I feel relieved. The time spent preparing for my decision meant sleepless nights and a lot of thought. It made me feel good that everyone perceived me as a strong fighter, and that when I said I wasn’t going to fight they were disappointed. But on the other hand, the same people who wanted me to fight said they respected my decision. My family has been very supportive. After reviewing my reasons why, they understand. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to do with my life. I’ll probably start writing just as therapy.
It was Friday the 13th when I learned there was a rumor about some pictures. It was late afternoon and I was getting ready for the Miss New York State Pageant that night in Watertown. I got a call from a man who would not give his name that there was a rumor I would be featured in September’s Penthouse. While it was just a rumor, I contacted the pageant officials and told them about the old photos. I was in Little Rock when the news broke six days later—my reaction was shock.
This is what happened.
It began in the summer of 1982. I had finished my exams the first week of May at Syracuse University and came home to find a summer job. I saw an advertisement in a local newspaper reading “models wanted,” so I called up and talked to Tom Chiapel, who was the photographer and part-owner of TEC studios. He said to come down for an interview.
I went to the studio and he said that I would need a portfolio. I asked my parents and they agreed to put up the money. It was a little over $100. My dad gave me a check.
When I returned later to pick up the proofs, Tom Chiapel indicated that he needed a makeup artist. He offered me an audition, so I came in and did a face. He decided to have me work for him as a makeup artist-receptionist.
I made $125 a week and would answer the phones, set up appointments, type index cards and do makeup. I was responsible for opening up the office every morning. I worked from 10 to 4, Monday through Friday.
I had worked there for a month and a half when Tom Chiapel mentioned several times that he’d like to shoot me in the nude. I had never posed nude and I was curious. I was 19 years old. I agreed. He assured me that none of the photographs would ever leave the studio. He assured me. I did a photographic session by myself. I felt uncomfortable and awkward when I saw the proofs. I didn’t bring them home because I didn’t want anyone to see them.
About a week later he said he had a concept of having two models pose nude for silhouettes. Basically to make different shapes and forms. The light would be behind the models. I was reluctant, but since he assured me that I would be the only one to see them and I would not be identifiable in the photographs, I agreed. He had also gotten another model to agree to this.
He orchestrated the session. The shots were posed. There was no activity throughout the whole session between me and the other model. The session lasted maybe an hour. That was the extent of it. When I saw the printed negatives on the contact sheet, they were in silhouette form. There was no way that either of us could be identified. That’s the bottom line.
I trusted him not to do anything with the photographs. That was my error. I did not give my consent to him or Penthouse to ever have them published, used in any magazine or in any way. Nothing. I signed an application giving my height, weight, color of hair and my talents.
I worked at the studio until the beginning of August 1982, and I have not talked to Tom Chiapel since that time. I left on good terms. The staff at the studio gave me a present when I left: an inexpensive silver bracelet.
I never told anyone about the pictures, not even my parents. I did not think it was a concern. We had made an agreement they would never be published.
I feel as if I were just a sacrificial lamb. The past just came up and kicked me. I felt betrayed and violated, like I had been raped.
My God. I’m only 21 years old and I’m sure I’ll have an ulcer by the end of this year. I think this would have to be the worst thing that has happened in my life. But I can’t go any place but up. I’ve hit rock bottom.
There’ve been tears. When I told my parents, those were uncontrollable tears. My parents, I think, were the hardest thing. You always try to be so good for your parents. Because of mistakes I made two years ago, I was going to cause them a lot of sadness. I didn’t want to do that. But it happened.
I still plan on going into the entertainment business. Of course I thought about whether or not my career would be affected. Right now I just don’t know. I regret not having the opportunity to go back and take my final walk down the runway and support the girls. I’ve met approximately 15 or 20 state winners at this time. I’ve done several local pageants, so I’ve been close to a lot of the girls, giving them advice, helping them refine their talents, giving them support. The last thing I said to all of them is “I’ll see you in September.”