Itís been a long and sometimes crazy road to the top of the glamour world for Vivian Leonard Thomas. Born in South Africa but spending most of his childhood and school years in the then Rhodesian city of Bulawayo, Viv, as he is known to models and magazine readers throughout the world,began his professional life as a motor mechanic. With an eye for business, as well as the ladies, Viv quickly progressed to owning a truck and van dealership in Swaziland, where he lived for 15 years.Although a keen sportsman a serious car accident put an end to Vivís passion for playing sport, in particular rugby, so he took up photography instead.
With a door open at the biggest menís magazine of its time, it was now time to make a go of it in Britain full time. But after a disaster with his own photo-processing business in London, Viv found himself on the dole which meant he had to succeed in the glamour business or go bust! he had no money, so hiring a studio was out of the question. Luckily, though, he was introduced to another South African snapper, John Graham, who let him use his facilities in exchange for some work here and there. Johnís advice and experience gave him the confidence and set him on the road to success and he eventually took the plunge and rented a huge studio for himself.
Casual snapping rapidly became an obsession but it wasnít until he had an affair with a Miss South Africa finalist, Avril, later to become his wife, that he decided to point his camera at gorgeous girls! His first published picture was of Avril sitting on top of his car, printed in the South African Sunday Times. This developed into shooting for Scope magazine, a South African top shelf publication.
In search of models, Viv travelled to London to photograph Page Three girls but the cost of flying in and out of the country quickly put paid to any profits! Then came a stroke of luck. A friend introduced him to a young girl who was travelling through Africa. She was a regular feature in Mayfair magazine so he was very excited when she agreed to do a shoot with him.
Viv said he had no idea what he was doing but she talked him through it! What was even more exciting was that Mayfair bought the pictures! The rest of Vivís rise is well documented in the form of some of the best glamour photography on the shelf. Soon Viv was making enough to start taking large numbers of models to hot and exotic climates and in so has created a style all his own, a sexy mix of stunning girls, sunny skies and filthy fun. So now you know the man, get to know the work that has made him famous.
Viv's first published picture of Avril
Mayfair girl Lousie Freeman, in a South African magazine
Gaynor Goodman on the cover of South Africa's Scope Magazine
Top Page 3 girl Gail McKenna, inset Kirsten Imrie