November 25, 2012
MY SECOND PHOTO SHOOT IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
I was feeling great.
I had just completed my first model shoot in the Dominican Republic, with a very hot guy named Jeison. I had some of my confidence back after well over a year with no new models. Plus I had several hundred exciting new images for drawing and painting from.
So of course I started worrying.
You know how the mind works. It’s never happy with what just happened. It has to look for problems. I heard it asking, “What will you do now? Where will you find more models? You have no idea what you’re going to do next! What if you don’t find any? What if nothing works??”
I used to believe all the bullshit my mind comes up with.
But I have developed skills over the years. I have learned to take a deep breath and say, “Thank you for sharing, Mind” and return my focus to my body, where peace and calm live, rather than staying in my head where everything is fear and dread and worry, worry, worry.
So…I decided it was time to go scouting for locations.
Sometimes you look for models first, sometimes locations. I don’t have a rule for this. I just do what seems to be up for me at the moment, and what came up was, go to Las Terrenas.
The more I heard about this little beach town on the northeast shore of the Dominican Republic, the more intrigued I became. I’d seen photographs of beautiful, deserted beaches, and I dared to hope I could find one. Maybe even several.
I also had a feeling that if I could find the location, I could find the model. Or models.
* * * * *
Okay. Now I’m on a bus from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas. We’re 3 hours into the 3-1/2 hour trip, and we’re coming down out of the lush green mountains and I catch my first glimpse of the northern shore of the island.
And a long, long, palm-fringed beach with blue-green ocean behind.
My breath catches in my throat.
It’s exactly what I had been dreaming of. It’s picture-perfect. I can’t wait to get closer to it.
Once I arrive in Las Terrenas, I check into a hotel for the night, and the next morning I go looking for a motoconcho (motorcycle taxi) to take me back to that amazing-looking beach.
This turned out to be harder than I thought.
All the motoconcho guys have these standard places they like to take you—all places where all the tourists like going, which means they’re exactly the places I don’t want to go.
But try explaining that to someone who has this standard routine and thinks he knows what you want so he isn’t really listening, and he doesn’t understand your fractured Spanish anyway.
Even when I eventually managed to explain (I thought) what I wanted to the guy (his name was Jorge), he still wound up taking me places I didn’t want to go. But finally, after much fruitless riding around to the wrong places and more explanation, he understood. And I got him to take me to the beach I’d seen from the bus.
It was called Playa Cosón.
I called it fabulous. It was exactly what I was looking for, and it wasn’t even that far from town.
I had a location! I got back on the bus that afternoon and returned to Santo Domingo. I couldn’t wait to tell Julio, my new comrade-in-arms and fellow model-hunter, what I’d found. He was excited, too, since he was also new to the island and wanted to explore some new places and have a little adventure.
Which was just what was in store.
THE THREE MUSKETEERS
One of the things I love about hostels is all the interesting new people I meet. As I was having breakfast on Monday morning prior to going to catch the bus for Las Terrenas with Julio, my new German friend Grischa sat down next to me. When I told him what I was doing that day, he took another bite, chewed, thought for a moment and then said: “You know, I’d love to come with you guys on the bus, if you don’t mind.”
“Sure,” I said. “Fine with me. But you have to be ready in 20 minutes.”
He was. Soon Julio, Grischa and I were on the bus headed north to Las Terrenas.
During the trip, the three of us—the two gay guys from the U.S. and Mexico, and the straight guy from Germany—got to know each other. Grischa had been looking at the free tourist guide from Las Terrenas and found this beautiful (and expensive-looking) hotel. He thought the three of us should pool our resources and get a room there.
This was not sounding good to me. I was on a budget. And I had to have money to pay models, assuming I could find some. How could I afford an expensive hotel?
Not to mention I had already made reservations for Julio and myself at the inexpensive place where I’d stayed on the previous visit.
But Grischa is a salesman, and a good one. When we arrived he said, “Let’s just go look at the place.” Of course then it was all over. They showed us a two-story, 3-bedroom Playboy Mansion of a suite with a wide terrace overlooking perfectly manicured grounds and a big pool with coconut palms around it. Grischa charmed the female manager, Josefina, and got us a we-can’t-possibly-pass-this-up price.
It cost me a one-night cancellation fee at the cheaper place. But it was worth it. Once again I was reminded by the universe that I don’t have to live small.
I was also reminded how great it is to be open to making new friends and having fun with them. We went out for dinner, then went drinking, and by the end of the night we were best friends—the Three Musketeers on a wild weekend-in-the-middle-of-the-week adventure.
BOYS GONE WILD?
Meanwhile, I had been thinking about my next photo shoot and I’d started picturing something crazy:
Frat boys getting drunk and naked during Spring Break.
This is a theme that’s always intrigued me. Yes, I have bought those Boys Gone Wild DVDs where two girls go around with a video camera during Spring Break and ask guys to get naked for the camera. And yes, I love those online photos where a bunch of guys are swimming naked or streaking or just drunk and naked at a party, holding their beer bottles in front of their crotches. I’m not one of those gay men who pursues straight men, but I still get excited looking at pictures of the wild straight boy in his native habitat.
But of course this was not something I could actually SET UP. Especially in the Dominican Republic.
My new willingness to do a not-so-nude photo shoot, like the previous week’s shoot with Jeison, had started me thinking about the possibilities. Seems like when you tell a straight boy it’s not a totally nude photo shoot, that he doesn’t have to “show everything”, all of a sudden it seems okay. It’s no longer threatening. He gets to protect his private parts!
