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« Fat and Costco Again | Main | In Newsweek »

June 08, 2005

Confessions of a Naked Model

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

We're pleased to run another guest posting by "J," an artist and illustrator who helps pay the bills by working as an artists' model. We're also pleased to let you know that J's art professional art career has been making impressive strides. J recently placed an illustration with the Wall Street Journal. And a piece of J's has been selected for inclusion in Art@Large's upcoming show, "New Erotix," which will be on display from July 7-23. Here's some information about the show.

J's newly-revamped site, where you can enjoy her art and explore some fun links, is here. J's previous postings for us are here, here, and here, and here. J's modeling site, where you can enjoy some visuals of the lady herself as well as get in touch with J for modeling dates, is here. You can read an interview with J here. To clear up a little possible confusion: J's professional name is Molly Crabapple.

Now, on to J's latest bulletin from the naked-modeling front.

jen::s logo.jpg

Tits and Artifice

Yesterday, my uncle found my modeling website. Witness to my plump and gawky adolescence, he could only gasp. "Molly, you sure don't look like your pictures!"

"No shit" I wanted to snap.

I wouldn't have been so angry, except that a week earlier, a snaggle-toothed client had said the same thing when I showed up at his hotel room for some "photos." Fresh from a long day of portfolio drop offs, I looked like an art student, sans makeup, with circles under the eyes. "In your portfolio," said my client, "you seemed like a goddess."

Beyond my client's snootiness and my uncle's disbelief lies a misconception that has implications too high-falutin' for this column. Implications that effect art, feminism, and how women view their bodies.

The misconception is that photos tell the truth.

Of course I don't look like my photos. Schlepping down the street in worn-down heels, I lack several crucial components of pictorial swank.

  • First, the makeup. For any photo shoot, I wear ten pounds, applied by a trained professional, plus hair spray-sugared into a confection as fragile as an Argentinean coup. This goes for any look, no matter how "natural."

  • Then there's the posing. Towards the camera go those round bazooms -- way from it goes the big Puerto Rican ass.

  • But mostly, for my transformation into goddesshood, I thank lighting and Photoshop. You may have seen me in the fluorescent glare of the Barnes and Noble bathroom. But in photos, gelled, reflected, soft-boxed lights caress me like Rudolph Valentino. Any blemishes left are taken out by the kind scalpel of Dr. Adobe.

Of course, I'm not saying anything to surprise passport holders to the world of "glamour photography." We know that our favorite Playmates, sans peroxide, Photoshop and spray-on tan, are girls like our (more attractive) neighbors. Witness Maxim's Hometown Hotties contest. Hundreds of girls apply, all pretty, but all human and diverse. By the time the 12 finalists are shot for the magazine, they have been airbrushed into a state of interchangeable Maxim perfection.

This is one reason why glamour is so much less picky than fashion. Any girl below thirty-five and lacking in noticeable deformities can diet, inject, bleach and tan her way into babe-hood. However, fashion modeling is a gift only youth and genetics can give.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the Ford Agency website. Sorry, high school bulimics. Those gazelle legs and narrow pelvises can't be starved into. You got it or you don't. Only those sylvan skeletons could look good in the poufy, drapey, utterly impractical art objects of runway couture.

So, fashion models are natural. You can spot one by watching her stilt walk into Nobu's- with or without makeup. A glamour model, creation of paint, silicone and pixels, is less noticeable without her plumage.

But is natural really better? I have hard time attaching moral value to nature --which covers both strawberries and Ebola. And despite hippie glorification, doesn't nature carry a vaguely elitist scent? If something, whether it's a body or a talent, is artificial, a result of hard work, then it's something I can get. If it's a gift from God, I only know I'm not the receiver.

I've always thought that the beauty of a woman who's created herself is more interesting, more complex, than a twelve year old's guileless perfection. Perhaps
that's why I like drag queens.

I first discovered the power of womanhood at the drag bar Lips. A tittering gaggle of suburban women dominated the corner room, being entertained by a Tina Turner impersonator. As my eyes moved from the singer to the group -- from spangled shimmy dress to sexless khaki pants -- I suddenly realized that the best woman of all was the one who wasn't.

Maybe the best metaphor for the whole natural vs. artificial debate is breast implants. Some people cluck at them, saying the girl should be satisfied with the body she's born in. Some only like them when they look real.

Me, I like them real-looking and fake-looking. Bazongas and beach balls. And perhaps, in my praise of artificiality, I might call fake tits the silicate domes of new Constantinople -- signposts to a land where hard work and lucre can make you anything you desire.

Our thanks once again to "J."

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at June 8, 2005




Comments

I understand that this is not the point of the article, but I can not stand fake breasts. And for the most basic reason: They look FAKE!

Am I the only man that is attracted to women's breasts? I mean, the real ones. That is, the ones that actually look and feel real.

I dont know if I would have a problem if the fake boobs passed the Pepsi challenge. I might have some philosophical problem with mis-representation or something, but I would probably get over it.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on June 8, 2005 4:17 PM



Molly Crabapple is pretty darn beautiful, even discounting for lighting tricks and photoshop, etc. No need to belabor the obvious.

Plus I really like all her literary decadent references. I loved all that stuff when I was her age. I was too lazy to learn French, but I had a picture of Baudelaire taped up on my wall, and I loved Huysmans and tried to discern dimly through translations what was so great about Rimbaud.

So, if I were 20 years younger I'd have, at minimum, a horrible "rock fan"-type crush on her that would last for days just based on the photos and the interview.

There are a few, small advantages to advancing middle age, such as not being so easily addled.

