Tara Barnes was sent to a foreign land to model for this year's Bathing Suit issue—a fact well-documented on the cable TV special about the making of the magazine.
However, it is also a fact that not one single photo from this "foriegn shoot" appeared in the annual issue which was published on February 29, 1997. Instead, older pictures of Ms. Barnes in the Caribbean were used.
The reason for this has never been explained.
They weren't amazed or shocked that I was nearly naked—even given that they were militant Muslims....
Making of the Bathing Suit Issue TV special telecast 2/29/97
"Great shoot, Tara," said the video director.
"Thanks, Ken," said the nineteen year-old supermodel with one of her charming, bright smiles. It almost made you forget her spectacular body, with its big, round, full breasts, sleekly curved torso, long legs, and incredible hips.
"Let's pack up, gang," Ken said to his three man crew. "You all set, Tara?"
"Sure," she said. "Everything packed and ready. I just have to go back to the hotel to grab the limo to the airport."
"Great," he replied. "Just wait a couple of minutes and we'll give you a lift."
"That's okay," she said brightly. "I wanted to get some more souvenirs anyway...."
The video cameraman stood straight, concern crossing his face. He looked at the beauty before him—her tight, cafe au lait-colored t-shirt and coffee-colored cotton/elastic skirt hardly disguising her bombshell form. "Uh...don't go far, okay, Tara?"
"Hey, don't worry, Murray," she dismissed his concerns lightly. "They love me here. You've seen that."
Murray's brow furrowed. Walking around filming the girl taking photos of the locals was one thing; a lone, beautiful, young girl going around a Muslim village unescorted with her head uncovered was another. "Now, Tara, I don't know. You'd better...."
"Aw, lighten up, Murray," Ken chided. "They know who she is. They've seen she's with us. Don't worry about it."
"Thanks, Ken," she said with another bright, innocent smile. "I'll see you at the airport, okay?"
That was the last time anyone from the video crew saw her.
Tara moved deeper into the small village, amongst the narrow, winding streets, totally surrounded by looming brick, hay, and stone walls. The golden dust was everywhere, as was the bustle of roadside stands, smoky kitchens, and aromatic donkey stalls.
But, unlike before, the tiny, laughing children ran away from the gorgeous Amazonian with the expensive 35mm camera.
"Hey," she called pleasantly, shaking the camera as if it were candy. "Come pose!"
She trotted after them, distantly aware of how the mocha-colored nylon/Lycra spandex bra couldn't quite keep her "Double-D's" from bouncing as she went. Then again, Tara was used to her wonderful chest. She was used to people staring at her 38-22-34 inch body, so she studiously ignored the male eyes That hungrily watched her every movement everywhere she went.
And she was totally oblivious to the bustling, rustling movements which nearly mirrored hers from inside the dark homes parallel to the road....
One of the cutest of the dark-eyed children took a look back at the model before he purposely, almost tauntingly, followed his friends into an alley. If Tara didn't know better, she would have thought they were leading her on a wild goose chase.
"Hey!" she said with humor. "Wait up!"
She turned the corner in time to see the kids disappearing around a curve deep in the darkness down the alley. She took four long strides after them before her peripheral vision picked up an odd movement...a scurrying.
She made out a shadow at the very corner of her eye, and her brain was just about to suggest it might be a squirrel or rat of some sort. If she had the time, she would have screeched and hopped away. But she didn't have the time.
A large sheet was thrown over her head, and arms wrapped around her torso before she could even react.
Four old women in dark clothing and head-kerchiefs had bundled out a side door. One threw a big, thick, Turkish cloth over the beautiful model's head, and another grabbed it around the tall girl as it fell. Another woman embraced Tara's blanket-covered arms from the other side, and the fourth—the biggest, and perhaps the youngest, of the grim-faced old women—expertly swung a padded club at the top of the cloth-covered figure.
There was a thud, a cloud of dust, and then the four women hustled back into the side doorway, taking the bundle and camera with them. The portal closed from the inside, and it was over. It had all happened in exactly five seconds.
The alley was empty. Tara Barnes was gone.
TO BE CONTINUED