Disclosure

At various times throughout my art modeling career I have been tempted to sit down at my computer, write a lengthy detailed email exposing everything I know about certain people, airing everyone’s dirty laundry that I’m privy to, calling out bad behavior, betrayals, and backstabbing. Then I’d CC it to everyone in my address book, hit “send”, and let the whole thing crash and burn. Sure, I’d be flaming myself and my career in the process, but in that state-of-mind I probably wouldn’t give a shit. I’d just find something else to do. I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

I have devised a regulation that I believe should be implemented in the art community. Here it is: married male art teachers between the ages of 45 and 58 should be prohibited from working with female life models. No, I’m not kidding. The only exceptions to this rule will be granted when the male artist undergoes psychological counseling by a licensed professional and is 100% cleared of suffering from a mid-life crisis. Then, and only then, will that male instructor be permitted to work with female models. All others – those diagnosed with mid-life crisis – are forbidden from being in the same room with nude female models. They can do still lifes and landscapes. We’ll let them back into life classes after their 60th birthday.

The dirty little secret of the art world, from the model’s perspective, is the disturbing prevalence of pathetic middle-aged perverts who blur the line between professionalism and their own personal ego-driven issues and insecurities. I have twice now LOST SIGNIFICANT MODELING EMPLOYMENT all because a male teacher concocted fantasies in his head about me, treated these delusions as fact, and decided to deal with them by punishing ME rather than seeking help for his issues. This is unacceptable. They are usually married men, always in their 40s or 50s, always have inflated perceptions of themselves in terms of their artistic talent, and always disguise their fetishization of models by behaving in a chummy, open, and genial manner. These are the guys who are full of shit. And they get away with their unethical behavior over and over and over again because no one calls them out on their lies – no one except for the accusing model whose word carries no weight whatsoever in this business.

Don’t ever – EVER – underestimate the boy’s club that is the art world. It is very, very real. And I say this as a woman who doesn’t identify as a “feminist” at all. But when a married male art teacher, in some cases notorious for being an inappropriate perv, finds himself attracted to a model and is frustrated by that attraction, I can promise you that it’s the MODEL who will suffer for it. A model, by the way, who did absolutely nothing wrong.  

Just to be clear, I am speaking about flagrant, egregious LIES – situations in which these male art teachers just make shit up about models. Pure fantasy. Pure fiction. Look, I understand we are all human. If you are a male artist who develops feelings or an attraction to a model, you can inquire. You can wonder and contemplate. You can even try, if you must, to pursue an affair. But you can’t just MAKE SHIT UP and act on it by ostracizing the model with no explanation or apology, and without taking even five minutes to hold your own delusions up to scrutiny – your own delusions which are the real problem. The model isn’t the problem, YOU are the problem. And no model should ever have to lose work because a male art teacher fabricated ideas about her IN HIS HEAD. Men like that are not even men. They are silly, spoiled children who have regressed back to adolescence and shouldn’t be allowed near adults.

The art world is rampant with these dickheads. Their male peers either protect them or simply look the other way. The worst assumptions are made about the model, while the benefit of the doubt is given, or some excuse made, for the male artist. You know, because he’s so technically “brilliant” or “talented” or some other art crap that should in no way absolve bad behavior. I write about great artists all the time on this blog. But in real life, if some male artist treats a model badly I don’t give a damn how “talented” he is. It means absolutely ZERO to me. A douchebag is a douchebag. As far as I’m concerned, I’d lock all these assholes in a room – WITH their shitty artwork – douse the place with gasoline and burn it to the ground.

The art community is blessed with many extremely hardworking, dedicated models, who endure physical pain and strain, booking aggravations, and a multitude of temperamental personalities, so that artists can benefit from the life model experience. And what do these models get in return for their diligence? A tenuous work existence subject to the arbitrary, fanciful impulses of middle-aged, unhappily-married pervs who just wish they could get laid with the sexy nude model posing for his class and feel like a stud again.

If only I were a vindictive person. But unfortunately I’m not, and sometimes that pisses me off. Because there are a few people I know who really, really, really deserve to have their careers and reputations destroyed.

