I’m not an exhibitionist, but I play one on this website. When faced with an actual opportunity for exhibitionism in person, I get all shy and quiet, particularly when it comes to disrobing. Suspend your disbelief, stop your guffawing, and reign in your instant-dismissals. Allow me to explain.
As a kid, I was all about the nakedness. Neighbors still recall when my brother and I went running around the front yard in the middle of January, wearing only our Underoos. On a Sunday morning excursion to pick up breakfast at Dan-Dee Donuts (the local Amsterdam version of Dunkin’) I mooned a car in the parking lot, much to the consternation and mortification of my brother.
My favorite swimsuit was a tiny (even for a kid) pair of tight, square-cut shorts that had little lines of stars running down the sides. I ran across countless beaches up and down the Eastern sea coast in that thing, gleefully basking in the summer sun. I did the same in our backyard by the pool, unabashed in front of the neighborhood gaggle of kids.
When we played ‘Star Wars’ I always chose to be Princess Leia in the Jabba the Hut scene, brazenly exposing some side ass-cheek in a ridiculously-torn bit of fabric that had to be draped just so. I won’t even get into the politically-incorrect ‘Cowboys & Indians’ garb I concocted, but you can guess which side I chose, and the lack of coverage said ensemble provided.
Growing up in a household where your Dad spends the majority of time lounging in his Jockey shorts, you don’t get a real sense of shame in the human body – and that’s the way it should be.
Somewhere in my childhood that changed. As I grew up and became aware of my body, and the whole Adam and Eve story played in the back of my mind, I became more guarded about things. The carefree innocence of being naked was being replaced with something dirty and shameful. Good boys and girls didn’t behave that way. They didn’t parade around as if we were born that way, they didn’t run about in their underwear, and they certainly didn’t bare their butts in public. I can’t pinpoint when or why or how I became aware of this. There was no traumatic event (fortunately) that sticks in my head, no watershed moment that suddenly changed everything.
Once the curtain of shame and self-awareness descended, I clammed up and covered up, and went in the complete opposite direction. Clothing became my armor, and I found ways to manipulate my image and express myself through such sartorial decoration. Perhaps I took it to an extreme, but being naked became a sign of weakness, a supreme state of vulnerability that a sensitive heart simply couldn’t abide.
I dreaded the simple scoliosis tests at school, when we had to take our shirts off and show our spine to the nurse. I hated undressing in the locker room before and after physical education classes. I even hated taking my shirt off to swim.
(How at odds with what you have come to know, and with everything you have seen here.) I told you: it makes little sense. Such are the quirks of an introverted extrovert. I’m working through those issues with the images before you. It’s a cheap and simple form of therapy, a way to grapple with deeper-seeded things in a very public forum.
Yet even this is safely removed from direct interaction. The photos you see here were taken weeks ago in a hotel room far away – and it might as well have been a lifetime and a galaxy beyond ours. Still, it’s a start. Everything I present here is done with an aim to get over my own issues with shyness. I still have those hang-ups.
In person, you will never see me take my clothes off. I may come close (I’ve finally felt free enough to go swimming – with no shirt on! – in front of people, but you’ll never see me disrobe completely. You’re never going to see me parading around in a Speedo at a pool party, and you’re never going to see some live-streaming shower video of me. But on a recent stay at the Standard, I inadvertently gave some of New York a bit of a peep show, and as uncomfortable as it felt, it was also quite liberating.
It’s still not going to happen in the real world, but it’s happening here.
My shyness is the antithesis of everything I put on display on this website, and that’s why I do it. The shame I feel in being naked in front of people is a shame wrought by society and religion. It’s the same sort of shame I once felt in being gay. And shame like that has no place in the world I want to leave behind.