I was a little disappointed by the drawings. More cartoony than I expected. Since she seems so on the ball, I expected something really great. I was hoping for something more like the illustrations to Simplicissimus magazine, or the illustrated edition of Huysmans Against the Grain, or a more art nouveau or expressionist tone, or something. Instead it seems to me to be less like retro-Victorian and more R.Crumb. It is OK, I just thought for a moment it might be great. It so rarely is, of course, but one so rarely gets ones hopes up in the first place.

While I'm at it, check out this group of book illustrations. Very cool. Also, this group of Arthurian illustrations -- which I may have originally gotten from this site. Wherever I found it, much of it is extraordinarily good.

Posted by: Lexington Green on June 8, 2005 6:02 PM



Ian -- I once made some disparaging remark about silicon boobs to a group of young guys. They looked at me like I was a dinosaur and said something like, "Hey, that's how we want our sex stars to look." Boy, did I feel like a dinosaur.

Lex -- I think Molly's art is like a combo of R. Crumb and Aubrey Beardsley, but from a female perspective. Three good things, as far as I'm concerned. She'll hate me for saying this, but in person Molly's quite elegant in a sylphish way. One woman I was with said to me about Molly, "She's very Audrey Hepburn, or maybe Winona Ryder." She does have an earthy sense of humor, though.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 8, 2005 6:13 PM



To Lex: Aw, hon, give a girl a break. Really great drawing takes a lifetime to master, and I'm only twenty one. I count myself lucky for my few good scribbles, and for the people willing to buy them

Posted by: "J" on June 8, 2005 6:49 PM



Molly -
Your art is great stuff. Please keep making it.

Posted by: Ethan on June 8, 2005 8:06 PM



Oh, J, your stuff is good, of course it is much better than scribbles. There is no accounting for taste and I am picky as all get out, so you can't go by me. Didn't intend to be mean about it. Very, very few people produce stuff which I find to be actually brilliant. I hoped for a moment you would be one of them, since you toss off all these refernces to Kiki de Montparnasse and Victorian art and French decadents and all kinds of cool things that I also like very much. But these influences will continue to develop as you keep working, and artistic careers last a long time, as you say, and has many twists and turns. So, I'll check out your art from time to time.

Posted by: Lexington Green on June 8, 2005 8:48 PM



Lexington, you might like Ivan Bilibin's illustrations (member of same Sankt-Petersburg group *World of Art* as better known outside of Russia Leon Bakst).
Persian pages look a bit cheesy to me; I used to own a book of "1000 and 1 nights" (one of the bulk of lost in transition between countries and continents), published in Tashkent in the 50's with illustrations reproduced from the 20's edition. They looked much more mysterious and authentic in their simplicity; I recall Symurg The Bird, in particular.
There was also the lake where 7 kinds of fish(7 religions) swam; peri lounging at the pool; black harem slaves in shalvari embracing voluptuous women in flowing draperies, the Thief of Baghdad, etc...

Posted by: Tatyana on June 8, 2005 9:29 PM



Tatyana, thank you. Those are very nice, traditional Russian in inspiration with a modern twist.

They remind me a little of some of the wonderful paintings of Nicholas Roerich. I'll take any excuse to circulate this page of Roerich's paintings. Look especially at the mountain scenes toward the bottom as you scroll down on the right.

Also, I mentioned the Simplicissimus illustraitons, above. Some are here, scroll down. There was a set of the bound volumes of this magazine in the Indiana U. main library. I used to go in there and look at them. Really an amazing publication, running in the 1890s and up through World War I, in German. If anybody knows of a good site with lots of the illustrations, I'd love to see it. I'm not finding much on the Net.

One other thing. Since Molly does burlesque, I was reminded that one of the great rock'n'roll extravaganzas is going to be taking the road soon: Los Straitjackets will be touring with the fabulous World Famous Pontani Sisters -- though the Pontanis are in more of a floor show mode, or perhaps go-go mode, rather than burlesque when they are on stage with Los Straitjackets. Tour dates here. Don't miss it. I had a rave review of the 2003 tour here. All you old guys, get a babysitter and go. That's what the wife and I will be doing.

Posted by: Lexington Green on June 8, 2005 10:01 PM



Tatyana, thank you. Those are very nice, traditional Russian in inspiration with a modern twist.

They remind me a little of some of the wonderful paintings of Nicholas Roerich. I'll take any excuse to circulate this page of Roerich's paintings. Look especially at the mountain scenes toward the bottom as you scroll down on the right.

Also, I mentioned the Simplicissimus illustraitons, above. Some are here, scroll down. There was a set of the bound volumes of this magazine in the Indiana U. main library. I used to go in there and look at them. Really an amazing publication, running in the 1890s and up through World War I, in German. If anybody knows of a good site with lots of the illustrations, I'd love to see it. I'm not finding much on the Net.

One other thing. Since Molly does burlesque, I was reminded that one of the great rock'n'roll extravaganzas is going to be taking the road soon: Los Straitjackets will be touring with the fabulous World Famous Pontani Sisters -- though the Pontanis are in more of a floor show mode, or perhaps go-go mode, rather than burlesque when they are on stage with Los Straitjackets. Tour dates here. Don't miss it. I had a rave review of the 2003 tour here. All you old guys, get a babysitter and go. That's what the wife and I will be doing.

Posted by: Lexington Green on June 8, 2005 10:01 PM



I had planned for this to be a longer comment, but I think I'll just say, "Thank goodness for drag queens!" They're good for society and supporters of the marginalized. It's nice to see them recognized.

Posted by: Michael non-Blowhard on June 8, 2005 10:53 PM






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