Former model Brent Phillips now works the other side of the camera. He makes his money on senior portraits but wants to create an art exhibition. His only problems are lack of a central image and a three-week deadline.
Enter Brent’s friends, who resolve to discover the perfect model for his project. They find him in Tristan Greer, a college student who left home after coming out and is trying to make ends meet.
Though initially reluctant, Tristan agrees to work with Brent to capture the image Brent wants—a gay version of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream album photo. It turns out the camera loves Tristan, and the photographer may as well.
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“Used records?” Brent asked as they passed a small store with its door open. “I didn’t know there were still places like this.” He couldn’t help smiling as he climbed the stairs and went inside. The store smelled old, like things that had been stored in an attic for years. In other words, perfect.
“I thought you might like this,” Dan told him with a smile.
Brent had a thing for old records. He loved listening to old recordings on the original vinyl. Sure, the sound might be scratchy, but it was how old music was meant to be heard. Making CD recordings was sacrilege to him, like digitizing Edison’s recording of “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” He wandered through the racks and began thumbing through the albums, picking out selections he wanted, but didn’t have.
“Hey, Dan, look at that one,” Gene said, pointing toward the far wall. Brent looked toward where he was pointing.
“Haven’t you seen that before? Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream. The music is good, but that is the sexiest album cover of all time,” Brent said and stopped dead, staring at the image. “That’s it. That’s what I want to do.” Brent turned to the clerk. “Could I see that, please?”
“It’s autographed,” the clerk said as he took it down and handed it to Brent
“This is what I’ve been looking for,” Brent said as he took the album and stared at the image before handing it to Gene. “Imagine that image, but with a man.”
Brent looked at Dan and Gene and received blank looks in return. “I’ve been trying to come up with an image that would be eye-catching and stare-worthy as part of my exhibition,” Brent explained.
“I get it,” Dan said. “My dad had this album when I was a kid.”
“I think everyone’s dad had this album. The cover sold it. All my friends used to stare at it to see if they could see anything in the whipped cream. I want to create the same type of image, but with a guy.” Brent handed the album back to the clerk, who looked at him like he’d gone crazy. Brent ignored him, already running through possibilities in his mind. “I’d need to find the right guy.”
“I’ll do it,” Gene said, and Dan whipped his head around in surprise, gaping at his lover.
Brent smiled. “I appreciate that, but I don’t think it would work.”
“Why?” Gene asked, obviously disappointed, though Dan appeared relieved.
“You’re huge and would overpower the image,” Brent explained. He’d completely forgotten they were standing in a record store until another customer bumped into him, trying to get by.
“Maybe we should go outside,” Dan suggested, and Brent followed him. On the sidewalk, they continued their conversation like there hadn’t been an interruption.
“Gene, I really appreciate the offer, I really do. But with your size and power, all anyone would see was you and not the overall image. The guy would need to be smaller, but really fit, with darker skin so there’s enough contrast with the white whipped cream.” Brent followed Dan as they walked back toward the car. “He’d also have to have a playful look as he beckoned you into the photograph, enticing the viewer with a dollop of whipped cream on his finger. Maybe looking like he’d scraped it from his hip.” Brent shook his head. “How am I going to find someone like that in a few days?”
“It shouldn’t be that hard,” Dan said. “There are guys all around.”
“Yeah. But how many of them are willing to strip naked and have cream smeared all over their crotch while someone takes pictures? And it has to be the right guy with the right look and the ability to melt butter at the same time.”
“Don’t you do this all the time? Not the whipped-cream thing, but create incredible photographs?” Gene asked.
Brent stopped and the others did as well. “Usually I start with the model and use the abilities they have to create the perfect photograph of them. I worked with a ballet dancer, so he jumped and moved. If I were to have Gene pose for me, I’d accentuate his muscles and would probably take photographs that demonstrated his power and strength. I wouldn’t ask him to leap into the air.” Brent sighed. “I don’t usually develop a concept and then try to find someone to make it happen.”
“So you want a guy, dark hair and probably a tanned complexion, a bit younger, good body, I’m guessing smooth skin, with great eyes and an expressive face.” Brent nodded as he looked at Gene. “You don’t want much, do you?”
“No, just that,” Brent said and then smiled. “See, I only want the impossible.”
“Lonnie?” Dan asked, but Gene shook his head.
“He has a good body, but he’s too stocky.” Gene turned to him and stopped. “I’ve got just the guy—in fact, maybe two guys.” Gene grinned. “Brent, tomorrow I think you need to work out at our gym. There are a couple of guys there who might work. I don’t know if either would be interested, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask them.” Gene looked at Dan. “Victor and Tristan,” Gene said, and Brent saw Dan’s eyes widen before he nodded.
“But Victor’s pretty short,” Dan said.
“Yeah, but he’s in perfect proportion. In a photograph without a lot of references, you’d never know. Tristan’s taller with curly black hair. He’s also a bit younger. If you meet us at the gym, we can introduce you to both guys and see if either of them will work for what you have in mind. Then we can try to find out if they’d be brave enough to actually do it.” Gene sounded almost as excited as Brent felt. “We’ll help if we can.”