Saturday, September 28, 2013

Just Jack - With Clothes and Without

Jack is a friend of mine who models in the nude, and before we get started with the questions I’d like to take a moment to thank Jack for agreeing to this interview. Thank you, Jack! (((hugs)))

We met back in the 80’s where we attended the same summer camp as teens, and we were recently reunited on Facebook. I wanted to interview Jack to get an idea of what, where, why and who? You see, the summer camp we attended was a Christian camp. So how does one go from there to here? (Let’s forget for a moment that I write stories where my characters get naked - and I went to the same camp).

So, Jack….you dig nakedness, huh? Have you always been an exhibitionist? 
No, but I’ve never been shy and have always loved attention. I’ve sung in barbershop quartets and choirs. I’ve acted in plays and musicals. I’ve even done standup comedy. People have told me that I can make a conversation with a rock, I have a voice like a broadcaster and have a pretty good sense of humor. All those things get me plenty of attention, but I’ve found that the easiest way to get a higher level of attention is just to take off all my clothes.

When did you start modeling nude?
I think I modeled for my first nude drawing workshop in 2006. Of course plenty of people had seen me nude before that, but it was always people I knew (i.e. gym shower, doctor’s office, and a few select women). Modeling for a drawing class was the first time I was the only nude person in a room full of strangers.

How did you get your start in modeling in the nude?
I’d been doing commercial stock modeling for quite a while and had a pretty impressive on line portfolio. At the same time, I was doing quite a bit of standup comedy at various clubs around the city. One night, in a conversation with one of the other comics, he said to me, “Comedy is not like other performance work. If you sing, you finish the song and everyone applauds. If you act, you concentrate on your lines and finish the scene. In comedy, the audience needs to respond to everything you say, and if they don’t you get booed off the stage. You’re extremely vulnerable up there. You might as well be naked.”

Well, I decided to test his theory. I checked in the arts section of Craigslist, researched art schools and joined Meetup. I made a whole lot of contacts with art teachers by sending them a link to my commercial online portfolio. Eventually, someone from a Meetup group in Bushwick, Brooklyn contacted me and said he’d give me a shot at modeling for his drawing workshop. Once I landed that nude gig, I could market myself as an “experienced” nude model. It didn’t take long before I was modeling for drawing and sculpture classes all over New York City and even in Westchester and Long Island. Before long, I was making contacts with photographers (mostly students) for nude work as well.

By the way, it’s NOTHING like standup comedy.

What is it like being in front of the camera with no clothes on? And how did you find a photographer to do the job?

Whenever you’re not wearing any clothes, one thought repeats itself in your mind the entire time: I’m naked. Initially being in front of a camera nude was less intimidating than being in front of a classroom full of students.

In the classroom, I was fully aware that not only am I nude, but everyone else in the room is dressed and is looking at me nude and has come with the express purpose of seeing me nude.

For me, photography was deceptive because it gives the impression that while I wasn’t wearing any clothes, there was only one other person in the room who was seeing me naked. The reality is, however, that in today’s Internet age, posing for nude photographs had the potential of allowing countless people to see me nude, certainly more that the 30 or 40 I had encountered in the classroom setting.

Because I had already been involved in commercial stock modeling, I was on a modeling networking site… kind of like social media for models. On that network, models can answer casting calls and can make casting calls for themselves. I went to the casting calls that were looking for nude male models and answered a bunch of them. Most of them were looking for muscular 20 somethings. Remember, I was in my 30s at this time. I’m not a body builder, though I’m trim and in very good physical shape (I have what the industry calls a “runner’s body”… though I’m not a runner) and I’m not in my 20s, so a number of the castings turned me down before I even got to take my clothes off.

