So, nothing has significantly changed since my blog about Philip Sutcliffe/Fiona Cooper. There is little doubt that the company was inconvenienced by the blog, which has led to a name change. It appears Fiona Cooper or at least the main part of the Company is trading as Ventura DVD, but they are still there, still booking models and still successful.
There are a number of reasons why this company has got away with despicable behaviour over the years. However, the main reason is a very simple one – money. The secondary reasons are apathy, lack of victim support and lack of any empathy for their peers by models/performers.
Whilst you can never say any individual deserves to be sexually assaulted, you can say that victims can contribute to their own misfortunes by placing themselves in a situation where they are likely to be assaulted. In the case of this company some models undoubtedly do put money before their own safety and that of their peers. And of course the industry as a whole condones the behaviour of this company, either actively by working for them, accepting advertising revenue and promoting their products or passively by turning a blind eye to their conduct. As does the end consumer who continues to buy their products.
People ask how this individual…a convicted sex offender, lets not forget…can get away with such activities so easily for so long, when his behaviour is so well-known in the Industry. It’s not really hard to see exactly how and why. Because people who are in a position to do something about it, may in some cases have the individual will to do something, but do not have the support to do so, and as yet there has been no collective will to do anything. It’s easy to document incidents and its relatively easy for models to relate their experiences to their peers, but that in itself is not evidence. It would take several very determined people acting together making a concerted effort for there to be any chance of any type of criminal or civil case being brought against this offender.
Bare in mind, whilst the Police will act in a politically and proceduraly correct manner and will adhere rigidly to the “we take all incidents seriously and will investigate…blah, blah, blah”, the truth is they are busy and not inclined to waste man hours/budget investigating the cases of individuals, who in their eyes deliberately placed themselves in a position where an assault may happen, and if it did, would be almost impossible to prove on an individual basis. Also, due to the low regard in which this industry is held, it would be very unlikely that any individual officer would take it upon themselves to actively solicit complaints from other potential victims in order to strengthen the initial complain as may happen in the case of crimes in more highly regarded circumstances.
The Police would only investigate to the full extent possible, if they were pressured into doing so, either by the number of victims complaining or more likely by the status of an individual acting for the victims. What I am saying is that a complaint made via either a sympathetic victim support group, a member of Parliament, a newspaper or via a solicitor would undoubtedly be held more credible than a complaint made by an individual walking into a Police station.
What is required here is a form of victims group, acting together and engaging the right people to make their case. Whether such a will exists amongst victims I doubt very much, so my feeling is that people like me and others can continue to bite this disgusting individuals arse every now and again, but in the wider scheme of things, it will be little more than an irritation.
A couple of final points. Most shoots for this company are now carried out by a lady photographer at a location remote to Sutcliffe, so he has no part in them. In most cases the models don’t actually know they are shooting for FC and as the money is good in most cases wouldn’t care anyway (cynical but true) Nearly all of the models whom Sutcliffe himself shoots are sourced via The Walpole Group, a company operated by an unpleasant individual who is happy to send new and naive models to Sutcliffe without any warnings, clear in the knowledge of what might happen. I’m sure the last paragraph will generate more hate mail from the individual…I look forward to it!
I,ve not done much with my blog so far as any of you who follow me will be aware. I had a rough idea what I might do when I started it but somehow lost inspiration and had no wish to turn it into another vehicle for posting images and saying look how pretty my pictures are. Its not really about pictures, its more about words. I thought I may make it mildly funny, occasionally witty and even a little bit entertaining. Not today, this is a dark post about a dark subject and a bad person.
The adult industry is not all bad. There are many good people, many educated, responsible and intelligent people, I often think it is more honest than many parts of the industry and indeed more honest than many industries. There are a few charlatans about, there has to be, there are in any industry and most walks of life. Unfortunately in this business they tend to get away with it or at least some people do. Wrong doing in the adult industry can be very difficult to prove, the circumstances often blur the lines and make meaningful evidence difficult to come by.
What I am about to write is almost certainly libellous, although I doubt if the individual libelled will have the balls to call me out on it. I’ll take the risk anyway, I,m not particularly concerned. I am more concerned by the fact that I may upset some people I know, decent people, but guilty by association.
In Halifax, Yorkshire, one of the most perennial and successful adult film companies can be found. In business for more than 40 years, they supply exactly what their customer wants. Very British, mainly softcore porn, shot in a very raw and amateur style. They pay models the highest rates in the business, almost every adult model around in the last 40 years has worked with them, and also many girls who are not adult models but were seduced by the fees. In short this company has made a lot of money over the years and so have a lot of people working for them. Many models have worked for the company again and again and continue to do so, they will say truthfully, that they have been treated well and paid well and have been very glad of the income. The company trades as Fiona Cooper and gives the public impression that it is a friendly female run company. However it is operated solely by an individual Philip Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe is a convicted sex offender. Not serious sex offences in the wider scheme of things, but serious enough for him to receive an 18 month prison sentence and be placed on the sex offenders register. These offences were committed more than 10 years ago and were not directly related to the Fiona Cooper business. http://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/calderdale/porn-king-jailed-over-indecent-child-photos-1-1989668
None of the above is big news now and it would be reasonable to take the view that he did his time, has not offended since and should be given the benefit of the doubt, I may be inclined to take this view myself and if the people who continue to work with him took this view, I wouldn’t take issue with it. You may feel the same and I would think it was reasonable to do so. But what if you knew that he was one of the most vile individuals ever to operate a camera, a persistent sexual predator and (in my view) a rapist. What if you knew he targeted the naive, the inexperience and the vulnerable. Would it still be ok to be an apologist for his behaviour? Would taking his money be ok as long as it didn’t happen to you? I’ve heard many stories about this individual, some embellished undoubtedly, some probably completely untrue. Stories are not evidence, but the story I’m about to relate was told to me directly by a victim, it was harrowing. It is similar to many anecdotal accounts I’ve heard about this individual.
