Springing sundial

20 Feb

So I’m back on the Mothership and catsitting now I’ve returned from a mini tour, and what a fantastic week it has been! :D

– I went to visit a friend’s new home, full of curiosity cabinets, tea, skulls and wood/glass sculptures… and stroked a chinchilla for the first time. They’re strange little things- like living marshmallows!
– I did a photoshoot in a tranquil, friendly yoga studio, with yet more tea and artwork everywhere. On the pinboard was the yoga students ‘weekly thought’ and interestingly it was something I needed to read:
Aparigraha: Greed rooted in jealousy. For example, wanting more than you need just because someone else has it. I’m proud to have very successful friends and of course I’m happy for them, but often evaluate my own accomplishments as not being enough, so it was nice to see a reminder that this is a thought pattern I need to let go of.
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– I met a couple of friends I’ve spoken to online regularly but never actually met in person! It’s always a bit nerve-wracking but we got on like houses on fire and I hung out with a gigantic dog too. :D
If you have a sense of humour, do check out my friend’s creative endeavour: The Beezly Street Gazette. It’s a Daily Mash-esque satire and really very funny.
– I attended an engagement party for my beautiful Kitty Wood Photography and “Beardy Stu”… and I’m now a bridesmaid for the first time! During that weekend, I became a mermaid, dressed like an 80s rockstar, ate my bodyweight in sausage rolls, lost a French Fry crisp between my boobs and got the hideously early coach back home then flopped into bed. Congratulations to the happy couple! :D
Here I am with the bride- who has a great blog HERE:
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– I nipped up to Manchester for a quick shoot (the hostel made me feel very at home- on a riverside with Canada geese and boats) and arrived back to a very cuddly, very clingy Mog.
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Today’s been a day of chilling and though I will be answering emails etc over the next week, I’ll be a little slow as I’m enjoying some much needed downtime. Hope you understand. :)

In my last blog, I hoped that the preview would work and bring some Spring warmth… and it’s worked! There are snowdrops everywhere, daffodils are peeking out above the earth, catkins hanging on the trees and though it’s still chilly on the boat, I’m not as deathly freezing as I was and my hot water bottle is sulking redundantly in the corner. I even went for a long riverside walk and had a ‘singing’ conversation with a robin.
So here are some more pictures from the awesome Follyhouse team, who I’m planning my next shoot with. Hooray!

Autumn…
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Winter…
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Spring…
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Summer…
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I didn’t notice the seasonal parallels until I started uploading them here!

A few more:
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For the latex and heavy rubber people, why not check out Marquis Magazine on the 25th? There’s a feature and several pages of yours truly wearing the shiniest of latex. I’m so, so excited to show you those pictures (and my new shoes). ;)

Now, I’m going to have a Zen-stretching session in front of the fire I just made . I shot with Sense8 Photography the other day and for the first time on camera, achieved this!!! (In yoga, it’s called the Compass or Sundial pose). I cannot wait to shoot this pose in latex and may have the chance at Dominatrix Weekend next month, where I’m stomping the catwalk again!
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Speak to you in five days! ;)

ROSWELL xxx

p.s. behind the scenes in my own shoes:
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Casual clothing shocker!!!

4 Feb

I’d been sitting on this news for a while… I was contacted by the ladies at Glamour magazine last year as they wanted to feature the Shaun Colclough story. I agreed on the condition that any of the other women involved who wanted to tell their stories got the opportunity to do so as well, and so Annie Moya and Leila Alexandra joined me in a make-up, nails, croissants, salad and glossy magazine session.
Look at the weeny muffins!!!
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Freelance modelling is it’s own strange universe and as it’s been my life for so long, it came as a surprise to me to learn that the team had never heard of the websites providing my livelihood. Didn’t know the same ‘industry celebrities’ we all did. Didn’t know the terms we use. I think were were all just as fascinated by each other that day. :) (I’m still tracking down links to everyone- I’ll update asap).

As I get suspended from the ceiling in crazy-gorgeous rubber outfits, shoot inside abandoned buildings and work nude in public streets, I had a bit of a giggle when one of the team wondered if shooting against a deliberately-distressed wall would be ‘too extreme’. Definitely a different world, but one in which the people were all super-friendly, made us feel welcome and had many interesting stories to tell. After the ‘Times Rita Skeeter Fiasco’, I was a little apprehensive about the press but we felt that having Glamour publish our story would give us more of a platform to reach out further, to other women who wouldn’t have been reached by my blog and the first wave of ‘shares’.

