Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘art’

Back Pain, Sex Books, and Responsibility

blog54         I did something bad, really painful to my back yesterday in yoga class. The muscles in my lower back seized tight like I had been digging graves or planting bulbs, you pick, for a few days. By 5 pm, I could barely sit at my desk, but walking helped, so I enlisted a friend, and we walked around Barnes & Noble bookstore for a good hour.

Giggling, I walked around the store, limping the gauntlet of back pain, circling literary fiction, then teen picks, over to poetry, and past the enormous display of 50 Shades of Mediocre Writing, More Mediocrity, and finally, The End of Mediocrity (until the author does some actual research into consensual sexuality versus stalking and rape). My friend was standing in the sex section.

You know.

The section of the bookstore that we want to peruse. But are frightened or plain embarrassed to be seen having interest, prurient interest in a topic that has been part of the NC legislature’s tussle over the last year.

Grow up folks; even the pearl-wearing and the seersucker-suited government is talking about sexual issues.

My friend looked pretty comfortable. We picked out books by their cover to be disappointed with the lack of pictures and the downright clinical tone of the books. When did sex become so dull? Well, I am living in NC, and it is a national chain of bookstores.

It wasn’t always that way. Ten years ago I took a similar jaunt to B&N to pick up some books for clients (counseling knows no shame thankfully). It was the middle of an afternoon in the middle of the week. I walked over to the shelves marked SEXUALITY, pulled a few books, tucked my skirt under me, and sat down with the books on the floor.

Within a ten minutes, a few people had walked by, walked by again, and then walked up to me.

“What you looking at?” asked a man.

“Books,” I said.

“Books about what?”

“Books about sex.”

“Oh.”

A few people skittered away. Fast feet and heads down. A few souls stayed.

“What do you think about this book?”

They sat down on the floor blocking the aisle. We started comparing covers. Yes, the cover of a book is crucial. (I like the hot pink and yellow book titled, ‘Hot Sex: How to do it.’)

In thirty minutes, we were a circle of people, different genders, different ages, different skin colors. And we were having a thoughtful conversation about what we look for in a sex book. Pictures, some humor, explicit information and directions, more humor, and permission to explore this important part of our lives.

“It’s great Barnes & Nobel has employees like you,” a woman said.

“Yeah, I’ve never felt so comfortable talking about sex.”

“Um, I don’t work here,” I said.

“Well, you should.”

“Who are you then?”

“Just a reader like you. Interested in sex.”

We unashamedly laughed, giggled, and snorted. Under the bright lights of the bookstore, we talked about the meaning of sex in our lives, how we wanted books that reflected that interest and employees that were knowledgeable and unafraid.

So what has happened in the last ten years? How did we end up with HB2? Why are we mute as our reproductive rights are being legislated away and programs are being defunded? We do not blink an eye as art, in its different forms, is rigidly censored. Art, the conscience of the culture, meant to confuse and inform and disturb us but we settle for sofa art – some image asking nothing of us.

ms-d1lz8z

I think we are fucked, and not in a good way. What are you going to do about this?

NSFW – Mild or Robust Sexuality?

missionaryAYElegs

I am in a slump. I am all written out. My brain is mush.

So I decided to play with Andrew’s photographs for our collaboration “69 Scheimpflug Street.” I am not sure he was amused – he sent me an article on how to crop and present images. Okay dokey. The article is on my desk somewhere. Surely.

I put the cropped images up on Twitter (TrudiYTaylor) and Tumblr (Cranky Writer in adult oriented category) with little captions. No one seems to mind. They get favorited, liked, etc.

The photographs are lovely. Erotic. Playful. My stories are sexy in unexpected ways (at least to my way of thinking and from the comments of our preliminary viewers).

And we are out of money for the series. Models cost. Locations can cost. Printing papers and final prints on aluminum cost. Our time costs. Yep like so many artists we eat that cost. So many costs – so little money.

So we looked into a Kickstarter funding process. They get good results. Participants have vouched for their veracity. But Kickstarter is not too keen on sexuality or nudity. They use the terms “slight” and “mild.” I understand their not wanting to promote pornography. Neither do we.

