The following is another brief excerpt from my yet unpublished memoir, “Muckville: Farm Policy, Media and the Strange Oddities of Semi-Rural Life.” This small section of my memoir deals with the time we had an almost naked man on our fields.
The almost naked guy on panes of glass, on cardboard tables in the middle of our black dirt field
Candy & Andy wasn’t the only odd thing to happen in 1998. Back in mid-fall, probably mid- to late October, I can’t exactly recall, this guy pulls into our yard and asks to talk with us about a photo shoot. He said he was a location scout for photographer David LaChapelle and they wanted to do a shoot on one of her fields. We had already harvested so it was no problem. He then said, “one thing, the person we will be photographing will be almost naked.” We asked almost simultaneously, after a brief pause “define ‘almost.” He said “well, his privates will be covered.” We looked at each other, thought for a moment and then said, “Okay with us.” The location he wanted, the field he was interested in, was right along the main highway, Pulaski Highway. This would be good.
Who is David LaChapelle? According to his website:
“David LaChapelle is known internationally for his exceptional talent in combining a unique hyper-realistic aesthetic with profound social messages. LaChapelle’s photography career began in the 1980’s when he began showing his artwork in New York City galleries. His work caught the eye of Andy Warhol, who offered him his first job as a photographer at Interview Magazine. His photographs of celebrities in Interview garnered positive attention, and before long he was shooting for a variety of top editorial publications and creating some of the most memorable advertising campaigns of his generation. LaChapelle’s striking images have graced the covers and pages of Italian Vogue, French Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Rolling Stone and i-D, and he has photographed personalities as diverse as Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Amanda Lepore, Eminem, Philip Johnson, Lance Armstrong, Pamela Anderson, Lil’ Kim, Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Taylor, David Beckham, Paris Hilton, Jeff Koons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali, and Britney Spears, to name a few.”
That night I looked at some of his images on the internet and I thought to myself, “wow, this guy is freaking weird.” Now I really couldn’t wait for this.
The next day LaChapelle and his entourage/crew of about 25 to 30 people show up, all dressed in black. They inundated the local deli, the Quaker Creek Store, which is the nerve center, the hub of the Black Dirt community (http://www.quakercreekstore.com/) and the regulars there thought they were all devil worshiping vampires. Though they held no ill will against them.
Late morning they did their initial set-up but after lunch they got serious about the shoot. Well, it was a sight to be seen, a couple of vans, big lights, portable generator, and a nearly buck naked dude laying on 4 pieces of glass on 4 cardboard tables, on a black dirt field along a busy highway. Traffic stopped. Literally stopped. In fact at one point Pete Noger and his dad slowly drove by. Pete doesn’t drive, he just rides. He had the window down and as his dad stopped the car Pete just stared, mouth agape, looked at me and said “hey, Chris.” I replied with “hey, Pete” and they slowly drove off. Later the owner of the Quaker Creek Store, Barbara Matuszewski (mother of my high school friend Bobby, the man who has re-made Quaker Creek into the very cool food destination it is today) said to me, “Pete came in here babbling and ranting like a dang fool about the naked guy on your fields. I had to tell him to calm down and shut up.”
I totally understood Pete’s reaction. The model was Will Kemp. He was at the time playing the lead role of “The Swan” in a Matthew Bourne’s production of “Swan Lake,” from 1997 to 2000 in both London and Broadway. He was trained at the Royal Ballet School of London. His debut film role was playing Velkin the brother of Kate Bekinsale’s character Anna Valerious in the 2004 Stephen Sommers directed blockbuster “Van Helsing.” He got to bite Hugh Jackman. He also was cast in 2008 in a failed CBS pilot called “Ny-Lon,” alongside “24” star Elisha Cuthbert (Kim Bauer).
When I was watching the scene, unfold, and I paused to look at the framing of the picture, I thought it was absurdly lame looking. But LaChapelle was taking Polaroid shots as he was framing or blocking it. He took one and gave it to me. When I saw the picture, I just said to myself “wow,” it was amazing.
The photo eventually appeared in the January 1999 issue of Interview Magazine. The photograph was airbrushed so it appears he is naked. He wasn’t naked. He had a thong covering his junk, barely, and they air brushed it out in the final photo. We were the talk of the neighborhood for about a month. What was hysterical was that LaChapelle just loved our valley, he was going to be buying land, move in, etc…. Too funny. We haven’t seen him since. Niceguy though and he sent me the magazine as well as his book “LaChapelle Land.”
As I have mentioned multiple times previously my campaign to raise funds for an editor will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new Crowd Funder Show.
What is the Crowd Funder Show and what does it mean to appear on the show? According to their website:
The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability. Each episode focuses the spotlight on six or seven inspiring projects and personal goals that give the viewing audience insight into the campaign, its principal, and the reason(s) why it should come to fruition. The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability.
What is so neat about their crowd funding method, versus Kickstarter’s, is that it is not “all or nothing.” Further, the rewards are much more exciting. Again, from their website:
Viewers can choose to support the projects they watch by contributing directly to the campaign website or by calling a toll-free number. The Crowd Funder Show rewards contributors with sponsored gift cards for the same amount of money they contribute, up to $100. Supporting people and their projects has never been easier so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel like you’re a part of something special. The Crowd Funder TV Show is an interesting, inspiring program that highlights human ingenuity and co-operation.
When you go to my page you will see locations once can choose from for the gift card include: Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations anyway you are essentially donating to my cause for free. A total win-win!