THE DATE – A SHORT STORY BY GEORGE KAPLAN

johnny_depp_herb_ritts_edward_scissorhands_5
Johnny Depp photographed by Herb Ritts

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The Date, by George Kaplan

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Rhodes Cardell was in a quandary.
As was Will Makepeace.
Rhodes Cardell was in a panic.
So, too, was Will Makepeace.
This wasn’t too surprising, because Rhodes Cardell *was* Will Makepeace, or, rather, vice versa.

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It was 1983. Rhodes Cardell was a “photographer to the stars” *and* a star photographer; his eye for beauty in both the expected and unexpected had made him a très hot property, though it was his ability to bring beauty out without over-glossing, and to hint at some sense of mystery, of deeper humanity no matter if he was photographing a much ballyhooed model or an “unknown”, that made him an *artist*. Cardell’s work was appreciated by many because he could, somehow, capture the ineffable on film. And also, if need be, contrive to hint at non-existent depths in the shallowest of the shallow (which wasn’t Cardell’s preferred method but he had to eat). Cardell, *himself*, was appreciated because he could do this in an unaffected, nonchalant manner, always putting his subjects at ease with unstressed charm and plentiful humor. But Rhodes Cardell’s name wasn’t really Rhodes Cardell, it was William Vincent Makepeace.

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Will Makepeace had been born in Manchester, England in 1954 and from an early age was enthralled by the worlds of photography and the movies. Despite being the scion of a grimy industrial town Will had never felt part of it, nor had he felt tied to it. He’d felt different, a misfit, but a talent for photography – the art for which he’d found he had a flair as soon as he received his first camera – gave him confidence; in fact photography was to him a superpower like those in the Marvel comic books he’d “borrowed” from his brother as a child (they were brought back by their American uncle, Curtis on his infrequent visits with their Aunt Amanda, their mother’s sister), so even when feeling alienated he had a “secret identity” and hidden power that few others knew about. With the active encouragement of his mother, Joan, and the rather more implied backing of his reticent and shadowy father, Royce, he developed his skills and sought out opportunities. It was as if photographer-Will was a different person from shy, diffident ordinary-Will; it was the talent and drive of photographer-Will that soon took him to art school then to London.

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Once in the capitol, Will had decided that in order to stand out he needed more than just a Northern English accent (still something of a boon in that post-Beatles era), so he reconstructed himself, allowing photographer Will his own name and persona. He decided upon Rhodes Cardell. It may have been borderline ridiculous but it just seemed *right*, it was a comfortable mask to wear, and he found within himself as Rhodes Cardell the conviction that he could do what he wanted to do and *go* where he wanted to go.

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He was right. By 1975 he found himself in Manhattan, and with amazing rapidity Rhodes Cardell became a *name*. Fashion photography; artistic photography; candid photography; commercial photography: he took to them all with an almost sexual greediness, a desire to become expert at them *all*. The camera’s eye was *him*; an extension of the way he saw the world, the sensual pleasure, the sensuous passion he felt but found it hard to express in any other way because beneath the very real mask of the confident, charming artist Rhodes Cardell – favorite of beautiful actresses and stunning models and lively, intelligent women – there still existed the other Rhodes, the Rhodes-who-was-Will. And Will Makepeace still felt like an outsider and couldn’t believe that women might find him attractive.

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That is why Rhodes Cardell and Will Makepeace were in a quandary and a panic, you see they, *he*, had to decide if they were willing to take a chance, to trust in themselves, or, rather, himself. They had to accept that there wasn’t two of them, but *one*. Rhodes Cardell had to let himself be Will Makepeace, and have faith because Rhodes/Will had… A date.