A young girl, 18 years old decided she was fed up working for low wages in a boring job and decided to look at the possibilities of being an adult model. Not a stupid girl by any means, not a drug addict or someone forced by circumstances into the adult industry, just an individual looking for a better way to make a decent living at a young age. She knew nothing about the industry but was savvy enough to think that finding a reputable agency to represent her would be the safest and most sensible route. In fact there are few adult agencies in the UK and none of them any good, as the young lady now knows, the safest and reliable route for adult work in the UK is using recognised model sites like http://www.purpleport.com and http://www.purestorm.com I would love to name and shame the agency the young lady joined, and would have no qualms about doing so, however it may identify the victim, so unfortunately I cannot. But their name is well on my radar and I’ll be fucking them over at any opportunity, the same way as they fucked over this 18 year old girl.
Everybody with any experience in this industry knows about Fiona Cooper and Philip Sutcliffe…its not a secret, its well known that he will pray on the young and naive at any opportunity, its also well known that more experienced and assertive models are perfectly safe. The agent knew this as well as I do. Had he pre-warned this girl she would have been safe, all she would have had to do was tell Sutcliffe that she knew his game and she wasn’t up for it and he would have been fine. But he sent a young innocent absolutely first time model to a known sexual predator with no warning and absolutely in the knowledge that she was at risk. This was her very first modeling job of any kind. The agreed level was solo adult, no male interaction of any kind. She is not a timid girl, but was totally out of her depth. Needless to say, by the second set Sutcliffe had his cock out and by the third set his cock was in her. She protested, but did not resist and certainly was not happy and certainly did not consent to sexual intercourse. As you can imagine she left in a daze, missed connecting trains and broke down in tears on a platform and had to be assisted by a passer by. She has now recovered, and I think in truth, is as pissed off about not being warned about him as much as what actually happened. I asked her if she knew what to expect and had been advised that as long as she was assertive she would be ok, would she have taken the job?, she said on balance, with the money involved, yes, she probably would.
This highlights one of the problems with both the industry and individuals like Sutcliffe. The majority view is that its ok to work with him if you know what to expect. I can understand this, but I don’t accept it. He is a rapist and sexual predator and should be an industry outcast at best…although in an ideal world would be locked up again.
What this man did is rape. The law is quite clear on this, if a girl does not give her consent to sexual intercourse then it is rape, there are no grey areas, there may be mitigating circumstances or the circumstances of the assault may make the act more or less serious, but rape is rape and this is absolutely within the definition.
Of course, even if the victim made a complaint it could never be proved without an admission from the perpetrator. Unfortunately this is the case with the majority of sexual assaults and the case with almost every sexual assault within the adult industry. Sexual assaults do happen within this industry, not always on the adult side, unfortunately they are almost never prosecuted, even in cases where the victim is brave enough to go to the Police. I have seen first hand how traumatic and futile reporting such an incident is and as a result, its unlikely I could ever advise a victim of a sex crime within the industry to report the incident to the authorities.
Given that this individual is a serial perpetrator, the more legally aware of you who are reading this are probably thinking “Moorov doctrine” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorov_v_HM_Advocate
Whilst designed particularly for serial offenders it is both difficult and costly to put together a credible Moorov based case and its something the authorities would look at reluctantly in any case and particularly in a case containing so many grey areas as one relating to the adult industry. The Moorov Docrine in name is applicable in Scots Law only but the princible can equally be applied in other parts of the UK.
So the chances of this individual ever getting what’s coming to him in a legal sense are by no means clear cut unless a group of models make a determined and sustained effort as a team. I have to accept this reluctantly, as do others, but I still think those of us in the industry with a more responsible attitude have, over the years facilitated this individuals exploits with our non-action and often apologist behaviour. The common theme amongst agents, producers who work for him, advertisers and models is that he only picks on the weak and naive, if you are assertive you will be safe. This is probably accurate, I have no reason to believe the man is particularly dangerous or violent. (although the addendum below suggests otherwise) But does that really make it okay to tolerate and accept the fact that he sexually assaults teenagers?
Certainly not in my world and probably not in yours.
I attach to this blog part of an email I received from a model. I will not comment, my thoughts should be pretty obvious, you can make up your own mind.
Thank – you for writing the blog about Phil Sutcliffe. I worked for Fiona Cooper three times and he groomed me up to the point of being very scared and frightened of him.
What he does it take you off guard.You are picked up from the station by a driver who is quite pleasant but deliberately makes you late by say, ten minutes.Then when you arrive, Sutcliffe is ready and shouting at you for being late. He shoves a three page document crammed with information and rules and regulations, for example refreshments MUST be taken and at certain times.That I the models must make them IN THE NUDE.Thrown off guard, he then brusquely shouts at you to sign it.Now you are locked in an unknown address with a strange man.
But he doesn’t do much but shout. I felt really stressed and flustered, he made some dodgy comments but I am used to a certain amount of personal comments as an adult model.
The third shoot was different. First he touched himself through his pants while filming. I ignored it because he was filming and mentioning it would have meant starting an exceptionally trying scene over again. All throughout he was visibly aroused, he unzipped his pants at one point, I told him to zip them up. He said he would keep on booking me if I did ‘boy girl’ with him. I said no. He became even nastier and when doing another scene, asked me to close my eyes, which I did. He then ejaculated on my breasts without permission and I was frozen with shock. I was locked in there with him. I find it difficult to explain why I carried on but I felt he would hurt me physically AND knew he paid by cheque and would cancel it (travel was not included and I could not afford the trip otherwise).
