Oh, my job is sooooo glamorous and ego-boosting.
Today, while I’m standing on the model stage — standing, I said, for like the 4th hour — and my feet are swelling to a robust plumpness, the teacher, who knows my name but still calls me “Model” says to one of her students, “Oh, come on. Her breasts aren’t that big. They’re tiny. Make those smaller.”
This is the same teacher who remarked to another student on my first day posing for her her class, “See, Robert? She’s good. And I thought you said she was a terrible model.”
Later on in the day I’m posing for another instructor who is totally the Kung Fu master of life drawing. His class is set to the minute and my ass better be up on that stand disrobed and looking stoic by the buzz of his timer. The mood of the room is serious and somber. He has this cane. And he uses this cane to illustrate points about my body to his students. He doesn’t touch me with it; he just hovers the tip of it about an inch away from my skin while he talks about cast shadows. Today he pointed at my right nipple with his cane and discussed the shadow it was creating on my breast. It’s pretty cold in there so I imagine that it was a considerable shadow. The student he was talking to nodded his head very academically at my nipple.
And speaking of nipples, yesterday I heard another instructor chastise a student like this: “Don’t start with the nipple,” she said in her thick Russian accent. “You are not the Nipple Master.” She was referring to a graduate of the school who apparently rendered the most perfect and beautiful nipples you ever saw. The rest of the drawing was shit, but those nipples — exquisite. Hence the reputation.
Once, and this was when I was working in LA, dirt poor and drinking a fuck ton of Tecate, a teacher was trying to explain a muscle pattern in the abdomen to a student but it was apparently difficult because the muscle in question was hidden “under a layer of fat.” That was a fun day for me.
I always chuckle to myself when people are surprised at what I do. They invariable say that it must be so cool to do that. Well, it is sometimes. I just finished a five week sculpture class and I have to admit that it was pretty awesome to look out into the room to see 12 replicas of my ass being stroked by 20-year-olds.
Awesome and just– ever so– slightly disturbing. And sometimes it’s incredibly humbling to be a part of a piece of art. Sometimes the work is just stunning. But that’s the artists. The models, on the other hand? Mostly it’s weird a job populated by weirdos. Art modeling does not attract the norms. I’ve known a 64-year-old woman who’s been modeling for 30 years and has about 100 cats. And a homeless actor who hates Spring. And the Vietnam vet who will rant about the “Coloreds” if you catch him alone in the lounge (he always wears speedos when he poses.) There’s another guy I used to work with who would absent-mindedly tug at his penis during sittings and eat saltines during the breaks. The Wiccan girl who would pose in latex corsets. The PhD in Astronomy who was respected in the field but left it all to take care of her elderly parents and write a mystery novel.
Weirdos, I said.
But I’m one of them, aren’t I? Shit. What’s that say about me?