March 06, 2012

Practically naked

So I was at this conference, watching Famous Slam Poet work his magic on the stage and remembering why I love poetry and people who play with words. Famous Slam Poet is charismatic and charming, and he’s got a ponytail. I’ve been showing students his performances on youtube for years. When the friend sitting next to me lent me her iPad, I sent out a single sentence on twitter, just to sum up my reaction: “So now I’m wondering if I can get Famous Slam Poet to pose naked for my blog.”

I wasn’t serious. But I got replies to the tweet. Mostly, people said things like, “YES! Get him to pose! I will love you forever!” Clearly, I’m not the only woman in the country with a fangirl crush on Famous Slam Poet.

Then one woman wrote, “Uhm, you could ask his wife.” She added the twitter handle of his wife to the conversation, so that she’d see what I’d said. I read the tweet aloud to my friends and we all started talking at once. Famous Slam Poet is almost my age — a grown man. Why would he need to consult his wife before posing for me?

I responded on twitter: “Maybe SHE would pose. That would be even better.” The woman married to Famous Slam Poet replied over twitter: “What’s all this about posing?” I sent her a link to my blog, just so she could see the context. I wanted to make it clear I’m not some weird stalker, but rather a perfectly normal woman who happens to take naked photos at conferences.

I thought that would be the end of the story. With 10,000 people at the conference, the chances of me meeting Famous Slam Poet’s wife were pretty slim. I suppose they would be higher if I actually was a weird stalker, but as I keep pointing out, I’m not.

Then on Saturday night, we ended up at an exclusive party held in the VERY SAME ballroom where Barack Obama watched the election returns. I can’t tell you who threw the party because, to be honest, we weren’t invited. I’d crashed the party with my conference roommates. I’d started out with just one roommate, Lovely Maine Writer, but we offered to let a friend, Mormon Farm Boy Turned Novelist, sleep in the corner of our room, and so we were three.

So anyhow, goaded by a fourth friend, a writer generally regarded as the bad boy of nature writing, we’d crashed a private party, a suite filled poets who had clearly been taking advantage of the free drinks. That’s when I saw Famous Slam Poet. I pointed him out to Lovely Maine Writer. “Hey, that guy you just cut off on your way out of the bathroom? THAT is Famous Slam Poet.”

She’d heard me blathering earlier about how great he was. “The guy with ponytail?” she asked. Next thing you know, she was over talking to him and pointing me out as the woman who likes to take naked photos. That’s one of the things I love about my roommate: she takes initiative.

Next thing you know, I’m telling Famous Slam Poet about the naked blog project. I repeated the twitter conversation, and he laughed like crazy, and then brought me over to meet his wife, who it turns out, is super cool and smart. She’d been to my blog and looked at the photos.

“You should pose for me,” I said to her. I’d changed my goal as soon as I saw her. She was beautiful. 

Unfortunately, my own rules prevented me from taking any photos that night. Although I break other people’s rules quite freely — I wouldn’t have been at this invitation-only party if I didn’t — I tend to adhere to my own rules pretty strictly. The naked photos have to be taken in natural light. And all participants have to be completely sober.

“But it’s not about the photos,” said Famous Slam Poet later in the evening, some time after we’d listened to my friends sing a drunken rendition of “The Piano Man.” He grasped the point of the project right away. “So women tell you intimate stories about their bodies, but the stories don’t end up on your blog. The photo you put on the blog is actually the least revealing thing about the woman who poses for you.”

“Yep,” I said. It’s crazy, but that’s how this project works.

Famous Slam Poet and his wife had to leave the next morning so we couldn’t set up a photo shoot. But it didn’t matter. I got to meet Famous Slam Poet and hang out with him. We got into a long conversation with an 84-year-old Writer who is quite famous himself but who had never even heard of Slam Poetry. I got to see up close that Famous Slam Poet was really as gracious and charming in person as he is on stage. It’s wonderful to meet a celebrity and find out that he’s really as down-to-earth and nice as his poetry would lead you to believe. Whether or not you ever get to see him naked. 

16 comments:

Sandy said...

I want to go to a conference with you.

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

Sounds like a really fun evening.

Magpie said...

This made me smile.

Stacey said...

I definitely want to go to a conference with you someday!

liz said...

That is awesome.

Anonymous said...

So jealous.

H.

Rana said...

Going to a conference with jo(e) is awesome but exhausting - she knows everyone!

:)

jo(e) said...

Rana: But apparently, I think my blog friends LIVE INSIDE my computer and forget where they live in real life!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

How fun! Wish I had been there. Maybe next year in Boston. I MISS YOU!

Wendy said...

Yeah. Me too. I think one of my goals in life now is to end up at a conference with you (a not unreasonable goal, I think given we are more or less in the same field if I ever get into any field).

feMOMhist said...

this makes history conferences seem even more boring than they are, which is quite dull. The only naked photo taking is of the wrong sort I'm sure at our conferences.

YourFireAnt said...

Well, didn't ya get Katy? (or are you waiting for Monday?)

;-)

Enquiring minds wish to know.

jo(e) said...

Don't worry -- I did get a naked photo. I just haven't gotten around to posting it yet. I've been so busy playing catching up since I got back.

Naturally I can't reveal WHO I took a photo of ....

YourFireAnt said...

Well, what about the guy sleeping in the corner? He a chicken or something?

;-)

jo(e) said...

Actually, he posed for me last year. And he had to leave on a 6 am shuttle, so I didn't have enough time and natural light to coerce him into posing again.

Amber said...

Thank you so much for introducing me to Famous Slam Poet!! (On YouTube, I mean)

His work is stunning.