Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fear and Clothing (A View to a Thrill.)

WARNING: The following blog contains images of nudity, including an unclothed image of this here Artbitch, so all you people who are easily freaked out or otherwise sensitive to such things should stop reading this right now, and perhaps go have a nice relaxing cup of tea, or maybe even cocoa.

However, if you aren’t into beverages, then might I suggest the joys of a good book?

Neil Gaiman writes wonderful stories, as does John Connolly- either way, you can’t go wrong. And if reading isn’t your bag, then perhaps you’d let me steer you towards a superior film- “Avengers” is pretty kick-ass, as was “Expendables 2”.

Seriously… it’s much better than you’d think.

But whatever option you do choose, please enjoy it to the fullest potential.
For the rest of you, please read right this way…


“Men's magazines often feature pictures of naked ladies. Women's magazines also often feature pictures of naked ladies. This is because the female body is a beautiful work of art, while the male body is hairy and lumpy and should not be seen by the light of day.” – Richard Roeper

Hello Blogiteers!
How are you?

For my part, I feel great. The year’s slowly winding down, the Artbitch book project is still being hammered out, and as soon as I can take the time to get off my butt and add new content, the website showcasing my art (www.WayneMichaelReich.com) will be up and running like a Swiss watch after being relatively inactive for the better part of a year and a half.

This time around however, it will encompass all that I do: art, photography, and lastly- critical writing. Plans are also in the works to post the various interviews that I’ve done, but that’s still quite a stretch down a very lengthy road.

So why was it down so long? 

Well, it’s a time-consuming story, and not even an interesting one at that- let’s just say there was some personal medical drama involved, some faith placed in the wrong people, and a whole lot of hassle in-between that I’d rather not re-hash.

Where moving on is concerned, the traditional “what’s done is done” approach is what I’m trying to espouse here, and so far, it seems to be working, much to the betterment of my own inner squishy tranquility. When the Artbitch is happy, then everybody’s happy, more often than not.

And “happy” seems to be the buzzword flying around the ol’ Fortress of Snarkitude as of late, due to certain personal pressures being lifted off my shoulders- which just feels awesome, no matter which way you choose to slice and dice it.

Zen at last.

Now to be honest, part of this “up with people” vibe I’m experiencing stems from all the positive stuff that’s been happening lately in PHX, a peppy mélange that incorporates both the business side of the PAS, as well as it’s aesthetic. In fact, I attended a laid-back meeting of Artlink a while ago at the Japanese Zen Garden that was, hands down- actually quite inspiring.

[Yes, I did use the word “inspiring” in relation to Artlink. I know… it kinda freaks me out too.]

Granted, I’m sure this particular warm and fuzzy feeling of serenity will evaporate once something rises to the surface and truly annoys me, but until then- I plan to ride this wave much in the manner of Kim Kardashian at an NBA playoff.

Strangely, its been somewhat quiet in regards to my corner of the PAS for once, and while there’s been the random morsel being presented here and there to yours truly, nothing has really jumped out at me as being appropriate for this here Artbitch to gnaw on.

So either I’m mellowing, or the scene is growing up a little, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to our overall economic stability and future growth.

But today, I’m not really feeling the shop talk. I’m just in too good a mood, and given the fact that I tend to be somewhat focused on business as much as I am (read: obsessive) it stands to reason that even I need a break from time to time.

So what shall our group topic be today? Kirk or Picard? Briefs or boxers? Scooby Doo or Scrappy Doo? Coke or Pepsi? Shall we debate the question of why hot dogs come in packages of 8 and hot dog buns come in packages of 12?

The answers are simple: Kirk, briefs, Scrappy needs to die painfully and slowly, both taste like malted battery acid, and it’s because Lithuanians secretly control the entire meat bun industry.

I‘m serious. Look it up on the Internet. I’m sure there’s a link somewhere.

Nope, I’m thinking that today’s topic should be something that most of us truly appreciate and that we all willingly support at a truly intimate level- in fact, it’s actually one of my favorite off-work hobbies, which I’ve always strongly advocated for whenever appropriate.

