At 22, Marilyn Monroe had two demands for Tom Kelley, a pin-up photographer who wanted to shoot her naked:
Fifty bucks to make a car payment, and Kelley’s wife had to be in the studio.
History shows that Kelley made good on the deal.
The fruits of that 1949 collaboration arrive in town tomorrow for just four days as part at The Red Velvet Collection, a retrospective at the Sarah Stocking gallery featuring nudes, candids and color separations from the Marilyn archives.
Kelley’s photos are the stars of the show, with Monroe posing fully nude against a red velvet backdrop.
Three years after it was shot, Kelley’s photo was used as the inaugural centerfold in Playboy magazine.
Sixty years ago — an era not as blasé about the public circulation of documents of sexuality as our own — that nude image might have ruined Monroe’s career, which had taken off after the Kelley shoot.
Monroe, though, laughed it off: When asked if she’d “had anything on” during the photo session, she said yes: a radio.
A fair answer in defense of iconic images.
Get a look before it’s too late.