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If there was a darkest spot in a black hole, it would be Roseburg, Oregon. If there was a pinpoint in the darkest spot, it would be Idleyld, Oregon. But I only came to learn this the hard way.

Roseburg is about 70 miles north of where I lived in Oregon. It was more rural than Grants Pass, but the bridal fair was only $100 for a booth. How could I go wrong? So Christina and I loaded everything up, drove up there, set up our booth, and planned to book a bunch of weddings.

My wife, Christina, met a nice woman there who owned a little wedding venue called the Idleyld Lodge, in the very rural community of Idleyld which is about 20 miles further into the wilderness than Roseburg. Barbara happened to have owned a bridal shop in Portland some years earlier, but had sold it to move out to the country and run the lodge. Christina noticed the most beautiful vintage dresses at her booth and complimented her on them. She said she had tons more dresses. They got to talking and decided it would be fun to come out to her lodge and do a fashion shoot. She would get some models together, and we would bring our favorite hair and makeup artist, Gioia. We would be trading images for lodging and try to cross promote each other’s businesses.

Well, the lodge ended up being one of the strangest, scariest places I have ever been. It was more Dukes of Hazzard than the Driskill, that’s for sure. The rooms were homier than I cared for with kitschy themes and plastic flowers. As it turned out Barbara only wanted to trade for one room, so we had to pay to put up the makeup artist and our assistant. The whole place was so unphotogenic, that I was hard pressed to find anywhere I wanted to shoot. We finally found a antique room divider screen with a pineapple motif that we were barely able to drag down the stairs. Then our makeup artist broke some antique vase and was trying not to freak out about how much it was going to cost her.

But the dresses! That’s where the real fun began. We had seen about four or five gorgeous vintage dresses in her booth at the bridal fair. That’s about all there was hidden in the vast sea of the ugliest 80s reject wedding gowns you have ever imagined. There must have been thousands of snow beast monstrosities not to mention fuchsia, emerald green and royal blue bridesmaids’ dresses with no shape and only one sleeve. We had to comb through all the hideous dresses to find the gems among them in the hot, musty attic of the lodge where the dresses were crammed together, all the while feigning amazement at the awful dresses Barbara was trying to pick out for us.

The models were nice, local girls excited to be modeling for a “real” fashion shoot. I think Barbara had inflated the credentials of our makeup artist, as one girl seemed to think Gioia was straight out of Hollywood with connections in the modeling world. Gioia worked her wonders, and the girls looked incredible. One of their mom’s even modeled a bit. I though she looked very Jackie O.

We had offered to give all the girls who participated a print and let them buy the CD for a very nominal fee. We also gave prints and the CD to the Barbara, the owner. We sent the CD to Barbara first and waited to find out what prints she wanted. We emailed a few times and never heard another word from any of them! I was somewhat relieved as I prayed that I would never have to go back to the Idleyld Lodge, let alone do a wedding there. We have fondly called the shoot the “Ladies of the Damned” ever since. All I can say is, “Viva Texas!”



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