What if I found 4 or 5 young Dominican guys who wanted to make a little money and told them their job was just to let me photograph them carousing and having a good time on the beach, mostly naked but they never had to show their dicks?
It could work.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought, I HAVE to try this.
Of course meanwhile my Mind is going OFF. “You’re disgusting. You are a pervert. You are a pedophile. You are SICK.”
Thank you for sharing, Mind.
MOTOCONCHO SAFARI: IN SEARCH OF THE WILD MODEL
The next morning we got up and had a big, delicious breakfast and coffee brought up to our luxury apartment. It was a gorgeous day and we surveyed our beautiful tropical grounds and huge pool and we were kings of the world. (Well, maybe a king, a queen and a princess, LOL.)
Then the Mind started in again.
“You’re such an idiot. You think you’re just gonna go out there and find models? In one day? This will never work. You might as well just give up. You’ve failed before, you’re gonna fail again. Just give up, it’s never gonna happen.”
See how my mind works? You see the shit I have to put up with to do my job?
I’m telling you this so you don’t think I’m any different from anybody else. We all have this stuff going on. If you don’t, I’d like to meet you.
Thank you for sharing, Mind! Now excuse me, I have things to do!
As soon as we finished our coffee, Julio and I went out to the street across from our hotel and found a couple of motoconcho guys, and explained to them what we wanted to do. It was much easier with native-Spanish-speaker Julio along, and pretty soon we were bouncing along the bumpy streets of Las Terrenas, stalking the wild model!
Like being on safari. Only we didn’t need weapons or nets. I would just yell “Stop!” (to the motoconcho driver, not the guy!) when I saw a cute guy, and then we would hop off and go talk to the guy. Well, Julio would talk to the guy. And I would help.
I couldn’t believe how ballsy I was being. But we didn’t have a lot of time, and I figured if anything would work, this would. Plus, having Julio along made me braver.
After an hour or so of cruising around the town, we had talked to about a dozen different guys, and we had 4 or 5 of them lined up to come to the hotel room at noon for an interview. We just had time to get back and grab a bite before they started showing up.
A lot of them started showing up.
Turns out word had gotten out that this American photographer was looking for male models, and now we had TOO MANY guys. But hey, better to have too many than too few. So we sat them down and started the interview.
I was wondering, as I talked to them and Julio translated, how we were going to whittle down the number. But then we told them our pay scale. About half of them decided to leave at that point. They had obviously gotten the wrong idea about the scope and resources of this production!
But that was fine with me. These tended to be the guys with attitude anyway, and that was not what I was looking for. The guys I needed for this shoot had to be cute and appealing, but they didn’t have to be drop-dead gorgeous. I was more interested in the chemistry than the surface.
After a half-hour of interviews with the remaining guys we were down to just two, Benito and Jochi (HO-chee). Neither was gorgeous, but they were both cute and had decent bodies and had a nice energy.
Still, things were not looking great. Two models wasn’t enough. I did have hopes that another guy we had talked to would show up at 2, but didn’t know if that was going to happen. And even if he did show up, and he was suitable, we would still only have 3 models.
I sat down and resolved not to worry about it.
And then, a few minutes later, Luis showed up. With his friend Leandro!
We sat them down and had a short talk, and they were both fine with the payscale, and they both had a good energy, and they were both cute.
Oh my god! I had my four models! And they were all available for the rest of the afternoon!
Julio said, “Are you sure you want to try to do the photo shoot now? Wouldn’t it be better to wait until tomorrow morning?” I had to explain something to him. In this particular game, getting everything in place at one time is a bit of a miracle. You don’t let that moment pass by…you jump on it!
And that’s what we did.
Thirty minutes later we were at the beach, with a case of Presidente beer, a bottle of rum, and some towels. We piled out of the van (which would be waiting for us while we did the shoot) and started hiking down the beach…that same long, beautiful beach I had seen from the bus several days before.
DOMINICAN BOYS GONE WILD!
As we hiked, I started photographing. I had them take off their shirts, which is not something most Dominican boys will do in public. But they were already getting into the spirit of things.
We had to hike through some unexpectedly challenging areas.
Then we arrived and made a toast to a successful photo shoot.
Soon I had them running into the water with instructions to pull off each other’s shorts, and come out of the water naked and holding their shorts in front of them. With a lot of shouting and laughing, they did exactly that, and I thought: BINGO!
This turned into a nearly-3-hour session where the guys just kept getting more relaxed with each other and having more fun. The beer and rum certainly helped, but a lot of it was just the fact that I had weeded out the guys who wouldn’t have been fun, and kept the ones who had a nice chemistry. The four of them were perfect together and I got exactly the kind of energy I had been hoping for.
When it got too dark to take more shots, we all hiked back to the van and drove back to town, where I took the whole bunch out for pizza, which they devoured happily. It was a perfect day, filled with unexpected synchronicities.
I felt like I’d gotten good stuff, but it was only when I looked at the photographs at length that evening in our apartment that I saw what I had done: I had created exactly the photo shoot I had been picturing in my mind. Only better!
It was a triumph so great my Mind actually shut up for a while.
The next day was going to be all about resting. With Julio’s help, I had accomplished everything I’d wanted to on my trip to Las Terrenas, and more. I was looking forward to a restful, relaxing day lying by the pool at the hotel.
But that was not to be.
See more of my Dominican Republic travels and photo shoots in the Caribbean Adventure e-book!