Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bucket List Pt 3: Pain, Nudity and a Capuchin monkey

Note: If you're new to this particular feature (ie. my friend Big D and I's project to make a reverse bucket list of all of my past occupations so he can reverse-replicate my life) I suggest you catch up here, here, and here.

I had begun the hunt for my first under the table job. Pre 9-11 , New York wasn't the judgey, "everything's above board, nothing to see here, move along" place it is now. Today, I feel bad for the up 'n coming illegals who have to battle with the Internet and databases which will bust them in an instant. I still had the ability to walk into various shady operations and try out my luck. Aside from being illegal, I had the added disadvantage of having approximately no skills (unless you count my fruit picking prowess or my mini donut frying talents). As you can imagine, this limited the job pool quite substantially.

Artist's Model
The first job I found involved nudity, pain and a Capuchin monkey.

The Manimal has many hidden talents (including but not limited to: lancing boils, creating snake oil type "elixirs", flying into rages, staring, building model airplanes and facial hair landscaping) but his greatest skill is, in fact, painting. Here, check it out:

* That ain't no photograph.

When we met, Manimal was honing his craft at art school, his gold chain glinting erroneously amongst all the wallet chains. One day I was waiting for him to finish cleaning up his brushes after a class when I saw the saggy old man who had just been posing in the raw receiving a crumpled wad of Benjamins from the teacher.

I have had many bad ideas in my lifetime, like the time I pushed my brother down the stairs in his stroller, or when I convinced the special needs girl in high school that a) I was invisible and b) that I communicated with Jonathan Brandis on my "hand fax"(hey, it was the 90s!). However, deciding to make a living as a nude artists' model when I was, in fact, a highly repressed Australian illegal immigrant with crippling insecurities may top the list.

* Stop judging me, Brandis.

I arrived for my "audition" in a dark basement on Spring Street unsure of what was coming. Varied and sundry other "models" loitered about butt nekkid, encompassing the full spectrum of human lunacy. In terrifying addition, there were about 30 people with easels and art materials who were about to render, in great detail, the nooks and crannies of my shame. A bell rang and we all had to disrobe and begin a grueling series of 5 minute poses. It was like nude voguing. Being New York City the place where the best of everything (dog walkers, insane people, hipsters) come to claim their place at the top, these models were serious. All of the participants wanted to be the best and most interesting nude. One dude seemed to be doing some sort of x-rated downward dog. Another woman was splayed out on the floor, legs akimbo.

"Holy crap," I thought as I basically did variations on a contrapposto in an attempt to hide my bits as best as I could. I was channeling Botticelli's Birth of Venus but I looked more like someone unfortunate caught in the background of a domestic raid on C.O.P.S. I wish I could say that after finding my inner goddess I rose phoenix-like and performed pose after pose, culminating in a spirited slow clap from my inspired audience.

* This was not me

Sadly, instead I slinked off stage and awkwardly put on my clothes in a dirty corner. It was terrible. You know when you go to hastily put on your clothes in a locker room so you don't moon people and then you fall over while putting on your socks, or get your legs twisted in your pants? I was doing all of those things but in front of a room of clothed people. I was also distracted by my concerns about being attacked by a Capuchin monkey. It had been perched on one man's shoulder while we were modeling and Manimal had told me it had viciously attacked him one time simply because he was wearing a hood. I did not want to be the victim of a Travis the Chimp situation. 

Thankfully, I made it past the irate simian by avoiding eye contact.  Then the witchy lady who ran the artist's group bid me adieu, gave me $30 and sent me back out on to the grey streets of Manhattan, still unemployed.

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