Naked Modeling: A Feel-Good Medicine


Just like most random jobs, I picked this one up at a time when I needed money and didn’t know what I felt like doing to get some.  A few years ago, I became very curious about the stripping occupation. I know many girls have had similar fantasies to mine: dancing and feeling sexy in a place where we can only be known by a chosen cheekie name seems hot. Shopping in strippers’ ”work apparel stores” was already a favourite hobby of mine and I had spotted a location with the best hooker heels in town. To start investigating, I went for a drink at a Toronto strip club (where the girls were so talented) and asked the bouncer a couple of questions on my way out. That’s how I found out that one needs a licence to get their clothes off in an Ontario bar. So like, your name is forever attached to that? I know that long forms, small prints and signatures of papers that are less than cross-read are part of life, and perhaps it would be one more form lost in the already existing confusing mass, but having my name permanently associated with this profession (as I’m still working on getting famous and being a respectable person) was enough to weigh in with my friend. “Don’t do it! You’ll get addicted to that dirty money!” she said (which, by the way, came out of her own experience). It dissolved my curiosity.

So after doing this and doing that in order to get by and to renew my wardrobe often enough, one job I knew about long before having slutty ideas popped in my head :  life drawing modelling.

The time of my passion for latex, pvc or polyurethane tight clothes, night-living and ear-ringing inducing music was over for me. It had been a few months that I was dedicating most of my time to practicing yoga and dancing for myself or for the geese of Lake Ontario, and so I thought it might be a great time to take a stance in front of a new type of audience!

I was drawing at this gallery which offered free sessions and so I asked to be hooked up with some paying gig. To break the ice, I did a first informal one for a group of visual artists who’d regularly meet at one of them’s house. I was drinking wine and snacking on olives in between poses and progressively took off my bodysuit as the evening went on. There was good music and it was easy to get inspired. I felt proud upon hearing the artist’s reactions which were stimulated by the variety of attitudes I served. I would laugh and remain concentrated when at first they’d warn me of the difficulty of keeping up the position I just got in, but then I would let my thoughts wander away. I was learning how to transform a burning muscle pain into a propelling fire, focusing on every inch of myself to remember where it was located in the space and how it was in relationship with the rest of my body. I was already hooked on this AND I got to see all of these amazing portraits of myself as a different modern individual and with a rather cool aesthetic. Rather than a mirror reflection or a photo, how great is it to read an interpretation of you that is made solely by hand!

With this to attest of my experience I started having a regular gig at an art school. No music or wine were part of the much more regular context. The room was a little cold but the organizer was very warm. I’d find it funny when he’d get right by me to tape marks around my edges so I could take a break in the middle of a long pose (i.e after 20 minutes of not moving). The artwork I would look at as I walked in between stations was much more classic: oils, graphite etching, inks. I loved it. I felt as though I was enscribing myself in a long tradition of the model posing for the artist. It was mind blowing to witness all of the different interpretations of the same me. It was helping to detach from my scrutinizing self. None of these peoples’ stare was sexual ;  they were not wondering how they’d fuck me, but how to intuitively make a stroke relating my arm to my trunk, my head to my neck. THAT was a balm soothing all of these little places in me that were inflammed by the constant undesired aggressions of restless flesh predators. It did not feel out of place, provocative or libertine to be in my birthday suit for hours in front of clothed people. With my pubes neatly done, sometimes armpit hair but always jewellry, I’d imagine I was in some hot country posing on a bed for a controversial artist a few decades ago, later making the headlines. For that was the freedom I’d realise I had in that moment. In my statued body, still my mind could go to any place I wanted, jumping from memory to fantasy, most of the time only holding myself from bursting in laughter as I recalled something funny. I particularly enjoyed the moment when I’d choose a pose, install myself into it, check with all muscles that they were at ease. Then, there was a little hold before the frenetic soundrack of the materials rubbing on each other would start.

I enjoyed this tax-free money for a while, but just like I question most things at one point or another, as in “is this still good for me?”, there was this one session I didn’t enjoy. Nothing in particular happened, it was just me. Just like one can get uninterested by a relationship whose vibe one has quit. That time, I felt cold for the entire length of it. I wondered why I was offering my precious body to all of these strangers for them to stare at. What made them worthy of me? It was a noble art practice, but no sublime opus was created in that room. All them pairs of eyes were pulling a little energy, slowly, slowly. Was it worth the money? See, I had become interested in someone and yet, we had not touched. I wanted to be warm and inviting for those first moments to come. I didn’t want to confuse and lose this boy’s eyes in the mass around me and be left feeling empty.

I was called by this other class orgaziner I had been refered to. Happy of my rising popularity and the eminent money, I accepted with immediate enthusiasm. This was to be at a bigger art school with talented attendants. I gulped in front of the challenge but felt confident… until the day of the session. I drank wine to get myself to go and put on a cool outfit on for going out plans following the shift. That wasn’t enough to get me into it, I was dreading to go. It meant exposing my intimacy to a larger group of people whom I might have run into anytime. It felt like the no-coming-back line I was about to cross. For the first time ever in my life, with shame, and more than halfway there on my bike, I turned around. I was a no-show.

The kind and worried organizer tried contacting me a few times. A while later I answered that I was sorry, that really I just didn’t want to do life drawing modelling anymore. He thanked me for my honesty and we went on our journeys. I still felt bad for not showing up but relieved that this episode was over.

I wore a lot of long veiled skirts on top of my short shorts that summer.
But I still like to undress smoothly when it’s only for a pair of eyes to see.

Nessa, back in Montreal, was shocked when someone made her realize that all she ever speaks with, writes with, shares ideas or shoots interrogations at the world with are the same 26 letters arranged, or not, in assembles. Alas, that realization didn’t help her scatterbrained intellect to find center.

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