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The poser: Gersh Kuntzman is all nude!

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Forty people saw me naked and enjoyed it last week.

And it wasn’t just because they were drinking.

The occasion of my nude triumph was the bi-weekly “Drink and Draw” class at 3rd Ward, an artists’ collective in Bushwick.

Now, if you’re like me, you hear the words “drink,” “draw,” “artists’ collective” and “Bushwick,” and you think, “How can I ensure that this ends up with me naked in front of 40 strangers?”

Turns out, it was easy.

We had listed “Drink and Draw” in The Brooklyn Paper calendar for a few weeks before it dawned on me that the live model was most likely nude (look, I may not have majored in art history, but I think I can understand why Vermeer liked having his models wearing little else but a pearl earring).

And it dawned on me that I could be the model.

My wife mocked me. “You? An artists’ model?” she derided. “Maybe you can get them to draw your toenails.”

Yes, my toenails are disgusting (it’s a medical condition!), but clearly my wife was just jealous. After all, no one has asked her to pose nude in Bushwick (at least since the ’70s).

So why shouldn’t I be the object of artistic obsession? True, I don’t have what one (and when I say “one,” I mean 98 percent of all Americans) would call a pleasing body. I’m overweight, I have a sunken sternum that gives the illusion (it’s an illusion, I assure you!) that I have large man-breasts, I have wide hips capped by truck tire love handles and, frankly, I have the endowment of a minor community college.

Before posing, I was a bit concerned that my physical inadequacies would be a problem, so I wrote the “Drink and Draw” coordinator at 3rd Ward.

“You do know that I’m lumpen and middle aged,” I wrote. “Is that a problem?”

Her answer: “We love you just the way you are. We’ve had homeless men and male models pose. You’ll be somewhere in the middle, I suppose.”

My other question: “How graphic will the poses be? I’m not concerned for my own modesty, but I should warn you that there will be some snickering from the artists.”

Her answer: “No weird kinky sex poses.”

Finally, it was time to doff the robe and give them the Full Bushwick. Now, you might think I cowered in the corner, showing little more flesh than my fungus-covered toenails, but I didn’t: I put it out there, flashing my nudity all over the place like Botticelli’s Venus. I stood at attention. I laid down on a table. I rolled on the floor. I cocked my hips. I gave new meaning to the expression, “Let’s hang out sometime.”

And I was appreciated. Oh, yes, I was appreciated.

“You were good,” said Annie Letterman, a first-time “Drink and Draw” artist. “You have an interesting body.”

Interesting? Go on.

“It’s the way that your hips curve — child-bearing,” she added, winking.

I looked at her completed drawing; she had made me look as if I was with six months pregnant.

Now, if she had only rendered my toenails as accurately, my wife would be satisfied.

Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at gkuntzman@cnglocal.com

Drink and Draw at 3rd Ward [195 Morgan Ave., at Stagg Street in Bushwick, (718) 715-4961], every other Wednesday. $15 (includes all the Pabst Blue Ribbon you can drink). Gersh Kuntzman will not be the model at the Feb. 6 class. Whew.

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Reader Feedback

Lawrence Gordon says:
I enjoyed the video and article, but when I went to the side-bar and clicked on "enlarge this image" nothing really happened.
Jan. 27, 2009, 10:25 am
artsnob from Cobble Hill says:
Entertaining, however when referring to unclothed models in art its "nude", never naked. Gersh switches back and forth from both terms..a baby is naked, my girlfriend is naked, the model is nude.
Jan. 27, 2009, 2:37 pm
laura from staten island says:
Gersh...you look beautiful...!!
Jan. 27, 2009, 10 pm
Publius from Bklyn Hgts says:
The apogee of Gersh's narcisism.
Jan. 28, 2009, 12:46 am
Mark from San Mateo says:
1) Was the beer consumption above or below average that evening?

2) That's one small step for mensch...
Jan. 28, 2009, 1:38 am
allyse from midwood says:
As a former art student who has drawn upwards of 100 naked -or nude- people in my lifetime, Gersh was an excellent model.

And yes seeing your boss naked is kinda uber awkward, but not nearly as seizure-induceingly traumatizing as one may think.

None the less, Gersh... dude...you've got balls my friend....rock on.
Jan. 28, 2009, 10:41 pm
Tom Shpetner from Park Slope says:
Gersh, you are the Rock of Gibraltar.
Feb. 1, 2009, 11:41 pm
Margaret from Cambridge - UK says:
Oh Gosh....Oh Gersh
Finally got around to viewing this,after listening to you on Radio 5 Live at the weekend.............
and it has been so worth the wait. . . . .

I am just so lost for words

From an impressed Brit

Margaret
Feb. 3, 2009, 8:16 am
Nick from Greenpoint says:
Vermeer never painted a nude. Or at least, none survive. The girl with the pearl earring has all her clothes on. Nonetheless, good article, and congratulations for being on Radio 5.
Feb. 5, 2009, 10:12 am
Jack Johns from West Village says:
He's actually kinda hot in a "daddy" sort of way
Feb. 27, 2009, 6:47 pm
edo deweert from alberta says:
to pose naked has a sexual quality;
to draw/paint/sculpt the naked human being has a sexual quality (in fact, by doin g so, you vicariously touch that body everywhere...yes, EVERYWHERE.
i pose naked - not nude.
when you pose naked you are vulnerable, exposed.
(i hold that you are even vulnerable when people are viewing a painting of you and you are not even in the room with them)
i have been posing naked at 8 institutions with over 100 instructors...i am a 67-year old male.
check out my blog at www.themodelundraped.blogspot.com
March 3, 2011, 9:35 pm

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