By M.V.Ramakrishnan

Friday, January 9, 2015

Paparazzo And The Million-Dollar Pictures

It was only towards the end of the 20th century that the Italian expressions paparazzi and paparazzo became well-known all over the world ;  but long before that (a quarter-century earlier, to be precise), I had written a light-hearted article about an imaginary paparazzo with an Italian connection.  It was published by Shankar's Weekly, the classic satirical English magazine popularly known as the Punch of India, which has often figured in this blog before this :

---------- ----------

14 Februry 1973


"What do you want, Signore?" asked Maria Magazini, addressng the lanky and handsome American who stood facing her. "How do you call yourself?"
She was the secretary to Mr. Carlo Prestoporni, Editor of Il Boyo, the spectacular pictorial magazine of Rome.
"My name is Jimmy Lenson,"  the visitor said.  "I want to see the Editor."
"I am sorry, Signore, but he will not see anyone before his siesta.  What eez your bizness, anyway?"
"I'm afraid he must see me at once,"  Lenson said.  "I have some unique nude photographs to show him."
"Nude photographs, ha ha!"  Maria laughed.  "We get hundreds of zem, Signore!  You can not see ze Editor for zat!"
"But these nudes are different, Signorina!"  Lenson whispered in her ears.  "They're the pictures of a very famous lady."
"Who?"  Maria queried, more interested than she cared to admit to herself.
"Ah, that's something I can tell only your boss!"  Lenson said.  "You can tell him I want a million dollars for them.  He'd be interested."
"Pleez to wait here!"  Ms. Magazini said, and went into the Editor's room. 
She came out in a few minutes.  "He will see you!"  she told the visitor.  "And do you know, he never seez anyone before his siesta!"
"Thank you!"  Lenson said, and went in.

Mr. Carlo Prestoporni sat on a high, leather-topped chair behind a vast mahogany desk.
"Pleez be seated, Signor' Lenson!"  he said.  "My secretary tells me zat you have a million-dollar propozition!"
"That's right,"  Lenson said.  "I have ten absolutely unique nude photographs of a world-famous lady.  I'll hand them over to you for publication if you give me a cheque for a milion U.S. dollars."
"A million dollars for ten photographs!"  the Editor exlaimed.  "You must be joking, Signore!  Zat eez a very high price!"
"I know that, Mr. Prestoporni,"  Lenson said.  "But surely you know that your rival magazine Playmen doled out a thousand dollars for the Onassis pictures!  My lady is at least a thousand times more famous, and I charge you accordingly."
"Indeed, Signore!"  the Editor said.  "And who eez zis lady, if I may ask?"
"I'll answer that question if there's a deal between us!"  Lenson said.  "If there's no deal, I go to Playmen.  Please make your choice quickly!  I don't have much time."
"Let us put it zis way, Signore,"  the Editor said.  "I agree to pay you a million dollars if I like ze pictures after I have seen zem.  Zat is right?"
"I don't think so,"  Lenson said.  "I can't walk over to Playmen after I show you the pictures.  You might just print the story that this lady has been photographed in the nude, and that alone will be a sensation!  Either you agree to what I say, or I go to Playmen.  Come on, Mr. Prestoporni, what's your choice?"

The Editor of Il Boyo was a shrewd judge of men and material, and his intuition told him to take a chance on this case.
He pressed a button, and Maria Magazini came in.
"Please ask the cashier to prepare a check for a million U.S. dollars in Mr. Lenson's name,"  he told her, in Italian.
She nodded and went out.
"Now ze pictures, Signore!" he demanded, and Lenson handed him a large folder. 
The Editor opened the folder, took the pictures out, and spread them on the desk.
"Amazing work, Signore!"  he exclaimed, shaking Lenson's hand.  "But do tell me, my friend, how did you get her robe off?"
Lenson smiled. 
"Ah, that's a secret nobody knows,"  he said,  "except myself and the night watchman in the Louvre!"
Maria Magazini came in with a check and handed it to Lenson.  Her eyes fell on the Editor's desk.

And she nearly swooned, for spread out on the desk were ten intriguing photographs showing the fabulous Venus de Milo absolutely in the altogether.