“So you just sit around?”

A while back I was talking to a 19 year old submissive dude who was disappointing in all the predictable ways but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he dissed my job.

It was quite ridiculous, really. In the beginning, he knew pretty much nothing at all about how art modelling works. He was like “so you just like sit around or whatever?” I told him yeah, sometimes, but a lot of the classes I pose for are way more active than that – like there are animation classes where I do five-second to two-minute poses the entire time, and they like the poses to be super energetic so I’m pretending to be running and leaping and fighting and shit – in increments, holding still. Also, the “just sitting around’ classes where it’s the same pose the whole time are harder than you’d think. Shit starts to really hurt after a while. Add in the naked factor and you have a job most people would not be physically or emotionally able to do.

And at this point the kid goes “Well I’d still rather do your job than do twelve hours of manual labour.” And I’m thinking WTF? Why the sudden, pointless dismissal of my skills and effort? Also, please note that he said this without knowing how long the classes are or how many of them I pose for in a day. Plus five minutes before this he knew nothing at all about my job. So where does he get off rating its difficulty?

For the record, most days I’d rather do my job than twelve hours of manual labour, too. To an extent I get to pick and choose which muscles I’m working, so there’s less risk of repetitive stress injuries. And it’s usually nice and quiet and I end up seeing beautiful drawings and paintings of me.

Sometimes, though, I’d happily take the ditch-digging job – like when I’ve worked three shifts in one day, each in completely different parts of the city, without enough time to go home in-between so I end up being away from my apartment for fourteen hours.

Or when I have four days in a row of an early-morning class and an evening class, with a weird stretch of no-man’s land in between: wake up at 7am, go to class, come home, nap and/or run errands, go to evening class, get home at 11pm, take a sleeping pill and try to crash *immediately* so I can get enough sleep to get me through three more days of the same.

Or when my job calls upon me to emote and I’m having a bad day for anxiety/depression and my personality feels completely flat and dead.

Or the time recently when I was in a long pose that unexpectedly tweaked my lower back so that I was having an agonizing muscle spasm every time I took a breath – but I was obligated to keep sitting there with a serene expression for three more hours (with breaks). And then again for two more days, five hours each.

But anyway. Here are some of the not-just-sitting-around things that I am called upon to do in art classes – things that are awkward and difficult and in some ways far worse than manual labour, dammit! To me, anyway.

  • To draw a good gesture (a gesture is a short pose that tries to convey movement or emotion), the artist needs to feel the pose in their own body. So sometimes in animation school we do an exercise where the students take poses with the model. Just, like…staring at me and trying to copy what I’m doing. On a good day, this exercise makes me feel powerful. On a bad day it feels like they’re pranking me.
  • Facial gestures: students draw just my face as I make different expressions. Maybe they call out which emotion they want me to portray next. Each “pose” lasts a minute or two (sometimes up to five minutes). Try, right now, striking an exaggerated disgusted or scared face and holding it for two minutes. Your face will probably start twitching pretty hard within half a minute or so. Picture thirty people staring at your twitchy, weird face. Just ninety more seconds to go! Don’t break the pose!
  • Predictive gestures: a student describes the model doing a thing, and indicates which way the model would be facing. Then the students draw the described thing from their imaginations. Then the model does the thing and the students draw that. Most days, every damn student suggests a scenario in which I get hurt: “You just banged your head on a low pipe!” “You’re being attacked by a bear!” “You just stepped on broken glass!” “You just got stabbed in the gut with a sword!” I know they’re probably suggesting that shit because it makes for really emotive, distinctive poses, but so would “winning the lottery” or “rolling around in a pile of chocolate coins and fluffy kittens.” Sometimes I feel like the kids are trolling me a little bit.
  • Blind contours: the model takes a pose, usually for a pretty long time, and the students draw the pose in one long pencil line without looking at their paper. Often, before they start, the instructor tells them to walk all the way around me so they can see me from every angle and better understand my body. So this tour of kids walks slowly around me with their eyes locked on me the entire time (almost close enough to touch; these classrooms aren’t that huge) as I sit there trying to gaze into the middle distance and not make eye contact. Then they sit back down and just stare at me for half an hour in dead silence while the instructor tells them repeatedly to imagine that their pencils are actually touching my body and moving over its surface.
  • Sometimes a model is called upon to be a sort of demo-dummy for an anatomy lesson. I’ve stood there while an instructor stood right next to me pointing at parts of my body and explaining how they work.
  • Apparently one of my workplaces does a class specifically on drawing breasts, in which the model poses while the instructor points out that gravity is pulling her breasts downward in this position or that one nipple is now higher than the other because that arm is raised. I’ve never posed for one of those classes, and I’m glad: although I know the lessons would be conducted with utmost professionalism, it would just skeeve me out knowing everyone in the room was staring at my tits. I’m not sure why. I’ve done classes that focused on the hips and legs with no problem.

And  remember: everything I’ve described here, I’m doing while naked (and I’m not an exhibitionist). Also remember that some classes have students sitting in a circle all the way around me so there’s no wall to put my back to. If a pose has an unflattering angle, I can’t hide it. If I bend over, my ass and/or genitals will be presented to someone no matter which direction I bend in. My face is always, always on display to someone.

At least doing manual labour would offer me some privacy. I could let my facial expression be vacant or pissy or exhausted and nobody would care or probably even notice. Also I wouldn’t constantly be wondering if people could smell my vagina.


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4 responses to ““So you just sit around?”

  1. Haahhhhhaahhhhhaaaaa – no. (Just answering your title.) Pfffftttsss, people. If they hear the word “naked”, their brain stops working.

    • I think he must have been picturing old paintings of concubines lounging on divans.

      And I’ll admit, the rare time I have a client who lets me pose reclining on a couch, it’s pretty easy work.

      But most of my gigs don’t have couches. Some of them don’t have CHAIRS, even. If I want to do poses where I’m not standing, I need to figure out sustainable ways of arranging myself on the hard floor.

      People have no idea. Even the students have no idea how hard I work. Which is why, when they take poses with me, I do the most grueling things I can possibly come up with. FEEL THE POSE, BITCHES.

  2. Weasel

    What a tool.

    I’ve never done life modelling… but even leaving the rather substantial psychological aspect aside, your job doesn’t sound easy. My closest experience is from training in Yoshinkan aikido; holding kamae or freezing at the end of a pivot or other move so the instructor can check postures becomes *hard* work pretty damned quick.

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