Friday, September 5, 2014

Outfit of the Day (#ootd) - Double Special!

I wore this outfit the other night. I explained some more details about this pink swim wrap/dress here. With my hot pink purse, and my hot pink flip flops, I was a little bit concerned that it would look like a bubble gum factory had exploded all over me. There is a concern [all the way] at the back of my mind about "trying too hard" to look feminine (instilled in me by other people's reflections), but the truth is, I love the color pink, and I wore this outfit with confidence.

It's interesting to see how my wardrobe has evolved over the years, as I continue to collect pieces, and weed out the ones that don't suit me so well. In the beginning of my "transition" to living as a girl, I would grab anything and everything and try it out, but with experience - the kind of experience most women my age have decades more of than me - I've learned to focus on some combination of the clothes I like, and the clothes that actually look good on me.

That having been said, I'm a very girly girl. I've never really considered the ultra-feminine pieces in my wardrobe to be an expression of the effort I put into being a girl, so much as simply an expression of my personality. If I had been born female, and all other things being the same, I'd still wear all this ultra-girly pink explosion stuff. Because I just like it!

Moving on to a second outfit - I took this picture in the dressing room, but this wasn't an outfit I was trying on, it was actually the one I wore to the store. I was trying on another prom dress (the blue one on the hook). It was really short on top and bottom (which by now you should know I like), but the waist was way too small on me. It's a pity, because it had been marked down to the all-time low price of a dollar!

Anyway, the dress I'm wearing is another one of my favorites. I bought it from a girl doing cartwheels at a yard sale. I don't doubt it was a bit longer on her, but the length suits me just perfectly. It's green, which is my other favorite color, and though I do have trouble keeping it from sliding down and threatening to cause me to flash people in public, it's really easy to slip on and off and is nice and cool for the summer. I actually had one guy in the store that night go out of his way to tell me that he liked my dress. If he only knew. ;-p

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Q: How do you define art?

A: Firstly, I think it's important to ask the question, "how do you define art?", rather than "what is art?", since this is inevitably one of those subjects on which everyone will never agree. And so this is not my attempt to define art so much as an explanation of what I personally consider to be art.

True to my diplomatic nature, I take a rather subjective and radically inclusive approach towards art, that is inspired by the archetypal eighth grade literature teacher's philosophy on wrong answers: the only wrong answer is the one which you are incapable of defending. And so, if somebody - anybody - can make an argument that a certain thing is art, then I am willing to concede that it is art.

The reason I'm willing to do this is because, though art is a form of object, it is not the "thing" of art, but the "effect" it has on the human heart (whether that of the artist or the audience) that matters. Thus I believe that art can indeed be accidental, and both intent and interpretation can create art, not always in the same object.

To be (only slightly) more concrete, I support the theory that art is a [man-made] reflection of life, and the universe that surrounds us. It is an expression of existence as interpreted through human being. It makes some kind of statement (whether consciously or not) about - or it expresses a reaction to - being, as experienced by a conscious intelligence.

None of this makes any distinction between good art and bad art, nor between "high" art (i.e., fine art) and "low" art (i.e., pop art), which are independent scales that are themselves subject to a considerable amount of subjective interpretation. These are all just different kinds of art. But they are all art, and the important thing about art is that it comes from human hands (even as it sometimes reflects the world beyond people), and that it touches the human heart.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sex in Art

One of the troubles with trying to create material that aims to be erotic, is that people's sexual tastes are so varied. Just look at how many different categories the porn industry is splintered into. Different people react to different things, and even one person's erotic triggers can change during the course of one's life.

There may be a certain "common denominator" of human sexuality that can be tapped into, to engender a certain level of response in a large fraction of the population, but that can only go so far. You can write a story about a character who experiences erotic attraction in such a way that the audience can relate to it, but getting the audience to actually respond erotically is a guessing game.

Obviously, this is no reason to refrain from creating erotic materials - even in non-sexual contexts, you can't ever hope to please everyone. There will inevitably be some, for example, to whom the character you write to be likable or relatable is neither likable nor relatable. If anything, I think this supports the artist's impulse to please himself as much as anyone else, which people sometimes call selfish.

But, if you do indeed want your work to be able to be appreciated by a wider audience - and in many cases, this is important, if not the most important thing - what can you do? I think the answer is that you need to appeal to more than just the erotic impulse, so that the people who don't find the work personally very erotic, can still find it appealing in other ways. For example, to an image you could add artistic composition (which is indeed my approach, as an erotic photographer), or to a film you could add drama.

