Foreign Tongues... with Jean-Bosco M from Elska Cape Town

Something just wasn't right when I read Jean-Bosco's story. It's not that the text was terrible, but it revealed he wasn't good at English. I had no idea. In retrospect it should have been obvious he wasn't a native English speaker with a name like Jean-Bosco, but when we first met (online) I only knew him by his profile name "Makoto".

When I started reading his text, I quickly saw him mention being born in Congo, so I figured it might be appropriate to message to him in French. He responded back in fluent French and so I decided to ask him to please rewrite the story in French. He quickly did, and what came back was perfect. I always tell the guys they can write in whatever language they're most comfortable in, and we'll worry about the translation, but I never offered this to Jean-Bosco 'cos I never knew he wasn't an Anglophone. Our previous messages online were only brief and so he was able to use an online translator... but that won't work for a full story.

Later, once we met in person, even though his spoken English was actually quite good, I thought it would be fun for me to conduct the shoot in French. My BA degree is in French but I only rarely get to use it these days. So as I walked over to meet Jean-Bosco for our shoot, I loaded up my phone with French tunes and practiced over in my head those terms I'd learned when shooting Elska Brussels: "addose-toi" [lean], "lève le menton" [raise your chin], "accroupis-toi" [crouch down], and of course, "déshabille-toi" [take your clothes off]!

It's such fun to speak in foreign tongues. That's why I hope one day I can shoot in the countries that are home to the other two languages I've studied... Russian and Georgian. Maybe one day.

Pick up a copy of Elska Cape Town here: