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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Naked and famous

Local bookstore owner honored to hold Playboy photo shoot in his shop

by Randiah Green

Thursday, Sept. 20 — The aisles of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop have featured many things in almost 40 years of business: classic comics, antique books and, most recently, a naked Michigan State University student.

Owner Ray Walsh owns the shop at 307 E. Grand River Ave., and said that when representatives from Playboy Magazine approached him about using his shop as a location for their October “Girls of the Big Ten” issue, he was honored.

“Most businesses do not get the opportunity to be in a national magazine like this,” he said.

The photography session happened last April, with MSU senior Hanna Root posing in her schoolgirl outfit … and less. Walsh helped the Playboy photographers decide on the perfect spot in the store for the photo shoot, between the aisles of books so they wouldn’t have to cover the doors or windows while shooting. Walsh says he looks forward to seeing the end result of what he called “a fun shoot.”

“I didn’t really see any of the poses, but the photographers seemed very professional about it,” he said. Although Walsh and two female employees were in the store during the shoot, he did not watch because he “didn’t want to make the model feel uncomfortable.”

Walsh originally operated Curious Books out of his basement in 1969 before moving it to its current location in 1973. The nude photo shoot will undoubtedly add to the whimsical fantasy atmosphere of the tiny shop. After the issue hits stands tomorrow, Walsh is hopeful that people will recognize the store as the background for Root’s shoot.

“I hope in the future some people will go, ‘Hey, I remember that place,’” he said. “We have a lot of interesting things here. We get a lot of people who are curious about us. Hopefully this will have a positive effect on people coming into the shop.”

Walsh said he hopes the bookstore can be used for photo shoots, Playboy or otherwise, in the future. This is not the first time Curious Book Shop has been utilized for its interesting atmosphere and history.

“We’ve had a couple different people shoot film scenes in the shop,” he said. “We had someone come in and celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary because they met here. We get a lot of students coming in to take pictures. We don’t get this type of opportunity often, though. We certainly don’t often feature women in that way in our shop.”

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