Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shame, Shame, Shame

Entangling myself with Dollar the Psychic wasn't the only thing I did in the days after I lost my virginity. I also fell head over heels in love with Josephine Baker. And I decided to emulate her by answering an ad that was taped to the walls of Yale Station, the Yale post office.

It said that nude models were needed for "artistic photos." And that the pay was $20 an hour.

It was Christmas break, and Yale was a ghost town. I didn't have enough money to go home, plus Latin Muslim had promised that we'd spend Christmas Eve and Christmas together. So I arranged to pay $70 in rent to two of my off-campus actress friends, and I stayed in their roach-infested apartment during the two weeks that my dorm was shut down.

Christmas was spent alone, attempting with 50% success to cook a pot of greens. I didn't burn them, but they didn't taste all that good. I washed them down with ambrosia and a box of chocolate-covered cherries.

And with nothing else to do, I read. Stanislavski. And a book about Josephine, a black girl who ran off to Paris at age 19 and became the biggest star in Europe, the "most photographed girl in the world." And the most consistently naked, best known for dancing topless in a skirt made out of bananas.

Wow. That was some nerve.

Is that what it took to become famous?

My "artistic photo" day dawned a few days after Christmas. I arrived at the shoot with a huge triangle-shaped burn on my face, courtesy of kissing my right temple with my Golden Hot curling iron.

My photographer was a weaselly-faced graduate student, possibly black, possibly Latino. I later learned he had also "artistically photographed" at least two other black actresses I knew, who confirmed my opinion that there was nothing artistic about it.

The "set" was his bed, which had black sheets. The main prop was me. Completely nude except for a tie, artistically draped near, but definitely not covering, my crotch. And his "direction" was probably more Hustler than Playboy, with not a smidge of the coffee-table artiness I expected from his flyer.

At the end of it, I got my big $20/hour payday: a grand total of $60. And a $6-million serving of shame. I had just taken naked pictures. The kind that would come back to haunt me if I ever got rich and famous. And I'd broken my virginity vow. And my boyfriend had abandoned me on Christmas. And according to Dollar, I was cursed with Jealousy.

This was the moment when I really began to think of myself as a slut.

(Virginity Diaries Part 10 of 11: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Lessons Learned 1 2 3)

7 comments:

liliMarie said...

damn. i love josephine baker...but she was just a glorified jezebel. your writing is amazing...thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Louis Bardel said...

gotta disagree with liliMarie...JB was way more than a glorified jezebel...she had guts in a lot of ways and i suggest you read her bio

Christine Mayo said...

Great writings...this is directed to you Antia, " Sometimes you have to go through that others may have breakthrough" keep writing you are ripping down the veil with every word...some one will see themselves and WaKe Up! Be blessed!

Don't Be a Slut said...

@ Lili & Louis - I agree with both. Josephine was a "glorified Jezebel," but she wasn't a victim. She simply loved being naked, and she was a brilliant performer, and her body made her famous. But she was WAY more than a sex symbol. She did a lot for American Civil Rights, and she spied for the French during WW II. And she did the Angelina Jolie thing way, way, way before Angelina Jolie - adopting a "Rainbow Tribe" of orphans from all over the world. And the Michael Jackson thing too - she was famous for her diamond-collared pet cheetah and other exotic animals. A fascinating, fascinating woman.

But no way should a semi-nice Catholic girl from Detroit ever have tried to emulate her in a stupid grad student's apartment.

@ Christine - thanks for the encouraging words. That's why I write this blog, so some 20-something version of me can read my story and make a different choice.

Nana said...

Hey hun, You have this amazing ability to write about the lows of your life with such honesty and humour, you remind me of Maya Angelou. I'll definitely check out Josephine!

Cheron L. Hall said...

Gotta love Josephine...she was a Gemini like myself and we're known for going against the grain...but in the end it seems we always die as scapegoats...

wonderful story sis...isn't it so therapeutic putting it out there and so shocking when people can relate?

O.F.C.J. said...

Not to avert blame but, so many people ready to take advantage of anything that moves (in reference to the 2 characters mentioned). I must say, you turned out very well. Very well. I think Josephine Baker is def. not the best example for any girl to follow. Not in her provocative sense anyway(one can be bold , confident, beautiful and moral.). Maybe the Civil rights activity, & positive things though.


O.F.C.J.

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