The great thing about drugs is that they’re an instant cure for boredom. And I’ve been pretty bored lately. Rather than do something constructive, I decided to entertain myself by picking up a half ounce of shrooms and doing some nude modeling at an art studio. I figured it would be an interesting story to tell at the bar afterward with some friends. Maybe have a few drinks, a few laughs, and forget about the whole thing the next day.
It’s this kind of impulsive naivete’ that resulted in one of the more horrific and sexually confusing episodes of my life.
I’m not entirely sure how legal this whole thing is, so I wont get into specifics, but what I can tell you is that the studio I decided on was actually a large theatre in a decent area of town that doubled as both a visual arts center as well as a ritzy cinema.
I had been given instructions in the weeks preceding from the director, so come my scheduled date, I arrived fifteen minutes early with a robe, driver’s license, and a half eighth already weaving through my gastrointestinal tract.
I filled out some paperwork in the office, and then made a beeline to the dressing room for some more psychedelic pregaming.
And by dressing room, I mean a lockless stall in a bathroom downstairs.
While pissing in and around the toilet, I swallowed the rest of the eighth.
For some reason I was getting hot, so I went to the sink to splash cool water on my face. The mirror revealed an unrecognizable visage of ignorant bliss as well as two formerly blue eyes that had become as black as my moral compass.
Under normal circumstances, being so openly stoned in public would freak me out, but according to Yahoo answers being stoned isn’t illegal as long as you aren’t in possession. Besides, if all else failed I knew I could just walk out of the building and leave behind a bunch of half-finished paintings to be dug out of the trash later.
I returned to the room and sat on the stage until the artists were done bullshitting with each other.
The room itself was a large studio that resembled a typical college art classroom, with tile floors, a large bookcase, and numerous easels, canvases, and studio lights arranged in a semi-circle around the stage.
I observed the artists as they entered the room and milled about. By showtime, there were seven total, all in their late forties/early fifties. Only two men showed up, and one of them looked like Al from Home Improvement.
The other five were nondescript women who were exactly how you would imagine typical white painters to look.
Eventually the ladies got done talking about their day and addressed the matter at hand- the posing and the painting.
“Attention everyone, this is Brett, our model for the evening.”
I smiled politely and informed the facilitator, Renee, that I would need some instruction as to what poses to do.
“Don’t worry, we’ll show how it’s done. Typically how this works is we’ll do five one-minute poses, break, then do three ten-minute poses, break, a couple twenty-minute poses, break, and at the end one hour-long pose.”
“You’ll want to get comfortable for that one,” chimed Al.
Thanks, Al. No shit.
“Deborah, dear, would you get the door?”
I noticed a piece of loose-leaf paper with writing on it covering the glass window of the door. As Deborah shut the door, the page fluttered to the ground. It read:
Light and Shadow Workshop in
Session. Please knock.
I was nothing more than light and shadow… I let that sink in for a bit, wondering how I was any different from a prostitute, offering my body for pay.
I also wondered why the room had suddenly fallen silent. The artists were at their canvases, but stared at me blankly. And how long had I been standing there? Anything and everything was becoming a source of distraction. I was mesmerized by the clock above the door. The second hand was moving much slower than normal.
Renee said something to me, but I didn’t understand what it was. I assumed she wanted me to take my robe off, but I couldn’t be sure. I’m such a shitty fucking listener. Goddammit.
Well, fuck it, it’s coming off sooner or later…
I untied the double-knot in my robe and for the first time, the reality of the situation hit me. What would they think of my body? Would they be disgusted by my hairy ass? Turned on by my abnormally large penis? They were certainly no prize pigs themselves and I was sure they’d had uglier models than me, so I’d probably be fine. Besides, this wasn’t the first time I had been naked in public. I streaked a baseball game once in high school and no one threw up. And fuck if they did. Still, I was nervous.
This was it.
As though I were unwrapping the present that is my naked body, I relaxed my shoulders, permitting the warm cotton to slide off my body and into a heap around my ankles. I instinctively glanced down at my penis to make sure it was still there.
Other than the feeling of cool air on exposed skin, there wasn’t any great sense of liberation or profound epiphany in regards to self-acceptance. But there wasn’t any shame or embarrassment either. However, the room was becoming incredibly bright, and my thoughts were erratic. The colors on the walls were comforting to look at, and fresh as though I had just walked out of a movie theater in the afternoon. I wondered if my ’70s bush brought them nostalgia.
I bet it did.
My nudity pleased the artists, though my transition into nakedness signaled the change of my role from individual to object. Although I was a performer, there was no applause. And although the artists were attentive, the attention was divided- split between my true identity and its seven parallel, oil-based doppelgangers. The departure of my identity from my body and subsequent objectivity left me feeling a very slight sense of degradation, but a degradation that touched me to the core.