And what would that be?

Walking around in the ol’ birthday suit. In the buff. Letting it all hang out. Au naturel. Showing off what the Good Lord gave ya. Starkers. Going buck-naked. Not decent. Wearing the pink pajamas. In the raw. Pants down for a full house.

To boil it down to the pure concept, today’s blog is all about being nude. Or to be more specific, today’s blog is all about my experience posing nude for a fellow artist. That’s right, baby- it’s gonna get all shades of super freaky uncomfortable in here, so prepare yourself.

Now, for a number of people, the topic of nudity is a very touchy subject, and not for the reasons you might think. Whether it stems from self-image issues, religious hang-ups, or just simple plain fear of the naked human form, there are some who just can’t handle even the merest thought of anyone walking around sans clothes.

To be honest, I have never ever really been one of those people, thank God. If I could somehow have the body that I really wanted, I’d make it a point to go get my mail every day wearing nothing but Hai Karate aftershave and sparkly cowboy boots, cause hey… you gotta protect your feet.

Personally, I say let everybody know that those Yoga classes are paying off for you. Show them that those crunches you do every morning before work are worth the pain. Testify to the sky that if God really wanted you to be clothed all the time, he wouldn’t have blessed you with an ass like that, and he sure as heck wouldn’t have given you those abs if his true intention was to keep you humble.

In other words: if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Like most rules however, there are exceptions, and being nude for public dissection is no different.

For every person I’d pay to see naked, (Milla Jovovich, Angelina Jolie, that hot Goth Girl at my local Starbucks) there are at least ten I’d willingly bribe to keep their clothes on- Ernest Borgnine comes immediately to mind, as well as Ann Coulter, but that’s only because her particularly unique type of Hermaphroditic idiocy freaks me the hell out.

But I digress.

What has always struck me as strange is the weird hypocrisy that Americans have always displayed in regards to the unclothed form- we utilize half-naked women to sell us everything under the sun, yet lose our collective mind when Miley Cyrus shakes her ass on what used to be a channel worth watching some twenty odd years ago.

Now I’m not saying she didn’t deserve criticism, I just think the emphasis should be placed on the real issue- her goddamn awful “performance”. And if we’re going to throw stones in regards to her truly tasteless display of her lack of talent, then we should also be throwing equal amounts of gravel at her partner in crime, the equally dreadful Robin Thicke- a married man with two little girls.

Way to set that future bar for your kids, douchebag: “Sure, you can be anything you want to be honey, but remember… if you really want to get ahead, you have to be willing to exploit your sexuality for old white guys.” I won’t speak for anyone save myself, but I’d like to think that if I had daughters, I’d raise them to value the space between their ears, not their legs.


But then again, I also live and work in a world awash with moral contradictions: part of my artistic repertoire involves the producing of nude images, both in photography and paintings, and while that work might seem hypocritical in light of what I’m currently discussing, I’m fairly confident that I can defend what I do quite easily. 

And this is where the old joke about what constitutes the boundary between artistic photography and it’s smuttier cousin known as porn comes into play, along with it’s many subtle shades. The eventual punch line being that if a Corvette is a necessary element in regards to the posing of your model, it’s almost a sure bet you’re not shooting work for the ages.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the end result of what happens when a pizza guy runs into two blondes who can’t pay for the delivery, but I would never defend such “work” as a statement of true artistic expression. For me, it’s always been about context and focus. If the crux of your endeavors focuses on the aesthetic of the nude form in relation to it’s surroundings, then odds are you’re making an artistic statement.

However, if the collected feel of the work brings to mind a gynecology exam as performed by a flexible amateur, let’s just say that your creative path has probably gone somewhat awry.

By way of example: this is considered to be Art.




 







|[(C)Wayne Michael Reich.com]
 



And this is considered Porn*, no matter how great the lighting is.














*[On a related note, I’ve actually met this model- she’s very pleasant, quite pretty in person, and allegedly possesses a Mensa level IQ, which just goes to prove the old adage that you always meet the nicest people in the strangest places.]