Through my networking, I eventually found a student photographer who cast me to do some nudes for a class photography project. When I got there, she told me that because it was my first nude project that it would be best if I took off my clothes right away and just remained that way throughout the session (most photographers don’t operate this way… I found out later). She told me it would make me more comfortable posing nude for the camera. Figuring she knew what she was talking about, I disrobed. It was strange because she hadn’t even set up her lighting and equipment and she even asked me to help her get everything ready. So there I was in the studio nude, helping her adjust the lighting and set up the background tarp. She told me there was water in a cooler if I wanted some and when I went to get one, she asked me to pick one up. After all the equipment was set up, she sat on the floor with her laptop to show me a story board of her concepts and asked me to sign the standard model release. It was probably a good 45 minutes to an hour between when I first took off my clothes and when we actually began shooting.

Having never modeled nude for photographs before, it was strange. Clothed modeling usually incorporates the clothes into the pose (ie. hands in the pockets, straightening the tie, etc.). None of that’s available when you’re not wearing any clothes. You really have to get creative. But since I’d modeled for classes before, I got used to it pretty quickly, plus I had been hanging out nude in the studio with her for about an hour already anyway. What did take some getting used to was having her direct my poses. When I modeled for classes, I would just pose however I wanted. During a photo session, the photographer tells you things like “hold your chin up more,” “give me more of a pouty expression,” or, better yet, “turn a little more to the right so I can see your penis.” You never hear instructions like that in an art class.

Anyway, from there, my nude photography work took off… pun intended. I found myself doing a broad variety of nude projects after that. Now, between classes and photography, about 85% of my modeling is nude.

Do you have a diet and exercise regimen you follow?
Nothing earth-shattering. I have a pretty big appetite and generally eat what I like. I don’t exercise, per se, but I stay pretty active, opting to walk places rather than drive there, etc. I do drink a lot of Snapple. I don’t know if that plays any kind of role. I think I’m blessed with a good metabolism, so I figure I should keep modeling nude as long as I can get away with it.

Have you ever had anything embarrassing happen to you while in the nude?
My leg went numb when I was modeling for a class in Brooklyn once. When it came time for me to take a break, I fell flat on my face when I tried to walk. A bunch of the students had to help me up and guided me as I walked until I could feel my leg again.

I think the most embarrassing thing was when I was modeling for a class that met in an industrial garage. One side of the garage had windows that faced a parking lot. The class was in the fall and began in daylight but it got progressively darker outside and the modeling session progressed. When you model nude for classes, they shine bright lights on you so as it got darker outside, I became increasingly visible to anyone out in the parking lot. Anyway, at around 4:30, a small crowd of high school girls had gathered in the parking lot. I knew they were high school girls by their uniforms. Although, the windows were shut because it was chilly outside, I could hear the girls chatting and giggling, and, of course, I could see them. As the crowd grew, so did the noise they generated. As the model, I wasn’t supposed to move or cover up so I maintained my pose until it was time to take a break. When I finally put my robe on, I could hear a collective “Awww,” from the girls. During the break, the instructor pulled down the shades so the girls wouldn’t get any more of a show than they already had. I asked the instructor why she didn’t pull the shades down earlier and she explained that she didn’t want to disturb the concentration of the artists during a posed session.

I’ve seen some of your photos, and they aren’t in a studio! How on earth did you get the shots in the NYC subway, on Wall Street, and on a pile of tires? Those are very public places.
Outdoor nude work is always a challenge. To get the best shots, you need to take risks, but it’s all about careful planning and strategy. The subway and Wall Street bull shots were done by the same photographer. We shot at 6:30 am on a Sunday. As you may be aware, the financial district is a virtual ghost town on weekends anyway, and is that much more deserted at that hour on a Sunday morning. Even still, the photographer brought a woman along to function as a lookout for buses, cabs and police cars. She warned me any time something approached that could get me in trouble.

