February 17, 2009

Naked in the Windy City

We're going to make buttons for the next conference. "I got naked for jo(e)." Or perhaps t-shirts. "I stripped for the blog." Maine Blogger suggested a graphic — butt cheeks that look like mountains, perhaps, or legs curved like tree branches. Really, we want some kind of symbol to encourage community amongst the elite crowd who have posed nude for my camera. Right now, they have only comment boxes in which to draw butt cracks in the sand.

Blogging tradition dictates that my conference roommate pose naked. But Maine Blogger had already posed for me last February. So I enlisted her help in coercing friends to strip for the blog. I have to say that the task was surprisingly easy. Perhaps it was the slumber party atmosphere in our room. (It was the first time Maine Blogger and I had ever roomed together: the first time, in fact, that she'd ever had a conference roommate, unless you count her husband, which I don't. "You will always be my first," she said to me in the airport as we parted.)

So many people are clamoring to pose naked for the blog that we're thinking we might need to have auditions for my next conference, which will be the Friendly Green Conference in June. Friendly Green Folk, perhaps because they do stuff like white water rafting and caving and hiking in the rain, are awfully cooperative when it comes to taking off their clothes.

We had time for two photo shoots. We could have done more, but there was this whole conference going on. I had to keep going to all these readings and booksigning. (Hey, not my fault at all. Tell my friends to stop publishing so damned many books.)

Our first volunteer was Yoga Poet. Well, perhaps volunteer is too strong of a word. But really, she came to our room of her own free will. And I got right to the point, "How about if you get naked, climb onto the desk, and do some kind of yoga pose?" To her credit, she acted like that was a perfectly reasonable request. We caught her at a good time; she was waiting anxiously for a phone call announcing that her next grandchild had been born, and so she was too distracted to protest.

She chose something called paschimothanasana, a seated forward bend. And of course, the pose was incredible because Yoga Poet is not only beautiful, but ridiculously flexible. Seriously, look at that photo and try to make your body bend like that. I tried and my upper body didn't come even close to touching my legs. (And yes, she *is* a grandmother. I'm guessing that photo doesn't match the stereotype of a grandmotherly academic.)

Paschimothanasana

Afterwards, we gathered around the computer and discussed the photos on the screen. "I'm glad you left the bracelets on — they're lovely." We were still giggling and looking at the nude shots when a knock sounded on the door. It was Artist Friend, who was meeting us for lunch. Have I mentioned before that Artist Friend is a guy? Yoga Poet slipped into the bathroom to put her clothes back on, while my lovely assistant escorted Artist Friend to the chair where he was allowed to sit while we women finished looking at the photos.

"Don't worry, I'm used to this," Artist Friend said, rolling his eyes. Yeah, he and I have been conference friends for years. Nothing surprises him anymore. So he stepped into the cloud of estrogen and obediently sat in the chair while we debated which photo to use.

"The first one – where I'm still wearing the towel – is actually a better photo than the completely naked ones," Yoga Poet said.

"It's the light. The clouds had moved in by the time we were taking the naked ones."

"No, it's the drape of the towel. I like that."

"But this is not a purely aesthetic project," argued Maine Blogger. "There is some value to being totally naked."

"I like the line of your body. There is no space between your upper body and legs."

Our second photo shoot involved Jaybird. That's her last name. Her first name is Nakedasa. Yes, that's what happens when you let friends choose their own pseudonyms.

By then it was Saturday, and we'd all been crazily busy, going to sessions and meeting up with friends and trying to talk to ten people all at once. So it was quite relaxing to gather in a hotel room and lounge on the bed with the camera, discussing lighting and angles, while Jaybird relaxed on a chair in front of the window, stark naked.

Relaxing

Artist Friend again arrived for lunch at just the wrong moment, and we made him first stand outside the room until the photo shoot was done, and then sit in the sequestered chair while we looked at the photos. If he felt excluded — well, it was his own fault. We offered to let him take his clothes off and join the exclusive "I've posed naked for jo(e) club" but he stubbornly refused to remove even his coat. There's a reason that my blog is the number three google hit for "photos of naked middle-aged women." They are the ones who think nothing of stripping for the camera.

The photo of Jaybird was lovely, of course. And it was taken on February 14th, which made it that much more special. I told her she could send it to her sweetheart. With a nice message: "Hi dear! Sorry we couldn't be together on Valentine's Day. But don't worry, I got naked with jo(e) instead."

(Readers who are mystified by this post and want to know the history of the naked photo tradition can check it out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.)

35 comments:

YourFireAnt said...

How about something a little enigmatic, like: WOACA@writingasjoe.blogspot......?

These two are lovely. Good composition too.

FA

Make my teeshirt yellow.

Lorianne said...

These naked blogger posts just keep getting better & better, although I'm starting to get nervous about the Friendly Green Conference in June. Do you think we could take up a collection to bribe Artist Friend to serve himself up as art? It seems he's always "around" (but not participating) when people are getting naked. I think his time is long overdue. :-)

jo(e) said...

What's the WOACA for? Women of a Certain Age?

But I *have* had some men pose naked. We're lining up some men to pose at the Friendly Green Conference in June. (At least one editor claims he'll be willing after he works a bit on his tan.)

It's funny, though. So much has been written about women not feeling comfortable with their bodies, but in our discussions of naked blogging, men have revealed that they too have their hang-ups ....

jo(e) said...

