People are often ashamed to be seen with me.
Don’t get me wrong — people enjoy hanging out with me, because I’m attractive and charismatic and fun as fuck. But because I live such an openly unorthodox life, many are skittish about being publicly associated with me: they don’t want me to post about them, they don’t want to be in photos with me, etc. I totally understand that not everyone lives by my policy of radical transparency, so I always honor these requests, but…sometimes it gets lonely, being me.
The irony is, many are attracted to me because of my freewheeling existence; I am often told “I admire your honesty so much!” and “I live vicariously through your adventures!” Well, guess what? Vicarious is so 2014!!! Why not tell society to fuck off, and put your money where your mouth is??
Well, recently, one guy did put his money where his mouth was — but in an unexpected way; he actually paid me for my discretion. To honor his request, I am purposely fudging the dates and have waited a considerable amount of time to blog about my experience with him…but, now it can be told.
Several months ago, I received a booking request from someone with an anonymous hush.com email account. According to their website, for as low as $34.99/year Hush.com provides “Secure email with built-in encryption, no advertising, and unlimited email aliases.” Hmmmmmm.
As a freelance model, this set off alarm bells — the email address I was contacted by sounded very swinger-y/cheating-on-my-wife-y…and despite public opinion, I really am a MODEL; nothing more, nothing less. I am not a prostitute, I am not a swinger. I just pose for nude photos, theoretically in the name of art. I do not have sex with photographers.
But over the course of our email exchange, I came to believe that this person (who called himself “Steve,” which I have since learned is not his real name so I feel fine using it here) was legitimately interested in booking me for a photo shoot — no more, no less. So I agreed to shoot with him on two occasions one weekend — first, I was to pick him up at the airport on the afternoon of his arrival, and take him out to the desert for a sunset shoot…before stopping off at Walgreens so he could buy V8 and such, then dropping him at his hotel (what am I, an Über driver?!). Then, two days later, we would shoot together for a full day, after he had completed an athletic competition for which he’d traveled to Vegas. For the second shoot, he had also hired my fellow Goddess Collective member Lolita…so I felt comfortable knowing there would be someone else onboard who had my back (even someone who only weighs 98 pounds, lol).
But when I picked this fucker up at the airport, things were tetchy from the get-go. When I pick up a photographer to go out on one of my desert location shoots, it can sometimes be kind of awkward at first; I’m in the car with a complete stranger for up to an hour, but I’m pretty good at making conversation, so things usually warm up after a few minutes. Not so with this guy!
I started in as I always do: “So, where are you from?”
“Ehmmmmmm……..” he sort of hemmed and hawed in his distinctive European accent, finally coming out with “Perhaps I pay you for discretion??” What he meant was, he didn’t want to tell me anything about his personal life, as apparently his entire world would be shattered if it were to get out that he was photographing a nude model…even for Art’s sake.
Well all right then. I thought I recognized his accent, so I tried again: “Well, where are you originally from?”
Stymied again! The most I was able to get out of the cagey fucker was the country and region of his birth; I have no idea where he lives now — I forgot to snoop on the baggage claim tag dangling from his suitcase. In any event, between his nervous paranoid giggling and his Über demands, I was starting to get annoyed…so I basically gave up trying, and left the conversation up to him. Honestly, WTF do I care? As long as your money’s green, I don’t need to know your life story — I’ll drive in silence, if that’s what you want. And this guy paid me CA$H, up front.
Fortunately, he was actually a fairly personable, intelligent guy, and we were on the same page politically speaking…so in a real switcheroo of the usual, politics turned out to be the one thing we could talk about. And he really wasn’t bad to talk to — so long as you didn’t try to pry any personal info out of him! I’m telling you, out of all the photographers I’ve shot with, this guy was the most paranoid ever. He had several friends in town that same weekend, and apparently if they found out what he was up to, his life was over…so we basically had to sneak around like we were having an affair or something. It was creepy and kind of depressing — I’m already sensitive about not being a “real” model, and this only exacerbated my sense of self-doubt. But my bills have no such existential qualms — they need to be paid, by hook or by crook. So to speak.
