Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Opening

At last, Memorial Day Weekend has arrived, marking the unofficial start of the summer season (despite the periodic 80 degree temperatures we've already been having since March) - my favorite time of the year! And as I gear up for my first visit to a nudist resort this season (an occasion long-awaited through the winter), my mind strays constantly to the joys of being in a nudist-friendly environment outdoors in great weather (and the weather forecast for this weekend looks beautiful!).

I can still remember the experience of driving onto the property of a nudist resort for the first time in my life (has it already been two summers ago?). After I came through the gate in the privacy fence, the first thing I noticed was the flash of naked bodies in the distance, appearing starkly through the trees, jumping about in a game of volleyball. It was like some image from a vintage nudist magazine brought to life right before my eyes. The older woman's nudity at the check-in booth startled me, at such close proximity. It's not that I'd never seen naked bodies before (and not just impossibly fit porn star bodies), but it was the first time being in the presence of an experienced nudist - somebody for whom nudity is a total non-issue, in contrast to the hysteria so many textiles erupt into on command.

I, of all people, was actually scared and hesitant when it came time to take my own clothes off. I can assure you that it wasn't for lack of enthusiasm, but for so long, despite my yearning to be able to go naked in public and outdoors, without having to fear being seen (and the repercussions that would bring), I'd been programmed (for self-defense) to place a mental bar across my frequent desire to strip off my clothes, so that now - in an environment where it was welcomed, even expected - I still had trouble breaking society's programming and doing what felt natural (which is worth remarking, for the sake of all those people who complain about "weirdos" not having the self-control to avoid acting on their unusual, allegedly antisocial, desires).

But that didn't last long. All I wanted was confirmation that if I actually took my clothes off this time, I wouldn't be shouted at or hauled off to jail, and once I got it, I was naked in an instant, and stayed that way for the rest of my time behind that hallowed privacy fence (and probably longer than advisable once outside...). And the one remarkable thing about the nudist environment is how amazingly nonchalant the nudity is. It really is no big deal, and being in that environment really makes one wonder what the big goddamn deal is with people in the textile world.

Certainly it reinforces the belief that it is the textiles, and not the nudists, who are really the peculiar ones that are off their rocker. Moreso, given just how natural nudity really is. It also makes you realize how forced the whole ritual of getting dressed is. If it's the case that some situations do reasonably call for clothing (as many textiles argue), it's at least as true that other situations (like swimming) reasonably call for nudity. But then we get into issues like modesty and privacy - and I'll tell you what: prudes don't have the market cornered on the 'healthy lifestyles' debate. But I don't have the time or the patience to get into that right now. (Gotta pack - but not clothes!)

Given how much of a non-issue the nudity is, it's a mystery why so many people go so far out of their way, and pay money, to enjoy the nudist lifestyle. But they do - and I am one of them. I guess that's one of the paradoxes of nudism. But though the nudity is not a big deal in the sense of "oh my god, a nude person, gross (or sexy), shield your eyes (or start masturbating)!" the way that textiles make it out to be, it is a big deal to nudists in the sense of "this feels amazing, this is healthy, this is a beautiful way to live, I feel better, more natural, closer to nature, more comfortable, free, free to be myself, etc." So nudity really is a big deal, but in a positive way and not a negative way. And again, it harkens back to the question of whether it's really the nudists or the never-nude textile outcriers who are the mentally ill here. -_^

Have a great nudist season! And don't be afraid to take it outside while the weather is nice!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Obstacle To Freedom

I wanted to be an erotic photographer. But I discovered that there are a lot of societal attitudes that stand in opposition to the kind of erotic art I want to create. So I've been spending a lot of time studying sociology and sexology in order to understand why people have these attitudes, and what can be done to change them.

In the free world, you'd expect to be allowed to go and do your own thing without having to get all of society's approval first. But unfortunately, society has the ability (and even more concerning, the will) to make it very difficult for people to pursue lifestyles that go against the grain of what they believe. That's the danger of a society that values conformity over individual liberty.

I mean, just to choose one example, the whole "all prostitutes are sex slaves" thing is just an excuse to proselytize one's moral position on prostitution. A truly freedom-loving society would be more concerned with facts and the individual voices of those who allegedly need rescued (from their own perversion, no doubt) than advertising (and then enforcing) an all-encompassing moral position.