I went into the bathroom to wash up. He told me to hurry up and get changed as if nothing had happened. I changed. With one more scene to go, and nearly crying, I did the last scene which involved me being on all fours masturbating. Nearly as the scene ended I felt him behind me, fell to the floor and turned over, he was exposing himself, mastubating and clearing intending to rape me. I brought up my leg towards his crotch and made to kick with my leg which had a heel on it. He put his semi erect penis away and he cut(he goes simply MAD if he has to cut) and I had to shoot the whole scene over. I was red raw. I took the cheque and agreed to work with him again because I knew-as I still know today-that man is pure evil and he would not have let me leave if I had appeared as if I would reported him.
He asked me not to come through Walpole agency (who had sent me the past three times and I later complained to, to no effect) and said if I did I would get an extra hundred. Obviously I did not attend the shoot.The driver came, he asked me in the car, very casually “Did you fuck him?” “No!” I said “Oh, most of them do, you see” he said.
Why go back? Like I said, he built the abuse up, I needed the money as I had no other way to pay my bills and noone to rely on. And a trusted agency had sent me. The first two shoots were stressful, VERY hard work and weird but apart from grabbing my breasts at the end of the session the second time. (which sadly has happened a lot to me) nothing absolutely dreadful happened. I am quite an anxious person and blamed myself for getting flustered by the way he rushed through one difficult scene to the next, shouting and barking.
Like the model you mentioned, it was only on the train that I started to shake and went into the toilets and vomited and cried. I have been informed by portfolio hosting sites that by mentioning this publicly I am liable to Sutcliffe suing me. I have continued to use various forums etc. to warn models and written to models warning them not to shoot with Fiona Cooper.I have mostly had my emails ignored and the girls still work with him.
I guess the pull of the money is too great for them, I even know of girls who are paid to scout for him and must have knowledge of his antics.
I had a friend phone me in tears after she was molested by him after she shot with him (unknown to me) through Walpole models. Like me she felt the police would never take her seriously. She also had a family to feed and was depending on the money. So now I have the knowledge that if we had come forward to the police, maybe something would have been done. But I as I have mentioned, been an abuse victim in the past and when I tried to report it I was told there was not enough evidence. At least if you are warning people, less will go to work with him.
I honestly would die if I saw the man again, recounting this in such detail has wiped me out even though this was maybe 8 years ago now the shame is still there.
I feel so dirty and I do feel responsible for what has happened to others, but I am just too scared, knowing what cross examination is like, that I would fall to pieces. I know I would. But thank you for getting this out there. It needs to be talked about whatever the ‘risks’.
From a well known adult model.
Here is my account of Mr Fiona Cooper. Having read the two accounts you have posted I feel that I got off rather lucky, but no model should ever go through what any of us went through. I try to warn other models against him & always recommend that if they are really wanting the money then to shoot with my good friend as I know they will be safe. Some listen, others do not. Im happy, if kept anonymous, for you to publish this account on your blog.
At the time i was a young, relatively inexperienced model & my agency sent me there even though I had not long had a very bad experience with a photographer. The shoot was solo toys. I arrived after a 5 hour drive to be greeted by his “assistant”, who took me down to the studio dressing room, made me tea, put me at eease & get me to fill out & sign the model release, which because of my inexperience I signed. I was told that my cheque would be brought down by the photographer along with my ID as he needed to take copies. The assistant disappeared & the person this is all about came down 5 mins later with my ID & cheque, and was told he’d sort my travel expenses in cash at the end otherwise I couldn’t get home.
As soon as I got on set it was made clear to me that any cuts & I had to start again & he didn’t like that because it made it a long day, his words were “and you don’t want to see me when I’m not happy”, this immediately put me on edge!
1st set went well & because of my age & look I didn’t find it odd that I was doing the “teen” look. 2nd set was similar but I made a mistake, we had to cut & his tone & demeanour changed to quite an aggressive one which scared me as I knew that his assistant had since left the building & I was locked in. 3rd set was a school girl outfit, which again I was used to, but before we started the set he said that I had to pretend that the camera was my uncle & that I had skipped school to go give my uncle a solo sexual performance. I told him I was not comfortable with this but he made it clear if I didn’t do it the shoot would end, he would not pay me my expenses to get home & cancel my cheque. So I unwillingly went ahead with it & got the scene ovet & done with as quick as possible.
Between sets I then told him about the problem I had previously had with a photographer & that there had been police involvement. He didnt say much after that. Just before the next set started filming he told me that at the end of the set he wanted me bent over the bed with my backside facing towards camera with my face slightly away from it, eyes closed. He said he would then fade out the set on the skin of my bottom, being naive I didn’t question it.I did the set & did as he asked at the end but thought he was taking a long time to say cut so opened my eyes slightly to see him coming towards me, zipper down, penis in hand! I yelled cut & he said “I was only doing it so that fans know what to expect when you next do sets for me”, I told him that I didn’t do that type of shoot to which he replied “im sure you will for me”. Just to get paid & get out of there I just replied to say “yeah I will next time”. I asked him though to cut out that end part which he said he would & also as I was getting dressed he said “oh dont worry, I never use models real names”.
I left feeling sick & shakey, but had to pull myself together for the 5 hour drive home. A few months later I found out he didn’t cut the end part of the set & released it with him entering the set with his penis out, AND he put my real name to my character on that set. He did ask me back but I refused. I have since warned other models against working with him, some take heed, others dont. I also found out my agency knew of his reputation & even though I told them what happened they continued to send girls until the agency closef a few years later (by which time I had left them).