I think this is an excellent argument for a closer marriage between art and pornography, because as it stands, the two are diminished by being kept so firmly separated. Pornography loses its interest and value because it has no redeeming qualities beyond the erotic impulse (which is probably narrowly directed, in most cases, to the subset of the population who will find that instance of pornography particularly arousing).

And on the other side of the divide, we have beautiful art that is afraid to say anything about human sexuality; and when it does, it is derided (whether for its base morals as interpreted as a piece of art, or its pretensions when considered as pornography) to the point that other talented artists are discouraged from applying their talent to the subject, thus resulting in the vast majority of depictions of human sexuality being of the single-minded, unartistic, pornographic variety.

I think anyone and everyone who wants to change this should take heart, and stand up. Ignore the simple-minded masses who insist on fitting everything into neatly delineated categories, and the prudes and moral conservatives who insist that sex as a subject is not befitting the same kind of careful and profound treatment as every other subject ever considered by an artist. And go out there, and make art. Art that crosses boundaries. Art that defies conventions. Art that shatters taboos, and dares to color outside the lines. Get out there and shake things up a bit.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Last Day of August

I recorded a video with this title three years ago, so maybe I should make this some kind of annual tradition, to do something special on the last day of August, in celebration of the summer nearing its end. I guess that's kind of what people use the Labor Day holiday for, but I've always been kind of independent about inventing my own personal holidays.

I probably say this at least once every year, but my favorite season is summer, and thus it stands to reason that my favorite quarter of the year encompasses the months of June, July, and August. Although summer officially starts toward the end of June, and doesn't end until nearly the end of September, I find that the weather in June is more consistently summery than that of September, plus the anticipation of the coming summer during the last days of spring is a happier time than those days when the autumn looms just over the horizon.

Not to say that I don't enjoy the autumn, because I believe it is a beautiful season all its own. And this is something I've really only been able to fully appreciate after I finished my schooling, since before that the fall was always imbued with the utter dread of the anticipation of the new school year. But now that that's no longer part of my life, I can appreciate the mood of the autumn. The approach to Halloween is a perfect time for watching horror movies - and as a humongous horror fan, that gets me very excited.

So it's really not until the winter blows in, and the days are at their darkest and coldest, and I have to start thinking about (read: dreading) Christmas, and the obligations that come with birthdays in my family (even my own) in the following months, that I start to get depressed. But even though I can appreciate the fall, it's still sad to see the summer reaching its end, as the days begin to grow shorter and cooler, and to me it seems like the last day of August holds a kind of significance.

So yesterday I drove to the nearest lake to go swimming with a friend and some of her family. The weather was mild but very humid, with dark clouds hanging in the sky. It drizzled a little bit, but not enough to spoil the day, and in any case, it's likely that the weather kept others from the lake, since we were the only ones there at what I am assured is usually a popular part of the shore (it was the first time I'd ever been to that particular part of the lake). But though the lake water was very cold, the air was just warm and humid enough to be comfortable, and so we had a good time.

This is the outfit I wore to the lake, over my swimsuit. It's a hot pink swim wrap I bought at Walmart several years ago. I love it so much, I own two of them! It's really quick and easy to slip on or take off, and is really short at the bottom and the top (which I love), but unlike other dresses of its sort, the neck tie helps a little bit in keeping it from falling down. Actually, when I first bought it, I thought it was just a skirt, then was delighted to find out that it was really a dress! (The thing hanging from my nonexistent "cleavage" is my keys, lol).

This is the swimsuit I wore, which is the one I dubbed the "mankini" in my Swimsuit Model post. The great thing about natural parks as opposed to man-made pools (other than the lack of an admission fee), is that they usually have less restrictive rules regarding "community standards". (I speculate this same difference exists between fenced-in nudist resorts vs. nudist beaches, but I've never been to a nudist beach yet to compare).

The pool I go to would probably kick me out if I wore a Speedo (they threaten as much on their rules board), and barring a political protest regarding sexual discrimination (which I considered last year), since girls are allowed to wear the skimpiest of bikinis (so long as they aren't thongs), I don't know what if anything can be done about that (indeed, a lot of people are of the opinion that a business should be allowed to discriminate based on their personal principles).

