As I write this post, America is waiting to hear the results of the Presidential election. I actually wrote Trump into my novel before he was President. Why? You ask. I actually did meet him and his first wife and Don. Jr (when he was around 8) Is it a true story the way I depict this encounter a long time ago? Sort of but not really.
One of the awesome discoveries I made when I first started this novel is unlike my non fiction writing , I could embellish, makeup and twist the story to fit the narrative. Seems pretty obvious but after writing 6 non fiction books, I never had the luxury.
To set the scene: Sam is now in the workflow with Izzy, the celebrity photographer. After photographing Billy Joel, twice they head do to Florida to Mar-a largo to photograph Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. for Vanity Way magazine The trip down there brings on vivid memories of when Sam and his sister Rachel would visit there maternal grandmother in Coral Gabers, back when Coral Gables was a sleepy little town.
Ivana extended her hand to Izzy and said in her European accent, “Vell hello
Izzy. It is nice to meet you. I am a big fan of your vork and Donny and I are looking
forward to have you take our portrait. Zhis is Donny Junior and ve vould also like for him
to be in ze voto.”
“Sure,” Izzy said, smiling.
“And who is zis young man?” Ivana said, looking at me.
“This is Sam. He is assisting me today.”
Ivana extended her hand to me and for some insane reason I took it and
ritualistically kissed it. “It is a pleasure to meet you,” I said. Everyone was startled,
including myself. Izzy rolled her eyes at me and Ivana stepped back. “Vat a sveet boy,”
I couldn’t believe I did that. I had seen it in so many films. Maybe Izzy would fire
me and that will be that. I could get back to a normal life.
To break the awkwardness I said I would go to set up the lights.
When I came back to the lobby Izzy was sitting on the red crushed velvet couch
with Ivana. Donny Junior was off with the nanny.
“Excuse me, Izzy. Where would you like for me to set up the lights?” They both
looked up at me.
“Right here. I want to photograph the family sitting on this couch. Ivana, what
time is Donald showing up?”
“He should be here soon. He’s out at the club talking business or something. He
never stops vorking, that man. So full of ideas.”
I set up the portrait lights and some auxiliary lights to illuminate the ornate
background. Just as I was about to load the film back, I heard a big booming voice from
“Ivana, my love, I am so sorry I’m late. I was meeting with some new clients
about a property I’m interested in. Did I miss the photo?”
“No, not at all, Donny. This is Izzy and ve have had a lovely chat about zhis and
zhat. I think ve are almost ready for the shoot, isn’t that right Izzy?”
Izzy looked at me and I gave her a thumbs up.
“Just about ready. We just need to find your son.”
“Donny, Donny. Come here sveetie. Ve are ready for ze voto.”
“I only have about five minutes, then I have to get back to this meeting, Izzy, so
make it quick,” Trump said. I could tell Izzy was not happy with his order and wondered
how she would respond. She looked at me and asked if the camera was ready and I
nodded my head.
“OK, now I want Donald standing behind Ivana, and Ivana, you are sitting on the
red couch and little Donny is sitting on your lap.”
This was to be one of the most formal portraits I had ever seen Izzy take and I
wondered what she was up to. Everyone did as they were told.
“OK. Is everyone ready? Look here.”
Izzy took one photo and said, “OK, perfect. That’s it.”
Donald looked startled. “How do you expect to get a great shot of me by only
taking one picture?” he asked.
“You only have five minutes so I’ll take my chances,” Izzy responded.
“No, no, no. That is a huge mistake. What if someone had their eyes closed?”
“Then one of you will look like you’re sleeping,” Izzy said.
“OK, OK. How much time do you need?” Trump asked.
“Twenty minutes and total control,” Izzy said.
Trump looked at her and smiled.
“I like you. You’re a good negotiator. Not as good as me but you have . . .
chutzpa. Is that how your people say it?”
“My people?” Izzy asked.
“You know what I mean,” Trump said. “Let’s get started. You now have nineteen
Izzy went into action and got the trio to look ridiculous without them realizing it.
It was at that point that I realized her genius as a portrait artist. It wasn’t so much about
the lighting, the composition, or any of the formal elements of portrait photography. It
was how she took control of her subjects and had them submit to any whim she could
imagine—the more provocative the better. Her gift? Setting her subjects free. From what?
From the burdens, the clich.s, the prison house of their celebrity. And to what end? The
aggrandizement of her own celebrity!
I couldn’t believe my luck. Me, a slump out of Cleveland Heights, was an assistant to
a genuine American genius!