So… if you’re new to this blog, hello! It’s lovely to have you here.
If you are an old friend to my blog, you know how I look when I’m not modelling (Mad Max extra or spaceship mechanic*) so here’s a strange sight for you… ;)

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If you’d like your very own copy, it’s in newsagents now and looks like this:
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Now, I know a few people have seen the irony in putting our story on the cover next to a “50 Shades” feature, but the thing is it’s the next big film and magazines all exist to sell themselves. I’m personally just grateful not to share a cover with someone who called her child after a direction and whose name begins with K (I don’t want her to get any more google hits by naming her here!)
I am currently writing about what’s so bad about the story (in short, it puts an abusive relationship under the ‘BDSM’ banner which is misleading and dangerous. The bottom line in the former is SSC: Safe, Sane, Consensual). Bear with me, I’m writing three articles at once and am drowning in words!

So… I’m going to make a hot chocolate, eat the mini Green and Blacks bar I’d been saving and read the nearest book that looks interesting. Someone else can provide the words for tonight. ;)

Before I go though, here’s a ‘first look’ at my next blog. I’m hoping it will encourage the Spring to come!
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Picture by Follyhouse

ROSWELL xxx

p.s. * for the curious, here I am in my own clothes
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Seeds

1 Feb

Today is Imbolc- aka Candlemas aka St Brigid’s Day! Saint Brigid was named after the pagan goddess Bride (pronounced ‘brede’) and her festival represents the beginning of Spring (hooray!) I saw the first snowdrops yesterday, so hopefully the weather should start to get warmer again. I love snuggly days with coffee and a book in front of the fire, but living on a canal boat isn’t the most comfortable in the winter. (Frozen windows, dripping condensation etc etc…) I can’t wait for warm mornings on deck, watching this year’s chicks grow up. (Yes, there will be photos…)
‘Pinch me, I’m dreaming’ has been a common theme these past few months but it finally sunk in that I have somewhere of my own, when I had my best girl Anita De Bauch to stay for a few days. I expected it to be a bit of a squash but while watching a film in the bed-den and surrounded by many forms of chocolate, I realised that we fit perfectly comfortably and perhaps my boat is a bit like a Harry Potter car- it expands on the inside to fit the company!
We spent a few nights onboard, then moved over to the Mothership, split for a few days and met up again in time for a magazine-launch party in a secret bunker. A zombie apocalypse magazine-launch party in a secret bunker… Weirdly, we swapped our usual styles and I dressed as a femme fatale zombie, while Ms De Bauch became “Malibu-zombie-hunter”! Want to see?
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It was a fantastic night, with much dancing and new music discoveries- though I think my neighbours may now be plotting to kill me (or ban the ‘repeat’ button).

Anyway, back to Imbolc thoughts: the festival is about potential and preparation. It isn’t yet a celebration of Spring’s arrival, but of the potential waiting beneath the earth. Historically, it’s why we do ‘spring cleaning': fire and purification are part of a pre-Spring ritual!
Tomorrow, I’m going to have a lazy few hours in bed with a book, then clean and tidy my boat from top to bottom, throw out any sad dead plants that didn’t survive the winter and then burn candles because firstly, tradition and secondly, candles are beautiful. <3 If you’re not yet on my Facebook page *cough* then here is my living room:
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Tim Pile recently sent me a new photo from our shoot among the standing stones in Dartmoor, so I looked through other photos I had from the same weekend. I’ve been thinking about the seasons and about potential, and seeing them all together made this picture emerge:

A seed, an idea, a person. Something developing in the darkness, waiting for its time.
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Growing possibilities. No longer just a dormant seed or a theory, but a living thing realising there’s a world just an arm’s reach away.
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FREE!
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ROSWELL xxx

p.s. There’s a secret I’ve been sitting on… look in the bottom left corner. Why not make a trip to WHSmith on February 3rd? ;)
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p.s. There’s a secret I’ve been sitting on… look in the bottom left corner. Why not make a trip to WHSmith on February 3rd? ;)

Death Becomes Her

27 Jan

I’m not afraid of heights but I’m not exactly thrilled when falling from them. In the same way, death in itself doesn’t worry me- we all have to do it (like that tax return I’ve been putting off). What does frighten me is the idea of dying without fulfilling my own dreams or inspiring other peoples- being forgotten as the world moves on. Still, my goal is not to live forever but to create something that will*. It’s why, when Rebecca Litchfield emailed me and asked if I’d be part of her ‘Underworld’ project (“…and by the way, are you scared of heights?”) I looked a bit like this:
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Rebecca is one of the world’s best known ‘adventure photographers’. She climbs high and jagged fences, lowers herself into deep dark crypts and photographs the forgotten corners of the world few people remember exist- except for security guards, most of whom are adamant they should remain that way! Her book “Soviet Ghosts” documents her travels through the secret places of the former Soviet Union. It went viral and is truly awe-inspiring. Did I mention she’s also a truly lovely and fascinating person? That helps when you’re taking a model on an ‘urbex’ shoot…