I never went to the police because it was never assault & he had me sign the release at the beginning by using his assistant. So it would very much be he said/she said. Over the many years since, I keep hearing of models being sent by agencies & having awful experiences. I think he uses new names from agencies a lot because the models wont be checking references & are less likely to be able to be assertive.
So thats my experience. Something does need to be done but I have no idea what or how.
We,ve come a long way in 30 years.
Civilisation as we know it started in the 80’s. Thats how I see it anyway. I,m from the last generation who remembers life before computers, mobile phones, DVD players and the internet. Yes, there really was life before the internet, although it seems inconceivable now.
I went to school in the 70,s and early 80,s For those of you unfamiliar with the 70,s it was the dark ages , a time when people wore strange clothes made from fabrics which conducted more electricity than a lightening rod, a time when people didn,t wash properly and showers were these strange contraptions Americans had. A time when being racist, homophobic and sexist was not only acceptable, it was encouraged. A time when you played records but cassettes were the new technology, a time when video was in its infancy and we had only 4 TV channels. A time when a microwave oven was unaffordable for most people and seemed like expensive witchcraft. A time where assaulting children in schools was not only perfectly legal, but seen as essential and good for the child. A time when central heating was a middle class luxury.
It was also a time of Political and social upheaval. The country was bankrupt, income tax for top earners was 98%…yes, thats right, 98p of every pound earned went to the taxman. Needless to say, anyone with any money rapidly left the country. There were strikes, 3 day weeks, power cuts even petrol rationing.
Its seems almost inconceivable, but for those of us born before 1975 we can remember a time when it was ok to call a black person the “n” word…even on the BBC, being homosexual was a criminal offence in Scotland and Wales and a moral offence in England and it was legal and generally acceptable for teachers to beat 10 year olds.
Although it wasn,t all bad, when they weren’t being assaulted by teachers, generally children were allowed to be children and in particular boys were allowed to be boys. Many teachers were dedicated and extra curricular activities available at school to which teachers gave their time freely were surprising in their number and variety. Also there was not the same financial restrictions or indeed safety restrictions. Robust physical contact sport was encouraged rather than discouraged. A little bit of blood and a bruise or two was seen as character building rather than a health and safety issue. Extra curricular technical enterprises were also encouraged and I remember being allowed to make a hunting knife after school and another boy was allowed to make a crossbow. Can you imagine that now?
Then came the 80’s and the world seemed to change completely in 10 short years. Politically and socially the climate changed, due to controversial measures in government. The country or parts of the country became more affluent than it had ever been. Individuals became very rich very quickly, the economy boomed (and sometimes bust) For the first time owning your own property became a realistic aspiration for the majority. Technology also boomed. First video became affordable and widely available, CD took over from records, then we got satellite television, the mobile phone, computer games, then PC.s Houses become more habitable, showers were installed, microwave ovens were a part of every home, most people had central heating. By the end of the eighties racism was becoming unacceptable, most people accepted homosexuality, even assaulting children was outlawed in state schools, although you could still pay to have your children beaten in a private school.
By the 90’s society was almost like we are used today, the final piece of the jigsaw was the internet which started late 90,s and took off in the 00’s when first ASDL and then broadband became available to the masses. But can you believe that only 10 years ago very few people had broadband and most homes still didnt,t have internet at all.
And with the internet of course, came easily accessible pornography, model portfolio hosting sites and a revolution in photography in respect of models. But its a myth that sex and pornography only started with the internet. I dont recall a single boy in my age group who had not been subjected to some form of pornography by age 10. I have no idea where it came from but the older boys always had pornography ranging from mild to very hardcore and myself and others of my age group viewed it with reverence, knowing we should be impressed, but not quite knowing why we should be impressed. As 14 or 15 year olds we treated top shelf mags like Mayfair, Penthouse, Club International in the same way as 14 year olds these days treat Nuts and Zoo etc, they were part of school culture and widely available for viewing.
As soon as video became available, so did hardcore pornography on video. Although hardcore pornography was illegal in the UK until the late 90’s, fairly explicit soft pornography ( much more explicit than is allowed under the “18” classification today) was available legally in any video hire outlet and could indeed be hired from even our small Highland village shop, as could illegal under the counter hardcore pornography.
Here are some notable stats/ figures for the period.
In 1974 a colour TV cost around £300 in relative terms thats around £3000 today. Can you imagine paying £3000 for a TV?
In 1991 an average mobile phone cost £300, in addition, there was a line rental charge of £35 per month and call charges of around 45p per minute. In relative terms for today, times this by 5 or 6. So we paid the equivalent of £1500 to buy a mobile. There was no texting and no service in various parts of the country.
In 2003 the best PCs available had far less computing power than todays average smartphone.
In 1987 Corporal punishment was banned in state schools.
In 1998 certain types of hardcore pornography became legal for the first time and came under the control of the BBFC
What has this got to do with photography, you ask? Well, not a lot really, other than the electronic revolution in the 80’s is pretty much why you are looking at this linked via a model/photography hosting site.
Photography – Its not exactly brain surgery.
People tend to think I’ve been around longer than I have, but in actual fact I picked up a camera for the first time 7 years ago, July 2005 to be precise. When I say picked up for the first time, obviously I had used a camera before, but only in the most basic sense. I didn’t know my aperture from my arse and ISO could have been a new a new crime series on Fox, for all I knew. In short, I had no interest in photography. Then, because I was challenged to do it and didn’t want to lose face, I found myself in the position of having to learn to use a camera in the course of a weekend, teaching myself with an improvised lighting system consisting of halogen work lights and slave flashes. It went quite well. Within a few months I had formed the opinion that taking pictures of girls wasn’t that difficult and not particularly onerous, so I decided to become a photographer. That may sound a bit ambitious, but it seemed reasonable to me…Let me explain.