This feeling gave way to numb indifference as Renee instructed me on the first of several lunge-twist variations. Deborah set a small baking timer and gave me the “go ahead” nod. The poses were straining as their intent was to elicit as much muscular striation as possible, but after the second or third pose I was limbered up well enough. Just as I was getting comfortable it became apparent that the posing itself wouldn’t be the main issue, but rather my surroundings.
First off, because I was made to hold my gaze on a specific focal point, the lack of eye movement amplified the intensity of the visual hallucinations. The tiled floor morphed into patterns reminiscent of childhood Magic Eye books, though not as pleasant. Instead of a friendly bunny rabbit or model airplane hidden in the hazy design, I was tormented by a patchwork of scowling faces. Nevertheless, the rhythmic dabbing of brush on canvas cast a calmness over the room and lulled me into a state of hypnagogia.
Yet once again, my complacency was short-lived as the sound of music from a stereo somewhere behind Deborah shattered the tranquility with the most stupid, godawful music mankind has ever created. The closest thing I can compare is to combine the theme song of Reading Rainbow with the soundtrack of The Room, mixed in with Sting. Make it into a CD. Now piss all over the CD, stab it repeatedly it with a prison shank, and play it on repeat. That’s about the gist of the sound I had to endure.
I later discovered that the CD was the soundtrack to Philadelphia. Here’s a link:
Now imagine, if you can, posing onstage, naked, high, and having your portrait painted to this shit-noise in the most unnatural pose you can imagine. Even more disturbing is the fact that every song was a cheesy ‘80s love song. This may have been the shrooms thinking, but I felt like I was the embodiment of some bizarre sexual fantasy completely at the mercy of the artists’ toxic imagination. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been thoroughly weirded out in my life, and this one takes the cake as the number two spot.
My next pose only made things worse. It wasn’t so much of a pose as it was a full cavity search. I was to turn around, in full squat, with my hands outstretched to the wall behind me.The only practical way I can imagine this pose being used in a real-life scenario is if you were on a boat and had to shit over the side while clinging to the railing. I wasn’t even embarrassed as much as I just felt bad for the six other artists who didn’t express any consent to this boner-killing pose when it was proposed.
The contrast of Peter Gabriel’s “Lovetown” against my gaping asshole was overwhelming.
It wasn’t long before the baking timer sounded my relief and I was permitted to walk around and stretch my atrophied muscles. As I did so, I felt a hand rest on my shoulder. It was Al, and his smile suggested that I had already provided him masturbational fodder for at least a week.
“You know, it’s really nice to have someone with your build up there…”
This must have been the elephant in the room, because pretty soon Deborah and Mary chimed in with their expressions of appreciation.
“Someone with some DEFINITION,” some other lady added, flexing her bicep in a mock-pose.
I was torn between flattery and revulsion.
“So, Brett, do you play any sports?”
As vain as I am, I was already uncomfortable and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“I JUST GET REALLY STRESSED AND I WORK OUT,” I blurted.
I was too high to tell if this was a weird thing to say, so I tried to explain my way out of it.
“Well, I come from a family of workout addicts and…”
This had everyone’s attention. I realized that this was indeed weird to say, and neglected to finish my sentence. And so began the five-minute poses…
Somewhere between the “Downward Dog” and the “Dangling Dingus” the second eighth of shrooms kicked in, morphing the artists’ faces into various tribal and animal masks. The very old man working next to Al took on the appearance of a snow monkey, while Deborah adorned her once accommodating eyes with one of those elongated African fertility masks.
In addition to the savages, the volume of the stereo seemed to be increasing to the point of becoming distractingly loud. I couldn’t help but fidget nervously against the roar of traditional Italian opera. I tried to distract myself by counting the seconds until the next ring of the timer. But when it sounded, I came to find that I had run out of ideas for poses. I was forced to take audience requests. Thankfully, a somewhat attractive older woman came to my aid.
“Here, get down like this… and maybe stretch your leg out like that…”
Between instructional poses, the woman stole glances at my penis, which was only about a boner’s length away from her face. I realized this was probably the first time in at least a decade that she had seen a young, virile man in the flesh. Perhaps she had enough of the old bull and wanted some of the young calf? Either way, the cougar angle was turning me on. I couldn’t help feeling conflicted given the fact that excluding doctors, every nude encounter I’ve had with a woman was of a sexual nature. Now I just had to stand there and act professional.