Urban exploration photography is getting a lot of attention on sites like Buzzfeed, but they don’t show the phenomenal effort the photographers put in just in order to get inside the locations. Camping in nearby ditches, being arrested and falling through floors are pretty standard! (Hence needing to be a patient and kind person- some models need a little coaxing over fences)! I once accompanied Magpie Photography (another well-known urbex photographer) on a trip around a disused asylum and found it incredibly inspiring as a writer though utterly terrifying, so I expected to be scared to death again (and where more convenient to be scared to death than in a crypt?) :P

I arrived in the morning for a dress fitting (designs by Joanne Fleming), and hair and make-up by Rosie Lee. I’m not sure what brought that cheesy grin out of me but as we’re all crazy pet ladies, it was probably a cat story.
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After a traffic-related spanner in the works and a quest for food, we waited by the cemetery for things to quiet down. No such luck- a few nosey neighbours and a vote later, I watched the spiky fence get smaller as we drove back home, still knowing I’d have to climb it more than once that night. A quick stretch, a fuss of the cat and we piled back in the car for the final we’ll-do-this-no-matter-WHAT attempt.
Outdoor nudes require military precision- I’m used to “wait…waaaaaiiiit… GOGOGO!” I haven’t climbed a swingy rope ladder up a high fence, thrown and passed equipment over, dashed across a cemetery and hidden under another building under those circumstances. After we all made it safely, I watched as Rebecca pulled the grate aside and lowered the rope ladder again- this time into the abyss. Adrenaline shaking my hands and feet, I’d have fallen flat if it hadn’t been for the guidance of Rebecca and shoot assistant Danny, who climbed into the darkness first to check the undead hordes weren’t forming an orderly queue for our blood. They weren’t, so off we went through the underworld lit only by our little torches.
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Behind the scenes- I’m being sewn into a dress. ;)
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While Rebecca set up, I lay out the dresses and went exploring. I’d hoped to find bats but if they were there, they were hibernating somewhere secret.
The asylum had been covered with graffiti. Ivy had begun to reclaim it- like long tentacles dragging the stones back down into the earth. There were parts that clearly hadn’t been touched for decades but others looked more condom-y and needle-y. Every creak and small noise I thought could be a crazed person coming to ‘get’ us.
The crypt could be the stillest place I have ever visited. The air, silent. The quiet conversation, muffled by the thick walls as I moved further away. No breeze, no creaking- and no fear. Even surrounded by coffins, there was an atmosphere of peace. No matter how violently occupants may have died, here they shared the same quiet and beauty in their chambers of rust, leather and stone. This is where I began to understand the appeal of “Dark Tourism”- Rebecca’s current project. (The allure places associated with death hold for some).
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My first dress weighed a ton and due to a zip malfunction earlier in the day, Danny sewed me in. The weight helped keep me warm and the train made the quietest whisper being pulled along the ground. Rebecca shoots the same picture at different shutter speeds to ensue every detail is there for her later on and so I spent a few minutes being very very still.
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Her temple had stood for time unknown and men came in their droves. On foot at first, then later on horseback. In pretentious ceremonial cars and, once, a motorbike. The romantics still brought their horses to rein outside. They saw castles more often than not. Some men saw paradise. Some, a dark prison-like crypt and the damsel within. She endured their silly visions and remained motionless, keeping the smile from her lips.
Sometimes, she wondered what they saw when they looked at her. Mirrors were forbidden- it was the law of her kind. Not that it mattered to her whether she appeared in the guise of an angel, a goddess or a naked succubus. All that mattered was that they took
one…
more…
step…

Close-up:
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We had already dubbed the second dress “the contortion dress” due to the amount of arm bending I did to get in. Halfway through, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get it on but when we finally got it to my feet, it looked like a golden second skin and I remembered a legend about a Greek god who transformed himself into a shower of gold in order to get through the keyhole of his love interest’s rooms…
Posing with coffins is always a bone of contention among some people. (Pun absolutely intended.) ;) I think the difference is, firstly in respect. Writhing half naked on a recent burial plot is, in my opinion, bad taste. The deceased probably has living relatives who may not be ready to see the reminder of their loss turned into art- however, the people here do not have relatives that can reminisce on their living pasts. I do know that the occupants of the coffins here had a very different concept of ‘urbex’! When I was in Ireland, I visited Newgrange (a neolithic monument) and inside was the graffiti of Victorian explorers!! I like to think that our version is a little more respectful to our surroundings. As they say: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
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“I wish you could just understand…”
Alexandra’s parents had died young. The Reverend John Bott had perished in the fire while trying to save his pregnant wife Caroline. The chemist, occasional surgeon and women’s suffrage member was remembered only as “a darling and faithful wife”. That must have stung.
Alexandra had grown up with an almost instinctive desire to make them proud and yet the divide had grown slowly over time- a remoteness she traced back to the moment she was asked the question asked of all children:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Alive!” she had said to her horrified parents.