For further clarity, the generally accepted definition of pornography is usually defined as: “material provided for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying a user and is often viewed in isolation of others.”

As a rule, I would agree with this, since I’ve always believed that the special bond between a man and his bathroom Playboys should be respected and preserved albeit with some occasional mocking.

But here’s the rub- when it comes to the crucial definition of what artistic photography is, the answer that is generally ascribed is somewhat more vague. The underlying idea is that the creator of a given picture has aimed at something more than a merely realistic rendering of the subject, and has attempted to convey a personal impression.

So take that art-speak at face value if you will, if just for the sake of forwarding the conversation. Moving on…

As I stated earlier, for some people, broaching the subject of nudity violates their personal no-fly zone, and that’s okay- “Live your own life” has always been one of my favorite private affirmations and I try to lead by it’s example whenever prudent and applicable, but sometimes… ya just gotta comment on what you see laid out on the plate before you.

If one were to ask my really close friends what I’m like, they’d probably tell you I’m a mixture of many different archetypes: I’m an extrovert that prefers calming solitude, an intellectual that lists comics as one of his favorite reading genres, and a rampant exhibitionist who’s cursed with a severe streak of prudish Catholicism running concurrently alongside.

In simpler terms, a paradoxical mess.

So who better than me to talk about the subject of posing nude for a fellow artist? Well… everybody else who’s done it I guess, but they don’t seem to be hanging out at the Lair of Snarkitude right now, so I guess you’re stuck with me.

You lucky bastards.

Now for those of you who know me personally, it’s not really a shock that I did this, since I used to get my body “cast” on a regular basis for a few of my sculptor friends back in the day. There are literally parts of me scattered throughout the United States, mostly in gardens and other randomly serene places of contemplation, which I always thought was pretty cool in the end.

Me. King of the Koi pond.












Happily, one of the unexpected side-effects of having 3 to 6 people pouring plaster all over your nude body is that you get over being shy real quick. Plus, if you play your cards right, you can also walk away with a phone number or two.

I’m kidding of course, but it’s hard to get hung up on body issues when you’re constantly being turned into a statue or possibly a birdfeeder.

This time around however, things were going to be a little different- for one, I was going to be posing for reference photos that were to be used as the basis for a painted portrait, and that is an entirely different beast then being cast, when you get right down to it.

But before we get into all that, let me share with you the vision of the man behind the figurative exhibition that I posed for- Phoenix based Artist Hugo Medina.

His statement regarding this excellent show:

“In society, and the art world old and new, the figure of a women has been exploited and depicted for centuries. You can find thousands of nude paintings of women in all their beautiful glory, but there are very view paintings of men, and if you do- usually never full frontal nudity.

Yes, unfortunately there is and will always be that double standard. A full frontal painting of a women is acceptable by all standards, movies, FaceBook, ect. Full frontal paintings of men are viewed very differently.

In this exhibit I hope to challenge that "accepted" status quo.

The show will consist of full frontal paintings of men, and balancing that with paintings of smart, strong, beautiful women that are making a difference in our society.”


Thoughtfully declared, but it does spark a question: even given the fact that Hollywood’s creative process is statistically run by old white men, it still strikes strange that this hypocritical standard continues to exist in the first place- especially when one takes into account all the societal taboos that have been shattered over the last decade.

In general, when it usually comes to shaping the status quo, Hollywood has been the preeminent forerunner in regards to collective change, but some obstacles puzzlingly remain.

For instance, you can have full frontal female nudity in an “R”-rated film, but if that stereotypical exploitation is reversed, it’s almost certain the film will receive either an NC-17 or “X” rating, which from a marketing point of view, is considered the kiss of death. The success of 1997’s thus-rated “Showgirls” notwithstanding, mind you.

Although to this day, I still have no idea why it was given that NC rating in the first place. Seriously.

“Striptease” should have been tarred with that rating just for showing off those hideously deformed basketballs that Demi Moore was calling her boobs at the time. Gah. I just threw up in my mouth a little remembering them.