42 thoughts on “Disclosure

  1. dougrogers says:

    ‘Bravo’ or ‘Good for you’ seem like weak praise for this.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Obviously I don’t know the specifics but can imagine the scenario. Your anger and frustration at the unfair situation are obvious and I can imagine that this disclosure will ruffle some feathers – as intended. I hope the fallout will be in your favour and that the art community will rally round you.
    Thinking of you.
    Jennifer

    • artmodel says:

      Jennifer,

      Thanks so much for your supportive words. Nothing significant will come of this post, however, since i didn’t identify anyone by name. All I can hope for is that it might bring attention to this issue.

      Great to hear from you!

      Claudia

  3. bruce says:

    Bravo Claudia! I sympathize with you totally. The situation you describe, is unfortunately all too common. I have felt it in a number of places, and I have always wondered how these mentally stunted children can behave the way they do. It insults all of us and in a teaching position, sends the wrong message to their students, perpetuating the ugliness.

    • artmodel says:

      Bruce,

      I wish all the men in our art community were like you! You’re a true gentleman, and a sweetheart!

      You raise a great point about the example these teachers are setting for students. I didn’t even think of that.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  4. coondude says:

    Well, I hope you feel better. Tarring an entire group with the same brush is so rewarding.

    ALL male teachers? NEVER had a decent one? EVERY SINGLE TIME you’ve modeled for a middle-aged male this has happened? Also, I resent the implication that male sexuality ends at 60.

    Any male models (besides me and I don’t count because I’m too old) had unwanted advances from either sex? Any female models “hit on” by female instructors?

    How about the male students? Or is that OK because they’re not hideously, disgustingly, repulsively (shudder)…MIDDLE-AGED?

    • artmodel says:

      “ALL male teachers? NEVER had a decent one? EVERY SINGLE TIME you’ve modeled for a middle-aged male this has happened?”

      coondude, can you please show me where in my post I said any of the above things? You obviously haven’t been reading this blog for very long, because I have written about MANY, MANY male art teachers who I like, respect, and enjoy working with. Do you want me to list them? I’m happy to do so. Some of them are linked in the “artists” section and blogroll of my sidebar. Or you can read through my archives to get a better understanding of my relationships with male artists. The good ones, that is.

      Nor did I say that “male sexuality ends at 60”. I meant that men of those ages are PAST the stage of having a mid-life crisis. That’s why it’s called a “mid-life crisis” you know. it occurs in middle age. And the 60s and 70s are not middle age. it’s pretty simple to understand if you’re willing to drop the defensiveness and hostility. I love the old guys! I work with them all the time.

      Besides, you missed an important point. This isn’t about “sexuality”. It’s not even about “unwanted advances” per se. If you read carefully, you’ll see I was objecting to male teachers PUNISHING innocent models, without explanation, purely because of their own issues. In fact, one of the incidents that triggered this post involved NO sexual advances at all. The artist IMAGINED a scenario that never took place. Frankly, I’d rather the guy just make an advance, I reject it, he accepts it, and we all move on. That’s at least honest and open. I thought I made it clear that I am a fully aware of the interactions that take place between artists and models, both professional and personal. What I won’t accept, however, is my reputation being damaged and my opportunities for employment being diminished due to this issue. I’m sorry you didn’t comprehend my point.

      But thanks for your comments anyway.

      Claudia

  5. Bill MacDonald says:

    Well said. Here’s my take — I’m above the 58-year mark, but I can go for a walk in the park on the first nice Spring day and fall in love 23 times — and that’s if it’s raining. But it’s not love — it’s not even about those 23 women. It’s just my body and spirit reminding me that I’m still alive and breathing. That’s all it is — and I recognize that.

    So when I see a beautiful model (and they’re pretty much all beautiful), I’ll admit that my first thought isn’t always, “Do I need to put out the burnt sienna today?” But I’m an adult — and one of the really wonderful things about life sessions is the recognition that people are sexual beings, yes — just like they’re intellectual, emotional, psychological beings, it’s all part of who we are — and we have a chance to pull that together here on this canvas/piece of paper. But we’re also all adults in a safe environment — and any fantasies that we come up with are just that — fantasies. We have to recognize that they’re not “real” — and to somehow make them real constitutes a totally unwarranted intrusion into someone else’s life. Perhaps the incident in Aurora is an extreme case of what can happen when the line is crossed.

