Thursday, March 22, 2012

Titillating Titles: Playboy Magazine at Curious!

I'm all wiggly from having too much espresso. 
Can't sleep. 
It's just after 11 p.m., and I've poured myself a glass 
of red rosé to try to calm myself a bit.

Tonight was the Playboy Photo Shoot at Curious!

Two days ago we were visited by a photographer 
who was scouting locations in East Lansing
for Playboy's rather popular Girls of the Big Ten issue.
He liked what he saw at Curious, and seemed
enthusiastic when he introduced himself. 
I felt like I blew it, as I slipped into my 
overly-friendly-to-the-tourist mode 
and handed him a map, 
telling him about the cool record shops in town 
We talked about who would have the best natural lighting, etc.

Unwelcome subconscious sabotage on my part! 

We had been approached by Playboy before, 
about 5 years ago - before my time.
They were interested in using us as a location 
for the same Big Ten feature.
Such a tease.

 So, when he said that Curious was "for sure" the place, 
none of us Curious-ers expected much of it.

The photographer came back yesterday... 
and he brought the production team!
They took a meandering tour 
through the shop's three floors
and decided that the shop's "character" was just right.

I wasn't sure how to feel about this whole Playboy thing. 
I've never really had a problem with 
the seedier side of Hollywood,
 but am not a in favor of  objectifying women 
or the blatant consumerism and billions generated by the 
over-sexualization of models and customers, alike. 

However, I respect and admire Helen Gurley Brown,
 and I've watched my fair share of The Girls Next Door.
I'm a Millennial. 
I recognize the popularity of sex 
and the gravitas of the Playboy label, one of
America's longest-running and iconic publications.
I wanted Curious to be the cool place!

I wound up spending some time upstairs with 
the Playboy people
(They would grimace to be called that, 
as they are freelance professionals.)
While up there I realized they were just 
normal people with extremely exotic jobs.
The shoot producer had a field day 
looking through our run of vintage Playboys.
She even found a few she had been looking for, 
including the 1988 Cindy Crawford cover that she says 
convinced her to start working for Playboy.
Those photos of Cindy Crawford 
are almost as stunning as the spread of her 
ten years later, after having children.

They couldn't quite decide where to do the shoot.
They liked the upstairs, with the big mirror.
The colors are lighter upstairs, more airy.
Too similar to the Ohio State barber shop spread, though.
The other option was the basement, 
possibly resulting in
our beloved green armchair 
making an appearance.
(Fret not, Green Chair Lovers!)

They left without coming to a decision.
There was a vague understanding 
that the production team and model 
would return the next evening to shoot, around 6.

Mark and I scrambled around the shop, 
chasing dust bunnies and scrubbing things.
Liz had the foresight to straighten up bookcases
on the ground floor and do some needed sweeping.

As per normal Curious procedure
no one seemed to know what the plan was this morning.
We had more than enough to keep us 
busy with the BIG BOOK SHOW looming over us.

As the clock(s) neared 6, 
each of us found a good enough reason 
to hover around on the ground floor, waiting.
The first cart-load of photo equipment 
finally crossed the threshold around 6:45.
After a brief deliberation, 
the photographer started setting up on the main floor, 
in General Fiction, of all places!

The shop cleared out pretty quickly 
(except for the customer we nearly forgot in the basement)
and some staff members made their escapes.
Curiosity got the best of me. 
I stayed.

It's amazing what a professional can do in a small space.
After a brief hunt for available electrical outlets 
and some strategic light placement in the aisles, 
they were ready. 

I made a helpful contribution 
when I dug up my favorite spare book-show rug 
 to use as an set anchor.
The photographer was relieved, 
and said it went well with the color palate.

At this time I encourage you 

to be awed and amazed 
by my obvious artistic and 
compositional talents.
Thank you.
Good thing they brought their own extension cord.
There was some concern about their strobe lighting
being too powerful for the circuit,
but we had no problems! 
Glitz and Glamour.
Their fancy camera and lights make it look way better
than my little Canon.
While we all waited for the model to show up 
(it was another hour, at least),
we played around with the "set" and 
Ray posed for portrait photos by the photographers.
I feel like I bullied it into him, 
but what a cool experience! 
It deserved a souvenir.
Maybe they'll include Ray in the spread!

The model seemed like your 
typical Midwestern, MSU college girl.
Friendly, petite, polite, highlights and a strong handshake.
She was wearing a cute "DEFYE" shirt when we met, 
and Liz lusted after her black stilettos.
She had never been to the shop.
Read books, people!

Curious has had more than its fair share
of media attention, this year.
Two weeks ago a student group
filmed a documentary,
and I gave a crummy interview.
Of course they used my photo on the cover.
We still haven't gotten around to watching it.

With Barnes and Noble closing earlier
this year, we've had dozens of professional
and student reporters coming in for our take
on the matter. We've also had a handful
of professional and student photographers
rooting around the shop, which is pretty neat.

The Playboy shoot was, as Liz put it, 
very classy and professional.
The production team members were charming, 
apologetic for "getting in the way".
I was just glad they let us hang out.
Ray, Liz and I awkwardly hovered around the 
front counter, making tasteless jokes.

Ray thought the model felt better having me and Liz there.
I'm sure he also felt a bit better having us around.
We spent most of the rather surreal evening
flipping through some of our vintage men's magazines 
with the producer and other photographer.
They schooled us about classic poses,
favorite artists and "cheesecake".
It was a good time.

From our vantage point 
we had a great view 
of the photographer's jean-clad butt. 
We couldn't help but giggle 
as we listened to his directions for the model. 
Peeking seemed like a rude thing to do.

The Curious Playboy.
I left right around the time the crew began
discussing the merits of East Lansing bars, 
or maybe doing some jello shots
and trying out the Marriott's jacuzzi.
Erm..... no. I'll have to pass.
But, thanks for the invite!

We should receive copies of the professional photos
taken of Ray sometime soon.
The producer suggested that we do a "book" signing
when the Big Ten issue is published, this September.

Sure, whatever will bring people into the shop.
We desperately need the business!

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