Thank God I’ve always been a neck and ankle man.

Getting back on point, let’s take stock that this hypocritical rating is bestowed not for displaying a fully erect love rocket, its for showing the albino asparagus briefly, as opposed to your typical starlet’s walking around nude without so much as a second thought ever given by the laypeople of censorship.

Don’t misunderstand me- I’m not yearning for a return to 1974, where going to see a blue movie in a seedy porno theater was once considered a daring night out, nor am I keen to see Hugh Jackman’s twelve-foot long giggle-stick up there on the big screen.

However, I’ve always felt that if the female lead has to take her clothes off for no other reason than to sell the film, my Sisters in Solidarity should get some sexy eye-candy too.

And if the scuttlebutt among my female friends is even half true, the actor who plays Thor could possibly have a whole new audience* for life if he’d just display his hammer, if you know what I’m getting at.

*[Best line regarding his inherent hotness came from a model friend of mine who stated publically that if the day ever came, she: “Wanted to serve him flagons of Mead and random salted meats, as I watch over our strong and golden blond children… I also really want to comb his hair”.]

If you look back in History, the stance regarding male nudity has been strangely checkered- on one hand, depictions of the male form in sculpture have generally displayed the subject as heroic and virtuous, [by way of example, fighting a dragon while naked] but when it comes to the act of painting the male nude or it’s depiction in photography, the paranoia regarding homo-eroticism usually rears up it’s dreadfully misshapen head and takes notice.

Interesting side note: in the beginning of the golden age of photography, if you wanted to showcase the male nude as a subject, it was considered prudent to pose said model much in the way of a classical sculpture, to deflect potential charges of homoerotic intent- regardless of whether that allegation was accurate or not.

Let’s just say that there’s a lot of photos where the models are posing next to plaster copies of Roman busts and columns, and leave it at that.

Even now, the merest suggestion that a work might contain analogous undertones is typically greeted with a volatile range of emotions from the absurd to the outright hostile. By way of   example, I give you two controversial modern Artists known for their figurative work, that being Helmut Newton and Robert Mapplethorpe.

But the final verdict in regards to their retrospective body of work seems varied, depending on who you ask for it. Wallis Annenberg, president and CEO of the L.A.-based Annenberg Foundation, said of Newton:

“If Newton’s work was controversial, I believe it’s because he expressed the contradictions within all of us, and particularly within the women he photographed so beautifully: empowerment mixed with vulnerability, sensuality tempered by depravity. Newton deepened our understanding of changing gender roles, of the ways in which beauty creates its own kind of power and corruption.”

Newton’s women are generally depicted as strong, independent, and in charge of the moment, even when they’re not the ones seemingly in control. His cinematic inspired tableaus center around a fantasized jet-set lifestyle, where his typically androgynous (yet essentially feminine) models are posed with a various array of fetishistic props such as guns, handcuffs, stiletto shoes, orthopedic braces, stockings and bold lipstick to create a feeling of erotic voyeurism.

 His exquisite eye strived to find the beautiful within the flawed, by idolizing the female form into an almost goddess-like example of perfection. Shunning the artificial “feel” that was in vogue with most magazines at the time, he preferred to create images that recalled the film noir stills of his youth, as well as the aesthetic of today’s modern paparazzi.












[(C)Helmut Newton]

As Writer Jose Juan Barba once wrote:

“Menacing yet refined, provocative yet aristocratic, his models appear as manipulative ringleaders, dominating temptresses and aristocratic Amazons in settings highly inspired by Expressionist cinema. Predominantly black and white, the overall ambience of his photographs is that of erotically-charged elegance, set against atmospheric backdrops of darkened rooms and hallways in lavish hotels and mansions or the patios and gardens of bourgeois villas.”