    If this relates to a current situation, I definitely wish you luck with it.

    • doug rogers says:

      You know, I am completely with you on this.

    • scorpioski says:

      C’ ~
      What a compelling & disturbing tale/entry in your blog.
      Your frustration is poignant, your pain palpable and your restraint laudable.
      Sorry to read of your travails. Your job is challenging enough without add’l D’baggery to contend with.
      My industry has similar and equally nefarious downsides so I empathize.
      This post above was morbidly interesting, tantalizing for what it did Not say and scary for the glimpse at your claws…
      Thanks for sharing your words wisdom & life experiences.
      Stay well, Sister.
      Paul

      • artmodel says:

        Paul,

        Thanks for your comments! Yes, I’ve heard that your industry has it’s share of this kind of thing. Whenever there’s intimacy of some kind between people, complications and misunderstandings can arise easily.

        But I am sorry that this post entered the “scary” zone for you. My “claws”? Ugh!! I’m a sweetheart, I swear! No, I know what you meant, I’m just kidding around 😆 Just keep in mind that I have written a total of 584 posts on this blog, and I think I exposed my claws on maybe three of them. Considering what goes on in this business, that’s not bad!

        Always great to hear from you, friend 🙂

        Claudia

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      Your comments are so perfectly and beautifully expressed there’s nothing I could possibly add to them! All I can say is THANK YOU 🙂

      Claudia

  6. peter howard says:

    Sounds like a bad situation – gives us men a bad name. On a positive note this English gent has just discovered your site and I think its great. Only wish you were over here to pose at my life class.

    Pete Howard, Surrey, England

    • artmodel says:

      peter,

      Welcome to Museworthy, and what a horrible initiation you’ve had! So much for first impressions 😆

      Anyway, great to have you aboard. I adore the English and have many blog readers from Great Britain. I, too, wish I could pose for your life class.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  7. BobTheArtModel says:

    As a male model, I’ve been hit on by both male and female instructors. I’ve always chalked it up to them confusing nudity and sex. All of them eventually took no to mean no… some more readily than others but none have turned it into an attack on me.

    Oddly I’ve never received that kind of attention from students or female models I work with. The problem only happens with those in a position of power.

    • artmodel says:

      Bob,

      Yes, the power position is key. This post wouldn’t exist otherwise, as students have no influence over the hiring of models. Like I said in above comment, it’s not so much about flirting and getting hit on. I am angry about my career – my livelihood – suffering as a result of this nonsense.

      Thanks for your comments! Hope you’re feeling better with each day.

      Claudia

  8. Peta says:

    G’day luv
    This is Peta, Derek Tewey is me dad and a fellow art model from Australia. I first want to wish you a happy b’day to you and I know my dad had spoken about me and he adores you very well. This is my only
    comment since I am here to speak on my father’s behalf who is now getting treated for early stages of Lymphoma. It really is a bummer to hear this wicked story. I went through that meself. I really sympathize with you my dear . No one should go through that crap. On a brighter side we art models are great on being creative to artists. Keep on doing what you love. I reckon to go walk about to my work and gotta go see my mum and anyway happy birthday (kiss)

    Peta Tewey
    Brisbane, Australia

    PS> My father will be back later this week.

    • artmodel says:

      Peta,

      Please, PLEASE send your father my very best and warmest wishes. Sorry to hear about the lymphoma treatments. You are so kind to comment here on his behalf. He has spoken so highly of you. It’s a treat to have the voice of the real Peta here on Museworthy! Sorry you had to make your debut on such a cranky post!

      Thanks for the birthday wishes! Be well and take of yourself and the family 🙂

      Claudia

  9. Chris says:

    I think BobTheArtModel hit upon a big part of the problem. “Positions of power” Too many people in positions of power feel that rules do not apply to them. Just look at Teachers, Politicians, Priests, etc… and their relationships to others in a subordinate position.

    Unless artists can see models as equals/colaborators there will always be those that feel they do not need to honor the artist/model relationship.

