We at had the pleasure of interviewing the intrepid . Our aim with this interview series is to provide insight in how other people approach their work but also allowing us in getting to know our fellow group members. Below is interview.
Nude-Form Question #1: Let's start by telling something that you'd like us to know about yourself?
DRLIGHTNESS Answer: Everyone in my family is an artist; I have always been known as the writer. Through modeling, I am able to collaborate in the creation of the fine art for which I have a life-long passion.
I earned a doctorate in Modern Drama and entered the Academy as an English professor. I have published poetry, fiction, scholarly articles, and books. One of my books has been translated into Indonesian and Chinese and republished with the imprint of Viva Books in India.
In college I minored in dance and history, and I was fascinated with pre-med courses such as chemistry, human biology, human physiology, and psychology. But writing and literature always won out, and that was the road I took, all the way to its end.
Dance and theater worked well with my Modern Drama specialization. Although I taught English, at some point I also taught speech classes and created a course in Oral Interpretation, a dramatic performance without sets, lighting, other actors, or costumes.
Q2: Tell us about how you got into modeling?
Answer: I was 59 years old and took a trip to Paris with a former student.
A young man approached me in a Sephora shop on the Champs-Élysées. No small talk; he asked me to go to a party with him. I declined, so he wrote two phone numbers on a perfume card - one where he was staying in Paris and the other his home phone in Brittany.
I was two months from turning 60, yet the eyes of young men were on me all over Paris. Two weeks after returning home, these experiences inspired me to begin a modeling career. I am now in my seventh year.
Q3: What attracted you to the medium?
Answer: I view modeling as a performance art, unifying body and emotion to tell a story non-verbally. Since verbal communication has been my life's focus, modeling allows me to enter the visual world of fine art.
Q4: Do you partake in any other creative endeavors?
Answer: Yes, as I detailed in Q1.
Q5: Work long enough in this business, you're bound to experience some comedic episodes even if its only funny in hindsight. Would you be willing to share us one of yours that happened during a shoot?
Answer: I am so intense during a shoot, I don’t think anything strikes me as funny at the time. The laughter usually comes when we review the day’s shoot. I never intend to be funny, but I am deliberately “out there.” I get quickly bored with cliché concepts and poses, so I push the envelope so far that I’ve done outrageous things. They sometimes become a hilarious final product.
Q6: For the sake of this question, we'll take for granted that "respecting the model as a human being" is the unspoken first piece of advice. What other advice would you give another photographer, perhaps working w/ their first nude model?
Answer: Look for the unique person who has come to model for you. Who is this man or woman? Rather than putting the model into cookie cutter poses and preconceived compositions, dance with the model, go with the flow of who this person is and becomes as the shoot evolves. Forget gimmicks. Go for the truth.
Q7: What do you feel are your modeling strengths?
Answer: I go for the truth. I am completely uninhibited during a shoot and completely myself. I studied Method acting, and I know how to reach inside for authentic feeling. I was a “theatre person” in high school and always thought I’d go back on stage when I retired. Instead, I find a dramatic outlet in modeling. I believe art, whether literature, music, theater, dance, or film, must be entirely honest.
Q8: Anyone willing to take a critical look at themselves will admit they have areas where they can improve. What's one of yours?
Answer: At 66 I have done everything I set out to do. Now I am icing the cake. My self-confidence could be perceived as arrogance. I also have the no-nonsense directness of someone my age; since I don’t look my age, people don’t often overlook this as they do for other people who are almost 70. I don’t think these are weaknesses; they are more like problems I present for other people.
Q9: Any nuggets of wisdom you'd like to share w/ other models?
Answer: Lately, with billions of photographs posted on deviantART, I have started to notice it takes a great deal more than a beautiful woman and a photographer with technical expertise to make a memorable image. So many models look dead or have only one expression. Modeling is a performing art, and that means using face and form to express meaning, to tell a story. Both model and photographer have to be willing to go “out there” and take a risk. We’ve seen everything there is to see already. People want authenticity.
I advise other models to hold nothing back. Show anger, joy; expose your heart and soul. Whether subtle or overt, convey thoughts and feelings; beauty alone will not carry a work of art, and it will not distinguish you from thousands of other beautiful models. But your heart and soul will. That is what is unique about each of us, the inner light of our life and all that has happened to us prior to this moment.
Q10: What is the most common set of difficulties or obstacles you've experienced as a model? How are you working to overcome them or how did you overcome those trials?
