The Belgian model, Marisa Papen, has been posing nude for a series of photos in 50 countries over the last two years, but by her own admission Egypt was the first place where she found herself in a sticky situation.
Having posed naked, with the pyramids in the background, she was later arrested for not first getting permission from the authorities.
But her arrest only came after the photo shoot, which had taken place despite the presence of a security guard, who Papen claims was “happy to look the other way” once he was given a bribe.
It was when two young men arrived and asked what she was doing, that she explained things started to get risky.
“We tried to explain to them that we were making art with the highest respect for Egyptian culture,” she explained on her website. “But they could not see a connection between nudity and art. In their eyes it was porn or something like that.”
She said she and the photographer bribed the two men $20 and carried on. But when they went to Luxor, where they planned to shoot by the temple complex at Karnak things got really tricky, as there were so many security guards.
However, undeterred, they decided to hide until the temple was closed and started the photo shoot.
But this time they were not so lucky. Papen said: “You can guess what happened next. Busted, once again. And yes, this time we were in some serious trouble.”
“Without being able to share words, I made it clear to Jesse that he had to delete the images if he saw the tiniest opportunity.”
She said the police did believe their story that they had taken no images and were simply “testing the light.”
Instead the photographer was told to strip down as the police searched for a second SD card, but did not find anything.
Papen said they went to a number of places and were put into jail cells filled with other men.
“I knew that a prison in Egypt looks slightly different then in Belgium or any Westernized country but I had no idea what to expect before actually going in,” she said.
“The first cell we encountered was packed with at least 20 men, some were passed out on the floor, some were squeezing their hands through the rails, some were bleeding and yelling. I had never seen something like this before in real life. Jesse kept telling me, ‘Marisa don’t look’ but there was no way not to look.”
After a few hours behind bars they were brought before a judge, where she said they tried to play the part of “stupid tourists.”
“Our judge was browsing with his big thumbs through these books that looked as old as the pyramids did. Eventually, he gave us a warning and told us never to do something so foolishly shameful ever again. We nodded simultaneously.”
Despite the close call, they retrieved the photographs using special software and after leaving the country, published them on her website.