The tires shoot, one of my favorites, was an accidental discovery. The photographer and I were looking around in Sunnyside, Queens for a creative location for a nude shoot. We noticed that the driveway next to an old warehouse was accessible, so we went exploring. Behind the warehouse, we discovered the big pile of tires and some forklift palates and decided to give it a try. It wasn’t entirely private though. On one end was a chain link fence with the Sunnyside train yards on the other side. Amtrak locomotives went by several times while we were shooting, but we didn’t consider them a threat because we figured they wouldn’t be very likely to call anyone while they were operating a train.

I also did a nude session at Five Pointz in Long Island City, Queens. It’s an old factory where graffiti artists come to practice their craft. Again, it was an early morning, weekend shoot. Some shots were done in full view of the elevated number 7 train above, but at that hour, the trains are practically empty. I’m sure someone saw us, but no one reported anything.

So you’re Just Jack, an average everyday guy. Would you agree that what you’re doing is taboo, which makes it more exciting and fascinating?
Absolutely. Most people with whom I have casual contact would never imagine me to be the kind of guy who would model nude. If you pass me on the street, you see a conservatively dressed, seemingly normal man. It’s exciting for me to know that countless people have seen me naked through my photo sessions, and I often wonder how many of them pass me in the street  and don’t even realize it’s me. Occasionally, I encounter someone who recognizes me, but can’t quite figure out why. Sometimes it hits them and they’ll say something like, “Ah. I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.” Other times, it simply escaped them. Those are the times I wonder if they’ve seen my nude pics. When I consider that in the age of the Internet, my nude pictures have been viewed all over the world, and at all times of day or night, is it a guarantee that someone who doesn’t know where they recognize me from has seen me naked? No, but it’s certainly a distinct possibility.

Nudity has always been a part of Western art, but the advent of photography introduced a more authentic means of depicting it. Sculptures and drawings are artist’s renderings of what you look like nude, a photograph is an actual depiction of what you look like nude. It’s different. People always feel a little naughty when they see someone nude… man and women alike. The photographers I’ve worked with like the fact that they don’t need to do much photoshop work on me. What that means is that when you see a nude picture of me, you’ve pretty much actually seen me nude. If that makes you feel a little naughty, I actually kind of like that.

Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Cat or Dog? Dog
Beer or hard liquor? Beer
Vanilla or chocolate? Chocolate
Naked or clothes? Naked!

Tell us FIVE things about yourself that you normally don’t share with anyone:
1. I don’t wear underwear from March to October… even when I’m dressed up.

2. I have a Master of Divinity from seminary because I wanted to be a minister at one point in my life.

3. I can read Greek and Hebrew (it’s a bit rusty though… I don’t use this skill much)

4. I don’t put milk on dry cereal.

5. I’m left handed. When people discover this, they often say something like, “Why didn’t you tell me you were left handed?” as if it’s something I need to put out there right away. Well, consider yourself told. You’ve seen me naked so that’s something you deserve to know.

So what’s up for Just Jack in the near future? Anything exciting going on?
Right now, the biggest thing I’m working on is the Just Jack 2014 Nude Calendar. I expect it to be available in early November. I realize that’s a little late, but it’s still early enough that my fans can get one before the new year and even give them as gifts if they want to. It will only be sold on-line and I’ll provide the link on your blog and on my Just Jack Facebook group when it’s ready.

Speaking of the Just Jack Group, it’s a secret Facebook group. Only members can see what I post there as well as comments and “Likes” by other members of the group. The advantage twofold. First, I can post nude pics there. Second is that is that husbands, boyfriends, other friends and children have no idea what you’re doing on the group and you can visit as often as you like, interact with me, comment and “Like” my pictures. It’s a lot of fun.

***If you want to join Jack’s private facebook group to keep in touch with him - and see his other photos (like the one on the pile of tires), let us know and we’ll get you added.

1 comment:

  1. Laci, just popping in say this was a thoroughly delightful interview with Jack. And Jack, it's so nice to see a gentleman who is comfortable in his skin, both literally and figuratively.

    No need to enter me in your giveaway, but I would like to follow Jack and his career.