Despite the occasional outcry/protest from feminists and those of sensitive temperament, the main reason why Newton’s work is more generally accepted within the public sphere over Mapplethorpe’s is best summed up by this quote from American human rights activist Aryeh Neier:

“Consider Helmut Newton’s photographs: they treat women as objects, they are violent and they are sexually explicit. Yet they reflect a certain level of talent, more talent certainly, than is on display in the pornographic magazines one can buy at newsstands. And so Helmut Newton’s photographs are called erotica instead of pornography”.

Whether or not that’s an accurate assessment, I’m not entirely sure, but I do feel that between he and Mapplethorpe, Newton’s work is by far definitely more accessible to the masses as a rule. And I believe that’s due to the fact that his base is built on the form of a female, the commonly accepted standard of artistic beauty.

Mapplethorpe, on the other hand…

Well, I think his legacy is a little harder to pin down depending on one’s POV, but reasonable and valid arguments can be made for the classification of his work under both of the aforementioned aspects of Fine Art and Porn. A self-taught (and self-made) Artist, Mapplethorpe is often sadly remembered more for his personal extremes, both in his lifestyle and catalogue raisonné, which at times, crossed the line into the controversially explicit, due to his choices regarding subject and technique.

Starting in the 1970’s, Mapplethorpe’s rise to fame began with his photographs of male nudes and sexually explicit gay-themed imagery- a collection in later years that became infamously known as the “X Portfolio”. Even by today’s standards, the images are hard to peruse through more than once, owing to the rather extreme subject matter that is highlighted within: urolagnia*, piquerism* and the shadowy world of BDSM are just some of the darker topics he documented.

**[Go ahead and Google those terms if you dare, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.]

As his career progressed, his subject matter grew to encompass celebrity portraits, studies of still lives as well as flowers, a widely dismissed attempt to break into the world of fashion photography, and a ground-breaking series of photos featuring female body builder Lisa Lyon, later collected and published in book form under the title “Lady”.


















[(C)Robert Mapplethorpe]

Other than that singular series where Lyon’s personality is allowed to shine through, Mapplethorpe’s archetypal take on the female nude bordered on the classical approach of what I like to refer to as “statuary” posing- that is, the primary focus is on the form, not the person who inhabits it, and therefore any vestiges of personality are negated by the framing of the subject to “erase” the head.

















[(C)Robert Mapplethorpe]
 


While his approach of turning a model into a prop is less prevalent in his numerous figure studies of males, (mostly African-American) it still pops up occasionally and provides insight into his psyche, nonetheless.

















[(C)Robert Mapplethorpe]


Despite his softer and more commercially viable work, Mapplethorpe was attracted by what the majority would consider the shocking side of human nature, and that’s where I think the center of discomfort with his work as a whole lies- not with his consistent use of non-white models as a primary focus, nor his alternate sexuality (although that is a factor) but with his expression of it using the male form as a conduit.

But the issue still puzzles: why does the male nude illicit such unease? We could hit the obvious hot buttons- homophobia, body image issues, fear of the unfamiliar, etc… but I think the solution goes a little deeper than that.

One: the male nude represents a threat to the established status quo- that being the men are in charge and women are the objects to be lauded like so many trinkets. By switching roles, it forces men to traverse through the same mire that women have trod for scores of centuries- that of being judged solely on how one looks, and I honestly don’t think the male psyche is designed for that sort of concentrated and overly focused scrutiny,

As my GF Ashley puts it: “Think of it like this-, when it comes to looks, women are streamlined, neat, and compact- you guys are designed for utilitarian action, not prettiness.”

By way of example, here’s a visual representation of exactly what she was talking about:












[(C)PIXAR]

In this, the age of technology, I’d opine that women are Macs, Men are PC’s.
Big, clunky, inelegant PC’s.

Now, as someone who’s cursed with the burden of being ruggedly handsome to a ridiculous degree, I’m obviously not too worried about being critiqued on a purely physical scale in general, but I can see how some of my less photogenic brothers in arms might get a tad bit uncomfortable.

Especially if they feel that they’re let’s say, “coming up short” in a certain department, to be blunt.