Answer: I don’t like to talk about it, but the stigma against modeling nude is devastating. I’ve seen this ruin marriages, friendships, and careers. I’ve seen family members hurt, and I’ve seen families condemn a member for participation in the creation of nude art. The attitude toward nude art today is vastly different from the attitude toward it when I was a college student. Tolerance barely exists among “polite” society and even impolite society.
So, yes, I find it difficult to continue this work, to display it in my home, to allow it to be shown in galleries in my area, and even to freely share all the wonderful things I do with others. Despite knowing the consequences, I “outed” myself in December. Now the world knows who I am and what I do. It was harder for me to try to hide behind a pseudonym than to stand proudly beside my work and take the tomatoes.
Q11: What is the proudest model related moment?
Answer: Shooting with Carrie Leigh. Our layout in the Spring 2010 issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine is the capstone of my modeling career. A photographer I’ve worked with for two years saw our layout and said, “That’s some very strong posing!” Carrie is a great artist, and I am grateful, amazed, and thrilled I was able to rise to the occasion.
Q12: Leaving out the specific who, ever have any shoot ideas pitched where you were like "uhm, no chance in hell is that going to happen"? If so, what was it?
Answer: I’ve been asked to do bondage work (no chance in hell) and a pornographic video (no chance in hell).
Q13: What are some visual artists who you admire, whether they be here on or elsewhere? The answer need not be limited to the photographic medium either.
Answer: My love of fine art began with painting and sculpture. I also have a passion for architecture that grew immensely when I lived in Rome. There I walked among the sculpture of antiquity, the paintings of Botticelli, and the sculpture of Bernini. I have visited all the great art museums of Europe.
As far as photography, Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Carrie Leigh, Francesca Woodman, and Inge Morath, among others, have been influences, but painting and sculpture influence my own work more than any other fine art medium.
Q14: Favorite cartoon character?
Answer: I am a dog person, so I like Mike Stevens’ dog cartoons in The New Yorker. When I was a little girl, I loved the schmoo in the Lil’ Abner comic strips.
Q15: Who'd win in a 3-way fight: pirates, ninjas, or robots? But most importantly, how does the winner win?
Answer: Robots win, of course. They win the way Robo Cop wins. They have superhuman computerized abilities, and you can’t easily hurt them. And I like the way robots just plug ahead and step all over everybody. They do this without malice. It’s cool.
Q16: What's your favorite movie? Any reason why its your favorite?
Answer: TMy favorite movie changes with time. I am a fan of New Wave, Film Noir, and Italian Neo-Realism. But nobody does it like Hollywood. A third of my doctoral dissertation was a critique of the 1955 film “Baby Doll,” screenplay by Tennessee Williams.
I studied all the film versions of Tennessee’s work when I chose him for the subject of my dissertation. At one time, my favorite was “The Fugitive Kind” with Marlon Brando, Joanne Woodward, and Anna Magnani. Today I prefer “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. That film has a happy Hollywood ending, and with the current state of the world, I prefer something uplifting.
Q17: If you were dictator-queen, what you would change about either photography, modeling, or the industry itself?
Answer: Once you learn the rules of photography cast them off and shoot from the heart.
Q18: What's your favorite book & why?
Answer: Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” It’s a fascinating novel, surreal in its structure, and Existential in its philosophy.
In general I admire a lot of great females who get behind the camera. I think men and women will capture expressive images vastly differently and I wish I could capture emotion at times the way that many female togs seem to be able to do as second nature.
Q19: Anything else that you'd like to add or ask us here at Nude-Form?
Answer: I am a proponent of the group system on dA. It has allowed us to find compatible neighborhoods in what has become a mega-site. But a group cannot function without a leader.
I would like to commend you for your relentless work with this group and Nude-Form. I have come by administration of several groups, and now I realize the commitment and energy it takes. I so admire you for hanging in with us for so long. I’ve watched some groups crumble and others are fraught with such division I’d say they’ve had civil wars. You’ve kept an even keel despite members’ complaints and demands. Some days just having everyone submit to the wrong folder makes me crazy. So…
It is an honor to be featured here.
We appreciate you allowing us to pick your brain. Keep up the great work & best of luck to you in the future.
For those that are interested (or are new & have not had an oppurtunity to read them), here is a list of our past interviews. We hope they're illuminating in some way.
Beyond that if anyone in land wishes to have something asked on a regular basis (it could be photo/art related or irreverant), you are encouraged to the group. The same applies if you wish to be interviewed (it saves me the energy in thinking who I should pitch the offer to & whatnot). It doesn't matter if you're mainly a model or a photographer, we're interested in a variety of perspectives for this series.
Have a great day everyone & don't be shy in providing feedback. It helps let our interviewees know people read these.