To pube or not to pube: that is the merkin.

I want to state something, for the record, and state it loudly and proudly.  No longer should I slither through the shadows, feeling naked and bare.  No longer will I cross my legs in shame.

I like having pubic hair, y’all.

Maybe it was living in LA that gave me the distaste for it — because I’m convinced that no one in LA has pubic hair — but I’m really not feeling the hairless cooch.  I know it’s all clean and fuck-ready, but I’ve never quite understand why someone would want to look like a character from the first half of a Judy Blume novel.  Sure, I’ve shaved it all once or twice.  And I looked like a 10-year-old.  Baby face, small tits, no pubes.  No good.  I felt like there were a handful of fat, greasy dudes in clown suits trolling the internet who would love the look I had going on.

Plus — and I know I’m not the only one in the world who’s experienced this — pubes on the labia provide a sort of Hoover Dam, if you will, for the stream.  You know what I mean?  Look, when peeing while sitting is your thing, public restrooms can be a little unsavory.  That’s why every female in civilization has perfected the toilet hover.  It’s a magical thing, really.  The pee goes where it needs to go and no part of your body comes in contact with all of that ickyness. (And we encounter a lot of it.  Girls are heavenly creatures and all, but clearly they leave their halos at the bathroom door.)  But conditions have to be just so to achieve a successful hover.  And if you don’t have a little bit of a barrier, things will go awry.  You’ll pee down your leg is what I’m saying.  And then you have to be all Ninja reflexive to catch it with the toilet paper before it hits your pants.

I’m not saying I’m into complete nature or anything like that.  Perish the thought of hairy assholes.  This isn’t 1906.

And there something to be said for unobstruction.  One should be able to find what they’re looking for.  And I’m not sure if even I could find it were I sporting that bush.  A little is nice, though.  I give you exhibit B:

Sasha Grey up there is proof positive that you can cancel your brazilian and still hold some dignity.  I think she looks beautiful and I’ll take this look over the vertical Hitler pussy moustache any day.

But here’s the conundrum:  I’m not having sex for a living.  (Are you just a teensy bit relieved, family, to hear me say it?)  I’m taking my clothes off.  And my two naked jobs conflict.  While I do not enjoy a bunch of college freshman getting a good, long, artful look at my bare labia, likewise do I not want an audience to see a lumberjack peeking out of my g-string.  What to do, what to do?  I can’t wear big girl panties on stage.  Enough performers do that already. (Stop it, by the way.)  And I’ve long since grown tired of getting on my hands and needs in front of a Russian lady with a bowl of hot wax.

Maybe I’ll treat my pubes like Joan Crawford treated her eyebrows.  I’ll get rid of all of it, then paint it on.  Or I could make myself a merkin, a little snatch toupee, to wear at work.  It would give me a ton of creative freedom.  I’ve always wanted to be a redhead.

Boom. Problem solved.

Muse Schmuse

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?

These images totally used without permission. Don't tell on me, please.

My nemesis

I’m at home sick today.  Normally, art models don’t get sick days.  Once a painting is started, you’re kind of in it for the long haul.  But apparently exceptions are made for snotty, fevered messes.  Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror when you’re sneezing or coughing?  Yes?  Now go try it again, except this time take off all of your clothes, sit perfectly still, then start coughing for a minute and half straight.  See if you can get your nose to run a little.  If you can get a dozen strangers to intently watch you do this, then you’ve got a pretty good idea of why I was sent home from work.  Not pretty.

Sick time at home gives you time to think about things.  To even become preoccupied. And as a result, I have something that I need to get off my chest.  Something about her.

When I started writing this blog, I made a little promise to myself to not use it as a platform for shit-talking and gossip.  But.  BUT, there is this certain creature in my life and I swear she was put on Earth to make my life a little more unpleasant than it should be.  I go out of my way to be nice to her but still she gives me nothing but grief.  I’m at my wit’s end.  Maybe it’s the fever talking, but I have just had enough.  Enough of this bitch.  I know using the word nemesis may be overly dramatic, but I can think of no other fitting description.  She seems to take pleasure in my unhappiness and if that’s not adversarial I don’t know what is.  And because I would like someday for my writing to reach a broader audience, I decided to change the names of those I might paint in an unflattering light.  But you know what?  Fuck it, that’s what.

