“The Art of Being Naked”
Standing in the changing room with three other models I am trying not to freak out but I’m failing miserably. The other girls seem at ease drinking their coffee and talking quietly. Sitting around with their robes loosely tied I glimpse a naked shoulder on one model and the smooth belly of another. I am the outsider here and I know it. This is their turf. I clutch my robe and try to slow my racing heartbeat. What the heck was I thinking saying I wanted to do this?!
I must look like a deer caught in the headlights because one of the models smiles and comes over to me. I can’t help but stare at her. She has this exotic look about her with eyes so dark they are almost black and olive skin that seems to make her dark wavy brown hair catch fire. She has full lips and high cheek bones that make you want to hate her. I can’t tell if she is Hispanic, Latina or something else but whatever it is she gets stared at a lot.
“You must be the new girl. Patrick said you had a certain look and very nice lines. And you aren’t one of those heroin chic girls thank God. Took him a while but he got over that phase. I told him women with curves have been painted, drawn, sculpted and carved throughout history not those esas chicas flacas. No hay nada como una mujer con curvas! Right? Yes of course I am right. Those skinny girls don’t know. You got curves you know exactly what it’s like.” I give a small laugh and say, “Wow I have no idea what you said but it sounded pretty! I’m Annie by the way.”
“Hola! I am Maria Sofia Guadalupe Lopez. I know. Don’t ask. My mama loves to be traditional so I have four names. Sometimes my thoughts come out better in Spanish then English. I was just saying that nothing beats a curvy woman.” It’s like she doesn’t take a breath between sentences and I realize that I do the same thing. “Is this your first time?” Blushing I nod my head. “Is it that obvious? I just needed to get out of my comfort zone and figured this is pretty far out there. I have no idea what I am doing here.”
“Well this is pretty much out of most people’s comfort zone. It’s a good thing you have me here to help you out. The first thing you need to know; don’t pick a pose that is hard to hold or you will start cramping after about 10 minutes especially since you’re new to this. Try to aim for lounging poses so you can relax a bit. If you choose to stand try stand with your legs slightly apart one in front of the other or crossed. Don’t think of yourself as being naked because they aren’t looking at you that way. Most of them are trying to figure out how the hell to draw your elbow or get the shadow on your knee just right.” She continues to talk as she guides me into the classroom behind the other models. It is cold in here and at first I don’t understand why but then it hits me. Cold air constricts…everything. I can feel my nipples getting hard and immediately blush. Oh boy.
As we stand at the front of the classroom I can see Patrick talking to some of the students. I watch him as he moves between each student helping them get their work station set up. The muscles under his shirt are moving oh so nicely and it is quite distracting. Maria’s voice pulls me back to reality. “One last bit of advice chica.” She has already disrobed as have the rest of the girls so I am the only one still wearing my robe. “Any teacher, photographer or artist worth anything will tell you where they want your arms, legs or other body parts to be. They do not touch you unless you ask for help or they ask you first. Never forget that. I wish someone had explained it to me when I first started. I learned the hard way. Ese pendejo fue afortunado que no le dijo a mis hermanos!” I start to ask what that means but the look on her face tells me it is not good.
The moment of truth is here. I have to take off my robe. I worry briefly about what these students will see when I am naked but realize it doesn’t matter at all. Looking at the students, they stare back at me not with lust in their eyes but with a certain curiosity, their pencils poised inches from their canvases and I feel myself relax a tiny bit. Slowly I untie my robe and let it slip from my shoulders. Time seems to be moving at a much slower pace right now. If this were a movie my eyes would be dilating with fear and excitement and my lips parting as my tongue darts out to lick them as the camera lingers on the slippery surface for a moment before zooming out. This isn’t a movie though this is real. I can hear my heartbeat in my ears as the soft cotton robe slides down my back and over my bottom to fall at my feet. I start to move it away with my foot when I hear a small voice say, “No please leave it there, I want to draw you in that moment.” I look up and see an older woman looking from her canvas to me and back again; her pencil moving quickly across the stretched fabric a slight smile on her face as she sketches.
I focus on trying to look natural and realize there is music playing softly in the background. Moving my attention to that I try to lose myself in the rhythm of the music drifting off to another world diving down to where it lives inside me. Warmth near my shoulder brings me back to the present. Patrick is close by, his hands inches from my shoulder. “See the curves in the shoulder and collar bone” he points to me, “imagine your pencil tracing the lines, moving slowly from the top and moving down. Use slow, light strokes when you are in these areas as they are as delicate on paper as they are in real life. This model has strong shoulders be sure to get the lines just right.” I meet his eyes and he smiles at me and my skin tingles in response. Whoa.
The rest of the class goes by quickly and I am slightly disappointed as I am not ready for it to be over. There is a power I feel at being naked in front of these strangers nothing perverse just a freedom that I don’t want to end. Patrick thanks the students and then thanks us. The students clap and then begin to gather their things making small talk with each other and the other models. I gather my robe and quietly slip into the changing room. Maria is already dressed and looks like she spent two hours getting ready instead of the five minutes she actually took. “Well you made it through your first class! How do you feel?” I pull my hair back into a ponytail and slip on my shoes. “Good really good! At first I was scared but then I just let the music take me away and I forgot where I was.”
“Si! It will get so much easier if you stick it out. Do you have plans tonight? Patrick usually invites us out for a drink after class. You should come with.” Smiling I try to act nonchalant about it but inside I am jumping up and down. “Will his umm….” She interrupts me, “He’s single and straight.” I stare at her and blush yet again. “You have to meet my roommate Sara I think you two were separated at birth.” Grabbing me by the arm she leads me out into the classroom. “She must be amazing then! Patrick we meeting at the usual spot tonight?”
He is putting away the last of the easels and looks at Maria and then to me. “Yes, I will be there shortly. Annie you did an amazing job for your first time. I hope you be joining us this evening?” I nod my head then find my voice. “Yes. I. Yes I will be there.” He adjusts his beanie and runs his hands over his stomach. I am watching this and realize he is staring at me stare at him. Busted. What is wrong with me?! He smiles. “I look forward to getting to know you better tonight.” And with that he returns to his task at hand and Maria pulls me out of the classroom.