Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A word of two from Mr Rollins...

“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have.”

Thursday, 8 April 2010

The last of the Johnny Walker.

Every relationship is different. With every new love comes new desires, new needs, new reactions. It's hard to learn from past mistakes when you are dealing with a unique entity... the love that you have right now, as opposed to the love that you had with so-and-so in your past. It also makes each relationship special; not bound by the same rules, the same ways of behaving and loving as those that have come before, and also no better or worse. I believe that there is an essential truth in that common phrase of new love "I've never felt this way before". Most of the time we dismiss such statements with an inward roll of the eyes and thoughts of "You said that last time" but repetition does not equal falsehood, especially when we are talking about what we feel. Our emotions are a slippery beast, we try to take a firm grip and look the wriggling creature in the eye; to name it, to understand it's nature but despite all of our efforts it rarely delivers on our expectations. Chameleon-like, it morphs and mutates in front of our very noses, responding to and reacting with the unique external and internal stimuli of the moment. Every man I have ever loved I have loved differently, the words we use to describe our feelings may be the same but the experience is inimitable. I cannot see how it can be any other way... each new love brings with it an entirely new set of variables; a different man, a different me, a different environment, a different history etc etc.

And so each relationship is a journey where we recognise the road signs but where the landscape is as unfamiliar as a foreign country. A pilgrimage of the heart to find the place where, at that moment in time, we need to be. An odyssey for our heimat.

(Heimat by Kelly Humphries)

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The kinks in our tales...

fetish...  Psychologyany object or nongenital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation. kinky... Slang. marked by unconventional sexual preferences or behavior, as fetishism, sadomasochism, or the like.

I must confess a certain preoccupation and fascination with the objects, situations and behaviours that titillate us. Whether it is a friend, a potential or current lover, or just someone I sit across from on the U-Bahn my thoughts occasionally drift to the question...

"How kinky are they?"

My gut is convinced that everyone has a fetish or kink buried deep inside of their groins, gently simmering, just waiting for the right moment to thrust forward with wild abandon. They may be ashamed, inhibited or just plain ignorant of it's existence but it's there nonetheless. Or is it? Am I just assuming that everyone has the same little dark secrets that I have... the gremlins that only ever come out to play when I'm naked and sweating and no longer care about anything save for the dance of my nerve endings?

I guess it depends on what we would class as a fetish or a kink. Lingerie and stiletto heels have long been a source of sexual stimulation, no man that I've ever met has had any problem admitting they are aroused by the sight of a beautiful lady in a fetching two-piece from Victoria Secret - although I have known men that are not really interested in the lingerie but just in getting the delicate lace and silk off so they can grapple with what's underneath. What I am really interested in are those twisted little pleasures that we lust after, what we fantasize about when we are alone, but which we would hesitate endlessly about revealing to another person. These peccadillos may be fairly common but for whatever reason they maintain a level of stigma that requires us to be wary about advertising our desire for them. Spanking is one of those kinks that I am convinced is very, very common... yet not really admitted to, except when firmly attached to a generous helping of humour (you know, just so that everyone understands it's 'just for fun' and in no way at all actually turns them on). I have always found that even the most reserved and unadventurous men are partial to a bit of 'slap and tickle'... and it's never 'just for fun', it turns them on

But what about women? A sweeping generalization would suspect that men are more psychologically open than women when it comes to partaking in peculiar pleasures... that when there is the possibility of a naked and willing woman in front of them men will do pretty much anything to seal the deal. Women, on the other hand, are seen to be more discriminating, more inclined to call an abrupt halt to the proceedings if their companion suggests something beyond the boundaries. Yet, from my own experiences and those of many of my female friends it seems that it is often the fairer of the sexes that wins the prize for "Most Freaky in the Bedroom". Maybe it's just the women I hang out with...?

Years ago... when I had a television and didn't just stream endless hours of CSI and Law and Order on my laptop... I saw a documentary on English terrestrial TV that followed a group of women during a week long stay at a health spa. During the course of their stay they participated in a series of experiments and discussions on their sexuality. It was fascinating viewing and I'm constantly irritated by my inability to remember any of the production details, however, I've recently discovered some similar research conducted by Meredith Chivers of Queen's University in Ontario (a concise article in The New York Times can be found here). The findings of both studies suggest that women are, at the very least, physically more responsive to any stimuli that even so much as hints at sex. Albeit, with a clear distinction made between reflexive sexual readiness and desire. A evolutionary explanation for this dichotomy has been presented in Chivers upcoming paper for the Archive of Sexual Behaviour, she theorises that reflexive vaginal lubrication is adaptive in that ancestral women who responded automatically to a wide variety of sexual cues, horny or not, were less at risk of injuries resulting from unwanted vaginal penetration. Injuries that can lead to infertility and even death therefore drastically limiting one's reproductive potential.

