Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to get naked with three friends and 1,700 strangers? And then get your picture taken and displayed in a major art gallery?
C’mon! You know you wanna!
OK, OK. I know you probably think you would never, ever do something like that. I thought I never would, either. But today, I am going to tell you all about probably the craziest thing I ever did: Posed nude for a professional photographer with somewhere around 1,700 people in Buffalo, New York.
The day I made the decision began as any other. I was at work, sitting at my desk, probably working. Molly walked up the little ramp that led into the small room I shared with Jodi and Dave, the editors of The Amherst Bee and The Clarence Bee, respectively. Molly and Jodi started talking about this thing that was going on the following weekend: A photographer named Spencer Tunick was working with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the objective was to gather a significantly large number of nude people to pose in the Buffalo Central Terminal to be photographed. Payment for this was the satisfaction of having done it and a free 8×10 copy of one of the photographs.
They asked if I was interested. No way! I mean, me??? They’d known me for long enough to know better than to even ask. I don’t do things like that! I don’t even like my closest friends to see me in my underwear, much less my coworkers and complete strangers seeing me butt-naked.
And then I thought about it. And thought about it. And thought about it. And then I said yes.
The Saturday, I drove to Jodi’s house wearing a sundress and nothing else. (And I never leave the house without a bra.) We met Molly and another coworker, Amy, and headed to the site. We stood outside in the mild and sunny morning, listening to directions on what to do one we got inside. Then we dropped our clothes and headed in. And we posed. And posed. And posed. And Tunick snapped, snapped, snapped.
My friends were adventurous enough to go, but not adventurous enough to stand close to the cameras, so it’s difficult to even figure out exactly where we are in the photos. I know our approximate location, but can’t pick us out as individuals. Still, I know I’m there.
The Buffalo Central Terminal is a beautiful, old railroad station that is no longer in use and has fallen into ruin. There have been many efforts to raise money and restore it, and even to put it back into use. Just recently, the idea of putting it back into use was shot down based on its apparently inconvenient location. I think that means because of the train schedules and not that it’s in one of the worst parts of town (it is).
This is important because the building is often vandalized. Then night before the photo session happened, someone (or ones) threw rocks through windows in the Central Terminal. The organizers swept the best they could, but even in a small kitchen with a broken glass, it’s nearly impossible to get it all up off the floor. Luckily, my friends and I were not in an area with glass on the floor. Some people were, though. And many of the poses included lying or leaning on the floor. I wonder how much blood was left behind.
The day the art gallery made the photographs available for pickup, Jodi and I jumped in the car and drove over there on a cold, blustery, snowy winter day and picked up our copies. Mine sat in storage in my closet for a while. When I moved away from New York, I found a perfect frame and hung it on my living room wall. And it remains on my living room wall. Every time I have someone new in my house, it’s inevitable the person notices the photo. And they all at least feign awe when I tell them I’m in it.
Would I do it over again? Absolutely. Would I do it a second time, if the opportunity presented? Probably. It was a blast, and makes for a great story to tell for the rest of my life. And I think the fact I did it makes me just a little bit more interesting.