Monday, July 15, 2013

Beach Blanket Cover Bingo

One day, years ago, my then-girlfriend now-wife and I went to the beach in Florida. We may have been at Clearwater, but possibly Pass-a-grille, which would be more poetic since the late Day Keene once had a house there and hung out with Gil Brewer, Harry Whittington, Talmage Powell, and others.

Anyway, off I went to get us something to drink and when I came back, two guys were hovering near her with a camera. As I approached they disappeared. "What was that about?" I asked, not sure how to feel.

"They wanted to take my picture."

Okay. "What did you tell them?"

"I told them okay. People have asked me before, you know."

One thing I've learned about girls with nice figures is that they like to show them off. Anyway, some years later a book from a particular publisher arrives in the mail, written by a bestselling author under a pseudonym. The cover was painted by a very talented artist. It featured a girl in a bikini, pushed up on her elbows on her beach towel, big sunglasses, and the shadow of the photographer showing he was standing at the lower right hand corner of her towel.

My wife came home. I said, "Who does this remind you of?"

She looked at it and said: "That's my bikini, my glasses, my towel, my hair, and oh, yeah, that's me." There are a couple of other distinguishing things I won't mention, as well.

And we remembered that time at the beach when I was off getting us drinks....

"What do you think of this?" I ask her. She shrugs. "Well, I think it's cool." It is a fairly prominent book.

So I look up the artist's website, send off an e-mail, saying we are asking for nothing, but relating the story and asking him to confirm. He never responded, and I can understand why. If you're using someone's likeness to profit from, you need a release and some form of compensation to have all your legal bases covered. I used to sign the paper and get a dollar bill in order to appear in commercial skydiving films. All that happened here was a, "Do you mind if I take your picture, miss?"

More years go by. I'm in a bookstore, talking to the owner, see that he has several copies of the book on his shelf and tell him the story. A couple of days later I stop in with my wife. He says, "I know you," and I think he's talking about me but he's looking at her. He went to his shelf, pulled off the copies, and had her sign them with her name and the designation "Cover girl."

Ask her about it today and she says with full confidence, "That's me." Look at her, look at the picture. It's her. The swimsuit and towel are probably long gone but the books remain.

Sadly, my wife has now signed more books than I have. Never underestimate the power of the bikini.


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