One night last September, Associate Editor Jule Campbell went to sleep wearing sneakers. "So I could run," she says. For her life. She was in Kenya scouting photographic locations for this, our annual swimsuit issue, and she had stopped at George Adamson's famed lion camp in Kora. Its "walls" turned out to be of chicken wire, and as Campbell recalls, "All night from my tent I could hear the lions breathing."
This is the 18th consecutive year Campbell has produced the swimsuit issue, and the word is produced. In that time she has selected all of the 53 models who have appeared in the issues, all the swimsuits they have worn and most of the exotic locales—from Brazil and Baja to Bora Bora and the Seychelles—in which they have worn them. It has been an exhausting assignment, but never a dull one.
Campbell's September scouting trip lasted three weeks. She flew all over Kenya in pilot David Allen's single-engine Cessna U206 and found the greatest danger wasn't lions in the night but zebra and Cape buffalo in the day; they enjoyed standing around on airstrips while the plane was taking off.
Campbell selected seven locations, then returned to New York and spent three more weeks choosing swim-wear—e.g., pink fabrics for areas with flamingos, zebra stripes for those with zebras.
Three of the suits were custom-made from a single square yard of a scarce silvery fabric called Skilab. The only square yard available was in Italy; designer Monika Tilley had the fabric flown to New York and then transferred to a flight for San Diego, where she made the suits. Campbell had them the following evening. It was a satisfying accomplishment, which is fortunate, because none of the three suits made it into the magazine.
In early November Campbell returned to Kenya, this time with her assistant, Sharon Mouliert; photographer John G. Zimmerman; his assistant, Bruce Margolis; and models Kathryn Redding, Kim Alexis, Charissa Craig and Carol Alt, not to mention five suitcases crammed with some 300 swimsuits. Campbell's troupe was never aboard the Cessna at one time. But the 800 pounds of Zimmerman's equipment were rough on the plane, and often as it creaked toward takeoff Allen would call, "I may abort at the end of the runway." Better that than going down in the desert.
As it was, the wildest and hottest scheduled stop was a patch of land at Fergusons Gulf on Lake Turkana (pages 56-57) that Campbell calls "the hell-hole"; one afternoon there Mouliert found two bats hanging in her room. Beside herself, she was assured that they would fly away come evening. They did.
At the island of Lamu, where Campbell had hired Hamid, a Swahili, to have his two dhows sail back and forth in the background (pages 64-65), a mango fly bit Margolis. Chills and fever promptly ensued, and he wound up spending five days in a hospital. But he recovered; Mouliert found no more bats in her room; Campbell remained unclawed; the little plane never aborted; and one day near the end of their tour—it was Thanksgiving, and they had a lot to be thankful for—our crew celebrated with a feast of spaghetti and Nile perch on the shores of Lake Turkana.
Robert F. Jones, who had been to Kenya three times for us, did the piece on that country's Coral Coast, beginning on page 92. His previous trips had been to the interior, but Jones was delighted to go to the coast this time, because he had heard of the fine fishing there. His story is full of leaping marlin, fearsome snakes and exotic food, as well as unforgettable glimpses of ancient cities with minarets, pale-skinned natives in turbans and camels on beaches.