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.
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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