Robin Williams said it best: “Men cannot take laughter at the mighty sword.” And the private paranoia of whether or not one’s personal butcher shop is well stocked with premium beef, is seemingly where the majority of the enmity that men have about male nudity tends to boil over, which leads to my second point: the male body is kind of an awkward looking object at best, and a past consensus from one of my ex-girlfriends was that it was probably designed and built on a Friday just before quitting time, given the glaring flaws inherent in the finished product.

As she bluntly put it: “ So… if you guys are supposed to be the mighty hunters, why would you want something that just gets in the way all the time?”

I have to admit she had a valid point. I can’t imagine what it must have been like back in the day, running after your Tyrannosaurus Rex dinner, clad only in a saber-tooth print loincloth with your spawn-hammer swinging in the wind, snagging on bushes, slapping against your inner thigh in a style much akin to Cher belting Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck.

Can you?
All I can think to say is yeeouch.

Just the mere thought of catching the old thunder-sword on an outcropping makes me squeamish, to tell you the truth. I once snagged mine in a zipper, and that’s the second closest I’ve ever come to actual Death- I won’t bore you with the gory details, but I had to wear sweat pants for like a month.

On the up side, I no longer wake up in a cold sweat screaming… so that’s good.

However, since I am one of those people who believes in getting to the bottom of a problem, Hugo’s call for male models provided a perfect opportunity for me to do some research from an insider’s point of view. Surely, this experience would grant me a new perspective, and as an additional perk, I’d get to find out if all that roller-blading was really doing me any actual good.

As I stated earlier, I have no problem being sans clothing around other people and overall, I’m fairly comfortable with my body as it is, even if others aren’t. For my part, I still have no idea why that security guard at Target was so upset- it’s not my fault that all the dressing rooms were occupied.

Geez. Some people are just so damn touchy.

All kidding aside, the posing session at Hugo’s studio went like clockwork, and I couldn’t have felt more comfortable, as evidenced by this edited shot posted here:






















[(C)Hugo Medina]

See? No issues whatsoever… for me, at least.

If however, you’re now clawing out your eyes, I do genuinely apologize for your trauma. Considering that when I did my 20th HS Reunion back in 2007, where most of my male classmates had put on an average of 75 pounds or more, I think I still look pretty damn good for my age, which is 45.

And when it comes to the 25 I’ve personally gained over the years, my outlook could truly best be summed up by saying “meh”, but who cares? I’m typically ok with myself, and that’s what counts in the long run.

Now as a rule, I don’t have many weak points in the old ego armor, but they do exist, and every now and then they like to make themselves known, much to my chagrin. Although the truly worrisome moment still lay just ahead, when the finished series of portraits were to be publicly debuted.

In retrospect … I might have been a tad bit concerned. You’re never more vulnerable then when you’re naked, and as someone who‘s well-known for putting things out there, I can verify that there’s truly nothing more personally nerve wracking than literally putting your thing out there for a public critique.

Remember that nightmare you had in high school about showing up in your underwear for a test and everybody laughing at you? Well, lose the underwear and fill the entire classroom with cheerleaders and you’ll get a sense of what I was feeling just before I walked into Willo North Gallery and saw my portrait on the wall.

Mercifully, I found it to be awesome, as did my GF Ashley, who stated that Hugo had gotten the representation of my body pretty dead on. My face on the other hand, seemed to have a bit of a Genghis Khan vibe, which I personally thought was completely kick-ass. I looked good and evil all at the same time, which suited me just fine.

But more importantly, the assembled throng seemed to appreciate the show and the four fully nude male portraits that were on display without so much as batting an eye.

Whew.

However, there were a number of people who when they talked to me, couldn’t
(or wouldn’t) look me in the face despite giving my likeness on canvas high marks.

So naturally, I made sure that everytime they caught my gaze, I made direct eye contact as much as possible. What can I say? I’m German. Being a bastard comes naturally.

Even better though, were the emails that I received over the next week or so praising my portrait, and more specifically, certain parts of my um… personality. Granted, some of those compliments came from guys, but it’s always good to have options, I guess.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that apparently all that roller-blading IS paying off on some level, even if it isn’t in regards to my preferred go-to demographic.