Here’s the dilemma – the exhibit is about moving sexuality and nudity from a slight and mild fuzziness into a more robust and integrated focus (think Scheimpflug Principle). We are sick of the all-or-nothing thinking this country has around sexuality. We must be hypersexual or asexual. What?

I am going to send in one uncompromised series of stories and photographs about a couple choosing to expand their sexual repertoire. The photographs contain full frontal nudity of a man and a woman. The stories are explicit.

I don’t hold out much hope …

Taking a different tack, Andrew found a site where we can sign up for patrons (yes, really, patrons). Another dilemma – we have to make videos to attract patrons. Now I do not have a problem asking for money for my services – got over that in graduate school for counseling. If you can’t ask for money, you do not value your product (whether it is counseling, widgets, or art). The dilemma is that I look like a mangy, cross-eyed cat in videos and sound like Julia Childs. Not an enticing combo when every one else on the site looks a sleepy 26 and adorable.

So what do you think? Is there a need or want for images and stories exploring, even pushing an integrated sexuality in our lives?

Would you rather support us with a monthly gift or with one monetary gift?

Send me your comments. Below are some preliminary images with my attempts at cropping.

AYElegs

couchhug

IMG_0093-2torso

Nude Ice Dancing and Artistic Revelation

Skaters' Legs

It was another one of those days. I thought, “Don’t look below the neck.” So I kept my eyes raised. Then, as happened at the last photography shoot, my silly attempts at professionalism didn’t matter.

On this second shoot for “69 Scheimpflug Street” we had sinfully beautiful models. Models with bodies marked by the events of their lives. There was some initial embarrassment on my part, some hesitancy on theirs. After their shucking of clothes, everyone got down to the work. The images were strong and vibrant. The models did good.

At one point in the afternoon, we thought we had all the images needed. I looked at Andrew, the artist behind the camera. He said, “Let them go.” I stepped back to look at the totality of the couple. The camera kept clicking. Then the magic happened. The work became seriously luscious and sumptuously difficult eroticism. In these moments when playfulness showed up, the images became the fantasy we were hoping for. They captured a quality that can’t be planned. We were brilliant.

Looking over the images, I had to stop myself from crying – the models revealed themselves. Then we, the planners, got playful.

“It looks like they’re ice skating,” Andrew said.

“Yeah. I think he’s about to throw her in a triple Salchow,” I said.

“We photographed nude ice dancing,” he said.

“On a sofa,” I said with a snort.

We giggled. We Photoshopped ice skating boots onto the male model. We belly-laughed so much we came close to falling off our chairs.

I keep wondering how often do we get in our own way – out of a sense of professionalism, hesitancy, or embarrassment? Do we edit out the playfulness in our lives? Do we over-plan the fantasy out of our lives?

So I didn’t plan this weekend. Lots of things happened – some good, some trying. But the weekend felt organic. I had space to move and breathe. People called up with ideas. I called with ideas. I forgot my phone at times. Events, gatherings fell into place. Responsibilities got met. The weekend was lovely and relaxing. And full but not crazy full.

This Monday morning, I feel ready, peaceful, and a little luscious. This is not to say that we don’t need some planning.

More we need a sticky-note, “Allow for a little spontaneity. Make space for the unexpected. Give yourself enough time to look and live below the neck.”

Love Is What We Need

loveblog

This year has taught me lessons in humility and acceptance.

During this year’s multiple surgeries and procedures, people have gone out of their way to be kind to me.

A person arranged to have my yoga class bring me dinner, sent me notes, dropped by to check on me. What a lovely heart!

I love the person who sent me a Moon Pie for being “wonderful.” Love, love, love her.

Friends have commiserated with me, transported me to and from surgeries and appointments, laughed with me at my crazy outfits as I navigated an arm cast and surgical shoe, and picked me up when I fell over.

People have called to check on me throughout this time. You are my lifelines and I promise to pass this on to other people.

People have stuck by me during the goofiness of my painkiller months. The months were I had to take painkillers to make it through the day – rescheduling clients, putting off reports, and being unable to find names or words. Some days I forgot to shower … oops.

I gave my best reading of my work after falling asleep on a friend’s shoulder. Waking with a start, I stumbled up to the podium, and kind of ad-libbed my way through the piece – but with uncharacteristic animation. Thank you for the applause.

One friend said to forget the written word and just speak from the heart; I was entertaining enough. What a giggle. I’m a card-carrying introvert.

The only comment on my ten-pound weight gain has been, “It fills you out.” Yeah, okay.

The friends who tell me to “Go home, you’re in too much pain” when I limp into the coffee shop have been my tough love and caring ethics committee.

You taught me to take life as it comes and do what I can. Even if it meant sitting upfront at an art opening of my stories matched to images, plotched on Gabapentin and Trammadol, effusively saying, “Welcome to Litmus Gallery. Snacks and wine are in the back.” You came up front to check on me, told me jokes, and repositioned me on the stool when I started to slide off.

It was crazy-feeling for me – I couldn’t imagine how trying it must have been for you. You have come through for me. I am overwhelmed by your sweetness. Thank you.

I could not have survived the carelessness of the medical community without you: the surgeon and wound care specialist have never said how difficult this must be for me after almost six months of digging around in my foot with a scalpel; nurses who did not pass on my requests for pain relief; and doctors who told me not to cry.

I would have ended up in jail without your steadying influence dealing with the clueless: the bloody assholes who use handicapped parking slots for their convenience; people who walk so fast I can’t keep up; and friends who break their promises to help. I know this isn’t personal. This is their stuff.

Good lessons, painful lessons. The lessons keep rolling in. Thank you Universe but I am done. No more. Let’s get on with the living.

I guess I already am.

Marketing Scheimpflug’s Lust

Whitneyblog

The first part of our first photo shoot along with my first set of stories is finished. That’s a lot of firsts. AG shot images that are beautiful and disturbing. My stories are lush and arousing – I hope. Exactly what we were going for. We are excited. But now we need to market them, stir some excitement, get some buzz going, ____ (add the appropriate phrase here).

So I gathered notes about the usual forms of getting the word OUT THERE – and immediately thought, What’s up with the multiple layers of social media marketing brouhaha? I mean – Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, and Tumblr.

Does anyone really understand what Google+ accomplishes that is different from anything else out there? Most writers are clueless about how to promote themselves and their work using this site.

“It seems like a cross between FaceBook and LinkedIn,” I said.

AG said, “So you’re on Google+?”

I said, “Yep, not sure what it does but hey, seems easy enough to use … “

So things, images, blog posts, and other doodads will go up there.

LinkedIn doesn’t seem like a good place to examine lust even using the Scheimpflug Principle – our project’s nudity and passion would be fighting other users’ glossy business pictures.

AG said, “So you’re not using LinkedIn?”

I said, “Nah, I’ve been thrown out of two discussion groups already. Seems like a wash for my type of writing.”

(Yes, I have been politely asked to stop responding to discussion groups run by a moron from Australia. She proposes women do not like sex. Maybe women don’t like sex in Australia but the women I know in the US like sex. I digress with crankiness.)

FaceBook is a possibility. I have personal and book pages – is that the correct word?

“We should make a new FB page,” said AG.

“Yep but both of us should have the password so both of us can post,” I said.

“Can you do that on FB?” AG asked.

So another task to add to my burgeoning To-Do list along with checking on FB’s guidelines for nudity, lust, and general issues with sexuality.

Then there is Twitter. I need a remedial course in Twitter. I have an account and followers who I am sure are breathlessly waiting for me to do something, post something, hashtag something. Good bloody grief. WTF?

“Can you tweet?” I asked.

Silence and perplexed looks followed from AG as he looked around for birds. I asked a tech savvy friend. He sent a one-page email. I printed it out, looked at it, and then took myself to lunch, with wine. Couldn’t make any sense out of it.

So tweeting is out.

