Looking glass


I’d noticed a few commentaries recently concerning my personal (well-being) status, particularly as it applied to my normal ModelMayhem account being deactivated (the concern, in addition to finding out some unexpected people actually read the crazy things I write here, brought a nice smile to my face).

Although one major factor in my stepping away from the site has since been mended, there were a few facets to my willing self-removal. It’s a hard topic to address because I do feel like I have a certain sense of gratitude I owe the site. 3 years ago I was a complete noob shooting website content, getting lucky on free personals sites at approaching ladies to shoot. It only took till my second shoot before I started feeling like I could embrace the creative process as my ‘baby’…it meant something. It’s actually the medium I’m drawn to by default now when I need to release emotion.

I’ve had the amazing pleasure of having models whom I’d thought were head and shoulders above my quality of work (and would never have dreamed of approaching) actually message me via that site, leading to some incredible experiences.

It perhaps came to a culmination a month or so ago when I had the honor of shooting with one of (in my mind) the top 3 fetish models on the planet: Angela Ryan. She, as well, had actually initiated contact with me (tangent: her interest was actually directed at The Tori Project, but time constraints and things led to us not being able to get the shot I wanted with her. We had enough time to shoot just a quick two mini-sets [backgrounds/setups really as there was no time for a wardrobe change]. The experience went well enough that we both agreed we’d finally get down to finishing the Tori shot later on at some point).

It’s been a great ride. Perhaps it’s the artistic snob in me (at least part of it…the other part is probably the misanthrope in me) that feels almost like a fish out of water there anymore. When I first got on the site (August of 2005, if I recall) I adored it. There were less that 50,000 total members. It had the feel of an awkward gathering of eccentric artists. There were your slightly aloof “pros” and your superficial members, who seemed to get into it for the same reason so many women today like pretending to be bisexual (just in public, usually)…but there was a core of artistry and you could sense how, to each in their own way, it impacted their presence (I’m speaking mainly of the forum regulars, with whom one could develop a personal interaction with). The forums, even then, had the expected gamut of maladies: trolls, GWCs, forum whores….but mind you, this is back when it wasn’t chic to be one of these things.

Over time the community that felt so much like walking into a Nashville coffeehouse full of vibrant, alternative geeks, musicians, philosophers, artists…started turning into the highschool after-class mall food-court chill-out gathering.

It reminded me of this coffeehouse I used to frequent back on Long Island. It’s called the Witch’s Brew (I know, it seems a bit cliché). I was there the first day it opened. This rinky-dink coffee shop decorated in pseudo goth stuff (dried roses, velvet hanging from the walls and ceilings, furniture carefully selected from the Salvation Army and GoodWill) was an unexpectedly nifty find. Admittedly, this was back when I adhered to more neopagan views…but that’s neither here nor there.

It had such a wonderfully snug, candlelit (even when it wasn’t candlelit), dark feel. You could feel the normal clientele felt at least some connection to the store name (after all, what preppy sort of people would try out a clearly gothed out coffeehouse?). I would order, almost exclusively, ‘Black Cat’s: an espresso/cappuccino hot drink mixed with chocolate and peanut butter. I’d switch up the dessert to try different ones…but inevitably nearly all of them were wonderful.

During the mid to late 90s I moved to northwestern Virginia for college, so I only occasionally would get around to going back to NY to be with the folks. Perhaps it was a year or two…but I remember a visit where I had a friend along with me and I decided I would introduce them to the place. I can’t remember completely clearly (my memory is poor like that) if it was a weekend evening or not…perhaps it was…but (and I should have been more alerted to this upon realizing parking involved being a tad further down the street than I’d previously remembered) it had changed. It wasn’t just the line out the door that brought a wrinkle to my brow. Your stereotypical high school kids saturated the place (at least then they were at least that iffy newfangled hybrid of punk/grunge/emo-goths…now they’re just your regular HS crowd). Perhaps I’m giving away my snobbery too much…but the sort of people whose superficiality you can smell like a cheap cologne (used in lieu of bathing, no less).

I stomached the wait then to get in (as I did yet again when I visited this last winter) but there’s a certain charm gone from it now. I can’t say I’m unhappy for the owners, as it must be a wondrous boon to their profit…perhaps ultimately that’s the justification of such things (and who knows if the blame should be truly on the mundanity of the greater portion of the human populace or on my disproportionate expectations of our species…).

But that’s how I feel now about MM. A lot of certain instances that have irked me about the site really lie in my incredulity as to how the human animal thinks so often…the cheap mechanisms by which we function (often times subconsciously). It’s not just that so much of the site has become one mass orgy of emotional desperation thinly veiled as humorous verbal suggestiveness (for, it is, after all, a common human trait to be lonely). It’s not that connections between people of similar interests don’t invariably happen. However…there was a time when you could read the words “MM is not a dating site” and feel it was a view espoused in the artistic best interest of the community, even in the way most of the site members acted publicly. Perhaps MM has bloomed into its puberty, because the greater portion of the site seems to scoff at the phrase now…as an adolescent would snicker under his/her breath at a parent warning them about smoking and drinking. I won’t even get into how hormonal explosion makes the analogy even more to the point…

And even if all that were palatable…there are the hypocritical, twisted mentations that, in truth, are present in any sufficiently large sampling of humans. Perhaps I’ve been enough of a hermit in my life that I’m not used to soap-opera quality melodrama and gossip working its way back to me and my personal affairs…and being part of that community simply keeps me at greater risk to be further exposed to it (and, to be fair, to exposing myself to others).

I take a peek every so often at the fora…and for every positive commentary I see I run into two that hit the gag reflex on my artistically snobbish palate. In truth, it’s a bit disheartening because I know there are many wonderful reasons/members that remain there…almost a lure. People whose craft (and the fire they breathe into it) almost makes my heart skip a beat. Good friends I’ve connected with. This should not be simply a story of total disenchantment.

For now, however, I think I’m best served being “offline”. I’ve kept my alternate profile up as I intend to focus nearly exclusively on The Tori Project, although I may cut back substantially on shooting period, except for those with whom I’m close. It’s been a while since I’ve shot the inanimate.

So…that is my story. For now. We shall see where it leads.

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