please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Naked in Public

It was The Eyebrow Kid's birthday recently, so I took him up to a self-styled 'inner city hot spring' (i.e. buncha jacuzzis) in the neighborhood for a bit of a soak. As we sat there naked and steaming, I stopped to consider that I had newer, angrier bruises all up and down my right leg; a consequence of all the moving I'm assisting people with of late, as well as the intense physical nature of two of my jobs. I had spent the better part of last week limping, and noticed now that I had a really big bruise on top of my right foot. This no doubt came from my predeliction for putting big heavy things down on that foot, as opposed to on my toes or someone else's fingers.
Nowadays, as fate and pettiness has elevated me to status of lighting director on the show, and I have an army of interns beneath me, maybe I can heal. In any case, as I sat there examining myself (and furtively examining other people), I thought-why don't I spend as much time in public naked as I used to?
Along with never really being all that ashamed of my body (and why should I be, eh, ladies?), in the year we call 1994, I discovered that stripping was not the only way to make money naked. A friend of mine and I were sitting around one evening, and determined that the best way to stave off boredom was to create a drink: the Saint Lawrence. He had been posing for a Tacoma artist who was doing a series on saints. St. Lawrence was grilled to death by the church for giving the wealth of the church away to the local po' folk. He currently is a saint. In any case, we determined that we needed something made by monks (Frangelico), something smoky tasting (Bushmill's), and something to even out the intensity of the other two ingredients (Bailey's if you're feeling sassy, heavy cream or soy milk if not). Perfect. Then I asked to see the pictures.
As I looked at these images of my friend in a charcoaled bedsheet, I noted to myself that posterity might wonder who he was: he was sort of immortal. This pleased me, and I asked him how one gets into that line of work.
Before long, I was posing for classes at the college where I also worked in the admissions office. I quickly developed a repetoire of poses both quick and not. Poses that offered something interesting to draw, no matter where one was in the room. Doing yoga naked, I learned the secrets of using negative space and turning myself into a credible jumble of shapes and forms. I'd walk around afterward, offering critique from the viewpoint of the bowl of fruit. "Well, you rendered my ass pretty well..." One day I came up upon my girlfriend's studio partner. He had drawn me from the waist up, photographically correct. I looked like a piece of statuary. Where my head should have been, though, there was this leering, grinning demon head, topped by a shock of blonde hair. I wondered about this, but did not ask him.
I was interviewed by a professor at Pacific University a few years later, and she asked a lot of the typical questions I'd been answering about my line of work for a long time. She wanted to know how my friends viewed it (pretty uniformly, the women were fine with it, and several of them already had done it themselves. The men, uniformly, were asking, 'how can you?' Some family jewels thing? I don't know). Was there a sexual aspect, she wanted to know? Well, I said, you're generally cold, and it's such a supremely asexual scenario, except; do I think about who I'm pointing my cock at and who I'm pointing my asshole at? Certainly. Do I think about who I 'accidentally' make eye contact with, as they draw me? Sure.
And there was this one time in Tacoma, where I nearly did something really unprofessional. Sex, as I say, was far from my mind on these occasions, but I was in the midst of a forty-five minute pose, and my mind had begun to wander. Then I realized that it was about to wander too far down roads I must not let it go. Quickly, before any actual tumescing began, I focused my mind elsewhere: "Cold floor! Cold, scuffed, char-coaly, brown, unsexy floor!" Nothing bad happened, but imagine if it had: "He's moving! Tell him to stop moving!"
Once, on a hot summer night, I was laying on my back with one leg crossed up in front of me. From this aspect, I could closely observe a mosquito land on my shin and leisurely insert its stinger into my skin, take what it needed, squirt a little anticoagulant into me, and fly away, unmolested for once.
As the years went by, I found that the real problem was art students (though I did some work for private studios and companies as well). The freshmen, in particular, had this giggling and tittering problem that was just not cute. One day, the tittering just would not quit, and the instructor smilingly, kindly, made me stand up and took them through it. "You need to be able to draw this (eyes), and this..." All the way down to my genetalia, where he said,
"And this. It's as important as learning to draw a nose." Titter titter.
Art instructors aren't so hot, either. One of them actually said to his class, one day as I sat waiting, that "The aesthete is to the artist what the ornithologist is to the bird." As if these wealthy little children really needed to be told yet again how special they are, and how much better and enlightened. "Here's your next pose, birdies," I said, but I'm not sure that they heard. I've always had a hard time with art congratulating itself with being art: of course at its best, it moves souls, changes lives, but so does a decent cocktail, an artfully prepared meal. Or the right stick of beef fucking jerky when you're starving. Tom Robbins once said, "In the house of life, art is the only board that doesn't creak."
"Easy to say if you're an artist," My mentor figure at the time said, with characteristic disgust.
So eventually I drifted out of it. I was developing rapidly into the 400 pound shut in that I currently am, and was sick of pretense. I devoted myself instead to learning to be a consummate professional/divine arm of justice, and have gotten along pretty well since. There are times, though, when I look back on those days when I was paid to show my fine young ass to all the pretty little Easily Led types out there (when I wasn't processing fish and dispatching taxis), and think...I shall endow a university, I believe.



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