Tumblr followed. Okay, back to Wiki How. Seems easy enough. Confusingly, I have an account already. Well okay then. What’s my Tumblr name? I don’t remember and can’t find where it’s recorded. What’s my password? Who knows. Two days later, both were residing in my little black book of IDs and passwords. Does anyone else keep a book of passwords? I lose the book and I am so screwed. (In the good old days, little black books were so much more fun.)

I said, “I think we should do a Tumblr page, post, whatever.”

“Sure,” said AG. “How do we do that?”

“I am not sure but I’ll dig into it. Only thing I am sure of is we need to have a whole lot of stuff to go on it. Like two weeks worth of daily doodads before we sign up. Do we have two weeks worth?”

“I’ll start cropping photos,” AG said.

So we are in the social media-marketing conundrum. This is a full time job. Who does this?

I have hired three marketing people who have disappeared. I figure I get two weeks of work out of them, pay them and they flake off. It is disheartening. Expensive.

What happens if we develop a beautiful exhibit around lust with stories in words and pictures and no one comes? Because they don’t know about it —

Live Nude Art

nakedblog

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”     – Andy Warhol

I know you are wondering what I am doing. In my most honest moments, I wonder too.

The photography shoot was an adventure, a challenge, and a chance to see naked people up close. Working with an artist whose medium is photography, we created a series of quite lovely, interesting, and at times, disturbing images. Some of the images are based on very loose ideas or story fragments and some arose organically within the photo shoot. I will write proper, interesting choice of word, stories for the images.

Overall, the models were exquisite. Every one of them perfect in some way, usually unexpected. We attempted to capture or hint at the elusive perfection.

Each day, up would drive a perfectly normal looking and behaving person asking where to park.

“Around back. You don’t want your car towed.”

“Okay,” and with a trusting nod, they would follow me around the back of the building to park behind my car. They would walk into the building. I would make sure doors were locked.

“Wow, thanks it’s not too cold,” models would say. They signed a model’s release and showed us their license, which I photographed and emailed to us. We explained what we were looking to do. Got their input. Then they would say, “Ready?”

I would take a big breath and think, “Here we go. Don’t stare.” And they’d take off their clothes. Trying to look busy elsewhere as this was happening, I forced myself to exhale, practiced a noncommittal smile.

Then we went to work. After the first ten minutes, it was fine. We put in some hours, broke a sweat, strained our eyes, hearts, and brains. There were a couple of dicey moments, more about artistic choices than about nudity.

“Did you see that?”

“Yeah, we can’t have that.”

So I walked over to the model and said, “I’m going to clamp some fabric around your butt. Strange shadow … “

Without blinking an eye she said, “Sure.”

Clamp, clamp, clamp went the fabric. The model smiled. I was the uncomfortable one.

Things were better by the second day. I felt maternally protective – walking them out to their car, asking if they needed water or felt dizzy and needed to come down from the stool.

But the third day was confusing, trying, a major leap of artistic faith. We photographed two models. Together. I kept repeating the mantra,

Thisisart. This is art. THIS … IS … ART.

Periodically, I would check in with my collaborator.

“Can they do that?”

“Sure.”

“Will we go to jail?”

“No.”

“I’m not sure this will fly in Raleigh … “

He’d smile at me and tell me to do something. Pick up a stool. Gather some clothes. I would suggest things – the placement of a hand, drape of a fabric, choice of a prop – and the models were game. It was a wonderful collaboration.

This weekend, we reviewed the images. Plugging the camera into a TV, the images took on life. The images are stupendous. Beautiful, erotic, disturbing. Quite likely, the photographs and stories won’t fly in Raleigh or will have a limited flight.

But mostly, I am proud of us. We were true to our visions.

I kept my promise to see the beauty in each model – not getting bent out of shape over every little imperfection. (Maybe one day I will see my body with the same kindness.)

More ideas are percolating. The exhibit is starting to find a shape, probably not the final shape. We will continue to work within our visions as I gather my courage and sharpen my skills. It helps that I am reading Bayles and Orland’s Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING.

But it is imperative, however you evaluate the exhibit, we will keep making art.

Tag Cloud