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It was jarring the first time she learned that the dead could die again, but life under any name had an organised craziness and Jane had got used to it. She had lived, she had died, she had awoken in another world that could not be called Heaven, Hell, Harrods or any of the other H’s, and she had died in that other world. And so on and so forth. Awaking yet again and seeing what lay next to her awoke questions that ate questions, like the legendary serpent forever devouring its tail. Each coffin had her name, age and date of death embossed in the leather.
“Jane Rose. Died aged 87, 1893. Ne’er did a living thing harm.”
“… Suddenly taken from us aged 12, 1905.”
“… Left her pain behind aged 74, 1979″“… Died aged 23, 2002, “Life seemed more sweet that thou didst live”
Wasn’t there supposed to be a blissful escape in madness? She tried and failed to summon a mad thought. Death, then, had a sense of irony- for up until now, she had always died laughing…

By the time we got the third dress on, it was after midnight. I thought of a darker Cinderella story: a tale in which she must get back above ground after dancing all night with the ghosts of her past. The Danse Macabre.
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Dawn did not break this time but crashed overhead. A wave of light and birdsong she would not be there to hear this time. She had lingered too long after the last bows and curtseys and wondered now if she regretted it. This most secret dance took place but once a month and yet she had begun to enjoy the presence of the dancers below more than those above, but this was no place for the living. She had outstayed her welcome. Were they asleep, or were eyes averting, politely giving the last living guest time to leave? She slipped off her shoe and the uneven gait shook the fine earth from her hem. Dust to dust…

We packed in almost silence. Tired, cold and yet exhilarated, we prepared to haul our equipment up the rope ladder again. We turned the lights out, leaving the crypt cold and dark once more. The night was almost as still as the underground and the sound of the traffic seemed unblockable, until the scraping of the grate brought me back to reality. Mid-scurry back across the cemetery, something stirred in the night…
Note to me: Never hiss “fox, fox, FOX!!” at two shaky adrenaline-filled people halfway up a rope ladder no matter how close the lovely creatures are and how excited about it you are. It sounds like “cops, cops, COPS!!” :P
I didn’t think I’d manage to pull my weight over the fence for the final time but, numb and barefoot (my boots didn’t fit the rungs), I did at last with the encouragement of team awesome. An emergency chocolate and cider stop later and we were home. Shortly after that and I was all-of-a-snuggle in bed.
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I asked Rebecca if I could write the beginnings of a few stories to accompany the pictures- stories that I’d leave and finish one day. She very nicely said I could, so the italics under the pictures are my own scribblings.
If you’d like to hear her version of the night, read her blog HERE.

Sleep well, everyone- it’s nearly 5am here!

ROSWELL xxx

p.s. look, I found a stake!
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Tales of a Naked Girl

19 Jan

-⌐garethbyrd.Roswell-II.012
How can I explain the pride I feel in my work? Immersed as I am in my job and its accompanying social circle, I forget that some people see a bimbo or someone with very little self-respect when they learn I’m a nude model. My jokes about public nudity and nitpicky remarks about bondage in films (“seriously, anyone could get out of that!”) aren’t ‘got’, and there’s an assumption that seedier things go on than I let on. The idea of reference checking and talk of ‘levels’ provokes a knee-jerk horror that such talk is necessary. But don’t we all assess the possible dangers our lives bring us? It isn’t that we think trouble is imminent but that we want to be ready in case: to expect the best but prepare for the worst.
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I’m immensely proud of my work! Perhaps even more so because I know that it will not last forever. I have no intention of modelling for the rest of my life and have another career plan in mind, but I cherish the best parts and memories this crazy life is giving me.