So after dropping his cagey ass off that first evening, I came back to his hotel a couple days later for our full-day shoot. In the interim, he had not only completed his athletic engagement, but also sent me a text or two asking if I could go buy him a battery charger, as he’d forgotten his at home (I didn’t have time, so said no). Jeez!! His sense of entitlement led me to believe he must have been well-off, and used to having people do his bidding (he must have been well-off to hire both me and Lolita for a shoot — Lolita doesn’t work for cheap!). Now I was getting curious about this guy — what the fuck was his deal?
To his credit, like I said he ended up being a pretty cool dude; he mentioned more than once that he’d read and enjoyed this blog, so I knew he couldn’t be a total dumbass. Indeed, once I was safely in his room, away from the prying eyes of his other friends that were in town, he loosened up considerably. Because the weather was shitty that day, we decided to just stay in the room and shoot there; he had some far-out ideas he wanted to try with lighting, etc, so it worked out fine. And as the day progressed, he let his guard down a little — he still wouldn’t divulge many personal details, but when I went to the bathroom I saw his name on his toothbrush (HA!), so I felt I knew him a bit better.
The shoot went on in a fairly typical fashion; he was really into musculature, and in particular my back (I do get a lot of compliments on my back), so we mostly did art-nude bodyscape-type poses, against this super-funky backdrop he had fashioned out of athletic accoutrements. Curious, I asked him what he planned to do with the photos; since he couldn’t display them anywhere without shattering his reputation, what the fuck was the point? He said he might release them in 20 years…but until then, they would be locked away on come encrypted hard drive somewhere that could only be seen by someone with a subpoena (his words)! I’m telling you, this guy was paranoid!!!
In any event, after awhile I inexplicably warmed to his weird nervous giggle and paranoid shtick, and started to feel sort of sorry for him. I’m sure whatever he had going on that would be ruined by his association with me was fabulous — family name, professional reputation, jealous wife, whatever — but I’ll take my life of open transparency any day of the week over whatever it was. I may be broke, directionless and single…but I’m free.
And interestingly, as I warmed to him, apparently he also warmed to me. I don’t judge, and I can be very discreet when needed…so I guess that’s why people (often total strangers) tell me their deepest, darkest secrets; I can’t tell you how many weird personal details people in the community (sometimes semi-high-profile people) have confided in me. It’s like I’m a safe place for weirdos — for better or for worse, I’m basically a trash can waiting to be filled with the puke stream of any given id. And so it was that finally, even this cagiest of all cagey motherfuckers warmed up enough to tell me what he really wanted to do — and surprisingly, it wasn’t have sex/suck my toes/have me kick him in the balls…or anything sexual at all, for that matter!
All he wanted was to be naked in a photo with me…and he asked if I would be OK with that.
Now, I’ve seen so many naked bodies of all types at hot springs and Burning Man and places like that, that being naked around other naked people doesn’t faze me at all — women or men, young or old, fit or fat. It makes no difference to me — it’s just flesh! Moreover, I’ve actually been shot by at least two other photographers who were also naked at the time, and everything was totally cool — no hanky panky, no weirdness. Some people just like being naked!
Just to clarify, however, before agreeing I asked him to specify exactly what type of poses he had in mind — I wasn’t into any kind of romantic/erotic stuff. But all he wanted to do was stand next to me naked — in his weird, ultra-nervous, paranoid way, he was trying to make some kind of artistic statement about physical beauty and nudity, and in fact trying to desexualize nudity. So, why the fuck not? I saw no harm in it. I mean, I’ve posed nude with male models before…so what was the difference?
Before he took his clothes off, he warned me not to be alarmed by a certain distinguishing physical characteristic he had (he made me promise not to mention it here, as it’s very identifiable) — and I wasn’t, but it was a very noticeable characteristic that some might find embarrassing. But apparently not this guy! As nervous as he was, he was oddly confident in his nude state; as an athlete, he was fairly fit, so I guess that might have been part of it.
