As part of a memo he sends out to all prospective newbie-nudies, Sparling writes, "Spontaneous erections, if they occur, are treated as natural, involuntary, and unremarkable and not taken personally. We simply continue our exercise without comment."
Clyde Nantais, a former Boston Ballet dancer, has taught the 90-minute class, which has a 20-person capacity, for the entire 10 years — and yes, he does it naked.
"I wore clothes at first, because I was not a naturist like most of the students," he says. "But at one point, it felt silly for me to be clothed and all the other students naked."
NUDE YOGA FOR MEN | Central Square (specific location TBA upon acceptance) | Sundays, 6:30 pm and Thursdays, 8 pm | 617.661.6571 |firstname.lastname@example.org
Raw Artistry: Nude Modeling
Do you consider yourself an appreciator of the fine arts? So much so that you'd be willing to put your ass on the line — in an artist's studio?
Posing nude for an artist allows you to exhibit your body in a respectful, calm environment.
"There's something about the separateness of being in someone's studio," says photographer Bob Siegelman. "A lot of times it allows models to inhabit a part of themselves they wouldn't in everyday life."
You also can make some fairly quick money while you're at it. On average, schools and individual artists will pay $15 to $18 per hour — sometimes more. Many classes require models to pose at five 20-minute intervals for a few hours. Museum School Model Coordinator Jackie Williams says they hire up to 50 models each semester, which means that, whatever your level of experience, chances are you'll find someone interested in seeing you naked.
Monique Ortiz, bassist for the band AKACOD, started modeling as an art student in Pennsylvania before she moved to Boston in the mid '90s. Like many women, Ortiz has body issues, but she wanted to confront her insecurities through modeling. "I wanted to be more comfortable with my body," she says. "And, man, there's no better way to do that than to take your clothing off in front of a group of 30 people."
Model Sara Ellenbogen, PhD, recalls being scared the first time she posed naked because of her weight. Walter, a 26-year-old after-school teacher who asked that his last name not be used and occasionally models with his long-time girlfriend, Maria, says he started modeling because "it was a way to deal with some excessive modesty issues — and an easy way to make money."
Ortiz, Walter, and Ellenbogen have all posed for painter Michael Costello, whose series of portraits frequently utilize off-beat props: Groucho and elephant masks, cans of Spam, or, in the case of "Models and Muppets," stuffed Ernie or Mickey Mouse or Elmo dolls placed in, well, less than child-friendly positions.
One of Costello's most poignant pieces is of a friend who survived breast-cancer, and in the work can be seen proudly baring her surgical scar. "A model's intellect and psyche are very important for me," says Costello. "They're not just objects when I paint them — it's about their essence of humanity."
MICHAEL COSTELLO | 617.426.1046 | michaelcostelloartist.com | BOB SIEGELMAN | 617.350.6663 | fortpointsart.org | JACKIE WILLIAMS, model coordinator, School of the Museum of Fine Arts | 230 The Fenway, Boston | 617.267.6100 | smfa.edu