Awhile back, I had the moronic idea of slapping together a photo shoot because I apparently really like torturing myself with projects that don’t amount to anything in the long run.
I placed an ad on Craigslist and several girls responded. I emailed back and forth with some of them and they seemed very cool and eager to do this. They understood that it wasn’t for some glamour magazine spread, but perhaps they’d walk away with new pics for their MySpaces, who knew.
Then something happened. Something by the name of Chuck. He responded with great zeal and boasted that he’s been known to slip into a dress on ocassion and he’d gladly slap on some lipstick too if I wanted. I was like, sure whatever dude, just please show up.
Chuck began emailing me every day, like the cyberspace version of my Aunt Sharon, offering little suggestions here and there. There would always be a sentence starting with "What if…." Some of his ideas were cool, but then he was starting to get too alt porn on me.
I ended up canceling the shoot because the weather was shitty, but Chuck asked if we could meet at the location and go over some ideas, get to know each other, etc. Of course, I made Henry come too. Chuck showed up wearing a Steelers pullover and ballet flats on his sixty-year-old man feet. Dude, Chuck was OLD.
He was nice, though. We tossed around some ideas, yet they all seemed to veer into the direction HE wanted to take it. "We can make the girls wear mustaches. Let’s dress like fairies. Let’s be naked." <—Chuck’s ideas.
Then he told me I was weird and I was like, "Wow, I’ve officially hit rock bottom."
Afterward, he began emailing me about this nineteen year old model he knows named Jeanne. Jeanne is into alt porn and lingerie. I kept reminding Chuck that I wasn’t trying to get all Suicide Girls with this. I didn’t even need a real model, just a BODY willing to put an animal mask over their face. Bottom line. He kept trying to get me to call Jeanne and I kept saying, "Yo Chuck, bro, listen up — I don’t even call my FRIENDS. No way am I calling some stranger to talk about some dumb ass pitchure takin’ idea I had."
So Chuck played the middle man and tells me, "Jeanne is concerned there are too many girls that will be there. Would you be willing to stay after and just shoot Jeanne and me?" Oh, I’d love to. LOVE TO. Because that’s what would truly make my world turn, taking racy pics of you, Chuck. Of YOU.
Finally, last week, I sent out an email to him, one of my fake addresses, and two of Christina’s, stating that straits are so dire that I was forced to get a second job, leaving me with NO FREE TIME. No photo shoot, sorries.
He replied immediately and said that’s too bad, but he’s also free on Fridays and Mondays.
I ignored him.
He emailed again and asked if he could email the other "models" to see if they want to work with him on his bizarre genderbending assignment.
I ignored him, so he emailed my fake address and Christina’s two addresses anyway.
I was one of the people who was going to work with Erin at the photo shoot this Sunday that was cancelled. If any of you would be interested in possibly working with me in the future please send a reply to this email. I’ve basically been into gender identification stuff. anything weird and pulls ones focus as to how gender is socially viewed. Sometimes it involves full crossdressing , 50% crossdressing , or maybe just 33 1/3 % crossdressing or poking fun at how gender is usually viewed. I love the 40’s fashion look so i get involved with that a little.
Erin is a great girl with a lot of talent and I wanted to work with her but being that this was just for fun she was unable to commit. From time to time photographers contact me with an interest in doing a shoot with me and I was just contacted by a professional photographer yesterday who is interested. If any of you are interested in doing some professional work for your portfolio and also helping me out with some of my stuff just let me know.
if i don’t hear back from you i promise i won’t bother you any more.
Then he emailed me asking to borrow my sacred tutu that Merry made me.
I ignored him.
Finally today he emailed me again:
Needless to say I’m a little disappointed about the cancellation of the shoot but I understand and under the same circumstances I would have done the same thing.
I was just thinking, your photo projects seem like a lot of fun and you have not only the photographic skills and talent but you seem to be responsible and a pretty good organizer. You should try to pull some girls together for a shoot but charge them for you time and a cd. If you got three girls and charged them $20 for your time plus $5 for the cd that’s $25 a piece and if you got 3 girls together for the shoot that would be a total of $75. That’s still not a lot of money but I think anyone who was looking for a free shoot can fork out $25.
The other thing is, I ran across this article a while back about this female photographer who photographs nude men. These’s nothing illegeal or immoral going on. She’s been doing it for 25 years and she’s married. I’m sure there is a market for that in Pittsburgh. Men are basically exhibitionists. Maybe it sounds sleazy but I think it’s pretty cool. You could probably make some pretty good money doing that. Judge for yourself from the article.