My job puts me in touch with creative people on a daily basis. I’ve learned about things outside my circle of interests because almost everyone I work with has a story. My three best ‘industry’ friends are the most different women you could imagine but each of them has taught me a new perspective on life, shared my adventures and brought me on theirs- and I met all three through modelling.
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I see the world! I’ll be forever grateful for the experiences this is bringing me, the people I’m meeting and the independence I’ve found. I’m not afraid to travel alone or not speak the language. If I’m stranded I can always find a way home or at least to safety. I’m confident in strange situations and have a pretty good ‘weirdo-radar’! I love to share my life with friends and fellow travellers, but also enjoy the peace a simple walk in a new place brings me.
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Concerning the ‘naked’ bit, I’m proud to have a healthy attitude to nudity- my body does not bring me shame merely by being uncovered.
More than this, nude figures have been used in art for centuries! I walk through the London galleries and see women like me, who have been immortalised for the world to look at forever, as art. I feel a kind of connection to these women- a hint of the camaraderie I find among other nude models.
In this digital age when something placed on the internet is there forever, I hope that our work will continue to inspire people, and that maybe in the far future when people are creating interactive holograms (!) or whatever, that modern nude models may feel that connection to me and the other old-fashioned ‘photo girls’. ;)
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I’m a huge sci-fi/action/fantasy fan but always meant to write a blog about films concerning nude modelling, so here you go- an extra bit!

Calendar Girls
It’s a comedy with Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Penelope Wilton, and is based on true events. A middle-aged Women’s Institute group raises money for charity by making a nude calendar- and creates scandal, of course.
The idea that modelling teaches a very linear view of what is beautiful is an easy assumption to make and to an extent, it’s true (you’re either thin and striking or curvy and sexy) BUT visiting galleries and meeting older nude models has taught me to see beauty another way. I know I won’t be able to make a living from modelling forever, but if someone wants to photograph me nude at age sixty, bring it on!
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Mona Lisa Smile
I don’t like Julia Roberts, but I love Maggie Gyllenhaal and Julia Stiles. Kirsten Dunst is there too, with a teeny look at Tori Amos and Jane in Breaking Bad before she went all junkie. :P It’s about an art teacher in the 50s who tries to teach her very traditional students that the ‘lifescript’ is an option and not a necessity.
There isn’t much nude modelling, but there is a scene in which the teacher takes her students to see an abstract painting and says “I want you to consider it. You don’t have to write about it, you don’t even have to like it. What you do have to do is consider it.”
There will always be people who step back from me and my work because it’s outside their experience (and therefore comfort zone). That is what I want to say to those people.
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I Capture the Castle
The book is better and not so bloody soppy  (I’m re-reading it right now) though the writing and interaction between the characters still makes me laugh. Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Rose Byrne and Tara Fitzgerald are a bohemian family of artists living in a crumbling old castle in the 1930s. Bill Nighy’s character has dreadful writers block, while Tara Fitzgerald’s character is a nude artists model who is the breadwinner for the family.
Gorgeous styling- and it makes me want my very own nude modelling castle.
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Sirens
Saw it by accident when I was about eleven. Whoops…
By most accounts it’s pretty dreadful as a film, but there can be a sexy side to nude modelling and the feeling of being in a completely different (and bonkers) world. Hugh Grant (ugh) and Tara Fitzgerald (you again!) visit Sam Neill, who plays an artist living in Australia with his family and personal collection of models (Elle MacPherson, Portia De Rossi and Kate Fischer).
I’m dying to go to Australia and recreate the scene in the last five seconds of the film: four of the models are standing on a high cliff being siren-like while Australia stretches into the background looking all idyllic. On a multi-model shoot, the joking and debates around the dinner table are pretty standard- you have to be comfortable not just with your own body but everyone else’s- though generally we don’t get all sexy to embarrass the new girl. :P
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Mrs Henderson Presents
I love you, Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins (even if I did kill you by accident). It’s based on a true story about a rich widow who buys a theatre and opens a vaudeville production featuring nude women and Will Young (who’s actually pretty good!) Beautiful wartime/vintage styling and costume design!
I watched a mini-documentary about the film the other day- the producers invited the “Millerettes”- the original nude artists from the Windmill Theatre- to be consultants and to tell their stories. Glamourous eighty year old women proudly said that they could still do some of the dances and reminisced over their show days together.
When I’m old and wrinkly and my tits reach my ankles, I want to be able to look back at my nude modelling days and be just as proud, on my sofa surrounded by cats and chocolate and my just-as-wrinkly nude modelling friends. :)
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Roswell xxx

p.s. sneak preview at my next blog, in which I go on an adventure in a crypt with one of the UK’s best known “Adventure Photographers” ;) I’m being sewn into my dress…
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p.p.s. Photography credits (in order):
Gareth Byrd
Rares Pulbere
Jonasbee
Sylvie Blum
John Duder
Artrotika
Gregory Brown (x2)
Max Operandi
Charles Van Trappen
Rebecca Litchfield

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