My nipples are standing to attention, because it’s freezing. My feet are turning a plummy purple, and while 5 minutes ago I could still wiggle them and get that itchy-ootchy pins and needles sensation, at this point, I can no longer move them. I can’t even turn my head to look at them, because my gaze is fixed on a long crack of light coming in between the window and the shade. My muscles, twisted into some sort of flying eagle yoga pose, have long since surrendered. The strains of Beck‘s Sea Change are dragging out of the radio.
I am completely naked. And 15 total strangers are studying every inch of my exposed skin by the gray daylight streaming through the window.
Just when I think I can’t stand it anymore and if I don’t move my feet they’ll fall off, I realize I have no choice but to stay. If I move, I’m doomed. Worse than that, I’m bad at my job. And it’s my first day.
When the buzzer finally goes off, I use my hands to pick up my legs and rearrange them in front of me. I rub my feet back to fleshtone, and then I pick up my wrap, tuck it around myself a la Ariel on the beach in The Little Mermaid, and slip off the raised platform, back into my dressing room.
Hi. I’m the artist’s model. I take my clothes off for $15 an hour.
You may remember me from Modigliani’s “Seated Nude” or Goya’s “Nude Maja”. I even made some appearances in Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” but perhaps you wouldn’t recognize me there. It’s fascinating how no one ever gets tired of drawing pictures of naked women. I think they just like boobs.
I mean, who doesn’t?
You’ve strolled the hallways of dozens of museums and admired hundreds of Master’s renditions of boobs. Boobs in different lighting, boobs with different emotional quality, pointillist, cubist, stark postmodern boobs. And you’ve never once thought of the shivering girl with an aching back standing still on a platform for hours while the Master mixed his oils.
They say art is pain. Believe me, it’s cold too.
But it’s meditative, calm work, and highly preferable to, say, being in a cubicle surrounded by blinking computer screens. Instead, you are played nice music, warmed with tea, and placed on a lit platform to strike whatever pose you fancy for 1 to 20 minutes at a time. In that sense,YOU are the artist here. As a bonus, you are surrounded by people who care about art, and while you are more often introduced as “the model” then as “Individual with a Name,” you are – if you’re into this sort of thing – being admired by dozens. The pay is decent, the hours are flexible, and while you may go a little numb, isn’t there something zen about that?
You, too, can be an art model. They don’t care if you’re lumpy, saggy, skinny or hairy. All you have to do is
1. Call up a local art school or figure drawing class.
2. Tell them you have loads of experience modeling for private artists.
3. Show up, take your clothes off and-
4. Stand really, really still.
5. Don’t take it too personally.
After class, with my clothes back on, I make my way around the room and check out various sketches. Yikes. I didn’t know I was shaped so similarly to a sack of potatoes. Or that my legs were so short compared to my torso. Then I glance over the Master of each work. Wait, he’s the one shaped like a sack of potatoes. And her legs are quite short compared to her torso. Hm.
One of the art students hits on me after class. I’ve been told to expect this. He invites me to play pinball or go bowling or something. I laugh and say no, but I do tell him my name. He’s already seen me naked. Somehow I feel like things are going backwards. He asks me if I’ve done this a lot. Actually, no, I say. Are you serious? he asks. You just got naked in front of a room full of people, and you’ve never done this before? I shrug, nod. Girl, you’re crazy, he says. But I’m just the most recent one in a long line of artist models, and they can’t have all been crazy.
Well, I’m in good company, anyway.
About the AuthorVictoria will write anything, anywhere, anytime, which does not make her some kind of language prostitute, but more of a lover, since she rarely gets paid. She is a poet (slam and mute), singer, songwriter, guitarist, flamenco/modern/belly dancer, teacher, novelist, essayist, sunset connoisseur, and a deep lover of life. She has a BA in writing, literature and dance from Bard College (NY). After a year and a half of travel, she is newly based in Seattle, and she is getting pretty darn good at cooking tofu.
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