Photo Issue Extra - Behind the scene of "Nudes sans tattoos"
Angela Boatwright asked me to be one of the girls featured in her fashion spread for the Photo Issue. Having worked a slew of jobs in the fashion industry, I've been on my share of shoots – and none were as fun as getting naked with a bunch of other chicks in Spencer Sweeny's Lower East Side loft (Sweeny was not there to witness the singular pleasure of an apartment full of primping soon-to-be naked girls. He was banished.) In a phone call beforehand, Angela explained to me that it was accessories-themed, featuring a handful of girls wearing nothing but belts and shoes. There were only two rules: no tattoos and no bush.
Knowing that I have an assortment of questionable ink, Boatwright assumed I wouldn't want to sell them out by getting them airbrushed out of a photo. She was wrong. Each of my six tattoos were inked between the ages of 18 and 19, and like most teenagers I was sure my taste was timeless. Nine years later I suffer minor embarrassment from the "classic" images of pin-up girls on my ribcage, a dagger piercing a rose on my forearm, swallows on my chest, and the sinker, a gigantic skull with butterfly wings that unfortunately incorporates nearly every tattoo cliché known to man into one piece. The skull itself looks like a Mexican wrestling mask, which is surrounded by flames, brass knuckles, crowns, card suits, spiderwebs, and, bewilderingly, a lotus flower. What was I thinking? Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror naked and try to imagine what my body would look like untouched by the needle, so the opportunity to see myself naked without tattoos was a plus. When she told me she wanted me to wear a bullet belt, the deal was sealed.
The shoot took place in May. In my typical anal form, I was the second to arrive (the makeup artist had been languishing in the lobby of the building for a few minutes). Slowly everyone started to trickle in and Boatwright informed me I was going to be shot first. Gulp.
Annette, the stylist, laid out a dazzling array of pumps and belts, but I ended up not being able to feast from the cornucopia of accoutrements. My belt was predetermined and I ended up wearing a pair of my own heels. We shot a second combo with me in a black and white belt and some red Miss Sixty heels but they didn't make the cut.
I know nothing about makeup. I'm strictly a clothing gal. I'll spend 30 minutes on arranging a perfectly balanced outfit and leave the house with unbrushed hair and a bare face. Having someone do my makeup for me is an odd treat for me, and probably for the artist too – I've got no preferences or hangups; you can pretty much do whatever you want to my face and I'll take your word for it.
Now even though there were to be no vaj shots, I still was anxious about my grooming. The idea of showing up to the set with an overgrown bush was nerve-wracking but going full bare like I generally do in the summer would feel too exposed, so I settled on a clean bikini wax with a modest triangle covering the essentials. When you think about it, there are a lot of things a woman can potentially be anxious about when having a nude portrait taken. I wish I could say that I didn't give a fuck but I did.
For those unfamiliar with Angela Boatwright, she is a consummate badass. Possibly born 30 years too late, she's a photographer who would have been perfectly at home the top of the 80s rock photography game. Since the glory days of rock 'n' roll photography are passed, she instead takes beautiful portraits of angel-faced scumbags and the last remaining heroes of heavy metal. Or, in this case, a bunch of naked girls in their early 20s (at 27 I was the oldest model on set.)
As the day went on things got a little goofy and the seeds of fantasy fulfillment were sowed. We flashed each other, tried on Spencer’s stuff (sorry dude) and tried to chill each other out as much as we could.
Many weeks passed and I got word the Photo Issue was up online. I checked it immediately and was immediately relieved. Somehow I had managed to get away with being the least exposed of all the girls. Not even a nipple was exposed, a relief to my mom, I'm sure. Still, there I was, naked except for a bullet belt and a pair of heels on the internet for all the world to see. Naked and tattoo-less. More jarring than my creamy white ass was the spaces of retouched skin where a badly aged pin-up girl and that godawful backpiece had been. I'd never get laser tattoo removal (a ghost of a tattoo always looks worse than the actual tattoo ever did) but it sure was satisfying to see my revirginised skin. Check out the before and after: goodbye tattoos and fading tan lines, hello perfection!