I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER, nor do I have the credentials to pretend to be even close to one. This was supposed to be for fun. I would feel like an asshole making people pay me when I can’t guarantee that anything is even going to turn out! I’m using toy cameras for Christ’s sake. And why does he keep trying to lure me into the world of nudity?
Unable to ignore him any longer, I replied and told him of these concerns, and also reminded him that my tutu was not storebought, but something that is very precious to me, so no he cannot borrow it. I also told him that unfortunately, my desire to follow through with this project in the future has been diminished because what started out as a fun thing has been weighed down by too much stress and too many details that have veered away from my original concept and vision.
I got an email back saying that it’s OK, he understands and that he’s buying a yellow baby doll dress today and if he paid me $50 would I photograph him in it?
THIS ISN’T FUCKING GLAMOUR SHOTS, BITCH.
Bob brought up the horrifying possibilty that Chuck might still show up on Sunday, since he lives so close. "What if he brings his own people and tries to steal your idea, and then sees you and everyone else there? You’ll have to tell him the truth then."
I considered this for a moment. "No, I’d still lie." It’s like sit-com in me, I’m telling you. Even when I want to tell the truth in these ridiculous situations, I find myself weaving alternate truths. It’s what happens when I panic. I’d make a great President.
I don’t have a problem with cross dressers or nudity or old people who are into both of those things, but I DO have a problem with pushy people trying to take my reins from me. Back the fuck off, asshole. This is mama’s gig, go sit down.
Big Bob at work told me that the problem with being harmlessly weird like me is that it’s like a gateway for sickos. I’m not sure what he meant, and I don’t particularly think Chuck is a sicko, but I think the lesson I learned is to not post on Craigslist. Maybe stick with MySpace.
"I’ve never seen the line this long before," Henry exclaimed when he called me from Club Zoo. "And we’ve been to a lot of shows down here!" He and his kids had left earlier than Christina and me, so we decided we better hurry up and get down there.
When we arrived, I saw that the line of dual-toned shellacked hair, skinny jeans, and black eyeliner was sort of long, but not nearly as bad as Henry was wanking off about. As we walked toward the end of the line, I called to alert him of our arrival. He told me that he and his kids were on the ramp near the doors, and that we should just cut. I hung up on him and while I was bitching to Christina about how I hate when people cut in line and surely was not about to do that myself, a burly man in a security t-shirt called out to us before we even made it to the end of the line.
"You guys got tickets? Then come with me." He escorted us all the way to the front of the line, past all of the bristling scene kids and Henry.
Inside the club, I called Henry and told him since they had tickets, they evidently didn’t need to stand in line, but he said it didn’t matter. Not wanting me to feel special about the random escort, he quickly added, "He probably just chose to let in you two because you’re OLD."
Finally, we were all inside together. Henry’s oldest son, Robbie, introduced me to his girlfriend, Bree, but she didn’t seem to like me.
And Blake swore that the girl he was with wasn’t his girlfriend, but she should be because they were really cute together.
During the opening band, The Color Fred (featuring Fred from Taking Back Sunday), Christina took pictures of the scene kids around us, Blake and his non-girlfriend ran off to the arcade (Club Zoo is an 18 and under club on nights that bands aren’t playing), and Robbie and Bree never said where they were going. Meanwhile, Henry leaned against a railing with his arms crossed and bandanna too tight, looking surly and awkward. This was the first time in two years that he wore a bandanna and I was like DO NOT LIKE, DO NOT LIKE all night long. Why did he have to tie it so tight? Jesus, it made his face look near-explosion.
It had been about four years since I was at this particular club, so I wasn’t used to the balcony area being VIP only. "But why? That’s so lame," I whined to Henry. He shrugged and said that there was a bouncer sitting at the top of the steps behind a rope.
"Do you really want up there?" Christina asked. Of course I did, it was off limits. Some older man in a security shirt and a hat walked by, and Henry pointed to him.
"That’s the guy you want to talk to," he said. I don’t know how Henry finds this shit out. It must be old man code or something.
So Christina goes up to the guy and the first thing she does is accidentally knocks his hat off. He doesn’t help us get in, but then she sees the original security guy from outside, whispers something in his ear and he motions for me to follow them up the steps. He whispers to the VIP guy, who obediently marks our hands and unclasps the rope to grant us entrance. Henry, Blake and his friend Stephenie were standing on the steps, looking betrayed and left behind, like we just snatched the last safety raft on the Titanic. But our security friend had retreated by then and the VIP guy wouldn’t let them through. Later, we lied and said they had to be 21 anyway, even though we never bothered to ask.