But there's nothing illegal about a man wearing a Speedo-type swimsuit on public land - in fact, you could arguably get away with wearing a thong, although I'm not sure I'm ready to argue that one with law enforcement - and I'd be surprised if anyone with authority had the gall to tell me to change in this instance. So, damn straight I'm going to exercise my right to personal expression as the citizen of a free country! Though, I still find it utterly depressing that homo sapiens is so neurotic that it won't let its members go nude (a.k.a. "natural") when swimming in such a place...

It's not a very large lake, but it is pretty.

Lol, my skin is totally overexposed against these rocks. It looks like it's glowing! That's my moontan, for you. :p

Basking on the rocks...

Is that a crocodile?!

The water was teeming with small fish, who were not shy. They would swim all around you, nipping at your fingers and your toes and the rest of you. I am told this technique has been used in spas as a sort of exotic massage.

My BFF/roommate, who occasionally doubles as my assistant, took most of these pictures with a cell phone camera. If I had known we'd have the whole beach to ourselves, I might have brought my bigger camera. But you never can know with these things sometimes.

This pose was totally inspired by a Jock Sturges portrait.

And this is me doing my Sports Illustrated impression. :p

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Stockings

It's funny - because stockings are the source of a very prominent strain of fetishism, and particularly among so-called "transvestites" - but I tend to view them as an instant turn-off.

I am totally and absolutely a "leg man", but - and maybe this is in some way related to my interest in nudism - I find the bare leg (and, in the right circumstances, to a not inconsiderable extent, the bare foot) to be extremely sexy.

Stockings, as I see it, are a way for women to wear things like skirts that would normally show off the legs, but without actually baring the legs. Which, to me, is a travesty. Why would you cover up one of my favorite parts of a woman's body? It seems too much like censorship.

Fishnet stockings can be considered an exception, due to their highly porous nature. Thigh-high stockings may also be considered an exception when paired with a miniskirt, or worn with lingerie, since they draw emphasis to the exposed thigh. Still, they don't trump bare skin.

I know there are practical reasons for wearing stockings - like, for example, maybe it lets women wear skirts in cooler weather, or if they don't consider their legs to be of a sufficient quality to bear showing off (or if they just haven't bothered to shave their legs in the last couple days).

And that's fine. I'm not saying that stockings should be outlawed. But generally, I view them as a turn-off. Much like skorts (obviously dreamed up by a prude), which tease with the promise of a potential panty flash, without any of the risk of that actually occurring (and isn't that largely the fun of wearing short skirts?).

There are a lot of articles of clothing that I do find sexy - probably even to the point of fetishism - but they are almost without exception skimpy garments where the emphasis is on what they expose rather than what they cover up (e.g., short shorts, miniskirts, bikinis, flip flops).

Whatever exceptions there may be to this rule probably include uniforms of a certain sort (like cheerleader uniforms). Of course, I have an appreciation for things that are feminine and girly, like curves and flowy garments and sparkles, but I'm not sure I would class those as styles that I find particularly sexually appealing, so much as attractive on a different scale.

Here are some more fishnet body stocking pictures, for your enjoyment:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Prom Dress Dreams

I'm slowly learning the ins and outs of the low-budget fashion world, and one thing I'm discovering is that every year after the spring, around about the time that school lets out, you begin to see once-used prom dresses turn up at drastically reduced prices in the thrift shops and overstock depots.

I love prom dresses. They're probably my favorite form of feminine formal wear. (Lol, say that five times fast!). There's so much variety to pick and choose from; they come in all sorts of colors and styles. Yet most of them seem to evoke a feeling of the young girl's dream of attending a fantasy ball, when she can dress up in an extravagant dress and feel like a princess, if just for one night. Plus, there's an element of flirty romance involved that is more suited to the whims of late adolescence than the ultra-serious kind of approach you get with wedding gowns and formal adult parties. It's more playful and ... imaginative!

Anyway, I harbor my own fantasy of going back in time, embracing my feminine side at a younger age, and attending my own high school prom in a beautiful prom dress, instead of the boring and restrictive tuxedo I wore (apologies to anyone who thought I was handsome in that tuxedo, including my girlfriend at the time). I can't turn back the clock, but I can still dream of owning a prom dress that makes me feel fabulous and magical.

And since I'm not going to shell out a queen's ransom in gold to own a dress for which I'll never have a proper occasion to wear, I'm pretty much limited to the commercial hand-me-downs. And there are some problems with that. First, I have to find a dress in a color and a style that I like. I actually did get one prom dress already, via a personal hand-me-down, that fits me, and looks nice enough, but wouldn't necessarily be my dream pick.