Her name is Oatmeal.

Oatmeal is the apartment walrus who lives with me.  She is not my cat.  She is no one’s cat, but she most closely associates with my husband and it was he who brought her into my life.  The marriage vows did not cover Oatmeal.  I consider this a mild form of fraud.

Oatmeal is fat.  She is angry all of the time.  Maybe she’s angry because she’s fat or maybe she’s fat because she’s angry.  I don’t know.  I do know that she’s a twat.  She hangs out behind the dog while she’s eating, waiting for some seemingly strategized moment when she will bite the dog’s ass and send her running off, giving her the opportunity to pile dog food into her face like a chipmunk, which she will then spit out onto the carpet to enjoy at her own pace.  She once chewed through an aluminum pan to get at some pumpkin bread.  Oatmeal is passionate about food.  She will drink my orange juice if I leave it unattended.  And if she’s not in the mood for juice, she will just stick her paw in it and stare at me.

Frequently when having sex, I will open my eyes to see Oatmeal glaring at me from the nightstand.  She will then growl very softly.  She does not approve.

Lately, Oatmeal has elected herself Mayor of the Hallway.  She will sit in the middle of it like a bridge troll refusing to let anyone pass.  She does not offer riddles, only bites.  The dog is afraid of her when she’s like this.  I am too, a little.

Do you know how most cats ask questions?  “Mrow? Mow?” when they want something.  Oatmeal asks no questions.  Her meows are demands and her voice is almost always raised.  It sounds like she’s saying “Mnow. Now. NOW!!!” It is almost always food that she wants now.  She once said this to me before slapping me squarely in the face.  We were having a disagreement over a Haribo fruit gummy.  She wanted it.

Oatmeal, like all cats, does purr.  But she’s never purring out of contentment, always resignation.  She growls while kneading blankets to make herself comfortable; Oatmeal makes anger biscuits.  She will sometimes sit on laps, usually Mike’s, but sometimes mine. But if you disturb her rest in any way she will scratch you.  Oatmeal never just scratches and leaves.  She can’t seem to retract her claws so they just get stuck in the couch, your pants, your silk nightie, your leg.  This never ends well.

Oatmeal takes horrible, horrible dumps.  Usually while I’m eating breakfast.  The smell always finds me no matter what room I’m in.  When she’s finished, she will take several victory laps around the apartment, usually knocking something over in the process.  You would think that this would help her lose weight but it doesn’t.  Her fat belly swings back and forth as she runs.  This is actually my favorite thing about Oatmeal.  I could watch it all day.

She also runs around me in the mornings when I’m still in bed.  Part of her course passes over my bladder and, if she’s lucky, over my chest.  She seems to try to step right on my nipples.  Breasts are tender things and she knows this.  She uses her weight to its most advantage when stepping on tender regions of my body.  If this does not get me up to feed her, she will poke my eyelids with her claw.  She will always sit on my pillows.  I hate it when she puts her cat anus on my pillows.  If I do not get up to feed her in a timely fashion, she will eat something in the room.  My iPhone.  Pages from a book.  A plastic bag if she can find one.  The plastic bags upset me the most since I think it could probably kill her.  I think she knows this.  It’s all very dramatic, threatening suicide just to get a can of Friskies seafood delights.

Should I close this with some redeeming qualities of Oatmeal’s?  Mike will argue, but I say she has none.  She is a thing of evil.  I admire him for loving her, but it’s a very sick relationship if you ask me.  She uses and abuses those around her with no fear of retribution.  She knows that we will feed her and give her soft places to sleep until she becomes an incontinent old crone of a cat.  And she knows that we will then clean up her gross cat pee from our sofa and shoes.  Like slaves.  Isn’t there supposed to be a third anti-Christ already among us?  If she ever grows opposable thumbs, we’re all fucked.

