Share A Secret Reviewed

Share A Secret Reviewed looks at the weekly Share A Secret column in Australia's biggest-selling magazine, Woman's Day. We at Gusworld love it, and we hope you will too. We don't give away the plot (that would be unfair and a possible breach of copyright); we just tell you what the headline is and describe the stunning artwork that goes with it.

Woman's Day dated April 7th, 1997


Fooled by the promise of fame, he succumbed to national shame and photographic embarrassment

I'd been a fan of Share A Secret ever since it first wormed its way into the pages of Woman's Day. I just loved reading the tacky confessions of plebs, even though I knew they were probably made up. I was working in the ACP building, so I could buy the magazine at half-price, and I quickly became addicted.

When I set up my own Web page, Gusworld, it seemed natural to put in a tribute to the column I loved. I was with the page through the good times and the bad; the wood-panelling, the new pastel headlines, the increasing presence of red in the photographs, even the unspeakable banana fritters incident. It became like a second home for me.

So you can imagine my excitement when Karen, who was working in our office, told me that she also worked on Woman's Day. More excitingly, Karen revealed to me that the models for Share A Secret pictures weren't professionals; they were people who worked in the building. And, even better, she promised to put in a good word for me.

It was about a week later that I received the phone call from Susanna at Woman's Day. She'd heard I wanted to pose for a picture; would I come and meet with her? Trembling, I ventured up to level 11 with Josh, a friend who was also keen for national fame.

Susanna was charming and friendly as she took down details of my appearance. I told her I was willing to do anything to appear in print. She promised she'd call.

I didn't expect that anything would happen in a hurry, so I went back to just reading the secrets. And yet it was only eight weeks later that Susanna called. They had a story about a woman seduced over the Internet; she'd thought of me because I worked for a computer magazine.

For the shot, she wanted a man staring laciviously at a PC screen, looking lustful and surrounded by images of his previous conquests, complete with scores rating their performance. Could I rustle that up for her? Of course. And would I mind wearing red? I wouldn't have minded at all, but we decided that the red lovehearts would be enough.

The days until Friday couldn't pass quickly enough. I prepared photos of colleagues and friends as my "conquests". I booked a PC in our labs upstairs. I even added a lewd picture as wallpaper.

When the big day arrived, I was breathless with excitement. When Susanna rang at 12:00 to say she'd have to delay the photo shoot until 3:00, I began panicking. Fortunately, though, she arrived at last.

Immediately, she began rearranging the set. I had to wear glasses. I had to unbutton my shirt. We needed blue mood lighting. We needed red love hearts. We needed to arrange the PC in a completely unnatural position. All that we could do. At last Mark, the photographer, was ready to begin. And then the trouble really started.

I'm a pretty flexible kind of guy, but not a very photogenic one, it turns out. When I tried to look lustful, I looked stupid. When I tried to look evil, I looked stupid. When I tried to look stupid, I succeeded, but that wasn't the look they were after.

Susanna patiently coached me, instructing me to rub my hands, lick my lips, fantasise about sex. It didn't seem to work. Finally, as we consumed the third roll of film, she declared the task complete. I stripped the pictures from the PC and waited, unsure of what would come of this session. Would the photos survive? The weeks passed blindingly slowly. Seven issues of Woman's Day came and went. I was sure they'd decided not to use me. And then the April 7 issue came out, on Easter Monday, and I was in it.

Try as I might, I couldn't convince myself that I was a success as a model. I didn't look like an evil seducer who could corner women and bend them to my will. I looked like a dorky bank clerk who'd just won a free pizza. Worse, I looked like Newman from Seinfeld. I knew I'd never be asked back.

People everywhere were congratulating me on my appearance. My mother bought the magazine and had the page laminated. Even my boss saw it. Outside I'm smiling, but inside I'll carry the stigma of failure with me forever.

Coming Soon: Share A Secret Modelling: The Photo Essay

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