I've always wanted to try out life modelling, and this weekend lent the opportunity - drawing instructor Mia Rivka Gubbay invited me to Winterwell festival in Cambridgeshire, with the added proviso that if I wanted to earn some money I could take my clothes off and let drunk people draw me. Without really thinking about it, I said yes.
Nearer the time, I began to get anxious about what I'd agreed to. What was 'normal' pubic hair? What if I started my period in the middle? What if I saw someone I knew? ... If I'd let the worries take over, I realised, I'd waste the experience, so I gave my bikini line a brief, inefficient wax and decided that:
a) If I didn't know what 'normal' pubic hair looked like it wouldn't matter, and maybe no one did: I should just have it how I liked it.
b) If I started my period it would be embarrassing but worth it for the story I'd be able to tell afterwards.
c) If someone I knew saw me they'd probably just be impressed by my huge balls.
So, I did it. I practised the moment when I took off my robe, so it wouldn't be awkward, and pretended I was completely at ease, and after the first few moments, I actually was. Then, after about 10 more moments, holding poses became uncomfortable, an exercise in mind over matter: you become very aware of your muscles, posture and breathing. Halfway through the first hour and a half, I also managed to convince myself that I HAD started my period - I could feel liquid gushing down my leg and over my ankle. I desperately tried to communicate with Mia telepathically - I'd already made her swear she'd get people out if she saw any blood. To her credit, she did ask if I was okay. But I wasn't sure about using the code word we'd worked out. If I used it once on a false alarm I wouldn't be able to use it again. So I just carried on and hoped for the best. Which is lucky, because it was all in my mind.
We had 2 sessions of 1 and a half hours each, and they were both very interesting experiences. I'm glad I did it, and glad that it was a less formal environment than an average class. The students were a mixture of people who'd done it before and those who hadn't, drunk and sober, men and women. One drunk man kept us entertained by lecturing us on Geography. Most of the 'good' drawings were taken away by the artists, but they let me keep the rest. But actually some of those drawings are my favourites. Luckily I made friends with my body long ago, otherwise I may have had some issues with some of their proportions! (I know I have a small head but.... really?)
Mia's blog describes some of the work she does: http://imaginationandskepticism.tumblr.com/