There.  I feel much better now.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit…

I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day and the subject of my day job came up.  Recently, I’ve gotten back into my old stand-by, art modeling. It’s a good job when you find the right place and I enjoy it.  The hours are flexible and it allows me to have plenty of time for other pursuits.  She was more inquisitive about it than usual.

“Aren’t you worried about being naked in front of all those strangers?” she asked.

“Not really.  You get used to it.  Really, my biggest concern while I’m up there is–”

“–getting your period!” she interrupts.

“I wasn’t going to say that, but now that you mention it, yeah. Oh my god, I had a little scene with that the other day,” and I recount for her a situation that was extremely funny to her (my mom has a just slightly malicious sense of humor,) but maybe a little more than I want to share with the internet.  Suffice it to say that the day was saved, but I was very grumpy because I didn’t get to eat my apple at my break because I was too busy dealing with my stupid lady time.

“But no, what I was going to say is what worries me the most when I’m up there is… farting.”

She howled.

It’s true.  It is what worries me the most.  I don’t think it’s so neurotic.  I mean, you’re up on a platform, naked, in front of a bunch of people who are intensely concentrated on your naked body.  The room is silent, save for the scratching of charcoal on paper and the occasional under the breath muttering.  You feel a familiar rumble.  Suddenly your mind is electrified with large neon ‘what if’ signs.  What if it makes a sound?  What if it’s really smelly?  It doesn’t matter who smelt it; they will all know who dealt it.  You recount what you had for lunch and instantly regret the large iced coffee and banana.  And it’s even worse if you’re posing for a sculpture.  Because someone is always behind you.  What if they’re working on your butt when it happens?  And I know — I know this is crazy — but what if they can see it?  I’ve never been concentrating on someone’s butt when they farted.  I don’t know what really happens.  Can they see a bit of a puffing out, like when you sigh in frustration and your cheeks puff out?  Or is there a slight distortion in the air like what happens on the highway on a really hot day?  I always heard about this male model who would fart through the whole session.  No one wanted to book him.  I don’t want to be that guy.  People would say “Who, Lisa?  Yeah, she’s a great model, but she’s a real farter.  I wouldn’t book her in a small studio.”  Terrifying.

So, nudity?  A drop in the bucket.  I wouldn’t pull a boob out at the grocery store or anything, but it doesn’t bother me to be naked in public.  That is not the aspect of burlesque that worries me the most — and it isn’t farting, either; the music would totally drown it out. Michelle, my teacher, once said something about performance that has really stuck with me.  It’s not the nudity that’s the tricky part — it’s the vulnerability.  That’s what gets me biting my nails.  You can put your body out there for people to judge (and they will) but there are so many tricks you can employ to control what people see.  It’s when you put your self, your ideas, out there and ask people to enjoy it that takes all of those balls. It is extremely vulnerable in every way.  Have you ever been to see a bad band or a mediocre play?  And at the end you felt the need to clap out of politeness?  Well, I’ve been in a few mediocre plays and the sound of polite applause is soul crushing.  The idea of hearing that sound with all of my bits and pieces out? No, thank you.

So, why do it at all?  Why take all of these classes?  Why beat my head on the wall trying to learn musical timing and jazz box steps?  Why obsess over an act for months and spend gobs of money on an event that lasts only four minutes?  Why, for that matter, stand naked in front of a group of ridiculously talented artists and worry about farting?

I’ll tell you why.  Because the sound of genuine applause is transcendent.  Entertaining people and making them happy — whether it’s by helping them create art, or by making them feel beautiful in a dress I made, or by getting them to forget their shitty job for a few minutes and cheer at my titties — makes me happy.  Happier than I ever expected it could. It’s worth it.  Worth all of the anxiety and agonizing.  I want more and more and more of it.  I just have to make sure I’m well stocked in Beano.