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Everyone watches Internet porn.

And research shows that pretty much everyone has viewed pornographic material at work, too, intentionally or not.

Internet porn is doing more than setting the mood in dens across the nation.

It’s prompting legions of bored people to try their hand (and various other body parts) at online porn stardom.

But they’re not even stars, really. More like porn lab rats.

All too often, porn victims.

I don’t hanker to be one of those poorly lit amateurs. I see some of those girls and think, “My ass is better than that, if I do say so myself.”

But the sad thing is, it won’t always be. Which is inevitable.

I can’t freeze my ass in time.

Or can I?

It might sound strange to say it, but Internet porn has ignited in me a rather strong yearning to have (private) pictures of my own twentysomething splendor. Before I morph into a saggy old wrinklebag.

My writerly sensibilities cause me to believe coincidence does not exist and that everything is endlessly connected (see also: I Heart Huckabees and What the Bleep Do We Know?).

Both concepts are loosely related to Nietzsche’s Amor Fati. Which I subscribe to.

Accordingly, this manner of thinking dictates that when you’re surfing online classifieds for concert tickets but come across an ad for nude models, you must reply….

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 9:36 AM, MLP wrote:

I’m interested in your craigslist ad. I’m 28, 5’3, 115lbs.

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 10:59 AM, Photographer wrote:

Thanks for your response. I’m a professional photographer looking to branch out. I prefer suggestive nude shots. You can see a sample here www.website.com.

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 10:14 AM, MLP wrote:

That’s a great shot. Suggestive is perfect. I have no experience, is that ok?

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 10:19 AM, Photographer wrote:

No experience is required. Do you have any pics or any ideas of what you are looking for?

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 1:55 PM, MLP wrote:

I’m open. I love the b/w & use of shadows. I have some pretty noticeable tan lines…is that a deal breaker? Attached is the only picture i have on my work computer…I’m on the right.

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 2:19 PM, Photographer wrote:

Tan lines are fine, I think we could have some fun with them depending on where they are. You are welcome to all of the shots. I am really trying to build my portfolio and this experience helps.
Please check out my other work: www.website.com as you can see most of it is journalism related, hence the need to pad my portfolio with some more artistic shots.

I would like to meet first to plan this out i.e. clothing, lingerie, locations (I have office space downtown) your ideas and boundaries and my ideas and boundaries. I am free for coffee today or tomorrow and, not to rush you, but would like to do this Friday night or this weekend as I need to send my portfolio out. I have attached the following photos of myself for some sort of comfort level.

> > On Apr 28, 2005, at 3:40PM, MLP wrote:

Thanks for sending pictures of yourself. I already checked out your other work. The Spain photos are my favorite. The use of color…gorgeous. This weekend should be fine. I live on the NW side, can we meet around here to plan? How’s 6ish?

*****

We meet at Starbucks, a wooden table crammed into one corner.

He’s tall, preppy, close to my age, mild-mannered.

We sit with our backs to the wall, making small talk about the rapid onset of summer, the sinful goodness of the toffee nut latte and then, the expected awkward pause.

Hesitantly, he opens his PowerBook.

“Can I show you what I think is sensual?”

Debating the artistic merits of soft porn stills with a stranger is a highly underrated means of building rapport.

Despite my pleas for more gym time, we arrange to shoot a couple days later.

This small window turns out to be a blessing in disguise: I can’t help obsessing every nanosecond of the ensuing forty-eight hours, unable to sleep, subsisting on instant miso soup and Fiji water, worrying about razor burn and undergarment imprints.

Stressful.

It does cross my mind that, in the wrong hands, the photos could wind up on a “Horny Sluts Get Naked” site and/or jeopardize my potential future husband’s political career.

Am I being vain and dumb?

It’s hard to say.

But here’s one thing I do know.

My (empty) gut is saying: This is for you when you’re decrepit and sexless. Do it for posterity. Do it for posterity. Do it for posterity.

*****

D-Day

10:00am P emails to inform me of the procurement of new backdrops (actually he uses the word ‘sheets’). He asks me to call to confirm. Over the phone I confess to being nervous to the point of nausea. Genuine and solemn, he replies that he feels the same way. He says something trite about the formation of a trusting bond, and I respond with an equally cheesy line about embarking on an adventure together.

10:15-11:30 am At my day job, I labor over routine tasks. I can’t concentrate while mentally doing my best nude poses.

1:15pm I shouldn’t take a lunch break. I’ll be too tempted to eat.

1:30pm I take it anyway. I scarf a fake chicken salad and a friend’s Xenadrine.

2:37pm P emails with instructions to check out Helmut Newton’s website. I pray to God he’s that good on his debut.

3:30pm Email from P:

Playing with light, set-ups. Only about 30 seconds worth of photoshop.

www.websitegallery.com

Password is the name of the site we first met in, sans .com. No caps. You can tell me tonight what you would like the password of your private gallery to be.

5:30pm My private gallery. My private gallery! I clock out of the office with extreme punctuality, speed home, pack and unpack my bag several times. The anxiety of being naked in front of a camera is now overshadowed by the fear of turning out ugly. Modesty and prudishness have been subverted by the might of my ego.

6:30pm P’s studio is deep downtown in the arts district, an eclectic area of majestic historical homes, converted warehouses, galleries and a wide bend of gushing river. The studio’s interior is a large, open space with a concrete floor. The back wall has been painted merlot, quite similar to the kind of thing you see in movies. Umbrella lights have been arranged on the edges of the white sheet, but other than that it’s dark. The air conditioner is roaring and the temperature freezing.

P gets up from his desk and walks across the space. Gives me a sideways hug. I put my bag down.

He hands me a glass of wine. I drain it too quickly. Over light banter we sign copies of a legal agreement.

I retreat to the restroom to undress and take my time touching up.

When I emerge semi-nude in a well-constructed black Victoria’s Secret number, P is fiddling with the stereo.

I stand and shiver and adjust some straps.

“How about The Diary of Alicia Keys?” he asks.

“I love that CD.”

“All girls love this CD”.

He turns from the stereo and gives me a thorough up-down.

“You’re beautiful,” he says.

“I need you to say that every three minutes,” I reply.

I mince to the sheeted part of the floor and the shutter begins clicking.

The next three hours are a strain. My heart rate is dangerously elevated for the duration of the shoot, especially considering I’m not really moving.

The last of my self-consciousness is suffocated by the effort of following directions: left arm back more…now turn about ninety degrees…I’m shooting your face now…look at seven o’clock…hold your hair back…relax your shoulders.

Some poses are uncomfortable.

I should have taken those modeling classes at the mall.

He’s using a big black digital camera, which he holds out every now and then, looking at the screen and admiring his work.

“I think you’re gonna love that one.”

The umbrella lights pop and squawk.

Every flash is slightly dizzying.

It is an experience I move in and out of, navigating between what I’m doing and what’s happening.

And then, eventually, it ends.

*****

Afterwards, I go out and get drunk with my girlfriends, high on my secret.

Somehow I manage to keep it to myself.

*****

A few days later, I meet P one last time in a parking lot. He gives me my own portfolio and a DVD slideshow.

The pictures aren’t exactly Playboy material, but I love them.

Call the whole thing narcissistic, needy, indulgent.

You’re free to make your own judgments.

And I’m free to look at my fine ass immortalized forever in high res, glossy photos whenever I want.

Strangely, this is much more arousing than any Internet porn I’ve ever seen.

Just before my friend, Jett, passed away

I was working on a piece of writing
That I felt reflected certain aspects
Of our lives