I like this idea. I like it because it opens up a world of possibilities to me. If my body is already predisposed to respond to a stimulus then the only thing stopping my enjoyment of that stimulus is my psychology... and that can be subject to change in a way that my biology isn't, or at least isn't without the aid of some major surgery, and while there are some inhibitions that I hold dear (and/or are equally 'hardwired'), there are many others that I am amenable to exploring.

And exploring is much more fun when you have someone to explore with. Hence, why I never get tired of wondering what strange water floats our boats.

(All photographs copyright of Darktess)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

The pride of a naked lady.

Most of us nude models have at one time or another experienced negative reactions to the work that we do.  It might be from the well-meaning but condescending friend who warns us that the photographer wants nothing else but to 'groom' us, that they will ply us with pretty pictures and compliments and then... BLAM! before we know it, we're high on smack, on a cum-stained mattress being fucked from behind by a pimply youth called Dick Hardy. Or it could be the colleague who posts pictures on the internet to warn parents that a brazen slut is teaching their children Algebra. It might be from boyfriends who just can't seem to get past the fact that somewhere out there another man is jacking off to photographs of their girlfriend... as though a photograph is needed for a guy to shuffle his deck, personally I think it can be taken for granted that most women have been the object of a male strangers masturbation fantasies, nude model or not. A depressingly high number of people (and judging by frequent posts on forums such as Model Mayhem, many nude models themselves) view photographers that work with nudes as little else but dirty old men that press their shutters whilst pulling their pork.

The reality is often (I won't say 'always' as the depths that human beings can sink to never surprises me) as far from that belief as is possible.  There could almost be inverse relationship between my most sexy shots and the actual level of sexiness that accompanied the capturing of that shot. With my early work that relationship was in part due to the circumstances of the studio that I worked in... a widebeam narrowboat that afforded little room for maneuver within a 6ft x 6ft impromptu tent of black fabric. Thoughts of fingers and tongues delicately whispering around my pussy were invariably supplanted by thoughts of how in the fuck I was going to keep my balance in ridiculously high hooker shoes as the boat rocked violently from the wakes created by late night rowers. In the 4 years that I have been doing this job I have never had a photographer behave in an untoward fashion... even the so-called GWC's who clearly enjoy photographing more than they enjoy photography. I realise that this is not the experience of all models... I appreciate that I have been lucky... or, that I have taken the necessary precautions to stack the odds favourably in my direction. But isn't that something that we all have to do on a day to day basis? Crossing the road can be a dangerous endeavor, but we (hopefully) learn fairly early in life to find a pedestrian crossing or at least to look both ways before stepping out into the void. Indeed, there are psychopathic, sexual predators that are also photographers... but we can say the same for dentists, or taxi drivers... anyone remember John Worboys?

Another classic misconception is the notion that any woman taking their clothes off for money (or whatever else it is that is given in trade... my personal fav is TFL - Time For Latex!) is somehow being exploited, being used. That they are victims of a patriarchal society that views women as objects, little more than playthings for the appetites of men. The majority of the models I have met are the farthest from that stereotype as you can get. They are empowered women, confident and unabashed in their sexuality.

I began modeling because when I reached my thirties I finally understood that my body was my body... I could lose a little weight here and there but ultimately my ass would always be more than a handful, my tits would never fill a C cup and I would never reach the giddy heights of 5ft 3inches. And most importantly, I no longer cared. I was happy with what I had, and I knew that this was as good as it would get... from now on it was downhill all the way (literally downhill in terms of said ass and tits) and I wanted something to be able to look back on when I was a wrinkly old spinster, scaring the local kids with my crazy witch hair and toothless grin. I was also painfully aware that, like so many women, I had spent a large part of my life hating my body; seeing the imperfections, comparing myself to my own idea of what constituted a beautiful woman... namely, anything that was the direct opposite to my own appearance. I wanted to love my body, my sexuality. And nude modeling gave my body that love. It gave me the opportunity to view my own body objectively, I could see my body from the outside, as a whole thing, not just as the fleshy shell that I inhabit, but a thing (and yes, I will proudly say an object) of beauty. I saw how the wrinkles of fat around my soft belly could cast sensuous shadows, how the stretch marks that blossomed during puberty now look like silver tiger stripes that glisten in the soft light. I saw how the dimples in my ass cheeks simply begged to be grabbed. In short, I saw how wonderful my body is, because and not despite of it's idiosyncrasies. Although my photographs are posted on the internet, or displayed in exhibitions, I have never modeled for anyone other than myself. I would still do this even if no one else on this earth ever saw the images.

