Most pinups have a story that goes roughly "Once upon a time, I saw a photo of
(insert name of beautiful cultural icon here) and right then I knew that's what I
wanted to do." I am no exception. The only real difference is that the parenthetical
iconic reference is usually to Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, or someone of that ilk.
Mine is to a woman known as Miss Fernande, who rose to infamy in the early
1900's as a nude model in Paris, and later to fame as the Queen of Vintage
Erotica. Much as I do and always will love my 50's-inspired pinup, Fernande's
turn-of-the-century style resonates with me in a way that nothing else ever has.
Unfortunately, with one small catch; vintage erotica means full frontal nudity. And
while I have no problem with that from a modesty standpoint, I've let myself be
limited by something that just shouldn't be allowed to have that much power over
how I feel about my body and what kind of art I let myself create. I have a scar
from an emergency surgery that saved my life back in 2002. Ever since, making
sure it doesn't show has been a factor in everything I do in front of the camera.
And yes, in this age of digital photography and sophisticated editing software, I
could easily have dealt with it, but I chose to just make it a non-issue by adjusting
wardrobe and posing.
Except it was never a non-issue. I just didn't want to think about the fact that it was
keeping me from fully embracing an art form that I love. During last week's shoot,
I decided I really wanted to change that, and if it meant editing out the scar later
then so be it. My big Victorian-era hips, hair and I were going to get in front of that
camera and do justice to Miss Fernande's example.
I was really happy with the work we did that day. There were a few hesitant
moments during the shoot, but fewer than I would have thought. When the time
came to edit the photos, I did my vintage-izing color alterations, had my clone &
smudge tools at the ready to deal with the scar, and then, surprisingly, came the
most hesitant moment of all; I didn't want to edit out that scar. Not only did it feel
like lying, it felt like denying the fact that the past 8 years of my life have been a
gift that could just as easily have never been mine. I was in the hospital for a week
and, according to the people who kept it from happening, there were two occasions
when everyone was pretty sure I was going to die.
As I sat at my desk, photo open, cursor hovering between clone and smudge,
asking myself "to edit or not to edit?", I heard my sister's voice from 7 years ago:
"As far as I'm concerned, that scar is the most beautiful thing about you, because it
means you're still here."
And on that note, I closed my editing program and called it a day.
The scar-inclusive Fernande-inspired new photos are now posted in the 'Vintage
Erotica' gallery. Because as long as I'm still here, I might as well make the most
Vintage Erotica, Full Frontal Nudity & Why I'm Not Dead