|Models and crew of Venus Swimwear with Ramon's Village representatives|
There were many events drawing crowds this week, but probably the most popular site in San Pedro was the Venus Swimwear models shooting at Ramon's Village Resort. Director of Marketing Lance Chancellor, Resort Director Steve Sherwin, Assistant Manager Einer Gomez and of course, Ramon Nuñez were busy indeed, making certain the group was being well cared for at the resort.
Venus Swimwear is the largest mail order swimwear business in the world, sending out approximately 15 million catalogs per year. They boast a sales base of over one million customers and pride themselves on their customer service. Venus films in locations that promote warm weather due to the fact that their busy mail order season occurs during the months of February, March and April; typically unseasonable weather in the United States. Eighteen days of filming was recently completed in Ocho Rios and Negril areas of Jamaica. The idea to ask the company to do a catalog shoot on location at the resort was sparked by a marketing team employee of Ramon's in the US who was looking at a Venus Swimwear catalog.
April Storms (her real name!), Angela Chittenden and Lola Corwin are the models who arrived this weekend. A fourth model, Elsa Bonitas who has been seen in Sports Illustrated and Victoria Secret catalogs, arrived on Monday. Joining the girls is also former Venus model Brooke Burke who hosts the "Wild On" show for E! television network and who arranged for the E! TV crew to film here at the same time.
After a welcome party Saturday evening for the crew of 12, work commenced bright and early Sunday morning. Lou Maggio, Director of Photograpy and Production Promotion, heads the team of professionals. He stated he is "on the road" 130 days out of the year, and finds Belize an undiscovered paradise that he will definitely return to. He told the San Pedro Sun, "We are creating an illusion; people want to be warm and that is the way to sell swimsuits in cold weather." Mr. Maggio described Venus models as, "No two girls look the same in our catalog. They are definitely the ‘girl next door' look - very approachable and never intimidating. Good attitude is a must for Venus models. Age doesn't matter as long as they have the look - one of these models is 32 years old!" He has been hiring models for eleven years now and started out with the company when it only employed twelve people; Venus currently employs around 200. Located in Jacksonville, Florida in the United States, the company founder is Daryle Scott who started the business out of his apartment. Venus swimwear features a mix and match program, where you can select any top in any size and any bottom in any size. They guarantee, "Venus can fit you better than anyone!" Venus has also expanded its line with a new enterprise called "Winter Silks" featuring long underwear, lingerie and pajama-type fashions. A teen line, with somewhat less sophisticated swim- wear, has also been designed and is being featured in a separate catalog called Venus Edge.
Starting things off around 4 a.m. Sunday morning was Makeup Artist Craig Honeycutt, assisted by Shannon Ray, who have the task of enhancing the beauty of the swimsuit models. Craig, a free lance artist, has done makeup for such stars as Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan and Andy Garcia. Shannon is a former model for Venus, thus has hands on experience with makeup and "being in the model's shoes". They explained makeup is critical to a shoot and it is important to know your subjects to get a feel for what looks good.
Photos begin every day around 6 a.m. with Lead Photographer Jorge Alvarez and team making the magic happen. Merchandising Manager Tracy Padget provides the necessary swimsuits, complete with matching accessories, to adorn the models. At the same time, Executive Assistant Cassie Yakes takes down all the details of the shoot for future reference. The click of the cameras stop about 9 a.m. and then resume around 3:30 in the afternoon until the sun goes down. The weather was not ideal at first. The breeze that people on the island adore can sometimes be restrictive to a camera shoot. "We can handle the heat much better than the wind," the crew agreed.
Production lasts for six days in Belize. During their stay, the Venus group is enjoying dining out, snorkeling and just being in paradise. Ramon's Village Resort will be included in a "blurb" on the inside cover of the catalog which will be distributed in January, 2001.
The San Pedro Sun would like to thank Mr. Chancellor and the crew of Venus Swimwear for their time and look forward to viewing the catalog featuring, Ramon's Village in "La Isla Bonita." On behalf of the people of San Pedro, "Ya'll come back now, ya hear?!"