After accumulating more friends than I could possibly ever know on MySpace when that rage hit, I decided to take a more focused approach once Facebook came on the scene. Basically, if I haven’t met you face to face, chances are I’m not going to accept your friend request. Now I do make some exceptions now and again, but generally I just send a message stating my stance. More often than not, it gets ignored, proving that not accepting the unsolicited friend request was a wise move, but occasionally people do write me back either to let me know that they understand or to set up a time to meet. Such was an occasion with Kathleen McDonald, president of the ArtCenter Sarasota Board of Directors.
When I stopped by to meet her a few weeks ago, she gave me a tour of the gallery which included the classroom where they have live nude models on Saturday morning. Always curious about things I have never tried, I asked her how one becomes a model, and before I knew it I was signed up. Obviously, my wife wasn’t too keen on the idea. Actually, her remark was “no way,” and she asked how I would feel if she went to dance at Cheetah Men’s Club. However, since we have recently separated, when I got the call to model the other day, there was nothing holding me back.
I did a modicum of research online about what to expect and showed up this morning ready to bare it all. One thing I can pride myself on after all of the adventures I’ve been on over the last several years is my bravado in the face of what many would shy away from. Honesty, my biggest concern over standing naked in front of a group of strangers wasn’t so much being naked. My bigger concern was what I would do if I somehow became aroused. Fortunately, since at 39 I was the youngest person in the room by at least twenty years, arousal was not an issue.
When I arrived, after changing into my flannel pajama bottoms, I found the room to be divided into two sections, each with a horseshoe shaped array of tables surrounding a wooden platform. The female model was sitting quietly on her pedestal wearing a loose fitting dress with about a dozen people ready with their sketch pads. No one was at any of my tables, but I made my way to my platform and waited for the session to begin. Fortunately, about three people found their way to my side of the room so that when I dropped my pants and assumed the position, I wasn’t just standing naked for the hell of it.
Interestingly enough, it felt completely natural. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, and I didn’t even feel that exposed. After all, it was for the sake of art. It was actually quite liberating. The first twenty minutes consisted of about ten two-minute poses, which I did standing as my artists sketched my frame. At the first break, one of them informed me that people usually gravitate toward the female model and that I shouldn’t be offended. It made me feel somewhat better that one of them moved to my section on the second circuit as I did two ten-minute poses, this time with a stool.
It was actually quite meditative sitting there still and naked, my eyes fixed on a smudge on the wall as the sound of graphite on paper whispered around me. One gains a lot of perspective while relaxing naked and being the center of attention. I think that’s probably the Leo in me. Or perhaps after dealing with the solitude of my empty house over the last few weeks as I adjusted to my wife’s absence, I just really wanted the attention.
The next few circuits were twenty minutes each. Reclining on one arm with the palm of my hand flat on the platform seemed to be a good idea when I struck the first pose. However, it took about five minutes to regain the sensation in my hand after the pose was finished. Fixing a cup of coffee when your hand is asleep is no easy task.
All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I hope that they ask me to do it again. One of the artists even emailed me several photos of possible poses I might want to consider for the next time. Since, I’ve just sent my form letter to 35 unknown friend requests, I can’t wait to see who I meet on Facebook next.
Steve McAllister is an actor, musician, accomplished author, filmmaker, and the man behind Your Daily Groove at Modern Hippie Mag. His most recent novel, The McAllister Code is available now as a Limited Edition Advanced Copy paperback. Find Steve on Twitter, @InkenSoul. Read his reviews and articles here.