Scavullo!

The only reason Francesco Scavullo has agreed to shoot an unknown model is because she has come highly recommended by Helmut Newton. But he should have known. Helmut has always had a very perverse sense of humor, which Francesco often forgets about because he so respects Helmut’s work. In the past, when Helmut has called Francesco and told him that he needs to work with someone Francesco has always said yes and the results have always been fine, with one or two exceptions where the models he touted came unprepared and he to be dismissed. But this model Helmut has sent Francesco’s way is beyond the beyond. First, she shows up and she’s a mess, which is fine, that’s usually the case with half the models, most of whom stumble in after a night of doing God knows what with God knows whom. Her hair is in knots and her skin is studded with pimples. This is something that can be taken care of in hair and make-up, so he’s thinking, Okay, let’s see what she looks like when she’s all put together, and when she comes out she looks okay, if slightly off. Francesco knows it’s going to take a lot of finesse on his part to make her look acceptable. Still, you never know, sometimes the plainest, homeliest looking women, you put them in front of the camera and for some reason the camera loves them. But not this one. The camera hates this one. It hates everything about her. And she’s not helping herself by making some of the worst faces and striking some of the most awkward poses Francesco’s ever seen. He tells her to give him sultry and she looks goofy; he tells her to give him angry and she looks goofy; he tells her to give him nothing and she looks goofy. At some point he can’t hold it in anymore and he starts to laugh and this, in turn, makes the model cry, so she runs out of the studio, and he feels horrible. Yes, Francesco says horrible things sometimes, but he always feel bad about it minutes later, and so he looks for this girl and finds her outside, crouched next to a dumpster, smoking a cigarette and bawling her eyes out. Francesco crouches down next to her and apologizes. He tells her he didn’t mean to laugh. Then, for some inexplicable reason, he tells her that the only reason he was being so harsh is because he can see she has real potential, that maybe one day she can be one of the world’s greatest models. Francesco has no idea why he says this. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want her to think badly of him and go out into the world and say bad things about him to other people, who will then repeat these bad things to the people they know, and before you know it, there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands of people who all think bad things about Francesco. Maybe it’s because he just wants her to stop crying. Maybe it’s because he knows he’s responsible for her being so miserable, and so he makes himself responsible for making her happy as well. And she’s happy, especially when Francesco tells her to come back the next day so they can continue shooting. The model gathers her belongings, says she can’t wait until tomorrow. Francesco has no idea how he’s going to be able to compose himself during the shoot, nor does he have any idea how, once he’s done shooting, he’s going to convince all the editors that this girl is someone they need to put in their magazines. Francesco is sitting at his desk and staring into space when the phone rings. He picks it up and there’s nothing, just the sound of someone breathing. Finally he gets angry and tells the person on the other end that he’s going to hang up and then he hears this maniacal laughing, and he knows exactly who it is, it’s Helmut. Francesco thanks Helmut for sending him the worst model he had ever had the displeasure of working with and this makes Helmut laugh even harder. Then Francesco hears the sound of a pop being corked. Helmut lets out a prolonged, melodramatic sigh, screams “Scavullo!” into the phone, and hangs up.

 

 

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