This should be self-evident to any rational, skeptical mind, except that we don't teach or encourage reason and doubt in people - our culture is polluted by the false virtue of blind faith, and the insidious duty to save the souls of others. Religion is a scourge on humanity, and politics is (unfortunately) a waste of time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crossing Boundaries

I want my art to cross boundaries. Not just gender boundaries - which it already does. I want people to be able to appreciate my art regardless of their sexual interests.

That's one of the pitfalls of working in erotic art. You run the risk that people judge it superficially for its erotic qualities, and then not give it a chance to demonstrate its artistic potential.

My art has two levels. The top level is that it consists mostly of sexy pictures - and I've never been too pretentious to accept that, and to welcome the attention that it brings. But there's another level, where I use my erotic pictures to make statements about things I care about, especially topics related to culture and sexuality.

And the thing is, I've noticed that my pictures draw in a particular audience. There are exceptions for which I am grateful, but mostly they are gay (or bisexual) men interested in feminine men, gender benders, guys with long hair, etc. Since the start I've lamented the fact that I'm not shooting pretty girls - not just because that's what I'd prefer to shoot, but because I figure the pool of heterosexual men in the world is a much bigger one to draw my audience from.

But that's not all. I've also lamented that more women don't view my pics (and have chalked it up to the - admittedly sexist - notion that women prefer nonvisual erotica), but this isn't simply a case of wanting specific demographics (straight men, women) to view my art. The ultimate goal, for me, is to produce art that anyone can appreciate, regardless of their sexual interests.

Now, that's kinda tricky if the kind of art I want to produce is specifically erotic art. And maybe I'm being a bit selfish and/or overly ambitious (it wouldn't be the first time). But I want to make art that speaks to cultural issues about sexuality, and I want to do it in a way that people can get something from it (and not be instantly turned off from it), even if they don't specifically view the subject of the photograph as a sexually appealing subject.

(Digression on Homophobia)

I think part of the problem involves the phenomenon whereby a person is typically disgusted by sexual triggers that they don't have. Homophobia is one of the most obvious examples of that. People who aren't gay frequently find homoerotica distasteful (or, perhaps more accurately in the case of people who don't have an ideological stance against homosexuality, men who aren't attracted to men will find sexual images of men (especially with other men) distasteful - seeing as so many men (understandably) find lesbian erotica a turn-on).

(Not all my photos are intended to be "artsy")

I used to feel that way, myself, but over time, I've discovered that my aversion to homoerotic imagery is as much a result of lack of confidence in my sexuality and fear of finding out that I might be turned on by it than it is an expression of taste. As far as disgust goes, there are certain acts or depictions of acts that I find disgusting - but this isn't limited to homoerotic imagery, as much hardcore straight pornography turns me off because of its excessive focus on reproductive anatomy and biological functions.

As I've expanded my understanding and experience of the great diversity of human sexuality, and come to the conclusion that there is nothing distasteful about homosexuality, I've learned to recognize that even if I were to find myself being turned on by homoerotic imagery, it wouldn't be anything to be alarmed about. And so it doesn't scare me anymore (or, to be honest, as much). And the accompanying realization I have is that people who make a big deal about homophobia are [not necessarily repressed homosexuals, but] people who still have internalized the belief that there is something distasteful about homosexuality.

And that, I think, is something that it would be beneficial for society to fight against. Even if one were capable of being turned on by homoerotic imagery, it doesn't indicate anything beyond that simple fact. I've discovered that I can be turned on by depictions (or descriptions) of sex acts I wouldn't have imagined I'd be interested in - and it doesn't mean I particularly have an interest in those acts, especially.

One thing I've maintained for a long time is that the realm of sexual fantasy is distinct from one's sexual activities in the real world, and while sometimes there are absolute overlaps, there are other times where that is absolutely not the case.

So we should really not be concerned about what happens to get us turned on, because we are still in a position to make a decision about what kinds of acts we feel comfortable engaging in. And in the long run, whether we discover proclivities we never had before, or simply expand upon a rich fantasy life, the result is that we find ways to better please ourselves, and, hopefully, become more accepting of the diverse range of sexuality that exists in humans.

The result of that being that more people will be comfortable to view images of naked girly men even if they aren't into that sort of thing, for the benefit of being able to evaluate those works as the culturally relevant and potentially fascinating pieces of art that they are.

