I don’t want to blow any ones mind here, but I used to model.
No, no, no. Don’t curl your lip like that. I was a figure model. I worked at my art university for the illustration, painting and animation departments. I don’t know how much you know about art but in art it’s very important to learn to draw a vast range of forms so that you can properly art them. That includes people who look a bit like walking tubers wearing lipstick.
Which is where I come in.
It was a pretty good job. Paid well, allowed me to set my own hours. It did generate some confusion in people who asked what I did to pay the bills. There seems to be some misinformation about what figure modeling entails. When I say “I pose for art students both clothed and nude so that they may better their craft by having a living example of how the forms of the body work or how clothing functions on a moving person.” What people hear is “I demonstrate female ejaculation in front of young adults for money! It’s just like stripping! I have daddy issues! Does anyone have any cocaine?”
After I get done explaining that I’m not sexually available to students or teachers the next reaction I would typically get was, “Oh, god! I could never let people look at my body for that long! You must be really comfortable with yourself.”
Which I suppose that’s the case. Or maybe I’m just resigned to it. I know I’m a fairly ridiculous looking person and I’m pretty comfortable with that. Also what sets me apart from no girl ever, is I’ve been called ugly plenty. It’s got little effect at this point. If I ever get sad about not looking like Rachel Weiss I just think back to all the ass I’ve gotten.
But one of the other fundamental differences between figure modeling and other industries where people look at your body, is that while you are up on that model stand? No one says can say shit to you.
Because figure models put themselves on display for the benefit of artists most studios have a strict policy about behavior around models. No disparaging comments, no talking when the model is posing, at all, No flirting, never, ever any touching. Students speak to the model only to request poses or correct the pose after a break. Mostly a model deals with the teacher and they know how to act. Maybe students talk about the models physical failings ( I know I’ve been guilty of it.) but they do it waaaaay the fuck out of earshot.
Periodically though, someone forgets themselves.
Bill Sanchez was, and from what I understand still is, a favorite at my old school. An exuberant dude from New York with the accent to prove it he’s one of those guys. That old guard illustrator you paid attention to. He knows form, shape, color. All of it. Coupled with his exuberance for illustration he was the guy to study under and his classes were in high demand. He even had his own catch phrase. Hunched in front of the easel he’d call all of his students around him to demonstrate.
“Okay, okay,” He’d flex his arm and shake out a piece of pastel. “Okay, Now you gotta look at it. You gotta looook at the way that sleeve is working, you gotta feeeeeeeeel it, okay? Then You gotta wrap that form around, Oh, yeah you gotta feeeeeeeeeel it then you gotta wraaaaaap it arrrrrouuuuund., ok, Wrap it aroooooooooound.”
I’m not doing that guy justice here. He’s a great professor to learn from and he’s was a blast to work for. I fell asleep on the stand during the hour-long lunch break once and woke up five minutes after starting time to find a chair on top of me.
“Oh, shit. Bill, I’m sorry- What pose did you want me to-” I started to get up and he motioned for me to stay where I was.
“Naaaaaaah, We’re gonna draw the chair, lay down! Lay down! Take yah nap! Relax! It’s just art school! Relax! Ok, now look at the girl! Draw the chair around the girl!”
Bill was also the only dude at our school you ever heard the words “Relax. It’s just art school.” from.
One day I was working for his six-hour Clothed Figure II class. Models usually bring a few outfits to wear and I’d picked out a blouse, pencil skirt and black pumps. The class was fairly small and had gathered pretty close to the stand where I sat in a chair for a 20 minute pose.
On of the young men set his charcoal down and looked up from his drawing board over to Bill and proceeded to ask, in an out-of-doors voice:
“Hey, Bill? How do you draw the cankles?”
At that point three things happened simultaneously.
His classmates stopped what they were doing to glance at me and then stare at him, I mean really stare at him. I broke the pose to cock my head to the side and also really stare at him and Bill Sanchez asked with all of the wide eyed fascination of a child: “What are cankles?”
I’d like to take a moment in this anecdote to let other people as confused as Bill was in on what ‘cankles’ refers to.
Here is a helpful anatomical chart indicating the afflicted area.
This is common definition of Cankles from Ubandictionary.com
the seamless blend of calf into ankle. accomplished by inflammation, obesity, athleticism or a combination of the three. the affected leg takes on the shape of a summer sausage with a human foot at the end. there is no definition of the calf because it is obscured most often by fat which spills down over the ankle, hiding it, and causing a cankle to form.
It’s generally an unflattering thing to say to a woman. Which is why his classmates responded the way they did.
“Dude. She doesn’t have cankles.” One of his male classmates said.
“You don’t have cankles.” On of the girls reassured me.
None of this was helpful to Bill, who was still completely lost.
“How to draw the what? The crinkles? Cranckles?”
“The Cankles.” Said the student who began this teaching moment, a little more quietly.
“I don’t know what that is. What is that? What’s a Crimple?” Bill was looking from face to face for elucidation.
“It’s when there is no difference between the calf and the ankle. It’s a fat. ankle.” The same girl told Bill. She looked up at me again. “Which she doesn’t have.”
“Oooooooh.” Bill danced up to the stand and squinted at my legs. “No, no, no. There’s some definition. Here, ” Bill held his hand for the curious students charcoal. “Here, lemme show how to draw a crinkle.”
“It’s a cankle.” I corrected him.
“A CANKLE.” Bill snapped his fingers. “See? I learn something new from you kids all the time! You’ve got all these new words! Okay so what you do is…”
I shifted back into my pose and watched Bill tutor this young man who wore an XXL threadbare Pantera shirt over his knobbly frame and looked at the desperate whispy moustache that was trying it’s best to come in around the acne. I thought about what a shame it was that I was most likely never going to experience a night of pleasure with what had to be the reigning masculine beauty of Stillrot Hollar, Tennessee due to my unacceptable lower leg regions. Did a single tear escape and roll down my cheek as I finished out that last pose? It may have my friends, It may have. How else do you react when you’ve come to a realization that romance has slipped you by? I gazed at his magnificent profile that could have come only from generations of his family fucking only the most shapely of first cousins and mourned.
Then it was lunch time!
I walked by my missed opportunity at love on the way to microwave to heat up my left overs. Maybe I could somehow salvage this?
So I slapped him on his scrawny back as I passed and let him know I was going to do my best by him.
“Hey, man. I don’t want you to worry too much. It may look like a lot of food in here but I’m just gonna throw it up after I eat it, ok?”