Photograph by Herb Ritts




Rhodes Cardell was used to being around women, *lots* of women; often in varying states of undress. He was, he pretended, inured to female nudity, not an eyelid did he bat at an undraped feminine form parading before his camera’s eye, any more than he did at *masculine* nakedness. In truth, that was part of his – carefully manufactured, or at least manicured – mystique. The mystery of Rhodes Cardell’s sexuality was a neat talking point, it was *obvious* that he loved women, they said, but it was equally “obvious” that he *must* be gay. It was simply in-con-ciev-able that he was straight; wasn’t he too precise, too polite, too witty, Β to be anything but gay? And, what about that slightly camp air he occasionally exuded, didn’t *that* settle the question? It didn’t seem to occur to these milk-bland people that Rhodes might affect campness because it amused his very English sense of humor, or that he was doing it, purposely, to play with preconceptions.


His friends, the artist Ken Cauldwell and the designer Scott Fremont, both of whom were gay, found it hilarious that Rhodes – whom they knew well enough to call Will – could be mistaken for homosexual; Ken being inclined to make creatively disparaging remarks about Rhodes’s sense of style, though Scott Fremont’s lover, Andrew, delighted in relating how Scott had once been convinced of the opposite – Rhodes’s riposte? “Ha! Yes, but Fremont tends to think *all* men are gay, when he first meets them!”) – they knew that beneath Rhodes Cardell’s enigmatic image was Will Makepeace, shy, romantic, sexually – frustrated, and dead straight. In the world of exposures, apertures, lenses, gels, filters, and what have you he was at home. Rhodes Cardell was able to carry on animated conversations with beautiful intelligent women and be bluffly unmoved by their nakedness; poor Will Makepeace on the other hand, had a hard enough time attempting to talk to fully-clothed ones. It was a conundrum.

It was *worse* than a conundrum. Even as confident witty Rhodes Cardell, Will Makepeace’s lovelife was more dead than anything else. Some of the more priapic and annoying photographers of his acquaintance wielded their cameras like substitute phalluses (Rhodes/Will liked his penis well enough but had never considered taking pictures with it) Β and were highly successful in the romantic stakes – though for most of them, romance was far from their minds – yet Rhodes had never been like that, the camera was for his *art* and it gave him confidence in that but it did not change the diffidence and romantic unconfidence of outsider-Will, besides it would be unprofessional and dubious to use his job to develop romantic relationships. Or so he told himself. However, when he looked into the mirror of his mind and was *honest* he saw that this conviction along with his constructed sexual-mystery persona was more about self-protection than anything else. So it was that as he ascended in the photographic world, his romantic life descended into orphean gloom. The Rhodes Cardell persona that had made him and freed him had trapped him, too. All the creative dancing that he had done recreated as Rhodes energised by the power of the camera and what it gave him, left him alone as ever.
He had told himself that he was fine with that; “Let the Art be All of Me” he’d said, unbelieving that any change could come – yet coming to feel with every woman he photographed that he was drowning in misery, even as the Rhodes-mask remained, impeccably polished and in place.

Imagine his surprise then, when, after photographing the much-feted and formidably intelligent actress Isabella Arden he heard himself say, stumblingly, and in an accent more English than his Cardell version, “Um, Isabella. I mean, Ms Arden. Would you be interested in, ah, going on an er date with me?” Then imagine how he felt when this very un-Rhodes Cardell-like faltering question was answered with “Yes, yes I would. And it’s *Isabella*!” A date…


  1. George Kaplan

    Golly, would you look at that, the Kaplan fellah’s been doodling again! They let them get away with so many things at the Home, don’t they? πŸ˜‰ Ahahaha!
    Joking apart, I may be gulping air (!) but I once again thank you profusely for giving a little corner of your wonderful weblog up to my little scrawl, o Magnificent Ms Vickie.
    Hugs, George K

      • George Kaplan

        Thank you, kindest Ms Lester! More Rhodes and Will? O, you are naughty to put a scribbling man on the spot like this…but I love it πŸ˜‰ I suspect you may hear from “them” again! πŸ˜‰
        Much gratitude, George K

  2. George, this is fantastic. I’m on vacation in Florida, sitting by the pool side and wishing I had the rest of this story to read. Thank you for giving me Rhodes Cardell to contemplate. Wow, just wow. πŸ™‚

    • Ms. Lisa! I agree, there’s something about Mr. Kaplan’s stories both saucy and tantalizing and insightful that’s hard to resist. Enjoy the Florida rays, xox, V

    • George Kaplan

      Lisa, you make me *blush* with pleasure! Perhaps that’s not very “manly” but I don’t care πŸ˜‰ What a wonderful compliment. Rhodes Cardell (and Will) would I’m sure be thrilled to be contemplated by your beautiful, clever, and caring self (winks). Ah, poolside in Florida… I’m afraid I would *melt* in the heat! Enjoy your vacation, kind lady.