Which brings me to point two - it has to fit. For me, that can be tough. Luckily, I'm pretty skinny (in relative terms), but I'm still not totally built like a girl. In particular, I've got a very wide chest and shoulders, which, actually, does not balance out the fact that I don't have breasts the way you might think it would - instead of evening things out, I have trouble getting things to fit around my upper torso even as I don't have the volume to fill out the front.

The last thing, which is particularly relevant in the second-hand market, is that the prom dress has to be functional. It stands to reason (and my experience bears this out), that the most discounted dresses (and therefore most attractive from a purely financial perspective) usually harbor some serious damage - be it a busted zipper, a torn skirt, or major staining. On a humorous note, browsing through these used prom dresses gives me the impression sometimes that their final fate was met at the hands of a horny teen impatiently trying to strip out of her dress once she finally scored some privacy with her date at the end of the night.

Anyhow, I found a prom dress today at the Goodwill that I absolutely adored. It was in a color I liked - a pretty shade of green (my favorite color before I got turned on to pink) - and a style that screamed out to me - short on both the bottom and the top (plus, the skew of the skirt is very flirty). I've read fashion advice in (prestigious!) magazines that stress the importance of balancing skin exposure - crop tops with long pants, miniskirts with long sleeves, things like that - and frankly, I think it's a bunch of sex negative, prudish hogwash. Fact is, some people are afraid to be "too" sexy - and a lot of that has to do with the insidious culture of slut-shaming, whereby those women who have the courage to show off their bodies are shamed by their peers and the culture at large for not adhering to the arbitrary (and disgusting) mandates of the purity police (the above mentioned fashion mags are also guilty of this, though I'm not sure they realize it).

So anyway, if it's typically called "skanky" or "slutty" by the general population, I'm usually all for it. And a dress that cuts off just above the bust, and just below the thighs, is like perfect for me, even more so considering that the one thing I'm probably least confident about showing off is my midsection, which is not as tight and toned as I would like. But, alas, when I tried the prom dress on, though I managed to squeeze it around my hips, I could not get it to zip up all the way around my chest. In these pictures, I'm basically holding the edges of the dress up to see what it would look like if I could only get it on. It's too bad that it didn't fit, because I think it looked fantastic on me...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Power of Suggestion

This image actually came out rather a bit more perverted than I had intended. I just wanted something sexually suggestive, but because it's tricky to get two clones too close to each other, I had to play around with my options... Still, if you ignore the implication of the clones together, separately I think they're both very erotic, and the image comes together pretty nicely as a whole, so... Hell, I like to broach the taboo in my art.

The Power of Suggestion

I watched Enter The Dragon once a long time ago, and I was inspired by Bruce Lee's philosophy on the "art of fighting without fighting". Certainly, it seems in the spirit of the first rule of martial arts: the best way to win a fight, is to avoid it in the first place. What does any of this have to do with my art, you ask? Well, it has inspired my view that erotic art is the art of sex without sex. While it is certainly not always the case (especially as I contend that sexually explicit images - the type most people label as "pornography" - can be just as artistic as anything else), much of erotic art tends to rely on the power of suggestion, rather than full disclosure. This is a form of indirect communication than can be considered coy, but also extremely clever in the right hands.

I like suggestion particularly because it has the power to conjure ideas that don't directly exist in the source medium. It's almost like a kind of magic. I can show you a picture of a person's body not engaged in sexual intercourse, and it could make you think of sexual intercourse (obviously, there's a wide margin of error, but that's part of what makes suggestion so mystical). It depends a lot on psychological conditioning, which is itself dependent on culture. You can make statements with and about suggestion that have much to say about the connections we draw - as individuals, and as a culture - between more and less disparate subjects. Like the connection between nudity and sex, or the connection between sex and sin.

Suggestion is also a very important weapon in the battle between free speech and censorship. And it can be used by both sides. The censor can demonstrate a connection between an allowed form of speech and a disallowed form of speech, and use it to make an argument to increase the forms of speech that are disallowed. I, on the other hand, like to use suggestion to demonstrate the disconnect between thoughts and speech. If certain speech is restricted - sexually explicit materials, for example - this demonstrates a cultural discomfort with the subject of sex. But, at least so far, we cannot restrict people's thoughts. So I can induce people to think about sex (within a margin of error) without using restricted materials, through the power of suggestion, by showing them something they associate with sex. And if the censor tries to move against me, that just reveals his real goal: to regulate the thoughts of his fellow citizens - regulating speech is just a means towards that end.