Anyway, he tried to take some photos of us together doing really weird poses like making funny faces, pretending to box, flexing our biceps, etc. but it was too hard to do it in the mirror. So when Lolita finally arrived for her part of the shoot, he asked her if she would take the photos!
And so it was that I ended up being party to one of the (if not THE) weirdest photoshoots I’ve ever done — me and this paranoid, giggling bundle of nerves, flexing our biceps naked, while one of the most beautiful nude models in Vegas photographed us. Bizarre — and not wholly unenjoyable (it was a little creepy, as I was constantly expecting him to try and cop a feel or something…but I kept a polite distance, and nothing ever happened).
Now, I know many of you reading this probably think there is no way this guy had no ulterior motives, and that he must have gotten off doing this; but if he did, it was not apparent in the least, and he displayed no outward symptoms of arousal. I think he just genuinely enjoyed the freedom of being naked in front of a camera, in front of people who wouldn’t rat him out or mock him. I mean, this guy was goofy!!!
Anyhow, the shoot went fairly quickly after that — after our joint nude session he put his clothes back on and shot Lolita and I together for awhile, and then we all three just sat around talking; he had apparently really warmed up at this point, and let slip a few more tantalizingly vague details about his apparently high-profile life. But I didn’t press him, and he never offered up anything concrete…so I still have no fucking idea what the fuck was going on there.
Afterward, I went to the ATM and deposited my cash, and went on about my business living my life of radical transparency. Sure, I’ll never be a teacher, a mainstream sitcom star or an elected official of any sort….but who gives a flying fuck?! I’ll take an open life over all that bunk any day! I always feel so bad for those poor assholes at Burning Man who freak the fuck out whenever someone busts out a camera; apparently the “Ask Before Photos” policy up there is in place because many Burners would lose their jobs if a photo of them in a tutu were to get out. I would hate to live my livelihood hinge on something so innocuous as a tutu!
And really…why all the shame? What is so evil/dirty about a naked human body? How the hell has this fucked-up society evolved to a point where it’s perfectly acceptable for people to know you shoot African rhinos/drink whiskey/believe that a talking snake gave a magic apple to a woman made from a man’s rib……but people seeing you without clothes is a LIFE-ENDING DISASTER? Whence the baseless shame?!
I’ll tell you whence: FEAR. As good old Nietzsche said, fear is the mother of shame. I guess people are afraid to be seen stripped bare, without the protective armor of clothing. Afraid of being judged, afraid of being laughed at. Afraid of being vulnerable.
Well, guess what? I’m as vulnerable as the next person. Ever since I was 13, I’ve been self-conscious about my flat chest — when all the other girls were developing, I was sitting there frantically stuffing Kleenex into my bra and doing pectoral exercises: “I must — I must — I must increase my bust!” But try as I might, my tits never did grow beyond a 32AA.
Despite my mosquito bites, years later I somehow ended up pursuing work as a nude model — against all odds. Now I was even more self-conscious about my breasts — but the nice thing about modeling is, it makes you insecure about all your body parts…so my proportionally short/stumpy legs took some of the heat off my tits. I’m really not built to be a model…but I have succeeded (more or less) by dint of sheer determination.
And now, after modeling for 7 years, I find myself constantly scrutinizing my face and body for signs of decay. Each and every new wrinkle, dent and pockmark impacts my saleability…a reality of which I am fully aware, and which makes me more vulnerable than ever before.
But per my m.o. of radical transparency, here I am…admitting my vulnerabilities to the world, because I will not let fear rule my life! Fear of getting old, fear of being mocked, fear of someone seeing me in a tutu…or in a porno movie…or standing naked with some giggling paranoid freak in a dimly-lit Vegas hotel room. I will not be afraid, and I will not be ashamed.
Because as another famous Teuton said… shame is a soul-eating emotion 🙂