I’m in a calendar. In fact, I’m the pin-up shot for December 2011, a festive position in which to be. The position is probably due to all the parti-colored feathers and the champagne bottle, from which I genuinely did swig. The picture-taking took place during one of those nights in an artists’ loft, and when in the artist loft, you do as the artists do. There were many women tromping around in various states of delicious undress, and all I can say is that I’m delighted to be in their company. Also, I took pictures.
You can buy the calendar over here on The Rumpus, and when you do, you can feel good about supporting The Rumpus (even if your primary motivation is to get pictorial evidence of my fake but spectacular bosoms. I mean, holy levitating boobs, Batman. My breasts look as if they’re going to float away. It's an optical illusion aided by the corset I’m wearing; my actual breasts do not defy gravity to any extent that strains either credulity or natural law). I built the wings in the photo myself, and those I’m very proud of, though were I to do it again, I would engineer them a bit differently. As it turns out, $220 worth of feathers weighs quite a bit.
In this calendar, I’m portraying one of my very favorite literary figures from one of my very favorite books by one of my very favorite writers: Fevvers of Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter. Carter’s prose humbles and inspires me; she has that rare ability to craft a sentence whose syntax evokes intrinsically while challenging absolutely. Her writing gives me that frisson of pleasure that comes only when the strings of the heart and the head are plucked simultaneously. Add to this precision Carter’s predilection for magical realism and her unabashed socialist-feminist political leanings, and I swoon.
The novel, sadly, is out of print in the US. That’s a deep down tragedy and no doubt about it.
I’m feeling fairly fond of the photo in the calendar. I have a vexed personal history with photographs. I didn’t take good photos, and then I did, and now I don’t so much. I think the calendar shot makes me look both hot and daft in equal measures, and I suppose I can live with that. Once upon a time, in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, every picture I took was good. My driver’s license shoots looked like Francesco Scavullo had taken them, full-on with beauty lighting and wind machine. It’s not the case anymore. My face has shifted, and where the transition from 3-D to 2-D used to play up the angelic angles of my cheekbones, now it highlights wrinkles.
That’s life, I suppose; it’s also death, but slowly. I don’t rue aging, but I do suddenly come to understand why actresses do fucked up things to their faces. Were I to blow my face up twelve feet wide and luminous, I’d probably scramble for the Botox, Juvederm, and Collagen too.
Lately, I’ve gotten drawn into photography, in part because I have friends who are models, in part because I have friends who are photographers, and in part because I got an iPhone, and every douchebag with an iPhone and a Hipstamatic app thinks she’s a photogrpher; I am that douchebag. Taking my own photographs and looking at the photographs of others is a lot like writing myself and reading Angela Carter. There is what I can do—and then there is what other people can do. I pray for the wisdom to know the difference, as well as the temerity to keep on going in the face of crushing self-doubt.
One of those photographers who makes me die a little bit is Symon Chow. I wrote about him for Filthy Gorgeous Things a couple of months ago. I came to his photos through seeing one of his nudes reblogged on one of the Tumblr sites I follow, but all of his pictures slay me. I love his full-frontal commitment to a vintage aesthetic, and I’m equally partial to his eldritch sensibility. Any man who has been given full rein to run amok in the Mütter Museum’s storerooms earns my eternal, bone-dusty respect. I’m just sad I’m no longer in the full flower of my photogenic self.
Time passes. You snooze; you lose. I snost; I lost.
So what, you ask, is the thrumming subtext in all this text? It’s this, dear reader, you may notice my face here is lots and lots. All kinds of my face. Even a gossamer shred of my first name. Which is because my “anonymity” has become more or less a charade. Everyone I know knows I have this blog. I used to have to keep it on the down-low because I taught at a Catholic college. Then I had to keep it on the down-low because I worked at a conservative community college. Today I work for a man who picked me because of the strength of my sexytime scribblings. I maintain this second name because this identity is more famous than I am.
Also, it’s fun to have doubles. Just ask any model, artist or photographer.