image: “Self Portrait with My Son 2012″ by Jade Bealle
Because all mamas are hot in their own way, photographer Jade Beall’s new project “A Beautiful Body” invites mothers, both new and old, to celebrate their imperfectly perfect bodies. In a world of airbrushing, Photoshopping and self-loathing, how refreshing! In the coming year she’ll be hitting the road with her now five-month-old son, her partner and her dog in an RV, taking nude and semi-nude portraits of as many women as she can who are interested in participating (and there are a lot!). We recently asked her to tell us more…
image: “Self Portrait with My Son 2012″ by Jade Bealle
Many things in life are best enjoyed in small doses: a glass of red wine at dinner, or a twenty-minute power nap. When it comes to full-frontal nudity, however, artist Spencer Tunick is guided by a “more is more” philosophy. Honestly, who cares about one clammy pale butt when you could feast your eyes on thousands?
So last week, Tunick convinced over a thousand people to strip down and float buck-nakey in the Dead Sea, creating one of the most bizarre, un-Photoshopped images I’ve encountered in awhile. Apparently, the project was meant to draw attention to Israel’s efforts to have the salt-saturated sea – which geologists predict will dry up by 2050 – recognized as a natural wonder of the world.
When we first heard about the NYC-based group calling itself the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, we initially assumed that it involved topless people watching the Tarantino movie outdoors somewhere, in some weird take on the whole ROCKY HORROR phenomenon. We were relieved to learn that the pulp fiction in question is actually, well, pulp fiction (the idea of celebrating Tarantino with female toplessness kind of grossed us out). But we’re still a little uneasy about the whole thing.
According to their homepage, Skinbook is the world’s no.1 nudist social network (with over 9000 members), offering personal profiles, forums, blogs, groups, galleries, videos, event listings, live chat, commenting, and instant messaging. Skinbook organizers, based in Manchester (UK), told Time Magazine that what sets them apart from other nudist groups is their demographic: younger people (35-40 instead of over 55) and more women and couples (instead of single men). They get about 200 sign ups a day but only accept 10% of applicants due, unsurprisingly, to lame or X-rated attempts at sign up. And those who break the rules get booted:
On Monday here we introduced the book Uncovered by Jordan Matter, and featured four of the women in the book. Today we feature four more portraits and interviews.
Em & Lo: How did you two end up taking part in this photo shoot?
Mike: I heard about the project somewhat based on my working as a figure model, as a male, I would clearly not qualify but mentioned it to Mary. She agreed to pose and wanted me to pose with her as well.
Mary: And I am always up for a trip to NY.
We have to admit, when we first heard about Jordan Matter’s book Uncovered — topless portraits of more than 80 normal women (i.e. not models), all shot in public in NYC — we were cynical. First of all, it’s hard to get past the fact that Jordan Matter is a dude, who spent six years photographing topless women. Sure, some of the women are old enough to be his grandmother and there is an impressive range of body types featured. Still, we found it hard to get excited by the whole “embrace your body” message coming from a guy. Plus, while some of the jokes in the photos work, like the woman standing topless in front of a street stall selling knock-off bras, some — like the woman walking home from the office, topless with pearls from the waist up, corporate from the waist down — gave us second-hand embarrassment.
But then we started interviewing the women who participated in this project, and reading their personal statements that accompany their portraits in the book, as well as the awesome forward by Susan Seligson, author of the memoir Stacked: A 32DDD Reports from the Front (who, to her surprise, ended up posing as well). And our cynicism started to crumble. Also, turns out it’s legal to be topless in the city — who knew?! Seligson writes in the foreward:
“For all the lusting, leering and hooting my breasts have attracted, exposing them of my own volition seemed to shift the power base. When I remove my top and bra on a city street, if anyone is the aggressor it’s me alone. How can I be the victim if I stage a pre-emptive strike? The experience left me feeling upbeat and somehow victorious, and the effect lingered for days.”
Innocent Karl does not support nudists
I am obsessed with my street. I live on this crazy block in Soho that’s bookended by a convent and a church — with everything in between. And I do mean everything. There’s three restaurants, including a new vegan joint going in next month (Ack! Ew. Vegetarians are bad enough, but vegans? That’s taking shit a little too far!!!); a bar, three coffee shops, a knitting place (I hate knitters. They’re so smug), a quilting place (owned by the knitting people); a cheese store, a meat shop AND… a crack house and a nudist gallery.
Sarah Palin’s worst nightmare, Levi Johnston, just did his Playgirl shoot, flaunting some of his body parts as unselfconsciously as he tried to show the world the flaws in Palin’s family values. The ex of Palin’s daughter Bristol, Levi’s the one who earlier this year carried out a p.r. campaign labeling Palin a hypocrite and an opportunist who stepped down as Alaska Governor partly because she could make more cash on the lecture circuit.
And where does Levi go from there? Making more cash on the nude magazine circuit! Tacky? Maybe, but it was an inevitable step on the road to reality shows and Seth Rogen movies. And Levi will be thrilled to know that the history of celebrity nudity and semi-nudity reveals that he’s in really good company.
photo by E.M. for the Examiner.com
Renaissance artists knew which side their bread was buttered. To them, the male nude offered ample opportunity for sensual expression. Take Michelangelo’s David: that beautifully sculpted white marble has gone down in history as the perfect butt. Canvas after canvas shows naked men flexing their muscles and writhing in agony or ecstasy, each taut calf, each quivering bicep, each sweaty brow oozing sexual tension.