ARTY NUDE OR LEWD?
Pay $150 to snap ex-adult film actress for
She sheds clothes just 45 minutes into private shoot with amateur lensmen at hotel room
By Ho Lian-Yi
November 24, 2008
WEARING nothing but an anklet and a ring, the model, a former Thai adult film actress, reclines on an armchair in a hotel room here, as a group of photographers circles her for a good angle.
TIRED: The model drank two cups of coffee during the shoot at a Pan Pacific hotel room. She brought a suitcase of skimpy clothes, donning a tiny bikini in the first of three costume changes, before shedding all her clothes.
Artistic photography or just plain pornography?
Whatever it may be, The New Paper on Sunday found out that such photography sessions are happening here, for groups of amateur photographers.
Local models are also offering themselves for such shoots for quick money, and may sometimes find themselves in unsavoury situations. (See report on page 8.)
Such sessions have been publicised by the organisers on the local photography forum Clubsnap.
Some photographers also display their pictures. There were titles like 'Jess in Nude' and 'Nude Series 1.2 Shoot - Be mesmerized'.
Clubsnap is a Singapore website with nearly 72,000 members where photographers exchange notes and display and critique their pictures. Meet-ups, photo workshops and sales of equipment also take place.
Usually an organiser hires a model and makes a post on the forum with details of the shoots, including whether it's fashion, bikini, lingerie or nude.
Photographers taking part are required to pay a fee, from as low as $15 to $150, or even more.
The organisers, it appears, are often not photographers themselves. They can be models, their agents or others.
The shoots can take place outdoors, in studios, or in hotel rooms.
One photographer at the session with the Thai model made some of his pictures available and gave us his impressions for this report.
The former adult film actress was flown in from Bangkok last weekend by an organiser who had posted his invitation on the forum.
Groups of several photographers were given two-hour blocks to take pictures of the model in a Pan Pacific Hotel room last Saturday.
The photographer said there were four others in the session he attended. They all looked like they were aged 25 to 35.
No contract signing
Each had to pay $150 but did not have to sign any contract.
While the organiser promised 'sexy lingerie to sexy nude pose(s)' on Clubsnap, he downplayed the model's past in his post, saying 'she has discontinued her profession in the pornography modelling industry; therefore strictly no posing of pornography style or equivalent'.
The organiser and an Englishman who claimed to be the model's boyfriend were also present in the hotelroom.
The conversation revolved around lighting and equipment, and nothing was said about women or sex, the photographer said.
The shoot took place in the afternoon, and the photographers had their own equipment. One brought the mobile equivalent of a studio light.
They used mostly mid-range digital SLR cameras.
The model at first wore a tiny red bikini, and about 45 minutes into the two-hour shoot, it came off.
Most of the photographers seemed to be taking tasteful pictures, though one of them was often jostling for shots that may have been more sexually angled.
The photographers requested poses and the model mostly obliged. Some of her poses were sexual in nature, the photographer said.
But she seemed tired, yawned at times and drank two cups of coffee during the shoot.
When contacted after the shoot, the organiser declined to comment.
The question is - when is something like this art and when is it porn?
Professional photographer Albert Chua, who has taken nudes himself, said there is 'a thin line' between a tasteful picture and pornography.
For him, a nude photograph should be about 'showing the body form to its best using lighting and photography'.
Wedding photographer George Wong, 30, who takes nude pictures only of couples for his work, said his goal is to achieve 'good and meaningful photographs', distinct from porn.
The participants could be treading on risky legal ground as the distribution of obscene materials is prohibited under the Undesirable Publications Act.
The penalty is a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
Criminal lawyer Amolat Singh said: 'There is no clear cut definition of obscenity.'
Something is obscene if it tends 'to deprave and corrupt persons' likely to come in contact with it.
He reckoned that in practical terms, something could be deemed obscene if the pictures taken are 'grossly indecent'.
'If they are pursuing the hobby for (artistic) purposes, I don't think they are doing anything wrong or objectionable. But if they highlight private parts or have poses suggestive of sexual acts, they may have crossed the line,' he said.
He said the law doesn't usually go barging into private occasions, but if you disseminate the nude pictures, you could get into trouble for distributing pornographic material.
Lawyer Shashi Nathan said there are nude art works and photos that do not give a sense of obscenity, while some fully clothed people can seem obscene, depending on what they are doing. And what is obscene in one society may not be in another.
He said, based on the photographer's account of the shoot: 'I don't see, on the face of it, anything that is wrong.'
But he suggested there may be 'borderline' issues.
He wondered, for instance, if the model was on a social visit or work pass. If it was the former, she may be violating its conditions.
Any photographer who recorded a video may also be in trouble for making an obscene film under the Films Act.
It could also be an offence for the model under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, which bars people from appearing nude in a public place or in a private place exposed to public view.
'It's a grey area,' he said.
Lawyer Anthony Lim felt that as it involved an adult film star exposing herself, likely for monetary returns, it would be an indecent act.
'If it's in public, they would definitely be charged,' he said.
In private, he said, it depends on whether anybody is insulted by the act, and makes a police report.
Another issue, he said, is whether the hotel has given permission for the activity. It could be an offence if the hotel prohibits such activity.
In October, The New Paper reported on a similar case when a nude model appeared in an online erotic magazine in a picture taken in a local hotel with the Singapore skyline clearly in the background.
Said Ms Cheryl Ng, relations manager at Pan Pacific Hotel, where the latest shoot took place: 'The hotel respects the privacy of guests and will not intervene in guest activities confined within the room. However, based on local law, all guests must be registered at the front desk in the interests of maintaining safety within the hotel.
'The hotel must be informed regarding all photography or filming that will feature the hotel or takes place within public areas. Permission is granted based on the context and availability of resources.'