Lorianne: We posted at the same time! I think with Artist Friend, blackmail would work better than a bribe ....

YourFireAnt said...

Yes. For the teeshirts. Women of A Certain Age.

;-)

Leslie F. Miller said...

Count me in for a t-shirt. And though I'd love for us to get a room, I won't be auditioning for a naked picture. (Though you are good, no photographer in the world could make me look good naked.)

DaniGirl said...

Ah, jo(e), you know I am a longime fan of the naked blogger posts, but I must say that the pix are more lovely by the year. You might even consider a naked blogger calendar, or perhaps even a book? And, please add my name to the list of bloggers who want to strip for you... that's not too weird, is it? Crossing a personal boundary with this one, am I?

bsouth said...

That Artist Friend - he sounds like a right chicken!

The two pictures are fabulous - the Yoga Poet is indeed very bendy. I'd have been letting an awful lot more light through the middle.

I think you should let your friends choose their pseudonyms more often!

jo(e) said...

Leslie: I've seen enough of your self-portraits to know that you'd look beautiful naked. Perhaps at AWP in Denver?

DaniGirl: You're on my list! Next time we're in the same city at the same time ....

jo(e) said...

bsouth:

Yes, Artist Friend is a total coward.

(Maybe that kind of insult will get him to step up to the plate ....)

kathy said...

How is it that all your women friends are so beautiful?

Rana said...

Lorianne - I'm right there with the feeling somewhat uncomfortable about Big Green. Especially since I managed to dodge jo(e)'s camera last time!

Perhaps I should spend some time thinking up unrevealing poses. Just in case.

jo(e) said...

Yes, Rana, start thinking of poses. That's the right spirit!

Kathy: All women are beautiful. That's the secret. It's just that sometimes an individual woman doesn't realize it. That's what friends are for: to let us know we are beautiful.

Sandy said...

I tried the yoga-pose. OMG. I can't get my head anywhere near my legs.

your friend is amazing.

Magpie said...

I love the curl of the toes in the yoga pose.

ccw said...

As always, beautiful naked photos and wonderful stories to accompany them.

I nearly broke myself in two trying to do that pose. You should add a disclaimer. :)

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Those pictures are gorgeous, jo(e).

And God bless the Friendly Greens for being so eager to strip for your blog in June!

(my verification word: "fleshra")

jo(e) said...

Queen of West: I believe you're on our list for June. I mean, we need some Canadian representation ....

Rana said...

jo(e), I've drawn up an image that you can use for t-shirts, buttons, mugs, etc. Check your inbox!

Rana said...

Oops. That was a really huge email. *blushes*

Lorianne said...

Rana, I think that you & I should be exempt from naked blog pix since we shared our bare, entwined legs for Jo(e) last year. That counts for "half naked" in my book. Maybe if we offer up our naked ARMS this year, it will equal one naked body.

(I have, after all, bared my belly on my blog, so if you add up all the parts...)

jo(e) said...

Oh, you have to pose totally naked to get the pin or the t-shirt (or whatever we come up with). And Rana made a really cool graphic to go on it. Wait 'till you see it.

Surely, you will want to march around the Friendly Green Conference wearing a pin that says, "I got naked for jo(e)!"

Only the coolest people will be wearing them.

K2 said...

I would pose for you anytime! Your photos are always beautiful.

K (formerly Wol)

Rana said...

*laughing at the image of all these people wandering around the conference with these pins, puzzling people not in the know*

Lorianne, I can envision us baring one new body part at a time, each conference. ("This year, ears!")

jo(e) said...

People are always offering to bare just a foot or an arm or a body part, but I really like to include the whole body in the photos.

Because part of what I hate about the dominant culture is the ways in which women's bodies have been so often fragmented, the way women get reduced to breasts or butts or legs.

So really. It's a feminist issue. I want you all totally naked.

Rana said...

Yeah, I remember you making that point before. (That's partly why I decided to make the figures for the t-shirt/pin whole.)

Still, it does ramp up the perceived risk factor to go all the way!

jo(e) said...

But it's the process, not the product. It's sort of cool that I can go to a conference, and friends are willing to strip their clothes off and be totally naked while I take their photo. There's an intimacy about it, and a trust.

jo(e) said...

I should add that the whole naked blogging thing isn't for everyone. I have close friends who will never ever pose for the blog -- and that's okay too.

Anonymous said...

I've been talking to Artist Friend, who hasn't come out from under his canoe--which is overturned in back under the deck--since Monday morning. He feels better about things after jo(e)'s last comment. But he still says he's not posing naked for anybody, and I believe him.

Joy said...

I just googled

PHOTOS OF NAKED MIDDLE AGED WOMEN

You've moved into the number two spot.

Woohoo!!!!

AmpersandToo said...

should we ever meet, i'm totally there for you. naked.

it would be a way to celebrate how wonderfully comfy i have become living in this body of mine. :)

these shots really are so beautiful.

Kathryn and Ari said...

Hooray for nakedness! And, Ms. Very-Lovely-Jo(e), are you not glad at this point that you have hired an efficient assistant? You're going to need her with all of these offers and requests. I shall begin scheduling shoots for the Friendly Green Confernce post haste.

BlackenedBoy said...

You are so crazy, I don't know how you do it.

YourFireAnt said...

How she does it: she basically asks people to do what they already want to do.

;-)

FA

cheesefairy said...

How startling and wonderful to see that naked woman bent double! What an excellent tradition.