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Tue, Oct 27, 2009
The New Paper
So degrading to wash cars topless while others watched

By TAY SHI'AN

WHAT really happened at the topless car wash?

Were the models really topless?

Were they misled into taking part, or did they go in with their eyes open?

All four models and their freelance agent have challenged the organiser's version of the event.

Mr Gerald Chen of Motoring Exchange, in return, said he is telling the truth, and questioned if the agent had any ulterior motive for making the allegations now.

He claimed the agent had full knowledge of the event, but failed to inform the models. The New Paper on Sunday looks at the key issues.

Click to see images from the news reports.
(Photos: TNP, WanBao)

What were the models told about the shoot?

The models said they were told it would be a car wash-themed photo shoot attended only by cast and crew - not a carwash event.

They were not aware there would be 20 'winners' from the Motoring Exchange's Facebook contest who would be driving in with their cars to be washed.

Mr Chen admitted that he deliberately kept this element secret from the models to protect the location, so members of the public would not learn about it and gatecrash, causing legal problems.

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He told the girls to expect about 20 people to be present, but didn't tell them who they were.

Mr Chen claimed the agent knew this beforehand, but the agent claimed he found out only on the day itself.

The agent then told the girls that the 'winners' were cast and crew, or members of the company to calm down the girls who were getting agitated over the number of people present.

'I had to make it look like I was in charge of the situation... It was just damage control,' he said.

Only one model, 'Denise', 21, knew what was going on, as she had gone online and found the Tease & Wash website.

She didn't talk about it with the other girls, as she did not know them.

The other girls found out that the people they posed for pictures with were contest winners only days later, after the pictures were posted online.

Said 'Cara', 19, who is studying overseas: 'It was really degrading.'

Were they really topless?

All four girls said they took off their bikini tops but kept their nude-coloured nipple tape on throughout.

Their agent backed them on this.

Said Cara: 'It never came off. If it did, I wouldn't have done (the shoot). If he had asked me to take it off, I would have walked out right there.'

But Mr Chen insisted all the models took off their nipple tapes. To prove it, he showed The New Paper on Sunday one uncensored low-resolution picture showing Cara's exposed breasts.

But she said: 'I swear, I never never took it off. It must have been edited to look like I wasn't wearing anything.'

How many days was the event?

Mr Chen claimed the event took place over two days, on 27 and 28 Sep. At first he said Angela, Cara and Denise were there on the second day. Then he said Angela wasn't there.

But the girls and agent said they were there only on 27 Sep.

When asked to show photos from the 28 Sep event, or to show more pictures proving that the girls were really topless, Mr Chen declined, saying it was too risky.

Who was present?

Mr Chen claimed at first that only crew and contest winners were present, and the doors were closed the whole time to prevent any public view.

The agent also said he made sure the doors were closed.

But Belle and Cara said the doors were opened towards the end, with some cars leaving while the photo shoot was still on. One picture supplied by Mr Chen shows an open door.

Both models claimed they saw about three foreign workers in the warehouse during the shoot. Their dorm is located next door.

Said Belle: 'We didn't agree to people watching us.'

When asked, Mr Chen said the foreign workers were there to help move some equipment in the warehouse. He claimed his wife and friend escorted the workers back to their dorms before the girls took off their tops.

'Sleazy' start?

The agent showed us Mr Chen's first message to him on 16 Sep. The private message sent within a sex discussion forum, where men and women seek and offer sexual services, asked the agent if he had girls interested in a 'provocative photo shoot... No sexual acts needed'.

Mr Chen confirmed that this was how he first contacted the agent.

He said: 'This forum was brought to our attention because it offered sexual services... I thought if these models are able to offer such sexual services, they would be willing to be topless.'

Cara was shocked when she found out the men had collaborated through such a website. She knew the agent through a legitimate modelling event she took part in several months ago.

Identities confidential?

In Mr Chen's initial message to the agent, he wrote: 'Face will be covered in heavy make-up so model's identity will be confidential.'

The girls said that during casting, Mr Chen and the agent assured them repeatedly that their faces would be masked to hide their identities.

But Mr Chen said: 'We said we will censor the chest area, but not the face.'

A few days after the event, the first batch of pictures - one of each girl - was put on Facebook, with no pixelation of the face.

Only one girl, Belle, saw this batch of Facebook photos and demanded they be taken down. That's when she told the organiser she was 16, and he removed the pictures.

The agent said he demanded that the other models' faces be pixelated, but Mr Chen said he did this on his own accord.

Even then, two models were furious.

Cara said she thought the editing would be a lot more artistic. She felt the overall effect was 'scary' and 'dehumanising'. Some of her friends also recognised her.

She called Mr Chen from overseas and demanded that he remove all the photos from the website.

Angela said her pictures were not pixelated enough, causing her to be recognised and expelled.

Only Denise was fine with the photos, which she thought were 'quite nice'.

When The New Paper on Sunday met her, she wore glasses and had no make-up and looked like the girl-next-door, almost unrecognisable from the girl in the car wash pictures.

Only one close friend, and two or three photographers she had worked with, recognised her.

The agent said that if he had been told all the details about the event, he would have got foreign models to do the shoot instead.

He said: 'The girls are local, and they still want to make a living in Singapore. You show their faces like this, how are they going to get jobs? Not any decent ones.'

The pictures were on the website only for two days.Mr Chen's explanation on the Facebook page was that it was a planned two-day publicity stunt.

He said it was his lawyer's advice, as a safeguard. 'Within the first two days, the traffic is heaviest, that's all we need to show we did it, then take it down.

'Something like this, it's fun if it came and went. If you keep harping on it, it might become boring or offensive.'

Payment dispute

Mr Chen said he paid $5,600 in total to the agent for the models.

The agent claimed he got 'less than $3,000' in total.

The models said they each received $300 to $400. They didn't know how much the agent got.

No invoice was issued and the payment was made in cash.

Why complain now?

Mr Chen questioned why the models and agent are bringing up the matter only now, almost a month after the shoot.

Now that the publicity stunt is over, he just wants to concentrate on his business, and this was distracting and potentially damaging to his company.

He alleged: 'Maybe they feel they could have got more out of me, because the publicity went so well?'

The models said they held back at first because of personal issues.

Angela said she wanted to settle her school expulsion first, Cara hoped that by going overseas, the whole matter would blow over.

Belle said she was afraid her pictures might get leaked. She said she was angry with Mr Chen's version of events and 'just wanted to set the facts right.'

This article was first published in The New Paper.

 

 
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