There are a lot of weird pictures of Donald Trump, but this might be the weirdest. Here our president is, holding a lobster, in all its shining red glory, looking into the camera with a scowl that’s practically screaming, “You, sir, are no longer employed!”
Blake Little for Parade Magazine via Getty Images
How, why, and when did our current president find himself intently gazing into the camera, fists clenched around a napkin wrapped around the handle of a skewered lobster? I had to know, so I did some of my signature investigative journalism to find the answers you all are craving.
The picture is from Parade magazine’s 2004 “What America Eats” edition, an annual issue that, at one point in time, featured a celebrity cover star holding a food item, as well as an interview with them that, unfortunately, was not about the food item they were holding. Past “What America Eats” cover stars include Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin, Jay Leno, Brooke Shields, and, most recently, Andrew Zimmern.
There’s no mention of the Trump-lobster photoshoot on Parade‘s website, and the magazine did not respond to my repeated requests for comment. But the genius behind the picture, a Los Angeles-based photographer named Blake Little, gave me the deets on how Trump and the lobster came to be.
“He held the lobster and freely repeated his signature ‘You’re Fired’ quote.” – Blake Little
The photoshoot, which took place at Trump Tower, only took a half-hour and it was Little’s idea to have Trump hold the lobster. Despite being a notorious germaphobe, Trump apparently didn’t have any issue posing with the crustacean.
“Mr. Trump had no problem holding the lobster. I believe he approved the concept before the shoot,” Little explained in an email. “It was his opportunity to be on the cover and he took full advantage of the shoot. He held the lobster and freely repeated his signature ‘You’re Fired’ quote.”
But why a lobster? “I wanted something that made a visual statement, something appropriate for a wealthy business man,” Little explained, which is why he chose the lobster. “Lobster is food of the wealth and success and the red color was perfect match for [his signature] ‘You’re Fired’ [quote]. The whole lobster on a skewer created an over the top visual prop and [it] makes the cover memorable.”
Although Trump made a name for himself as a vicious reality TV boss, Little said that he “was easy to work with.”
“He was clearly excited to be on the Parade cover be seen by millions nationally,” Little told me. “Unlike other celebrities, he did not have a publicist at the shoot. I had to be quick and efficient with time. He was very businesslike [and] not very social. He seemed preoccupied with his business of the day.”
“I was completely shocked and dejected that this man was now president of the United States,” Little told me. “But, I realized I had now photographed a US president.”
Little wasn’t lucky enough to witness Trump’s grooming routine, since the Apprentice host arrived to the shoot with his hair and makeup already done. “He did have his own personal hair and makeup person. I believe she is the only one who does his hair,” the photographer said. “He was conscious of his hair and made sure his groomer paid close attention to it.”
The accompanying article, written by the late gossip columnist James Brady, doesn’t provide us with any new or revelatory information. In classic Trump fashion, he told Brady that the launch of his short-lived syndicated radio program, Trumped!, was “the biggest launch in the history of radio” and “I can’t remember a launch that was any bigger.”
On The Apprentice, Trump remarked, “All the networks wanted me for a reality show of some sort, but I refused.”
Over a decade after he held the lobster, Donald Trump won the presidency, and the photographer who witnessed him parading around with the majestic crustacean found himself shaken. “I was completely shocked and dejected that this man was now president of the United States,” Little told me. “But, I realized I had now photographed a US president.”
“I oppose everything Trump stands for,” Little emphasized. “I still think of taking the photo down from my website but you can’t erase history you only learn from the past.”
The present may be grim, but the past provides infinite wonders—for example, a picture of Donald Trump holding a lobster.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.