Henry waved it off and told us to stay up there, it was OK. What he meant was, "You’re so selfish, you little stuck up bitch, fuck you for making my favorite kid feel like shit!" So, I felt a little guilty. Not guilty enough to surrender my newly acquired VIP status though.
The VIP area was pretty boring. A couple of black couches scattered around and some slutty girls leaning against the balcony and pretending to give a shit about the band playing. We sat on a couch and acted like idiots for awhile, before deciding to go back down where the action was. "We’ll come back up for Chiodos," I said, and Christina agreed.
I failed to mention to Christina that I located Henry through the power of texting, so she somehow got left behind as I did my signature "I’m always in a hurry" march over to the doors. Apparently, she ran into Robbie (after MacGyvering a way for Blake’s friend that’s a girl to be able to see better) and asked him if he knew where his dad was. "Over there, looking like a creep," he answered. Possibly my favorite moment of the night, and I didn’t even witness it first hand.
Another favorite moment that I wasn’t present for was when Christina asked her security friend if she could leave to get her cigarettes from the car, so he marked her hand with a black "21" and sent her to the bar next door, where she felt obligated to order a $5 vodka and cranberry and drink it near a group of ten people who were all friends with each other and looking at her like she was an outcast. Only then was she able to retrieve her Camels from the car. I wondered why it was taking her so long. I mean, I know she’s Mexican, but I didn’t think she’d walk THAT slow.
We hung out with Henry for awhile at the back of the club, just in time for Drop Dead Gorgeous to come on. Christina made friends with two mothers, completely out of the blue, because she practically wears a neon sign that flashes "TALK TO ME, I’M APPROACHABLE." It’s obnoxious, really. Every time I turned around that night, she had someone sidled up next to her, telling her about their recent $8,000 boob job, or the fact that they were presently spying on their daughter and have an affinity for harder music, like Pantera. I guess no one talks to me because I either look: angry, boring, or superior. I’m betting on superior.
Henry was completely in pain during Drop Dead Gorgeous’s set. "All they’re doing is screaming! They suck! It’s like they’ve been playing the same song eight times in a row!" I liked them, but I have a lot of aggression brewing inside of me, so screaming in music is something that appeals to me.
I made the eerie observation that there were at least twelve other boys there that looked like the spitting image of Robbie. I swore I kept seeing him with a different girl every time, and then I would realize that it was some other skinny kid with a pierced labret. There was one instance where I walked past one of his doppelgangers and slapped his shoulder, only to realize it wasn’t him. I shared this with Robbie, the authentic Robbie, at the end of the night, but in true teenaged ambivalence, he half-laughed and then shrugged, and I felt lame.
We ditched Henry for the VIP area during MxPx’s set. Leaning against the balcony and looking down at the kids below, I realized that I didn’t feel very VIP. Where was the champagne? Why were there no hotties in my lap? I wanted to be down where all the action was, otherwise I’d feel like a fairweathered fan. And that’s something that I definately wasn’t. Fairweathered friend, maybe. I looked at Christina and said, "Let’s blow this joint." We flipped off the VIP area and went back down into the bowels of sceneville, where we found Henry outside socializing with security and parents. He tried to make me jealous by bragging that he saw Craigery of Chiodos, and I was kind of glad that I wasn’t there for that, because what would I have done? Cried and then felt shitty for the rest of the night, that’s what.
I decided that night that I want to do a photographical study on scene kids. That’ll be my next Craigslist ad.
While we were waiting for Chiodos to come on, Mike from MxPx strolled past. A small handful of kids clung to him, begging for pictures to use as default MySpace pics, and I urged Christina to do the same. "You really like him," I reminded her. "Go ‘head!" I implored, shoving her forward. There she was, standing next to him, and both of their faces seemed to display the same pained, frustrated expressions. I had no idea what they were saying to each other, but I took the picture anyway.
"That was the most embarrassing moment of my life!" she yelled, stalking back to me and Henry. "I had no idea what to say to him since I WAS PUSHED INTO THE SITUATION, but I wanted to find something that we had in common. So, I was trying to tell him about how I saw them when they were on tour with my friends Dan and Chrissy but I couldn’t remember the name of their band back then, and he had no idea who I was talking about, so he just said, ‘It’s nice to see you again, though.’"
"Element 101," I said. "That was the name of their band." Christina slapped herself in the head and I was doubled over in laughter. "And they’re not even my friends!" I reminded her, furthering her pain. Look at her face in that picture! Whenever I’m feeling down, I just look at that, and feel so much happier.