Things only got worse when we began the fifteen-minute poses. It was decided that I should sit on the edge of the stage, facing toward the artists, and with one leg crossed over the other and my head resting in the palm of my hand. Directly in front of me was the cougar. I had a feeling that my penis was particularly detailed in her painting given the relentless inspection she gave it. Even though this was pretty sexy, it wasn’t boner-worthy. But it got me thinking: what would happen if I did get hard in front of all these people?
The thought terrified me.
I learned a lot about my subconscious that night, because in spite of the fact that this would be the absolute worst time to get an erection, it was becoming increasingly difficult to stifle a potential hard-on, even in spite of the opera, confusion, and fear. I was hallucinating pretty bad at this point, and became utterly disconnected from my body, leaving me unsure of whether or not I was indeed getting hard. There was an intense feeling that my dick was melting off of my crotch, and naturally I assumed that this must be my body’s way of telling me that there was something going on down there.
Was I pitching a clothless tent? And more importantly, would they include it in their paintings?
They must be so disgusted. Here they expected and paid for a mature professional. But what did they get? Some perverted exhibitionist who was there for his own sick jollies. I could feel blood rushing to my cheeks and prepared to grab my shit and ditch.
I must have been blushing pretty bad because I was asked if the stage lights were making me hot. I tried biting my tongue and thinking of boring things — anything to distract myself from the sexual tension. But the more I tried to repress, the worse it got.
I needed to leave. But before I did, I had to know for the sake of my own morbid curiosity whether or not my genitals were indeed engorged.
Feigning a kinked neck, I moved my head side-to-side and up and down, using the brief window of freedom to glance down at my crotch. To this, I was met with a most pleasant sense of relief as my eyes set upon a lifeless member. I was so delighted by my shriveled contributions that I couldn’t help but beam at it with a sense of pride rivaled only by the parents of honor students. It was only until the sound of brush on canvas stopped that I returned my gaze to its former focal point.
My cheeks relaxed into a soft smile.
Even better, the CD had played all the way through! I thought I might survive this yet…
“Deborah, what’s the name of that album?”
“It’s the soundtrack to Philadelphia. Do you like it?”
“Like it? I love it! Do you mind if I start it over from the beginning?”
“By all means, go right ahead! I was going to if you didn’t!”
DEBORAH, YOU CUNT!
In addition to the shithole toilet music, my ears were also falling victim to Al’s jackassery. For whatever reason, he traded his paintbrush for a charcoal pencil somewhere around the seven-minute mark of my first fifteen-minute pose. But because of his doughboy hands, he kept breaking off the tips. He was the grown version of that kid everyone hated in elementary school who insisted on getting up to sharpen his pencil in the middle of a test. Every few minutes the already abhorrent ambiance was shattered by the rasp and wheeze of the electric pencil sharpener against Al’s fat fucking fingers jamming an ever-shorter pencil inside.
By what I can only assume was a physical manifestation of my internal anguish, the main studio light burnt out with an audible “click.”
“Oh, shoot!” Renee put her hands on her hips and assessed the situation.
“Well, what do you guys say we just get right to the hour pose before the rest go out?”
Yes. Please, for the love of God, let’s do that. I honestly wanted nothing more than to lie down for an hour and stare at the floor tiles. The colors from the wallpaper had gotten hot and were spilling over onto a floor that had now started breathing.
“I think you’re right. Let’s start the hour pose now while we still have light. Should we stop midway for Brett to take a break?”
“I’ll be fine,” I said.
I didn’t want to be interrupted. I just wanted to watch the floor and think. In accordance with Al’s wisdom, I laid down in a comfortable prone position propped over a stage mattress and made a pair of pulsating floor tiles my focal point. Deborah set the timer and once again, the melody of the paintbrush eased me into lazy reverie.
Renee took this pose seriously. She scratch-shaded her canvas with a deep, raw anger that contorted her face and left her eyes squinted beneath furrowed eyebrows. I realized that somehow this woman had managed to use my naked body and the power of art to relieve her of what I can only assume to be a particularly shitty day. As stupid as it sounds, It never occurred to me such a thing was possible. I held a newfound admiration for these people.
To be honest I don’t really remember a whole lot about the rest of the hour. I probably thought about the universe or some shit. Eventually the last timer sounded and I examined the finished artwork.
I must admit that the artists were quite talented. One detail that sticks out in my mind is that Al opted to go the Cubist route and painted me in the style of Picasso. Another used strictly black and white, while Deborah and Renee used an array of sunny yellows and hues of blue-green.
When it was all over I shook hands with the artists, snapped a few pictures, changed, and left.
Maybe there’s a lesson to this whole experience. Maybe not. I think what it really comes down to is that sometimes you just have to take drugs, get naked, and end articles abruptly.
Brett Blocker is a student at St. Cloud State University majoring in communication arts & literature. Follow him on Twitter.