I Was An Art Model For The FBI
The idea of being an art model was unimaginable, to me, a relatively quiet, low-keyed, cautious person. Me, a model, sure, the sun will rise in the west, submarines will fly and politicians will tell the truth, right?
"You want to pose for my class? We're looking for models," Marcia said. "I think you'll be great." She was my good friend and an art major at the college we attended. Her request stunned me. "Nude?" I asked, although I knew the answer. "Of course," she replied with a big smile on her thin face. I nodded. I enjoyed art, particularly photography and modern sculpture, and I liked my picture taken but this?
The modeling would be a few hours a week and paid three times the then minimum wage. It started in two days. I agreed. Marcia was pleased. She walked away still smiling. Buyer's remorse swamped me in less than five seconds. What have I gotten into?
I tried rational self-talk. It was mid-September, I was still in top bicycling form, and working out with weights at the college gym had toned up my muscles. I was tan and I looked good in a one-piece bathing suit this summer. I certainly did not look like Quasimodo. I looked much better than the old hunchback could ever look.
I would strike a few poses and throw in a couple of yoga positions. Might be kind of fun. Yeah, but you are going to be bare naked my anxiety retorted. Yeah, but you are going to make some nice coin my near empty purse countered. I had a good part time, evening job but I was still a struggling college student. The extra cash would be useful. My purse prevailed.
I cruised over to the two-story art building the next day and cased the joint. The classroom was empty. I stood in the middle where the action would occur. This is where I will be tomorrow, bereft of clothing. I counted two dozen chairs. It felt like center court at Madison Square Garden. I rubbed my hands. Why am I doing this? I thought, for the money, honey, for the money, and I was a little curious, too. Heck. I could try it once. If it did not work out, I take the money and run, I figured out.
I did not think much about it the rest of the day. I woke up around 5 a.m. and my first thought being I need to go to the bathroom. However, my second, third, and fourth thoughts were about the class. Somehow I managed to drift back to sleep without a tranquilizer or a shot of whiskey.
I waited for Marcia in the student union the next morning. She would escort me to the Garden I mean the art class. I sat in a comfortable chair glancing at the big clock on the wall as it ground its way to eleven when the class started. The fingers of my left hand tapped the chair. My right foot shook. Marcia appeared from the hallway to my left.
"Ready?" she asked. Her voice sounded eager. "Let's go," I said, trying to sound confident. I gathered my junk and off we went to meet my fate.
Marcia led me to the rest room to change while she continued on to her class. I quickly undressed and wrapped myself in the light blue, knee length bathrobe I brought. I stuffed my clothes into a gym bag plastered with the school insignia. I peeked out the bathroom doors. Several students were milling about. None of them looked dangerous. I stepped into the hall wondering what they might be thinking. No one appeared to pay any attention to the short woman in a bathrobe walking down the hall.
I dropped off my gym bag and its precious cargo at the department office as instructed by Marcia. "So you are the new model," noted the red haired smiling secretary, as she locked up my bag in a drawer. "Yes," I replied elaborately.
I paused outside the classroom door. Marcia and her friend saw me. They waved me in. They were smiling. "Good, our new model is here," Professor Anne said with a pleasant smile. Am I the only one around here who is not smiling? Professor Anne was a tall, middle-aged woman with lots of jewelry and lots of curly, dark blond hair. She had me wait in the back until they were ready.
Ten women and three men sat at their desks with various artistic tools in front of them. I decided not to make eye contact with anyone, not even Marcia. I stood in the back, my arms folded, trying to look cool, and collected. I was not nervous. My hands did not shake. This surprised me. Guess I simply did not know what to expect.
The moment arrived. Professor Anne motioned to me. I took off the robe and laid it across an empty chair. I heard no laughter or gasps from the multitudes. I casually walked to the middle of the room as if I did this sort of thing all the time. The tile floor was cool. I continued to avoid any eye contact. My mind and emotions were simply blank at that point; there was no panic, no nothing.
I began with a classic model pose. Start out with something simple I thought. Here I was, standing completely naked in front of more than a dozen people who were drawing me or whatever it was they were doing and I felt quite at ease. Professor Anne came dangerously close a couple of times as she pointed out various muscle groups to her students. I let her point out although her beads almost hit me in the face, more than once.
I went through my little posing program with an occasional suggestion from the professor without any problems. I felt truly confident and collected instead of faking it. This was starting to be enjoyable.
The class ended, and I casually walked to my robe and slipped it on. I do not know if anyone was watching as I maintained my vow about eye contact. I really did not care. I looked at a few drawings before leaving. The students eagerly showed me their efforts. Uh, okay, I thought. What did I expect? This was their first live drawing class I silently reminded myself. I turned for the door and my upcoming two o'clock class. Marcia and her friends were smiling big smiles. What else is new? I nodded back in the coolest manner I could muster.
Marcia called me at work that night with feedback. I was a big hit. Some of my poses students had described as "funky" but effective. The students and Professor Anne liked the muscular tone I displayed, for artistic educational purposes only of course. Who has been modeling before me, the Pillsbury Dough girl? They definitely wanted me to return. I told Marcia I would be there at the next class. She sounded quite pleased, with a smile on her face, no doubt.
In addition, I did return and finished out the fall term. The money came in handy as I expected. People connected with the art department invited me to several parties. They had the right girl, as Natasha is always interested in a good party. The semi-informal department Christmas gathering was pleasant, especially the food spread. A number of faculty and students praised my work for the term. "Don't give me praise. Give me money," was my clever and accurate reply. They laughed thinking I was joking. They offered no money.
I would have modeled regularly during winter term but my class and employment schedules did not work out. The department managed to squeeze me in for an occasional limited assignment, which I gladly accepted. Call me if there's a paycheck involved that is my guiding principle.
I am glad Marcia asked me to model back on that innocent, sunny, September afternoon. As for being an art model for the FBI, a girl can dream, right?