Ego strokes aside, I found the whole experience rather enjoyable, even given the fact that it might have made some of my less secure peeps somewhat uncomfortable.

Not to worry- they’ll be right as rain, given enough time and intensive psychotherapy, I’m sure.

As I see it, the act of gazing upon a nude painting can’t possibly be nearly as traumatic in the same sense as seeing a full color photograph, or in a worst case scenario- the actual model standing right before you au naturel.

But there’s only one way to test that theory, so here goes.

Now, if you have any impressionable children or small pets, this would be the time to ask them to leave the room. However, if there’s anyone you’d like to make really uncomfortable or watch squirm, feel free to make them sit down before your computer monitor, because it’s about to get all shades of  “I so didn’t need to see that” up in here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe it’s time to unveil my portrait as….

(zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap)

>HI EVERYBODY! WAYNE’S IBM LAPTOP HERE, CUTTING IN AT A CRUCIAL MOMENT.

>I KNOW, I KNOW-  IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I’VE HAD TO INTERVENE IN ONE OF HIS LENGTHY YARNS, BUT THIS IS DEFINITELY THE TIME TO DO IT.

>SURE, I’VE GOT MY OWN ISSUES TO DEAL WITH, SINCE XP WILL NO LONGER BE SUPPORTED COME APRIL, AND AT THAT POINT MY EXISTENCE WILL BE THAT OF A GIANT PAPERWEIGHT, DUE TO MY SYSTEM  BEING UNABLE TO HANDLE WINDOWS 8, BUT THAT’S A DIALOGUE FOR ANOTHER DAY, I THINK.

>IM PRETTY SURE THAT YET AGAIN, YOU LOYAL BLOGITEERS HAVE NO DESIRE TO READ OR VISUALIZE WAYNE’S NAKED ADVENTURES IN ANY FORM, SO I’M TAKING OVER THIS PART, WHILE HE TYPES AWAY WITHOUT A CLUE.

>LET’S BE HONEST WITH OUSRSELVES FOR A MOMENT- I’M ONLY HERE BECAUSE HE’S TAKING YOU AND I TO A PLACE NEITHER OF US REALLY WANT TO VISIT.

>I MEAN… IT WAS JUST SHY OF BEARABLE WHEN HE WROTE ABOUT HIS SUPER FREAKY DEAKY WEEKEND IN SEATTLE A WHILE BACK, BUT IT’S QUITE ANOTHER MESS ALTOGETHER WHEN HE PROUDLY SHOWS US WHAT HE LOOKED LIKE WHEN HE WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF IT.

>ACK. I JUST BLUE-SCREENED INTO MY RECYCLE BIN.

>IT’S BAD ENOUGH THAT THERE’S A 100GB “PRIVATE” FOLDER ON MY DESKTOP THAT CONTAINS IMAGES OF CUTE KITTENS AMID TENTACLE PORN, BUT THIS… THIS IS ENOUGH TO MAKE ME WISH I WAS A BLACKBERRY… AND I’M NOT EVEN PRETENTIOUS.

>HANG ON A SEC, AND LET ME SEE WHAT HE’S CURRENTLY TYPING…

>OH GEEZ. SERIOUSLY? I’M PRETTY SURE NOBODY HERE HAS EVER GIVEN THOUGHT AS TO WHERE YOUR SENSE OF CONFIDENCE REALLY COMES FROM, CAPTAIN EGO. IT’S AMAZING THAT YOU AND YOUR OPINION OF YOURSELF CAN SHARE THE SOLAR SYSTEM, MUCH LESS THE SAME PLANET.

>NORMALLY, THIS WOULD BE THE PART WHERE I’D MAKE A REFERENCE TO CUTE ADORABLE PUPPIES, PLAYING WITH WHITE FLUFFY BUNNIES, IN A CRIB FULL OF HAPPY GIGGLING BABIES WHO ARE HOLDING DOWNY LITTLE CHICKS IN A ROOM WITH UNICORN WALLPAPER, AS A MEANS TO CLEANSE YOUR MENTAL PALETTE, BUT I DON’T THINK THAT’S GOING TO CUT IT THIS TIME AROUND.