This enlightenment is also something that feeds my own photography, I don't care who she is, what she looks like, I would love to photograph every woman I meet. I want to be there when they discover that they are beautiful. My greatest triumph to date has been the reaction I received when I showed a good friend the pictures I had taken of her one evening as we tried to mend her broken heart with red wine. She started crying and asked how I had made her look so beautiful. I replied that I hadn't done anything. She was beautiful and all I did was see it, and photograph it.

And why does it matter if you are beautiful or not? For the same reason that it matters how good a person you are, how intelligent you are, how empathic you are, how generous you are. Beauty is not something that requires facial symmetry, a 0 dress size, legs that go aaallll the way up. Beauty is the quiddity of a thing, the imperfect perfection. It is there in all things if you just take a second to look for it. It should be glorified in all it's forms, celebrated with 21-gun salute, bellowed from the roof tops, a 60ft tall flashing neon sign hung over it's head... because there is more than enough shit and horror and hate and self-loathing in this world. It's about time we fucking relaxed and just let a little beauty into our lives.

(Post inspired by the thoughts of a fellow nude model Article)

(All photographs copyright of Darktess)

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Moments Between.

I've been attempting to impose some form of order on the chaos that is my photography. I have a hard drive overflowing with folders within folders within folders with little organization save for the most fundamental. So, here I am, inspired by a close friend of mine who has years more work, and hundreds more gigabytes to wade through than I, to collect together the best of the best in one single folder. In doing so I can hopefully avoid the sinking, heavy feeling that inevitably forms in the pit of my stomach whenever someone asks to see a selection of my work; no more trudging through thousands of pictures to find the few sparkling gems that demonstrate my vision and ability, instead, a quick click on the special folder and there they are.

In pursuit of this shared goal, my friend and I sit at a large desk in the middle of the room, our laptops back to back like an ABBA video, our fingers feverishly working a mouse, alternately building and smoking joints, regularly making yet more coffee and constantly muttering to ourselves like lost map readers.

After three days of this I can't say in all honesty that I am any closer to the shore but what I have discovered is a wealth of old modeling photographs that I had forgotten existed. These images evoke a strange but nonetheless pleasurable feeling within me. I see the woman in the photographs and I remember how she was experiencing an awakening; an awakening of her true identity, that the woman that she always wanted to be was, in fact, the woman she was. The first year and a half of modeling, when I worked exclusively with one photographer, was a fantastical adventure that changed my life. Where I am now, who I am now is a direct result of those countless Monday night sessions . They were my therapy; albeit a therapy that included at least two bottles of good wine and the eternal discussion of ever new and interesting ways to tie me up. We would eat, drink, smoke, talk and photograph our way through to the early hours of the morning and I always left the shoot with a lighter step than that which I arrived with.

And mingled in with the glamorous, staged images are pictures taken in those moments between shots, the casual snaps taken during conversation and cigarette breaks. It is in these photographs that I see the love, the respect and the wonder that exists between two friends. These are the images that show me my own self through the eyes of another.

(All photographs copyright of Darktess)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Fate is a capricious beast. It smiles on some while shitting stones on others. Yet, at one time or another we all suffer the 'slings and arrows' and so when those we care about are under fire we know their pain. We remember our own wounds and how we thought we would bleed forever. We also remember how the raw,  gaping hole in our bellies healed with time; became filled with a new joy or the simple fact that life does indeed carry on. Our hearts smile again despite our desperate attempts to keep a grip on the aching inside; the ache that bears witness to the depths of our love and the meaningfulness of our experiences.

We all know these things but these truths hold little comfort for those lost in a merciless here and now. I wish with all of heart to be able to find the right word, the magic phrase that will take the pain away. But I know it doesn't exist. And I know that my words are so easy, so full of shit, because I have been lucky. The damage inflicted on my body and mind was fierce but fleeting, and although it has left a tender spot which will ache for many years to come, my flesh has healed. I am happy.

(The First Flowers by Kelly Humphries)

Saturday, 27 February 2010