Thursday, April 03, 2008
I'm not really sure how to take all the comments to the effect that my post on Tuesday was not legit. Either you think that I'm not hot enough to disrobe or not brave enough to do so in front of strangers. Either might have been true in the past, but I've been trying to make a new self that is braver, and hopefully hotter too.
So, with a little tightness in my chest, I parked in the numbered lot to which the professor had directed me at U of H. It was a little like pre-race jitters, but a lot more personal.
The building was not a location in which one would expect nakedness--very academic, broad hallways with florescent lighting reflecting in orbs off the waxed industrial tiling, people moving about on their own errands with backpacks, talking or listening to ipods.
Anyhow, I found the room without much effort and the professor immediately turned me over to a teaching assistant whose very appearance made me feel unartistic. He was a cadaverously skinny boy with spikey black hair and sideburns, probably dyed, wearing a black t-shirt over his concave chest, black jeans, and Doc Martin boots. Top it off with an eyebrow piercing, a soul patch and a tatoo on his skinny arm and you get the picture.
Today would be nude photographic portraiture. We walked into the studio where there was a backdrop and some lighting already set up and some students fiddling with their gear. They all looked so young, and yet really weathered. They had the smell of tobacco (or other kinds) of smoke on their clothing, and the quotient of alternative hair styles and body modifications was very high. I tried to hold a confident body posture and make eye contact with the students, knowing I was anything but confident.
The teaching assistant showed me around to the other side of a screen where I was to take off my clothing and put on a robe--which I thought was a little odd. These folks are about to see me naked anyway. Why the formality against seeing me undress, then why the robe, only to undress again? All these conventions about the context of nakedness. Skinny dipping is hilarious fun, having a therapist massage your naked glutes is fine, but posing for an art class? Getting undressed in front of them? What of a nude beach? Clothing optional vacation? They're all different, but you wonder why sometimes.
Anyhow, I noticed (thankfully) that the room was warm--all the better to prevent goosebumps or "shrinkage." But then I thought about things that shrink when they are cold . . . or when they are . . . uhm . . . shy.
But it was time. I slipped out of my Ironman sweats (call it a security blanket if you will), checked in my nervousness on how "it" was all "hanging," put on the terry cloth robe, and walked out from behind the screen and in front of the neutral photography background. The professor gave some instructions concerning the class assignment and the compositional points that they were trying to achieve, turned out the overhead florescent lighting with a snap and turned on the studio lighting.
It was time. With my heart in my throat while 12 college students looked on, I dropped the robe and posed as the professor and the students in turn directed.
I supposed some people completely forget that they are naked. I never did, although my heart rate did eventually descend into zone 1 and comfort with the concept waxed and waned. Thankfully, nothing else waxed or waned inappropriately and before too long, they were finished.
They have asked me back next week, and I am inclined to do it. In the meantime, I have a few of the raw, digital shots before retouching if you want to see them. They were very tasteful, although I gotta say, the camera does seem to add 10 pounds, even if you are 9% body fat.
So, without further ado, here is the Naked Greyhound.