27 Comments »

  1. Now, let’s see, who’s this little story by, it doesn’t seem to be up to Ms Lester’s standard…? Wait… Gulp, well, I never… George suddenly feels a little queasy, headachey, and has his heart in his mouth 😦 😉
    Vickie, you are *fabulous* all the same…!
    Hugs, George

    • Hello there, George. I would be delighted if you would continue telling us stories. I would say, get that heart out of your mouth and pop in a peppermint and get to work 😉 I do remember our dear friend, Edward, suggesting something along the lines of the Vickie and George Show… He might be onto something! Or was that The Perfumed Dandy? They’re both dear!

      • The Vickie and George Show! Are you surprised when I say I like the sound of that? 😉
        Whoever suggested it, they are, indeed, dear, dear!

  2. Dearest G (and V)
    The Dandy is overcome with a small dose of ‘sexual greediness’ wanting to know that the devil happened next, both to our Northern Thackeray and his alter ego.
    Excellent start… can we expect a serialisation?
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Oh, Mr Perfumed Dandy, what a perfectly delightful and unexpected compliment. Do you know, there may be more than the remotest possibility of a continuation at some point in the future? The good graces of the Sublime Ms Lester and inspiration permitting! It does rather leave us *dangling*, doesn’t it? What *will* befall “our Northern Thackeray” (winks)? No man can say 😉
      Seriously, I appreciate your splendid words.
      All Good Wishes, a very flattered George Kaplan

  3. “And also, if need be, contrive to hint at non-existent depths in the shallowest of the shallow (which wasn’t Cardell’s preferred method but he had to eat).” I’ve heard it’s all in the lighting . I’m with the gentleman above. Can we expect more?

    • Thank you very much for your interest, dear sunsylph! It is indeed “all in the lighting” 😉 To be somewhat precious about my little doodle, I think the same can be said about Mr Cardell – Will’s alter ego, he created himself by presenting himself in a certain “light”. Boy, that sounds pretentious, don’t it?!
      There *may* well appear a second part to the date…
      Kind regards and warm wishes,
      George K

      • Presenting himself in certain “light”… I see. Do you think we, all of us, at a certain point create our own personas? It’s a very interesting story that hits on a particularly favorite theme of mine. I hope you continue the series 🙂

    • Really, you’re too kind! Yes, it’s a favourite theme of mine too. I think many of us do create our own personas (of course, there are those who hardly have *one* 😉 Oops, bitchy!). Thanks again ! 🙂

  4. Thanks George.A good story.Enjoyed reading it and it goes without saying{and here am I saying it} that no doubt that many people in the public eye are even if they have not changed their names have a split between the public and often publicity created self and their real and more private self.For others I believe the problem may be different-they actualy start to believe the cocoon of stories that have been woven about them.I suspect that these are the ones that have a weak sense of a private self,rather experiecing a split, have a problem that could be called-mergence-they confuse their real self and the manufactured one.

    Where so called -Reality TV stars fit in with the above considerations I do not know,because from what I have been able to glean from superficial reading about them in papers, they are apparently famous for nothing in particular and have no discernable talent.I have caught bits a pieces of a range of shows when switching channels and as far as I am concerned any one of them would if I were a spy captured by enemy powers and under forced exposure to such entertainment would quickly say-No,No- I cannot take any more, the micro-film has been left in box 333 at so and so Bus Station.No need for an Ipcress File these days.

    • Hey, Edward, who doesn’t enjoy sixties spy movies and television?! The Prisoner, The Avengers, Bond, The Man From UNCLE, The Quiller Memorandum;The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Get Smart!, The Ipcress File, Billion Dollar Brain, etcetera!
      As for “Reality” tv… Blech! Rancoid effluvia…

      • *Rancid* effluvia, even! Although “rancoid” fits too 😉
        It’s true that some people do lose themselves in an image; they look in the mirror and the mirror becomes them. Unfortunately, most (*all*?!) reality tv “stars” don’t even cast a reflection, except in their own heads! RuPaul’s Drag Race is quite funny though, at least the queens have talent at being *queens*, or some of them do!
        I think we’re in an age where the image is increasingly confused with the reality, which is a problem when the image ain’t any good either! Ha. Cynical me 🙂
        I’m glad you enjoyed the story, my friend. I hope you’re well.
        Regards, George

  5. Yes George,all of those films and programs are on my watch list.I even enjoy some truly awful snippets of unknown spy films from the period that you can find on Youtube.Of the good ones the film scores are often very striking also.

