Christ said, “I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery.” I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do — and I have done it — and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who’s loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.
Jimmy Carter in November 1976 Playboy interview
Jimmy Carter is not a Roman Catholic but this blogger was educated in a Roman Catholic boarding school high school in Austin, Texas. I have some of that Jimmy Carter guilt built in. I must admit, before I go on, that at age 73 I still look at attractive women and undress them in my mind. And then I try to find of some way to have them undress for real to my camera.
In 1954–55 I was living in Nueva Rosita, Coahuila, Mexico. It was a mining town run by American Smelting and Refining Company. My mother was the teacher for the company’s children in a two-room school house. We lived in the American Hotel. Engineer Juan Jaime (a handsome bachelor) had subscriptions to True Magazine, Argosy, Esquire and Playboy. After reading them he would leave them in the hotel magazine rack. It was in those magazines that I first got my first real glimpses of unadorned female flesh. To do this I had to be sneaky and my Catholic upbringing left me with lots of guilt.
Before we moved to Nueva Rosita we had lived in Mexico City where this boy feasted his eyes on the cleavage (found in cheap Mexican periodicals) of Brigitte Bardot. But thanks to Juan Jaime my exposure became more thorough.
In later years, by the early 60s Playboy was banned in Mexico so it was difficult to find it. Find it I did but not with regularity.
In 1975 when my Rosemary and two daughters and I drove to Vancouver, BC to stay in Canada I was suddenly able to become a member of Book-of-the-Month Club (and immediately bought The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich) and buy not only Playboys but (yes!) Penthouse. By 1977 I was working as a freelancer for Vancouver Magazine. I was astounded to find out that the Playboy cartoons of office Christmas parties were based on fact. At Vancouver Magazine during these parties you had to be careful as to what office door you might open. There was plenty of activity to be found on editors’ desks.
Then in the late 80s my writer friend Les Wiseman wrote an article for the magazine on the Vancouver-based Playboy centerfold women. I was given the dream assignment. But before then I had already photographed a red-haired Bunny who hailed from a Baltic country (her parents did).
By the 1990 I had taken enough photographs of unadorned female flesh that I escalated my photography to an erotic direction. It was then that I noticed that you had Helmut Newton (my hero) and the second-class rest, particularly the photographers for “those” magazines in which the photographs of women were in bad taste simply because they had no theme or purpose. Penthouse made those lower country areas very pink and very shiny. For me it was a turn off.
I remember getting into arguments with my Argentine nephews on the purpose (a stupid one in my eyes) of featuring women in bikinis to advertise toothpaste. I had some of that Canadian realization on the evils of making women objects and not persons. My nephews simply attacked my sexual proclivity.
Long before that I had stopped buying girly magazines. I frequented the local strip parlours where I sipped soda water and made friends with the dancers.
But when I found out in December 1998 that gold medal skater Katarina Witt had posed for Playboy I immediately went to buy it. To my chagrin Playboy was sold out. My friend Robert Hijar who lived in Memphis sent me a copy. That was the last issue of Playboy I ever saw. If you notice I have scanned it as I have kept the magazine.
The news that Playboy is no longer going to feature nudies pleases me to no end. Perhaps they will now hire good photographers who will upgrade the idea of women with not much on in some way as to not depersonalize them (and remove those silly smiles they always had) and at the same time empower them so that they are women as men should see them in this 21stCentury.
And I must admit that I never read a piece of fiction by Joyce Carol Oates in that December 1998 Playboy. I plan to correct that shortly.
The photographs shown here I took of a lovely school teacher. The pictures shown here do not show bits but do reveal my early attempts (1977) to deal with the problem of taking pictures of women while in some way dispelling all those Catholic tendencies. I approached these photographs (to the best of my ability) in the same way (or at least that is what I told myself and others) as a doctor looks at undraped female patients.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.