I come from an area where people tend to be innovative and self sufficient. The early part of my working life was spent on the family farm and my work colleagues consisted of my late stepfather who was a pleasant and generally good humoured man and whilst occasionally excitable, was generally very patient and two elderly and very grumpy Uncles who were usually neither pleasant or patient, but were actually a great source of learning for me, and often a source of amusement, and I think their heart’s were in the right places. It never dawned on me at the time, but I have a heck of a lot to thank my Uncles for, not least the most imaginative education in creative swearing that a raw 16 year old could possibly hope for. My Stepfather was a Shepherd, so worked on his own most of the time, wisely keeping as far out of the Uncles way as possible. I mostly wished that I could also keep as far out of their way as possible.
I might have been somewhat less than 16 when I learned two of my most valuable lessons, I certainly wasn’t much more than 16 for sure. It would have been the late 70,s, early eighties, although it might as well have been the 50’s as attitudes and mechanisation in this particular 300 odd acres of Northern Scotland were firmly stuck in a time warp. In my youthful opinion, my Uncle’s main purpose was to make life as laborious and difficult as possible for themselves, and more particularly, for me. Twice a week we went through the labour intensive and physically very unpleasant process of threshing oats for stock feed. The first and last stage of this process was to remove and replace the heavy wooden door from the corn loft to allow unrestricted access. The door was hung on peg and band style hinges and removal was simply a case of lifting the door of its hinges, replacement was simply a reversal of this. When I say “simply” I use this word to describe the theory rather than the practice, as the door was around 2 metres square and probably weighed 70 Kilo‘s, which was considerably more than I weighed at the time. Taking the door off was not difficult, just brute strength really. Reinstating it was much trickier as the top and bottom hinges had to be lined up exactly, this involved strength, balance, stamina, precision and a bit of luck and was always accompanied by much varied and often innovative swearing on the part of the elder of the two Uncle,s, who was the biggest and strongest and whose task this always was.
Well, it always was until one day he decided I should do it. My Uncle was usually only grumpy on days ending with a “y” and did occasionally…very rarely..have a sense of fun. I assumed he was looking for some entertainment and gave reinstating the door a reasonable go, much to his initial amusement. However, I got pretty close to getting it on the hinges a couple of times and the amusement turned to a form of encouragement in a sweary, shouty sort of way. I never quite made it, but my Uncle seemed almost impressed…almost. The next threshing day he told me to replace the door, telling me that I got close last time and would easily manage this time. I tried until I was tired out and could barely lift the door, but couldn’t get it on the hinges and gave up. This certainly didn’t impress my Uncle and he told me so in a very forthright manner, using an impressive variety of adjectives, of the type that seldom appear in respectable literary works. To say my teenage pride was hurt was an understatement, but this didn’t cut any ice and the tirade about the door continued for the rest of the day and indeed for the rest of the week. It didn’t seem to be the fact that I failed that had displeased him so much, it was that he could see that I was able to do it, but had given up to easily in his eyes. The next few times he did the door himself, making it clear in the process, that I was pretty much the weakest and most useless individual he had encountered in his 60 odd years.
My confidence was severely dented, but it dawned on me that the only way to resolve the situation was to be able to put the door on. One afternoon when there was nobody around I decided to have a go, this was a risky venture as once the door was off, I would have no choice but to get it back on somehow. If I didn’t, I risked further loss of face and would drop even lower in my Uncle’s estimation, if that was possible. Anyway, I took the risk. I quickly wished I hadn’t. I could not get the door back on whatever I tried. After half an hour or so, I was exhausted and almost crying tears of anger and despair. I was getting desperate and had one final try, pumped by the adrenalin of anger. By sheer luck the door went straight on. Now I was almost was crying tears of relief. A sensible boy would have left it there…but when you are young its amazing how quickly your emotions can turn from despair to elation in seconds. So I took the door of again. I didn’t get it back on immediately, but it went on fairly quickly. I did it again and then again. By now, with practice, I was able to get it back on fairly easily. The next threshing day when my Uncle was getting ready to reinstate the door, I nipped in, in front of him, picked up the door and with an unusual bit of good fortune located it on the hinges first attempt. My Uncle actually smiled.
My second lesson was the day we had a puncture in the rear tyre of a tractor. This meant the wheel had to come off, then the tyre had to be levered of, so the inner tube could be removed and repaired. Its not exactly rocket science, but a tractor tyre is a pretty heavy duty bit of kit and with the old fashioned tools available for the task is quite tricky for even practiced and strong hands. The tools were assembled and I waited for my Uncle to get started.
He said, “Right, I have to go and do something else, get the wheel off and get the tube out.”
I thought he was joking and stood there like a lemon.
He then politely enquired why I remained upright and stationary in a manner which might be compared to the function of an ancillary male reproductive organ at the matrimonial union of a lady normally engaged in the Professional provision of remunerated sexual services. Or at least his enquiry was similar in nature, but was far from polite and was peppered liberally with his usual imaginative choices of adjective.
I made the mistake of saying that I didn’t know if I was capable of taking on such a major task.
“Oh“, he said…almost sympathetically, “so you don’t know how to do it”
I clutched at this hint of a straw and my second mistake was to agree that I didn’t know how to do it.
“Oh,” he said, with apparently more sympathy, “so you’ve not done it before?”
Now I was seeing a whole bail of straw to clutch on to and my third and final mistake was to agree enthusiastically that indeed I had never done it before.
