I was shooting a centerfold for Playgirl magazine, and what I'd always dreaded, but what I'd always suspected, had happened. The model, expecting some kind of female fluffer on set, discovered that I was to be the only girl present that day. Yes, I was the photographer, but why couldn't I perform double-duty?
"You know Holly, you're going to have to fluff me today," he commented as he appraised my unappealing getup of jeans and a loose-fitting sweater, complete with a face devoid of makeup framed by a messy ponytail. "I'm serious," he continued, when I rolled my eyes at his suggestion.
I tried to ignore the insinuation that I actually give a hand job — or worse a blowjob — to this man, but he wouldn't drop it. Not that I particularly blame him, since I know he was concerned about his performance and wanted a successful photo shoot, as did the rest of us. But I just wasn't prepared to go to any lengths to get it.
"Skye Blue shoots the Playgirl videos with her top off," he mentioned.
Skye Blue is a former porn star, so already many more people than just my model that day had seen her naked. But I didn't mention that, instead I said: "I don't really have Skye's tits, you know."
He glanced at my B-cups. "Yeah, but you'll do. I mean, I can make it work with just what you've got."
"Oh, thanks a lot," I replied sarcastically. "But it doesn't matter, I'm not taking my top off."
"Well you could've at least worn a see-through shirt," he grumbled.
Apparently my wearing a modest outfit that day was a problem — something I really hadn't considered as I got dressed that morning. But really, should I have? Of course ethically, one shouldn't have to consider turning a man on to get the job done, but that's exactly what so many women do in the job market today, whether or not they do so consciously. And perhaps the goal isn't necessarily as cut-and-dried as mine would be: to give one's subject a raging hardon. But it's the same game we all play: to construct some kind of sexual power over our male coworkers. Mine is just much more direct.
Would it have been more professional of me to wear even just a low-cut blouse? I'm not that old yet, and I'm not particularly unattractive. As the only female on a set where a man must get an erection for solo photos, shouldn't I have taken into account that I would be the only live female body around? Should I have spent more time in front of the mirror today?
Luckily I had my stack of trusty porn magazines with me. Once my subject was aware that I was indeed keeping my clothes on, he focused his attention to the spread of photos of hot women doing dirty things. Of course I'd only brought magazines with my layouts in them, because hey, my ego still wants a small part in getting this guy up.
So my minor crisis was averted, my dignity still intact. And this is not to say that the women I photograph who do take their clothes off for men have no dignity, but they've set the parameters of how far they'll go in terms of expressing their sexuality publicly. I have my standards, and these girls have theirs.
I think the situation of compromising one's self-respect comes from crossing that line you have set for yourself and doing something you are not comfortable with. As individuals, we all have our own ideas of what we deem personally acceptable, and at the end of the day, the only person whose opinion matters is our own. We all have to draw the line somewhere.