    As an artist in the “Age bracket” I want you to know that there are those of us that can honor the artist/model relationship. I am just sorry you have to deal with those that can’t.

    • artmodel says:

      Chris,

      I really appreciate your comments. Your second paragraph hits the nail on the head. I will expand on that by saying, in my opinion, a lot of the male artists who TALK a big game about respecting the models and seeing them as equals are, in reality, the biggest culprits. It’s all lip service. It’s as if they want to establish their positive position ahead of time and drill it into the model’s head, so in the event of a misunderstanding they can claim they’re one of the good guys . . .you know, because they SAID SO. Repeatedly. Ad nauseum. If you have to say something about yourself a hundred times then it probably isn’t true, and is just a cover the exact opposite.

      Thanks Chris!

      Claudia

  10. John Pisarcik says:

    It is a shame that you are exposed to this kind of treatment in the pursuit and practice of your noble career. The boundaries separating nudity in the studio and nudity in every other context should remain iron clad.
    Bills comment about burnt sienna is inevitable though, but a good character, the purpose, and a rational thought process should put one right back on track. Obviously too difficult some some of the men you deal with.
    Models feeling completely comfortable in the studio is paramount.
    It is one hell of a good time, when in the confines of the studio, you can lock out all the other social influences and implications of nudity .
    On the humorous side though: it is also obvious why more women show up to practice their drawing when “Big Steve” is modeling.
    Happy Birthday Claudia. All the BEST to you.
    If you ever have reason to travel to Pittsburgh, you must come by the studio and visit for a modeling session.

    • artmodel says:

      John,

      You made me crack up laughing with the “Big Steve” comment! 😆

      Great comments, thank you. I appreciate you mentioning the comfort level of the models. I think sometimes that priority slips or gets taken for granted. A great deal of what happens is unintentional and accidental, I totally understand that. In a class I posed for recently, everyone going in and out of the studio during my pose kept forgetting to close the door behind them. Everyone forgot! They didn’t do it on purpose of course. It just got a little annoying. I’d be up on the platform nude with the door wide open, while general contractors were on the premises doing renovations and walking all over the place. Finally the monitor announced, “Please CLOSE THE DOOR when you come in and out of the room!”.

      Thanks again for your comments.

      Claudia

      • peter howard says:

        In response to your comments about the door to the studio being left open leaving you in full view of the builders. We put a screen in front of the door so that even if the door opens, the models’s modesty is still protected.

  11. Dan Hawkins says:

    Claudia, this was a difficult post to read, so I imagine that it must have been difficult to write. As a male model, I’ve always envied the ease at which my female peers have been able to get bookings. It has always seemed that I have had to work harder to get them. It is enlightening and disturbing to read about some of the things that you ladies have to deal with.

    My wife tells me that I lack subtlety, and I have to admit that that’s true. Unless someone directly propositioned me, I wouldn’t even know that I’m being hit on. Now that I think about it, I do remember a few instructors being really friendly in the art studio (I tend not to socialize with people in the art world outside of modeling gigs), but even now, I don’t want to assign ulterior motives to them. I like to believe the best about people until proven wrong.

    I hope you won’t keep lumping everyone of a certain demographic into one group. I’m not an art teacher, but I am married and will be 46 in a little over a month. So I do fall into that age demographic which you describe, and I know that I would hate to be judged by the actions of someone else.

    • artmodel says:

      Dan,

      Of course I’m not lumping you in with these jerks! I drew my demographic conclusion based on my own experiences. It’s funny because the way I saw it is that I let a lot of guys off the hook. The younger male teachers – guys in their 20s and 30s – have demonstrated to me a great deal of good manners and respect, which is heartening.

      And again I just want to reiterate that the come ons and making of unwanted advances isn’t my main point here. It’s the malicious sabotage – or attempted sabotage – of a model’s employment that I take tremendous issue with. Honestly, I can and am willing to put up with a huge amount of crap from these people. Like I said in my post, we’re all human and we’re all flawed, myself included. But I will not tolerate LIES, and a loss of work as a consequence of those lies. A model should lose work because of a lack of professionalism and no other reason.

      Thanks so much for commenting Dan, and adding a fellow art model’s voice to the discussion.