“Well“, he said with absolutely no trace of sympathy and every trace of contempt, “if you’ve not done it before, how the fuck do you know you cant do it, now stop fucking around and get on with it”
So I did get on with it and after a few setbacks completed the task successfully. And that’s how it was in my early years, it would be difficult to say my Uncles actively encouraged me to try anything, they weren’t what you would call encouraging people, but they never discouraged anything unless it was seen as frivolous, so that was anything which wasn’t work really. But the learning opportunities I had were priceless. I could drive just about any vehicle by the time I was 12 and had pretty much free reign to drive what I wanted around the farm as long as it was for “work” and not “pleasure” I got to play with guns when I really shouldn’t have because if I could keep the vermin down and put some game on the table it was seen as a reasonable risk. Road traffic laws and Firearms laws apparently didn’t apply in our little 300 acre republic as long as it was either convenient or work related. My stepfather, on the other hand was pretty encouraging and supported most of my “learning” with enthusiasm, although tempered with a little more common sense than my Uncles, so managed to ensure that no serious incidents or at least nothing fatal became of me or any innocent third parties. Luckily, and very sensibly, he also did a sterling job of keeping my mother pretty much unaware of my more adventurous exploits.
You may think none of this relates to photography and it doesn’t specifically, but could equally apply to photography as to most things of a practical nature. The lessons I learned from the two incidents detailed in the narrative are the most valuable lessons I have learned in my life. You really don’t know what you can or cannot do until you have a go and give it a decent try. Whilst both my Uncles were in all fairness a pair of charmless, miserable sods, I have a lot to thank them for or possibly blame them for, because they probably shaped my entire attitude to life more than anyone else has. It was always just assumed that I, like them, was capable of most practical tasks, so I dont think I felt the restrictions that maybe a lot of people feel. When I was maybe 17 it was decided that a welder would be really useful around the farm for repairing various decrepid items of prehistoric machinery, which not unsurprisingly, broke on a regular basis. So one was aquired and it was just assumed that I would learn to weld. By this time, such an assumption seemed perfectly reasonable, so I just got on with it, and like most practical skills, welding is fairly easy to pick up if you just use a bit of common sense.
As a result of these early years, I’ve always thought I could do anything practical within reason if I put my mind to it and never really consider or worry about failure. Although there are limits and you do have to be realistic in what you take on. On one occasion I decided to have a go at brain surgery. That didn’t really end well. Although I blame the guy for not keeping his head still… it did remind me though, that you always have to be realistic in your aspirations and at least have the basic tools for the task…in the case of brain surgery anaesthetic, it would seem, is fairly essential.
So this is essentially why I thought I could be a photographer. It’s a relatively simple skill really, if you think about it. A camera is a mechanical light gathering tool, its settings are finite and relatively predictable in relation to the light source. If you understand the basics and set up right, its really a case of pointing the shiny glass end and what you see in the viewfinder is pretty much what you are going to end up with.
Its not exactly brain surgery, is it? Although if, like many, regardless of technical skill, you are incapable of seeing a picture, then you might as ell be attempting brain surgery.
I don’t have any recent images ready yet, so here are some Raphaella from a while ago, I like Raph, so any excuse to put up some images of her is a good excuse. In some images the hair, make-up and styling is by Fifi Russo, in others by Raph herself. If some of the images look a little soft, its because they are meant to look that way…the old hairspray on a filter to give soft focus trick..:)
So, here I go, my first blog. You may or may not want to know a little bit about me. Some of you will be vaguely familiar with me from various model sites and even perhaps from magazines and websites of the type many seem to view, but few will admit they know exists:) For those of you who know me I probably dont need to explain much about what I do. For those of you who dont, apparently, I am one of the most successful glamour/adult photographers in the UK, although I am quite modest by nature and make no assumptions or claims about my success or otherwise.
This blog isn’t so much about what I do in the course of my work life its more about my opinions, what I do photographically in my spare time and also what goes on inside my head. Some of you may be aware of me from various forums, and will know I never write anything personally revealing about myself. This blog is personal, what you read here is a far more intimate and representitive account of my life and more candid than I would be normally on the internet.
I’m not much of a reader of blogs and writing one myself is not something I had really considered. I don’t do the whole social media thing, I sometimes think I am the only person in the world without a face book account, but even I’m coming round to the idea that in due course I’ll have to submit reluctantly. I’ve also never really considered that my life is interesting enough for other people to want to read about it. I’m from a small village in the Highlands of Scotland. I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I am uniquely the only pornographer in the village…its not something many can say or would indeed want to say!
I’m not an educated man by any stretch of the imagination. I left school at the precise legal moment I could…or perhaps a couple of months before it actually. The school made the mistake (or perhaps it was no mistake in my case) of issuing my national insurance card (as they did in those days) 2 months before my 16th birthday. I clutched the card gratefully and ran out the school gates before anyone could take it away, never to be seen again. Whilst at school I tried wth enthusiasm to resist all attempts to educate me, luckily the teachers at my small Highland School were generally exceptional and somehow, despite every effort I made to avoid it, managed to educate me to a reasonable standard. The most exceptional, was my English teacher, a lovely gentle Lady who somehow, despite my strongest resistance managed to stimulate an interest in the written word and instilled in me a love of writing.
Whilst I don’t consider myself a very good writer, I do actually enjoy writing. One area of English where I was successful in my resistance to education, was spelling and punctuation. I can’t spell, my punctuation is Primary School level and my grammar leaves a lot to be desired. Having said this, I’m not very amenable to being pulled up by the grammar Police, so if spellign mistakes and bad grammer offend you, then stop reading now, there is no point in trying to correct me, I’ll just tell you to phuck of.
