“Wanna get naked for art and money? ART!” I cracked up when I got this text. How awesome is my life? “Full deets if you’re up for it,” the communiqué continued. “100 bucks. It’s not gross at all, for a super 3D video installation.” A hundred bucks? What wouldn’t I do for a hundred bucks? “In public or on film?” I asked, intrigued.
“Film,” was the response. “The artist wants you bad.” Ah, it’s always nice to be desired. “She’s the one filming?” I inquired further. “Yep, can be private if you think I’m a pervert,” my perverted friend replied. “And if you do, you are right,” she added. Hah! All my friends are pervs! My reluctance was more about who else would be “on set.” “You’re okay,” I told her. “I was more concerned about dudes.”
After she assured me that there would be no one else watching, I requested the artist’s “mission statement” so I’d have an idea of her vision — the full “deets” — and agreed to participate. Sunday evening I was the last in a succession of subjects for Elizabeth Valleau‘s project: people posed in an assortment of situations, sets and costumes, filmed with a 3D video camera. The “look” Elizabeth chose for me was one of “imperious amusement.” She put me in an Alexander McQueen tailcoat over a ruched white blouse with plenty of cleavage and agreed that the antique crown I’d brought — burgundy velvet and brass filigree set with gems — worked. I’d worn a pair of nude panties, very understated, and she said it would be fine to keep them on. Though I was prepared to be totally naked, I’d expressed an aversion to being bottomless. But somehow the combination of fainting couch, crown and McQueen made sense. Off they came.
The shoot itself consisted of merely staring into the twin lenses of a 3D camera. It was like gazing into the eyes of WALL-E. Elizabeth and my pervy friend Corinne sat while I stared. Part of the vision was an “object voyeurism frozen in time” or, more enticingly, “torture porn.” Each subject was to hold their pose and the camera’s gaze. The shoot would end when the subject broke character. My accompanying soundtrack was Marlene Dietrich and I almost lost it when she began a German version of “Surrey with the Fringe On Top.” But I made it through that one and four more, in addition to the song that was playing when the camera “rolled.” And I won! No, not a prize or anything. I just managed to last longer than anyone else had. Oddly, this was my goal going into it. I wanted to feel…victorious. Victorious and a hundred bucks richer!