Monday, February 10, 2014

RevaLucian Memorial

For Heather, February 13, 2014.
Love, Lady Monster

February 25, 1968 - February 13, 2007 (aged 38)

(Heather MacAllister by Leonard Nimoy)

In September 2005, while touring Southern California and Arizona with Candye Kane, the Fat-Bottom Revue stopped in Los Angeles for a second photo shoot with Leonard Nimoy.

Heather was invited by Leonard, to be photographed for his project Maximum Beauty in late 2004. The troupe had just lost dancer Sunny Perkins (Mia Amore) from a tragic car accident. The troupe was unsure of whether to continue without her. They voted, and decided to push on, holding auditions and doing the photoshoot. He began showing the images in NYC, including having them shown on a TV broadcast by the Style Network in 2005, using the title Maximum Beauty (see below for the link).

He first contacted Heather after Zoe Wiseman saw Leonard at his exhibit for The Shekina Project (an earlier book of photographs). She asked him why he only used thin models, and would he be interested in photographing women with larger bodies. He said, “Yes”. Zoe introduced him to Fat-Bottom Revue.

Heather kept the name of the photographer a secret from the models for the first shoot. It wasn't until they arrived at the gallery that the models realized they were getting naked for Spock! For the second shoot, Heather once again hand-picked who she wanted in the photographs and told us all to keep it very hush-hush. We were also to not ask him for autographs or to bother him about his role as “Spock”.

When we arrived at the Hammer Gallery in Los Angeles, we realized this large, modern art museum was closed to the public for us. We had the entire space to ourselves. We spent a few minutes in the bathroom, finishing up hair and make-up, then undressing. Leonard and his wife Susan and two photography assistants were there. At the photo shoot the models included:
Jukie Sunshine
Ginger Virago
Lady Monster
Anita Martini (Roni Gallimore)

Our first pose was Nude Descending A Staircase, modeled after Marcel Duchamp's cubist painting.

Music was turned on, we began to dance and we were photographed.

It warmed us up, and got us feeling comfortable with what he was going after.

He took some of the models (Jukie, Ginger and Sita) aside to create The Three Graces image by Raphael.

We were photographed upstairs for the second pose in front of the large mirrored sculpture by Patty Chang, titled Shangri La. He wanted us to be primitive, as if we were seeing ourselves for the first time, circling the mirrored mountain. This was more serious, not a lot of laughing or giggling.

When Leonard was finished getting his shots in this setting, he said, “Alright ladies, let's all go downstairs for one more pose”. I forget who it was that began the song, but the moment will always stay with me. Six naked fat women prancing around the staircase, cascading down, singing at the top of our lungs, “Whatever Leonard wants, Leonard gets!”. He definitely enjoyed hearing that and was laughing.

We stood at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for Leonard and his assistants to finish upstairs and get set up downstairs again. The sun was starting to set and the marble floors of the courtyard were getting cold. Heather was not able to keep her body temperature up and she asked us to huddle around her. We were rubbing Heather with our hands to warm her up. Then, Leonard saw this gathering as a new shot. He practically sprinted up a large ladder to peer down on us, using available light. As he wrapped his arms around the ladder and peered through his camera, he shouted, “Yes Ladies! Rub! Rub Rub!”.

Hearing his iconic voice, with carnality and humor, the tenderness of our helping Heather suddenly burst into bawdy laughter. Ginger began to vigorously rub Heather with her booty. I turned around to shimmy against her too. We were all just dying laughing while he took a series of photos. It made him blush.

Then he asked us to begin to dance in a circle, holding hands, to fulfill his last pose, reinterpreting Matisse' Dance I. The joy and affection from the previous pose spilled into our dance, and Leonard chose this pose to use on t-shirts. These t-shirts were sold in galleries, prior to the book being available.
Before we met with him, he sent Heather an email with some ideas of poses. She forwarded to us the DeChamps, Matisse and Rafael so we were familiar with the images when we posed.

At last, Leonard felt he had his photos and Heather spoke up and wanted us to do a kickline. Heather LOVED a good kickline, especially with her troupes. Group numbers often incorporated it for a big show. Here she is counting it out and providing direction. I was scolded for bringing my leg up too high, and not in line with the other dancers.

When this shot was captured, Heather said that Leonard should join us for a final photo. Then Ginger spoke up and said, “Only if you're naked though” and someone began to chant, “Strip!”.
His wife, assistants – all of us began to chant, “Strip! Strip! Strip!”. Leonard turned three shades of red, waving his hands back and forth, saying, “no, no”, “no no”, laughing. We relented and let him join us.
I wish I had that photograph, the image of Leonard with his arms around us, his legs flying high in the air. I like to say, “I had my naked body pressed up to Leonard and our legs were flying up into the air.” He stood right between myself and Jukie.

Heather did not tell Leonard about her cancer until I produced the event, BENEFAT on January 14, 2006 to raise money for Heather, and to raise her spirits when she had a serious infection. (Flyer by Pam Doré, aka Mr. Pam)

When Heather passed, the others from the photoshoot voted for me to take Heather's place as a spokesperson for the book. This resulted in me being featured in a very cheesy segment on EXTRA TV with Leonard. The footage was taken at his home in Beverly Hills, July 2008.

Here is the EXTRA TV segment:

Here is the Style Network segment:

This footage includes a small clip of Fat-Bottom Revue performing at The Dark Room in San Francisco.

Here is a telephone interview I conducted with Leonard for a radio program I hosted about The Full Body Project. I was a speaker at the Full Body Symposium at the R. Michelson Gallery in Northampton, Massachusetts in November 2007.

"Any time there is a fat person onstage as anything besides the butt of a joke, it's political. Add physical movement, then dance, then sexuality and you have a revolutionary act." - Heather MacAllister, aka Reva Lucian

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