My friend Katy is an enthusiastic and very entertaining blogger, http://katycee.wordpress.com/ and provided all the encouragement and a lot of the inspiration for this blog. She says that she finds me mildly interesting and occasionally amusing..but coming from someone who drinks weird tea made by witches and puts radioactive looking mud on her face regularly, ”interesting” could be very subjective. Apparently, she felt that others might appreciate my fulsome wit…I wondered why she combined the words fulsome and wit, it could be that I was oversensitive in detecting a note sarcasm in her voice and reflecting that fulsome wit and bullshit are not phonetically dissimilar. Anyway, she badgered and encouraged me to start a blog, which I know in due course, you will all be very grateful for….and in my mind there is more than a hint of irony as I wrote the last sentence. Of course, given her love of things scientific and psychological, it could be her “encouragement” of this blog is a social experiment in the same way as as giving a monkey a shotgun is a social experiment.
Why The Reluctant Pornographer? Well, I’m actually very fastidious about personal hygiene, so “The Filthy Pornographer “didn’t seem quite so appropriate. It could be argued that I am indeed a pornographer, a very nice, well mannered, refined, (very)lower middle class pornographer, but a pornographer none the less. Although to be honest, it would be a fairly tenious argument, given the very mild nature of the “pornography” I produce. I suppose at the most, I could be described as a soft-pornographer.
Let me explain. I’m assuming you didn’t find this blog by accident, if you did, and you’ve read this far, then you really need to get a life, so I’m also assuming you are aware of what I do…basically, I mainly take pictures of partially naked girls in relaxed and uninhibited poses for the type of magazines and websitesthat no-one ever admits to looking at, but that just about 100% of the male population seem to have seen. Some would argue, well most probably, that if it doesn’t involve more than one person, then its not strictly porn. But I kind of get a perverse satisfaction from referring to myself as a pornographer, so for the purposes of this blog I am a pornographer and I am going to use the word pornographer a lot…see I used the word pornographer again, in fact some of its use may well be quite gratuitous and unnecessary, I may even use it inappropriately and pop it in occasionally ..pornographer..for no reason at all and in a totally, pornographer, ungrammatical (does that word exist?) sense.
As for reluctant, well I am quite reluctant to do what I do, but not reluctant enough to make the alternatives seem any more appealing. You see I did not choose pornography, pornography chose me..it sort of sneaked up behind me and before I knew what had happened, the world of soft porn had me bent over and was metaphorically doing me up the wrong un, before I could say, “come on…at least take me to dinner, and seduce me with the idea first”
In the space of a few weeks I went from being a hobbiest photographer with no idea and no experience, but a lot of artistic intentions photographically speaking, absolutely none of which involved the explicit display of female genetalia for sexual gratification. However, at the same time my private life did frequently involve the explicit display of female genetalia for sexual gratification, for which I had lot of ideas and probably way to much experience. This rather bizarrely lead to me becoming a pornographer by default, who consequently enjoys a private life of such debauchery free wholesomeness that even the Lady Vicar next door (I really do live next door to a Vicar) seems like a bit of a swinger by comparison .
So on the plus side becoming a pornographer did make me a far nicer and more balanced person but it also somehow revealed an inner prudishness which I didn’t realise I possessed and curtailed any sexual activity to levels more in keeping with a Panda than a pornographer. Figure that out Mr or Mrs Psychologist.
Almost 7 years later, I’m left wondering how this happened, how does someone become one of the best known (apparently) pornographers in the UK by accident and with absolutely no ambition in that particular respect? And from where I’m sitting just now, I still don’t actually want to be a pornographer, but it is a very cosy lifestyle and quite frankly pisses all over any viable alternative, so for that reason, albeit a tad reluctantly, this life as a pornographer is my destiny for the foreseeable future.
Having said or at least written that, this blog is not necessarily about the boobs and bits of my day to day life as a pornographer, its more about the nonsense that goes on inside my rapidly ageing and increasingly malfunctioning head and is perhaps more reflective of what I do when I’m not being a purveyor of quality porn. Most of the shoot related blogs will be about spare time collaborations with models who don’t necessarily pose in a relaxed and uninhibed manner and most, if not all, images posted hereon, will be delightfully lacking in the graphic genitalia display department .
I think its only right that the first images on the blog feature Katy from an Editorial style shoot we did last year.
Styling and editing by Katy.
Hair and make-up by Bexter, http://www.beckyhuntingmakeupartist.com
Set design, making tea and stuff and oh, photography by me.
Skimpies from variously, Agent Provacateur, La Perla, Myla, Mimi Holiday, Anne Summers and Latex Heaven
The Peacock is called Percival and belongs to Katy, as does Siegfried the Swan
The follow on….
One article in, and the responsibility of writing a blog is already getting to me. ..
Generally speaking, I’m not very keen on being a pornographer. Its not the most socially acceptable of occupations. However, as I previously wrote, I will remain the reluctant pornographer for the foreseeable future as I am even more reluctant about any of the alternatives.
However, there are things I particularly like about life as a pornographer, one of the things I like is the lack of responsibility. It,s almost the ultimate – opt out of normal life – whilst still maintaining the basics of a (very) lower middle class lifestyle. As I get older my shirking of responsibility and avoiding even the merest hint of commitment has become the nearest thing I’ve had to a religion in my life. I,ve even invented my own calendar. In my world two months is the maximum time which exists, beyond that is the unknown, so planning anything beyond two months in advance becomes simply impossible on the grounds that the plans are being made for a period which doesn’t exist at that point, and may indeed never exist. Although, I will admit that convincing the taxman of my two month theory has not gone as well as I had hoped.
I wasn’t always like this, until I had the white light experience which most born again god botherers seem to talk about, which in my case manifested itself, not in Jesus, but as an excuse to opt out of the ratrace and conventional life, I was a responsible, asperational, ambitious, married with children, property owning, suited and booted and pretending to be a normal, respectable lower middle class businessman. However, I was also permanantly stressed, working every waking hour, indulging in to much “social” behaviour and was in my own opinion, half way mad and simply not a nice person.
Now my shirking of commitment and responsibility extends to almost every aspect of my life. I don’t own a property and cant see myself ever doing so again, …there is no real responsibility in renting. I like nice cars, and could probably afford a semi decent one, but I drive a crapmobile because the responsibility of keeping a nice car and having it serviced and keeping it clean and all that stuff seems like a monumental responsibility to me. I like animals, but don’t have a pet…way to much comittment, although if I was offered a homeless anteater, I would have to seriously rethink my reluctance for pet-keeping.
I also like the lack of expectation placed upon me by other people, that such a dishonourable Profession affords me. To impress people, all I really have to do is behave like a normal person. That I am not sleazy/sweaty/overweight/lacking in social skills and either a drooling leg humper or bum clenchingly uncomfortable when I get within 50m of a pretty girl is inclined to be embraced with some surprise and often not a little relief.
There is no doubt that whether deserved or not, men who take photographs of girls posing in a relaxed and uninhibited manner are viewed in a certain way and are assumed to be of a certain type. This is typified by one of my favourite anecdotes, which if you already know me, I will most probably already have bored you with , so you might as well skip this bit. Although if you know me, I’m guessing you have more sense than to waste your time reading my nonsense anyway, so I,ve pretty much wasted a minute of my life trying to save you from wasting a minute of yours which you probably weren,t going to waste anyway.
Anyway, back to the plot. About 5 years ago, I reckon. I had to collect a model from the railway station. She was from the Liverpool area, was quite young and seemed mainly to have worked with enthusiastic amateur photographers of the type who like to take photographs of girls posing in a relaxed and uninhibited manner for their own subsequent relaxed and uninhibited pleasure. When I met her and introduced myself she turned out to be the type of typically cheerful and cheeky girl you often find around Liverpool. She looked me up and down in a very obvious and appraising manner with a slightly quizzical look on her face. I asked her what was up.
She said “ eay, yer not like I expected you to be, hun”.
I said “Really?, why’s that, then”
She said “Well most photographers I meet are old, fat and pervy”.
I said, “Oh, so I,m different, then?”
She said “Ask me that at the end of the shoot the shoot, hun” then laughed and walked towards the car.
So I did ask her at the end of the shoot.
She replied, “Well, your not fat or pervy, I’ll give you that”
I reflected that it would have been nice to come through on all three, but I suppose as the song says, two out of three ain,t bad. …
This little anecdote pretty much sums up a good part of my reluctance as a pornographer, I would hate to be seen in the same light as this girl seemed to see most photographers and to be honest, that is probably how the average person sees people in my occupation.
Because of what you do, it’s often assumed you are a particular type of person. I guess that’s true of a lot of occupations. I’m always tempted to tell people I’m an accountant. Yes, they will assume I’m even more boring than I actually am, and make their excuses and go away as quickly as politely possible, but at least they will only be ignoring me because they assume I am uninteresting and won,t be whispering disapprovingly , “my god, they’ve let an accountant in here”. Having said that, if I were feeling mischeivious, then admitting to being a pornographer isn’t such a bad thing and can provide some light entertainment. A very interested smile and a look of awe from the men followed by numerious enquiries if they are not accompanied by their wife. Or if they are accompanied by their wife, or she arrives mid-conversation, their initial interest is quickly followed by a fake look of disgust and a quick departure muttering to their wife about how awful porn is and how they can’t understand the appeal.The wife will usually be polite, but unable to hide her unease, whilst carefully checking her husbands reaction, but its always clear her main intention is to get away from this filthy man as soon as possible.
My conclussion is that being a pornographer is second only to being a banker, as far as socially unacceptable occupations go.
I’ll tell you this though, being a pornographer has made me a nicer, calmer, more thoughtful, more honest and straightforward person than I ever was before. It has changed me as a person for the better, for sure. Isn’t that quite bizarre?
I’m sure the stereotype photographer parodied to a certain extent in the text exists, but I doubt if he is typical. I’ve met a few photographers in my time and whilst some undoubtedly posses a few of the characteristics mentioned, I can’t say any fit the stereotype exactly as a whole.
They same applies to models. People have a perception of models, usually as a vacious, footballer chasing airhead. Most models are far removed from this stereotype, particulary those not involved in the glamour/adult side of the business. I would say if you met an “off duty” art/commercial model, you would be more likely to think she was a Librarian or a social worker than a model. Obviously, the stereotype exists but is pretty much confined to a small number of glamour models. Such girls are inclined to insist “I’m not a typical glamour model”. Frequently. Without even a hint of irony.
“Well, like, y’know, I’m like not a typical model, like, I’ve got a brain and stuff, I’ve got, like, 4 GSE’s and you wont see me doing no tacky stuff or getting me bits out, I only do tasteful stuff me ”
Almost without exception the portfolio of such an individual will feature the “classics” of stellar “good taste” for a glamour model. Heel caught in thong, stripey socks/lolipop, “revealing”santa outfit, various forms of tape, rose petals and of course a hard hat and some form of power tool.
Anyway this leads me to some images of a young lady who inhabits the naughtier end of glamour for sure, but is very far from being a stereotype glamour model. Natalia Forrest is one of the most elegant models I have encountered in any genre. If you saw her off duty, you would think neither model or librarian, you would simply think, what a beautiful, elegant and well dressed young lady. I have never seen her less than immaculate in any circumstances. I have seen her first thing in the morning in her Pyjamas and she still looks immaculate. I’ve also never heard her bitch about anything or say a bad word about anyone. She is always organised, on time, well mannered, 100% Professional and a pleasure to work with.