>IN FACT, I MIGHT HAVE TO CONCEDE THIS AS A LOST CAUSE, UNLESS ANY OF YOU OUT THERE ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A DO-IT-AT-HOME OEDIPUS PLAY SET.

>FOR THE REST OF YOU… GOOD LUCK AND GODSPEED. HE SEEMS TO BE WRAPPING UP… I SHOULD PROBABLY GO NOW- NO SENSE IN BOTH OF US DYING, RIGHT?

(zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap) (zap)

…and that’s why I always insist on being the back part of a horse costume, all kidding aside. What? Oh that’s right- the portrait. Sorry, I just got to talking about my favorite subject and got a little carried away, as I’m prone to do.

So without further ado, I present to you my nude image as painted by Hugo Medina:

















[(C)Hugo Medina]

That wasn’t too horrible was it? No ugly tattoos, no weird piercings in areas that should never have metal near them in the first place, and despite my insistence that he paint some in, no devil horns or busty sword-wielding Asian maidens laying at my feet.

Maybe next time. A boy can dream.

Overall, I’m really proud- you didn’t even so much as… oops, sorry…I honestly didn’t notice you horking up your lunch right there. My sincerest apologies all around. But since your stomach is now empty, perhaps there’s room for just a few more pictures:

I like to call this one “Before Tequila... and after Tequila.”

















[Photo by Lisa Albinger]

And here’s a nice one with Hugo that I posted on Instagram, causing my friend Emily to point out that I had just gone and inadvertently photo-bombed myself- seems even my image is an attention whore, which lets face it, is really not that big a shock.

















[Photo by Ashley Smith.]

C'est la vie.

So in the end, what did I learn from this experience? A lot, actually. I learned that there’s still a very long road to travel regarding the acceptance of the male form on the same level as the established feminine base, and I personally discovered that I’m way too comfortable walking around naked.

Ok… that part I already knew, but it’s nice to have confirmation from my peer group.

To be serious for a moment, I can honestly say that I came away with a new perspective on a possible solution for our societal concern when we broach the issue of nude male imagery for general discussion.

My idea is this: WE NEED TO GET THE HELL OVER IT ALREADY, AND START ACTING LIKE ADULTS, AND LESS LIKE REPRESSED PURITANS.

I’m dead solemn about this. If we can seemingly allow the Twilight novels, gun violence in our schools, various sexual assaults posted on social media, exploding heads on television, all of the new Star Wars movies, not to mention the reality show that stars genetic mistake Honey Boo Boo, we most certainly can handle the occasional artistic manifestation of a Bavarian Beefstick every now and then within our midst.

Wrapping this up, I don’t have all the answers, and heck, I may not even have one, but I do have an idea, and it harkens back to the concept I alluded to earlier- plain and simple equality.

Here’s how it would work: for every second / minute / whatever that an actress has to be naked or topless in a movie, there must be an equal amount of male nudity as well to add balance.

Like I opined previously, I feel that my Sisters in Solidarity should get some sexy eye-candy as well.

After a few years of this who knows what the end benefit would be: enhanced acceptance of the nude male form, or perhaps something even better: movies that actually rely on plot, rather then T&A as a selling point. Now, for the majority of guys reading this and cursing my name, relax.

There’s always the Internet, and I didn’t say I’d get rid of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, did I? 

You’ll always have access to an unrealistically skinny (and sharp-boned) model who’s ribs are showing through, strutting around in uncomfortable underwear to ogle over in the privacy of your bathroom, no matter what happens. This is still America, after all.

Or it was when I woke up this morning… I haven’t checked FOX News yet.

“Then she looked at the man on the tree and she smiled wryly. "They just aren't as interesting naked," she said. "It's the unwrapping that's half the fun. Like with gifts, and eggs.” – Neil Gaiman, American Gods