Just then, Fate dropped the perfect example of a scene girl down right in front of us. Christina was acting all shady, attempting to take her picture in secret, but I stepped forward and said, "Why don’t you just ask her, so you don’t look like a pedophiliac stalker?" Christina agreed that this was a great idea, and made up some story about how we thought her hair was really terrific and would like a picture for our cool hair scrapbook (the scrapbook part is what I would have said, because I’m better at lying than Christina is). The coon girl was all, "OMG I did it myself too so that really means a lot!" and vogued in the standard Internet profile pose before quickly retreating with her friends. It warmed my belly to know that we made her feel good about herself, because I know how nervous I was all the time back then about fitting in. No, seriously. I was all, "Are the bands of my braces the right color this time? Is it lame to drink 2 percent? Should I not be shaving lines into my eye brows? OMG suicide."
A tall man with long wavy hair walked past and Henry proudly boasted, "That’s my new friend. He likes Pantera." I guess Henry’s bandanna deluded that guy into thinking that Henry was worthy of chatting with outside the club. I told Henry that Christina had also befriended him earlier in the VIP area (seriously, I turned my back for five seconds to see if I could spy Henry down below, and next thing I know, my spot is lost to some tough-skinned man who surely owns a Harley, and Christina’s talking to him like he’s her favorite uncle). Christina tried to act like he was better friends with her, but seemed crushed that he only told Henry he has a prosthetic leg.
Seconds before Chiodos came on, Christina arranged for a photo-op with her favorite bouncer, who for some reason really took a liking to her. The spell she casts on people can be very annoying at times.
Chiodos. Oh, Chiodos. I don’t even know what to say, really. Of course Henry refused to follow us into the undulating wall of kids, choosing to keep his feet firmly planted at the back of the club by the red-haired merch girl who had shitty signs perched on her booth, making Christina decide to leave a comment on Chiodos’ MySpace, alerting them to the rudeness of their merch girl and that whoever’s dick she’s sucking, it’s not worth it.
I’m too old to be getting all up into the pit, too vain to be suffering a broken nose, and too aggressive to be warding off flailing limbs without landing myself in jail, so we opted for a spot with a great view and sufficient personal space. It was perfect.
Every time Craigery threw back his head and arched his back into a gutteral roar, I laughed, knowing that somewhere behind me, in the darkness of the club, Henry was grimacing and rubbing his temples. He’s admitted numerous times that he enjoys their music, but hates the screaming. I love it. I also harbor more aggression than Henry does though, as evidenced today by the bloody knuckle I left the house with.
The sound was so fucked up at the beginning that I couldn’t even tell what the first song was. They quickly got it straightened out and it was pure insanity from there on out. I had goosebumps up to my scalp and was on the verge of tears the entire time. Eventually, they played "Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek" and I lost it. Completely fucking lost it and I let the tears fall. It felt good. Clearly I wasn’t hugged enough as a child.
Toward the end of the show, a young kid who looked like Gerard Way pre-MTV exploitation decided to stand behind us and scream things like, "CHIODOS SUCKS! NEVERMIND, CHIODOS RULES!" and then he’d go on to chat with his friends like he was in a fucking coffee house about how he couldn’t believe he had to go to school the next day and all he wanted to do was go home and take a three hour bath. THEN GO DO THAT, ASSHOLE. Eventually, Christina turned around and said, "I paid $25 to hear this band play, so if you want to talk how about standing back there?" It was an awkward moment, the two of them staring at each other, before Christina finally turned back around. He stood there dumbly, with his mouth half-opened, like he really wanted to say something shitty but couldn’t think of anything. I figured at the very least, I’d wind up with some gum or a cigarette butt in my hair, but there was no backlash.
By the end of the set, I pretty much wanted to kill myself. I can’t explain what it is about those guys, but they make me feel so emotionally fragile. They make me want to simultaneously break a lamp over my head and hug a kitten. They make me wish I could run away instead of being a lowly data processor. They make me want to paint pictures with my own blood and then hold hands with someone I love.
Today I realized, "I would give up my tickets to the Cure to see Chiodos again" and it was a monumental moment in my life.
[I know not everyone is a fan of screaming, and this was the only song of theirs sans screaming that I could find a video for. See how I cater?]
My photo shoot ad was posted yesterday on Craigslist and I’ve since received two interested replies. This is what I wanted, it’s true, but now I’m freaking out because I’m going to have to talk to strangers. So I begged Christina to come in from Cincinnati (if she survives the current snow storm) for that weekend and we’re going to pretend like I’m a mute and she’s my psychic translator. Plus, she’ll flirt with everyone and make them feel real uncomfortable, which should make for some very artistically awkward poses.
I tried to confide in Henry about my feelings of inadequacy and nervousness.
"I’m really worried about this now! What if people think I’m an idiot?" I fretted.