When Air Force security advisor Marcus Moreno was stationed in Afghanistan recently, he received a care package from his girlfriend, Laura Garcia. Inside the box were the usual M&Ms, Hershey's Kisses and magazines. And there, sandwiched within the pages of Rolling Stone and Men's Health, were two 8-by-10 photos of Garcia.
She wore a vintage military jacket with Moreno's rank — staff sergeant — and little else, save for a pair of gartered stockings and black peep-toe pumps. Her puckered lips were painted fire engine red. Her eyes flirted with the camera, accented by false lashes. Her hair was coiffed under a military cap. Va-va-voom.
It was Moreno's fantasy come true.
"I kind of just bawled for a little bit," he said.
'You feel like a sex kitten'
Maybe it's the retro factor. Maybe it's because young women like to flaunt it while they've got it. Or maybe guys just like seeing their girlfriends and wives in various states of undress. Whatever the reason, boudoir photos are in.
Boudoir (from the French bouder, "to pout"), or pinup, photography captures one's sensuous side — often a woman, but occasionally couples or guys who want to show off their physique. Styles range from sultry to playful, but it usually involves the lady wearing lingerie. The pictures make popular gifts for Valentine's Day, Christmas, weddings and anniversaries.
Garcia had her shots done at Buffalo Gal Vintage in St. Petersburg because of the store's emphasis on antique glam. Moreno loved how Garcia looked when she'd get dressed up for a night of swing dancing, and he'd been hounding her to take pinup-style pics.
"I told her, 'I have an image in my head. I can totally see you like that,' " said Moreno, 29, who now works at MacDill Air Force Base.
Garcia had repeatedly refused, which made it all the more surprising when she mailed him the photos. She later E-mailed him more images from the shoot, which Moreno pulled up on his laptop whenever he missed her. His favorite shot is of Garcia saluting, a smile playing on her lips.
"It's actually very liberating. By the time you're done, you feel like a sex kitten," said Garcia, 30. "He wants me to do it again."
In the meantime, Moreno relishes the framed photos on his desks at work and home. He even catches glimpses of his pinup princess in newspapers; Buffalo Gal Vintage owner Desiree Sheridan has used Garcia's photo in ads for the store. And Moreno wants to get one of the images tattooed onto his arm.
The photos also helped take the couple's long-distance relationship to the next level. "We moved in together as soon as I got back," said Moreno, who's now been dating Garcia for 13 months. "I've known I've loved her from the get, but those pictures meant more than anything to me. It was the best thing ever, 'cause it was exactly what I saw in my head what she'd look like. It's to the point where she reads my mind."
Twice as nice
Sometimes couples get photographed together. Amber James and Eric Parker are getting married March 21. They recently had boudoir portraits done by Lisa Presnail of South Tampa Photography.
"We're young, and (we) work so hard to eat right and work out. We're proud of our bodies, and why not capture some photos while you can?" said James, 28, of South Tampa. She said being there with Parker, 36, put her at ease and made the shoot more fun. "A woman's body is naturally beautiful," James said, "and who doesn't appreciate that?"
Dalia Colón can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.