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Saturday, April 18, 2009

When in Rome, do as the English do! Part 1

"Rome" said Jan the booker at my agency. "The client has asked for you and Sarah" she added. "Ah, is it the Villa Patronni?" I asked. "Yes" she replied, and we both had a naughty giggle. Now the Villa Patronni is quite a gaff, and is just the perfect location for photo shoots. It is situated in the hills outside Rome, and quite apart from the views from the grounds, it has just everything. The Villa is breathtaking, marble everywhere, of course, absolutely full of paintings, statues, and period furniture. The formal gardens are beautiful, with lakes and fountains, a huge grotto made from volcanic rock, and even some really ancient Roman ruins. There's also a vineyard on the hillside below. While very old, it's all kept in magnificent condition, which can also be said for Leopoldo its owner! My agency has been able to use the Villa several times, which really hacks off some of the other agencies who can wait for years for permission to use it. But my agency has a secret formula, me and Sarah.

People think models have a luxury existence. Ok, if your name is Kate Moss this may be true, but for the rest of us it's long hours of being treated as just an object to hang clothes on. Well, when we use Villa Patronni I have, just for a short time, a real taste of luxury. While the other models and the location crew get to stay in hotels, Sarah and I are put up at the Villa. Ok, the plumbing is a bit quaint, but you only have to imagine me luxuriating in a marble bath, the water scented with real rose oil, to get some idea that quaint it may be, heavenly it definitely is. There aren't many staff around these days, but I prefer that, as you can have a stroll about, without some flunky giving strange looks. I remember, at another one of these period locations, leaving an apple core in what turned out the be a very rare and valuable bowl. The owners thought it really funny, but it took three of their anal retentive staff to bear this little trinket away to be cleansed of contamination.

But I digress. To return to the Villa Patronni. Apart from the Leopoldo's family who visit regularly, only he and his wife, and their staff live there. The grounds are open to visitors a few times a year, and apparently, because Leopoldo's son is in the government, some meetings are held there, from time to time. So much to Leopoldo's delight, when we stay there it really livens up the place. His wife (the Contessa, we call her) is charming and very indulgent.

But, I know what you are thinking, there is more to this, and you're right!

Each day follows a similar pattern. Various daily locations having already been selected by the creative director, the lighting and cameras are then set up very early. When they are ready we girls get made up, and start getting the togs on. If we are in the grounds, the changing areas can be quite primitive, but in any photo shoot half dressed girls are just part of the scenery. Sometimes the creative director wants an evening or night shot, so everything gets moved around. Anyone who thinks we girls get to lying in bed to 10am is in cloud cuckoo land.

By late afternoon , it's all wrapped up for the day, and the crew go back to the hotels. That's when Sarah and I get to earn our keep. Leopoldo speaks perfect English because decades ago he came over and studied at Cambridge. It was at Cambridge he acquired a taste for one of the English vices (NO, not that one!!), the ancient art of spanking. He is always absolutely charming and courteous but has great enthusiasm for scenarios.

After the shoot, Sarah and I go back to our rooms for a nice long soak in the bath (not together you naughty boys!). On each of our beds is laid out a uniform. This is for the evening's scenario. it is a sort of old fashioned nurses uniform, which has more than a passing resemblance to a nun's habit. Apparently the old hospitals were run by nuns, hence the origins of the uniform. Let me tell you more about it Every garment is pure white, without a trace of any other colour. The underwear is all silk: there is a lacy basque with suspenders, opaque white stockings, and full knickers. (they are definitely not panties!). The shoes are white leather, with a medium heel and a lace-up styling at the front, quite victorian. The uniform is a dress with a full skirt of medium length, with a pinafore covering the bodice and an apron from the waist. The headdress is fitted to a headband and hangs down almost to the shoulders, covering the hair.

When we are dressed, Sarah and I are collected by one of the staff, and we are led in silence to Leopoldo's study. We enter, and the door is closed, leaving us alone in the room. We stand, very still, silent, our eyes looking down, hands clasped in front. A door on the far side of the room opens.............. To be continued in Part 2.

(Of course, I have changed the name of the Villa and its owner, but everything else is just as described)

As you know I love all types of scenario, there are some examples on my web page at 

If you think that this girl just needs a taste of good old fashioned discipline, just email me at or give me a call on 07515 007720.

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