By now, you’re sick of hearing about me running around nude. Well, you’re in luck — this time, I’m only going to talk about being partially nude … in public!
Last week, I was body-painted at the Art & Ink Expo at the South Point. One of my favorite body painters, Suzanne Lugano, wanted to do a sort of Oompa Loompa geisha look, so I rigged up an appropriate hairdo before donning my flesh-colored pasties and stick-on thong panty. (Ideally, a body-paint model would be naked … but since this was a public affair, I had to board up all the doors and windows. I looked like a creepy, genital-less doll.)
The Art & Ink Expo is basically a tattoo convention, so the crowd was blue-collar and drinking heavily as they milled around, checking out trends in body art. There were plenty of live demos, but I was the only one standing there naked(ish), so naturally there were plenty of gawkers. Which was the point. Suzanne wanted to draw traffic to her booth so people could see her amazing artistry.
But this was hardly MoMA; guys whipped out their iPhones before she laid on the first brushstroke! Art, ass … whatever. A brash New Yorker, Suzanne lit into them: “Whaddaya taking photos of?,” she snapped. “I haven’t painted her yet! Or did you just want photos of her ass?!” Chastened, the pervs slunk off to a reasonable distance — and zoomed in.
An hour or two later, my painted pink “kimono” was finally done, and now photos were allowed. But we couldn’t stay long, as we were headed downtown to a swanky benefit gala at an art gallery. I was dolled up as an Oompa Loompa geisha for a reason — remember how Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory had lickable wallpaper? Well, a local confectioner had created her own edible cherry blossoms and lickable wallpaper, and I was supposed to hand out samples to guests at this party. Thus, the Wonka shtick.
Now, I’ve crashed my share of swanky parties, and I find them a neverending source of amusement: Everyone dressed in their big-city finest, mustaches waxed and ascots knotted, sipping wine and discussing the merits of postmodern influence on butt-plug design. I usually feel slightly out of place at such functions, but this time I had a reason: I was basically naked in a roomful of tastemakers. Oddly, however, I felt more comfortable. Now I didn’t have to worry about how my Fallas Paredes dress and dollar-store hair accessories measured up to the Saks of shit draped on the other women — I was outside their realm. I was a bohemian, dammit — clever and classless, free of their bourgeois constraints!
But the best part was the contrast between this crowd’s reaction and that of the blue-collar crowd at the expo. There, the unwashed masses had ogled me openly. At the benefit party, however, it was a riot! The psychological discomfort was palpable.
On the one hand, they were a progressive, liberal crowd who wouldn’t dream of objectifying a woman, even a Playboy Mansion-reject wandering naked in their midst. But on the other — I was a living canvas; I was Art! And wasn’t the whole point of this party to show off one’s appreciation for Art?
By ignoring my artfully painted ass, they might betray a hopelessly old-fashioned worldview. But by checking me out, they might come off as clueless, bourgeois lechers. Art, ass — what a quandary!
I felt for these poor fuckers, I really did, but after an hour or two of schmoozing naked and guzzling wine, I retreated to the less-complicated environs of my shower, where I took a scrubby brush to my ass and watched all that art spiral down the drain. Such is the ephemeral nature of beauty, eh? Art, ass … whatever!
SARAH JANE WOODALL displays her art (and her ass) on her blog, Wonderhussy.com.