(End Digression)

That's not the only solution, of course, and it's probably not immediately applicable. Another possibility is that I can simply shoot a broader range of subjects, so as to pick up audiences within each demographic, almost like a sniper. That might be a little tricky, given that the quality of my work output is dependent on my inspiration. But I could certainly be inspired to shoot pretty girls, and that alone would vastly increase my audience base.

Another possibility is to maybe sanitize a subsection of my work, so that, without excising the erotic component completely, I can make it relatively safe to view for a broader audience (much like the effect of using implied nudity in place of explicit nudity, or the greater art world acceptance that tamer erotica gets when compared to hardcore pornography). But I do already do this to some extent, as I like to create some variety in my portfolio. Though I will admit that I am heavily biased toward a certain type of output, as it is my nature.

I wonder if my goal is realistic. I've already stated that one of my primary goals as an erotic photographer is to create an erotic work of art that is so (artistically) good that it transcends society's taboo against sex and encourages people to share it and display it in places that erotic works normally aren't expected to be found. But I guess part of that relies on the enthusiast's own transcendent opinions on sexuality in culture (that he'd be willing to risk being responsible for that kind of exposure).

Similarly, my ambitious goal to create erotic art that can be appreciated by persons who don't primarily view it erotically, may actually depend on the person in question's ability to recognize the erotic quality of a work of art outside of his own specific erotic response, which may require an unusual level of sexual tolerance and sophistication.

But then, in the end, if I am asking people to be radically tolerant and sophisticated and transcendent about their ideas of sexuality and culture in order to properly appreciate my work, then ambitious though it is, it's not a bad requirement to ask people to aspire to, after all.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I noticed something interesting while I was putting a shirt in my closet today. Sometimes when I put button-up shirts on a hanger, I like to button the top button in order to keep the collar's shape. But I noticed with this shirt, that the top button was all the way down at the bust line. And I thought, "of course! Women are expected to show off their cleavage."

But then I thought about how men's shirts are expected to be buttoned tightly all the way up to the neck, and then, as if that weren't enough, you're expected to tie a noose around your throat (something that I've always despised). And it occurred to me, that feminists frequently complain about how women are expected to dress sexy, but it's not like men aren't expected to conform to stifling (and uncomfortable) dress standards of their own. And given a choice, I would MUCH rather expose my chest (regardless of who stares at it) than restrict my breathing - but there is no choice, because that sort of thing is determined by your gender.

And it just seems to me that if we were to be honest, then the fact that men have to present themselves with such a professional image - which, don't think for a second isn't about sex: women are stereotypically (whether true or not) claimed to be attracted to wealth and power - is a feminist issue, too! Except, this isn't really feminism anymore, because it's not just about women. And it annoys me the way feminists talk about 'male privilege' - because men and women are oppressed equally under their own social customs.

That's why I'm a post-feminist. I think feminism was a good idea back when the idea of women's rights and gender equality was novel. In today's society, though, women's empowerment comes at the expense of the subjugation of everyone else. It's no longer an issue of gender - especially considering the problems that are coming to light about transgender and gender-queer individuals in society. Today, to be a feminist is to be conservative, and is contrary to the doctrine of gender equality (which states that men, as well as those who identify neither as male nor female, deserve the same treatment as women). The progressive alternative is post-feminism, which adopts the righteous foundations of feminism, but applies them across the board without consideration to an individual's gender identity.

If you like to wear nooses - I salute you! If you prefer to go topless - I salute you, also! And it doesn't make a damn difference to me whether you're a man or a woman or something else entirely. :-)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Freedom vs. The Nanny State

The Nanny State

Here, let me show you
how to live your life, honey.
I respect your choice, even if it is
not the one I would make for myself.

This ad sends out an
unhealthy message, let's
remove it from public view.
Let's trust people to come to
their own conclusions, and teach
our children to be critical thinkers.
This work is offensive.
People shouldn't be allowed
to make works like this.
This work offends me,
so I will avoid it. But others
may indulge in it if they like.
That outfit is distasteful,
you shouldn't be allowed
to wear it in public.
I don't like your style, but
you're free to express yourself
that way if you want to.
This substance is dangerous.
It should be prohibited.
We should educate people about
the dangers of this substance,
but what an individual chooses to put
in their own body is their business.
That practice is immoral,
it should be criminalized!
I wouldn't choose to engage
in that practice, but I will let
others decide for themselves.
(violation of consent)

(freedom of choice)

Good intentions do not absolve the nanny from arrogantly and self-righteously sticking her nose into other people's affairs.