto the pictures, as the calendar can’t afford associations that are ambiguous. It was with great regret and careful thought and advice that the decision was made, just one of those things. We did get a few teasers we could use, and thanks to Upstairs at Bar Soho for the space and drinks. Marcel is a funny guy and I look forward to seeing him at the launch.
The second shoot happened a week later, end of March now, and was with the amazing Missy Malone. Between organising her own shows in Cheltenham and costume and clothing design, she’s a one-woman institution with a beaming smile and a can do attitude. Missy is brilliant to work with and was still raring to go once our time was finished. We were very lucky to get the use of the downstairs of Lights Of Soho, which a private members club. They have all sorts of lights there so was a super fun shoot. Missy coached it in especially for the shoot, and returned shortly after, so lots of thanks for her time. Thanks to Martin too for introduction to Oscar, general manager, and also to part owner Hamish for his support.
So forward to 3rd week of April for the next shoot, this one in Worthing, with the incomparable bombshell that is Joe Black. Great shoot, Joe was going for slightly grotesque with make up and had some examples to show me. Great setting, and lovely to chat. We first met at London Burlesque week 2010 on a boat, so was good to see him again. Joe brought up a question shoot day, had anyone ever completely rejected their shots for the calendar? My answer was no, but as it happens there were more rejections this year than in any year so far. I think it is because this is probably the most nude calendar to date, there are several shots that were calendar contenders that were rejected for just being too blatant!
A couple of days later, met up with the wonderful Glory Pearl. I first met her back in 2008 at a Skinny Pete event in the South East. We then shot together in Brighton when she was still doing pole. Then she made it to my 1 Hour shoot in 2013 when she had just started her naked stand up stuff, which I shot the first publicity shots for. We were meeting in Hastings and then I would drive her to Tonbridge via a forest. We stepped out the front door for the first planned shot on a sea bench just across the road. We looked around for people, saw no one, so Glory popped out of her dressing gown and we shot for about 30 seconds. Suddenly a man and his daughter, she was about 8 I think, accosted us and started complaining and so on. Glory soon took care of him, she wouldn’t let him talk to me and insisted on being the one to blame. Then to our surprise, the little girl started mouthing off too, and finally I flagged down the police as I saw them driving by. Off course we explained, the man and his daughter moved off, and all was well. Literally seconds later my messenger went off and Duo Bogof had witnessed the whole thing whilst driving by. Busted! We visited the seafront, park, and then forest after that with no more hick ups, and had a good laugh about it when I dropped her off. Brilliant.
So middle of June for the next shoot with the lovely Mister Meredith and Miss Em. Luke sorted the venue (the hospital room at Murder Mile Studios) and the shoot was based on Luke’s idea of Carry On Matron and the famous flower where the sun doesn’t shine. Was just before The Double R if I remember rightly so time was limited. Good job all round though and we had fun with the teasers.
Two weeks later, and its Victoria Falconer, and she managed to blag The London Wonderground for the shoot. We have known each other for a long time now, and I am very much used to her as her half man half woman East End Cabaret Character Victi. Let me assure you she is all woman. Great shoot and help from nameless friend, thank you.
Between the last and next shoot, just 9 days, I managed to separate from the wife in Hastings and move back to London. It was long time coming and no one’s fault, but after 16 years we decided to call it a day, and we remain friends. So Abi Collins got a hung over photographer in her lovely flat in London. We had met briefly before and I have seen a few of her hilarious shows, but this was the first time working together. We did loads and had fun with it, and ended up not using half the photos the others were so good. And she is a good listener too. Thank you.
A couple of weeks later it was the cover shoot, so we are at the end of July now.
We decided to work with a smaller group, and who better than our regular supporters, stage managers and performers? We were a couple short on the day, and there were hangovers to deal with, but it was a great shoot with great results. Over and above from everyone, thanks so much. Rose was there keeping us watered and everything on track. And kudos to our “not used to being naked” people that did so well. Thank you.
The next two shoots were at a family home I managed to blag.
In different ways these were the most challenging shoots with small unexpected problems.
The first was with Lily Snapdragon. Brilliant performer and unique on the circuit. Lilly had a full idea, with led lights in flowers, but because we were doing a from overhead shot, the best place we could find was some stairs. We had to arrange a black cloth, all the lights and then Lily. It was quite hard to move for Lily, and every time we changed position, a flower would fall over, and repeat. Set took a while, John had to paint a fish which took a while, but it was all alright in then end and we settled our nerves together with a few drinks.
A week apart, then it was onto Molly Beth Morossa, storyteller and performer with a dark side. Her and her boyfriend came over and we did have a lovely time. However the challenges of shooting in pitch black, did rather increase the difficulty, but again it all worked out and we got some excellent results, and made sure to eat and drink. A merry time! We couldn’t have done it without the help so thank you.
I took a holiday in August, so arranged the last few shoots before leaving. So then its end of August, and met up with the lovely Lolo Brow, one of my favourite performers. Lolo is super relaxed but super busy. Once we agreed on a venue (Abney Park Cemetery) met up with Lolo and her friend at the gates and 30 mins later we were walking back out with what we needed. Having her friend on lights sped things up a lot, which was a good job as there was no parking longer than an hour. Just as a side note, none of Lolo’s pictures were retouched beyond exposure.
Roughly two weeks later met up with Chris Lynam at Hampstead Heath. We had a relaxed walk around and found some nooks and crannies where we didn’t draw too much attention. These are some of my favourite shots from the calendar. Chris is a bit of legend on the scene, no one quite like him, and he is just effortlessly funny. Or rather he makes it look effortless.
Then it was the lovely Giddy Heights, who stepped in last minute to replace someone that had dropped out due to health and making the deadlines. She was on tour with a play, so her time was very limited. We arranged the shoot quickly, and used her digs as the venue. Despite being a fun shoot Giddy had really prepared so there was loads to try, including the garden. It happened that builders were in too, so it was amusing wondering through with wigs and dressing gowns. Great job from a multi talented lady. Thanks for the chat.
So that was the last shoot, except for the Marcel reshoot, which took us to the absolute last day in terms of deadlines and such. Thanks to Marcel for fitting me in and coming to me. We had about 30 minutes. We get a discount for ordering before a certain date, which all goes towards money for the charity. I should mention Jon Attfield too, who came to my rescue on two images that were beyond my skill for photoshop. It was all very last minute and he did real quick turn around too.
So there you have it, 14 shoots, countless support, several months, three proofs and hey presto, one naked calendar. Sincere thanks to all involved.
Thanks again to Rose Thorne, who organised all the artists and runs the Charity with Dusty Limits and Benjamin Louche, pictured above.
Make sure to get your copy. Still not convinced?
Thanks for reading.