  6. I actually think there are some good thrillers made now.However I am also of the opinion that many are quite interchangable and rely far too much on a non stop pace,fast editing,loud bangs and crashes etc, to persuade the audience that something exciting is happening, when it is not and only too much made to a formula.I wonder also just how many of these sort of films can be made,before even the most undiscerning audiences tire and demand something better?

    I have also beeen considering recently whether some people have been so programmed by their viewing habits that they cannot actually watch any film that develops at a slower pace,literally do not have the tolerance to stick with it.

    With regard to the above I have often heard people describe even thrillers as being too slow etc.I think they should be forced to sit down,strapped to a chair,eyes propped open and forced to watch 2001.I love the pace of the film,slow and majestic,they however would I am convinced slump dead.

    Joking aside I think its a worrying trend,a sort of filmic illiteracy.I do not mean that in any fancy film critic ivory tower way-it just troubles me that many people convicted by their own words, cannot actually appreciate therefore almost any differently paced film reaching backwards for decades from the obviously arty to the most popularist.

  7. Pace addiction, also means I believe that they censor themselves should they actually ever catch some glimpse of a classic-lets say Hitchcock-from seeing it-they change channels.

    When I was at school I could sit down and talk films with friends.They were pretty film literate without being arty farty{like me ha ha} and they would watch a range of films without any problems.I honestly think that might be much more difficult today.

  8. I can’t say I really disagree, Edward! I think that the current epileptic quick-cut style is supposed to suggest excitement or at least generate such a pavlovian reaction in the audience. If I’m being cynical (which isn’t, necessarily the same as being *wrong*!) I’d say that for those who have *only* seen that style and have been “programmed” to buy what it’s “selling” they “think” it works. I can’t understand being incurious about the vast variety of film out there, and only being accepting of one (awful) style.
    Here’s an “interesting” comparison: the blurry fast-cutting of the largely execrable Quantum of Solace with the much more well-paced often genuinely exciting but often pleasingly various editing techniques of Skyfall. They are both modern films, but Skyfall is modern without having the “action” be incomprehensible and dizzy-making.
    I think if you make shot-lengths *too* short it confuses the brain, and is not exciting at all.
    Whoops. I’ve rambled!

    • Ramble on George,ramble on.I liked your description of epileptic style very appropriate I think.I would never defend slow and boring either for the record.Oh and I would just love to get you going on people who cant appreciate or engage with movies that have a more stately or calm pace.

      Its peoples sheer lack of curiosity about the variety of films out there that puzzles me most.I really do struggle to understand what the problem is.Its exactly the same when it comes to music,why not sample this or that sort of music before you know you do not like it.

  9. Don’t get me started on people who can’t appreciate or engage with movies that have a more stately or calm pace! That isn’t to defend films that are just *slow and boring* tho’ 😉

  10. gosh!

    love this.

    and – not that this is about us (forgive) but we got a Huge sense of identification with the growing up in a grimy (southern, for us) british town and Longing for Glamour (and changing one’s name, in fact, too) *hmmmm*

    your country is kind to those who need to run away and reinvent.

  11. Gosh I wonder what Southern town that was?I am from the South as well,but always considered my place of birth rather fortunate in being very stimulating to the imagination.

    Its Ok I have no need to know what the grimy place was-it shall remain a mystery and you shall stay reinvented.

  12. Thank you, teamgloria, this story was written by someone who may or may not be English rather than American (moi!) 😉 Oh, the mystery!
    I am *thrilled* that you loved it, because you are – as I know from perusing your weblog thanks to the recommendation of the Incomparable Vickie L – one accomplished, heroic, and talented Lady. May this lowly scribbler say he is beyond pleased?! 🙂
    warm regards,
    George K

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