      • George Kaplan

        Oh, Ms Vickie, let’s just say that some of us have, um, “mutable” accents – they come out more strongly in certain situations! πŸ˜‰
        Yours, “tantalizingly”, Mr George!

    • George Kaplan

      Silverscreenings – Thank You! Your comment is so much appreciated I will let you in on a little secret: Rhodes/Will is *not* ME but let’s just say we aren’t *totally* unalike! The difference is… I don’t think I could be called *adorable* πŸ˜‰
      Warm regards, George K

  3. George Kaplan

    “Wonderful” and you “came back twice”? Mr Kaplan (;)) is very pleased and extremely flattered that you should say that about his scribbling, Metan! Inspiration and the marvellous Ms Lester Willing, you may be seeing a Part III sooner rather than later… I think Rhodes/Will is going to get himself in a “tizzy” even before the date πŸ™‚
    Best Wishes and Thank You!,
    George K

  4. Dearest G (and V)
    Golly gosh… an honourable photographer and one who doesn’t have more knotches on the bedpost that there are men in the North Korean Army.
    What a creation!!
    Can’t wait for the date itself…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  5. George Kaplan

    Dear Perfumed Dandy,
    “An honourable photographer…” that’s why they call it fiction, dahlink!
    On the subject of Part the Third, don’t be disappointed if it still doesn’t feature the date, the story may be more about the journey than the destination for M. Makepeace – then again, it may not! (ah, mystery)
    Thanks for your kind words, elegant gent,
    regards, George

  6. Hi George,so Rhodes/Will is not you.Funny how one can both write yourself into a story at times{thats when people say theres a lot of you in so and so a character}and create characters that are totally unlike oneself.

    Some people assume however that all fiction is autobiographical and thats where they are wrong.If I were anything like some of my short stories, anyone would be wise to keep their distance.I just completed a short story a few days ago called- Tea on an English Afternoon- which if I were anything like the main character I would be both barking mad and homicidal.

    I can hear someone saying.How do you know you are not?My Dear {stuffed} Mother in the corner says I am not and thats good enough for me I say.

    Keep up the good work Mr Kaplan.I look forward to the next episode.

  7. Vickie,once again a great photograph to head part two of Geoges story.I have said it before and will say it again.Wherever do you get them from?I am guessing that it was taken some time in the fifties or at a pinch early sixties?It was as usual very well chosen to fit with the story the unfolding of which I am enjoying.

  8. George Kaplan

    Edward, give my regards to your stuffed mother..! Oh, Tea On An English Afternoon featuring a homicidal maniac…intriguing. Before I read the bit about the blood-thirsty loon I was thinking of the Kinks song, Afternoon Tea! But it could make an interesting contrast with your tale, couldn’t it? I hope you enjoyed writing it. I’m glad it isn’t autobiographical – now be so kind as to keep away from that axe, Eugene! Ahahaha.
    Thank you very much for your complimentary remarks on my story. I’m especially pleased you liked the intentionally tantalizing little cliffhanger: in fact, they’re more like *ledgehangers*! Imagine that instead of being left dangling from a cliff the character is hanging from a first floor ledge πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks George,stuffed Mother would wave if she could.I did enjoy writing it as a matter of fact.I liked the idea of a decorous and rather upper crust invitation to tea being infiltrated by barking madness so finely concealed that no one knew until………

  9. George Kaplan

    “Oh, MOTHER, the blood…the blood!” πŸ˜‰
    Imagine that said by George Formby, Edward!
    I was going to stick my big oar in on the Ritts pic and hazard a guess that it was very late eighties by the look of it…but it was 1990, missed it by *that* much… Hah.

    • George I have asked Eugene to be- careful withat axe-and advised him not to hang out too much with those Pink Floyd chaps as despite them coming from jolly decent backgrounds their sort of music is never going to be popular and they are likely to come to no good.

  10. George Kaplan

    I can neither confirm or deny that that was a Floyd reference πŸ˜‰ Whatever did happen to the Pink Floyd?! One *could* say that most of The Wall and after *was* them coming to a bad end!

    • Well most of them are now dead in fact.Not obvious rock star ends ,but natural causes.Dave Gilmour has just done something interesting that I got the tip from re the excellent site-Open Culture-{cant speak too highly of this site-a treasure house}.Youtube search-Dave Gilmour Sonnet 18.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: