“This is not about a man’s approval. This photo is just for me, so when I’m old and my tits are in my shoes I can look at it and say, ‘Damn, I was hot.’” –Samantha, Sex and the City
In 2001, when Sex and the City’s leggy blonde sexpot decided to have naked portraits taken, it seemed like something only Samantha would have the proverbial balls to do. Turns out, she was simply ahead of her time. Today, politicians and waitresses, housewives and attorneys are all slipping out of their clothes and in front of the camera for boudoir photo shoots with one basic goal: feeling irresistible.
“I was the fat funny girl in high school. I never was one that was very comfortable in my own skin at all.” This is Dacia Weese, a 37-year-old St. George, Utah, mother of two who works for a mortgage company and says things like “holy cow” and “oh my gosh” with total sincerity. In 2010, a “super-brave” friend booked a session with Vegas-based boudoir photographer Stacie Frazier, and suggested Weese come along and have her photo taken, too.
“I was terrified,” she recalls. “I was sick to my stomach for a whole week before.”
But in the hands of Frazier and her team, Weese had a revelation. “I looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘Ho-ly sh*t. It’s Playboy Barbie.’ I about died,” she says. “It just changed everything. It makes you so comfortable in your skin. You can’t believe that’s it’s you who is that sexy and incredible. I literally walked out of the bathroom and said, ‘Nakeds first.’”
That kind of confidence has a lot to do with the woman behind the camera. Frazier, who shot our magazine's cover this week, got into boudoir photography five years ago, before there was an accepted name for the practice of taking sexy, professional portraits of regular women posed like lingerie models or Playboy Bunnies. It started with a friend who wanted photos done. Then another friend. “Soon other friends were asking for it. Then people who weren’t friends.”
Slowly, Frazier grew her hobby into Haute Shots, a full-service boudoir photography company that turns everyday women into confident sex kittens who look born for the camera’s lens. To achieve that transformation, Frazier follows certain rules and guidelines: Professionals from Hera Beauty do hair and makeup. Lingerie is a must. A glass of Champagne loosens things up, and a swank hotel room helps set the scene. Absolutely no men are allowed on set—unless it’s a couples’ shoot.
Looking through Frazier’s portfolio, it’s the vibrant sexiness of her clients that hits you first. Their curves hit all the right angles. Their eyes demand your attention. You might guess these women are natural exhibitionists, but the photographer says many come in like Weese, sick with nerves. “Maybe only one other person has seen them in lingerie in the past 20 years,” Frazier says. “All these things happen to our bodies and our lives. All these things start chipping away at us and we lose a little bit of our sexy.”
Leslie Stein found hers in front of the camera. “Going into the session, I would have described myself with a million different words—confident, strong and all these great things, but I never in a million years, would have ever, ever, ever used the word sexy to describe myself.”
A 39-year-old author and life coach, Stein decided to do boudoir photos after completing a half Iron Man race last May. She figured she was in the best shape of her life, and the photos would be a reward for the countless hours of training and a hard-fought race. But a month before the session, she got cold feet. “I’m like, ‘I’m such a damn loser. I don’t have a guy in my life to give these to. Who’s going to see these except for me? This is stupid.’”
Over a Google Hangout and Frazier and her assistant, Kat, talked Stein off the mental cliff, and when she got in front of the camera, her previous anxiety disappeared.
“I don’t know what it is about Stacie in particular, but she just kind of makes you feel comfortable,” Stein says. “[It’s like] I’m going to hang out with my girlfriends and oh, by the way, I’m in my underwear. I can’t wait to do it again.”
Weese calls Frazier a “happiness fairy,” and says that even after the makeup comes off and the negligee goes into the back of the drawer, it’s easier to look in the mirror and not be so hard on what she sees.
For Stein, the confidence she felt in front of the lights reached further into her life. “I started dating higher-quality people. My business started doing really well. I was willing to say no to stuff that just wasn’t what I wanted to do. It was related to the session somehow. It allowed me to see myself as successful and sexy.”
Weese is already dreaming of her next session. She’s lost 50 pounds since her first round of photos and cut her long hair short. “I’m definitely going to mark the next phase of my life,” she says. “I can’t wait to do it again.”
And in a fictional TV somewhere, Samantha is looking at her naked portrait, still sexy, damn proud.
Ready to channel your inner seductress? Sessions with Stacie Frazier average $2,000 (including hair and makeup) and book up a few months in advance. Contact Frazier at Haute Shots for more details.