      Claudia

      • Dan Hawkins says:

        Claudia:

        My comment was in reaction to two statements in your post: “Here it is: married male art teachers between the ages of 45 and 58 should be prohibited from working with female life models,” which is a pretty blanket statement; and “They are usually married men, always in their 40s or 50s, always have inflated perceptions of themselves in terms of their artistic talent, and always disguise their fetishization of models by behaving in a chummy, open, and genial manner.”

        I don’t ever envision myself become an art teacher, but if I ever did, I would hate to be excluded from teaching life drawing with female models because of what two other people in my age range had done. And as for behaving in a chummy, open, and genial manner, some people may genuinely behave that way.

        Of course, the ones who lie about people in the way you described are the ones who are going to behave in a dishonest way. I’m sorry that these teachers have done this to you and, most especially, that you have lost work over them. I’ve learned in my years in this business that we models are, at the same time, the most important people in the life drawing studio and the least powerful people. A lot of things go on behind the scenes, a lot of judgments made, and, because of the nature of the job, people in authority don’t have the courage to approach us about it. Or maybe they figure that since we do what we do on an ongoing basis, there must be something wrong with us, making it easier to take others’ words on things over ours.

        Of course, I’m thinking of a specific experience a few years ago. I was modeling regularly for a nearby college. During the middle of the semester, the teacher, without explanation, canceled my remaining bookings. The only thing I can think of was an incident that occurred during my last session there. The class was arranged in a semi-circle, and I was in a standing pose, facing away from most of the students, giving them a back view. To my left was a young lady who had drawn me several times over two or three different semesters. I was familiar with her work and that she had a tendency to focus on my mid section and especially my genitals. That is, of course, fine with me. I’m there for the artists for whatever they want to study. During this particular pose, she and the girl sitting next to her were at the end of the semi-circle, so they had a frontal to partial profile view of me. For whatever reason, this girl was very vocal on this night, talking with her neighbor about “starting with the most important part,” etc., etc. It was more than obvious what she was concentrating on for her drawing. I hate to say it, but her comments were having an effect on me, and I kind of think that’s what she intended. I didn’t get a full erection, but we males have various stages of arousal, and I got to a pretty advanced stage. And at the risk of sounding immodest, I’m larger than average in that department. Luckily, the only people in a position to see what was going on were on the two ends of the semi-circle. There was the talkative girl and her friend on one end, and a deaf girl and her female sign interpreter, who didn’t have much to do but just sit there and watch and wait, on the other end. The teacher was in the room the entire time, and I kept thinking that surely, she would steer the conversation to something of a less explicit nature. I thought about asking for a break, but I didn’t know how to do it without causing embarrassment for either myself or the talkative girl. So the pose continued to its conclusion. A couple of days later, that instructor contacted me to cancel the remaining two bookings I had with that class. When I asked her why, she just said that the class was going to go another direction.

        My point is, that we have to put up with a lot of stuff that isn’t our fault, and whenever we are slighted, the benefit of the doubt usually goes to other parties. I don’t know what to do about it. In my situation, how would I even have approached anyone about it? Luckily, I’m back modeling at that school after a few years of non-bookings, and there have been no recurrences of any problems like the one I described.

        • artmodel says:

          Dan,

          In the situation you described, with the students being overly vocal and saying inappropriate things, I would absolutely break the pose and tell the instructor that the students are being disruptive and distracting your concentration, and that you won’t continue until the room is quiet – as it’s supposed to be. I have done that, obviously not with the physical attribute you have, but I have asked teachers to quiet the students several times. Students talking too loud or too incessantly need to shut up. Period.

          If I could just comment one last time about my statement about the male teachers- I did specify that it’s the men in that group who are suffering from a mid-life crisis that are the problem. I then said that the ones who aren’t are ok with me. The description I gave was the description OF the problem men, based on my experiences. In other words, I meant that the teachers who have this issue have fit that description, NOT that all the teachers who fit that description have had this issue. You have to turn it around. Or maybe it’s just my bad syntax.

          Thanks for sharing your story, Dan. We models have to deal with some odd and strange things to keep doing what we love.

          Claudia

  12. Rob says:

    Sounds like you have every reason to be agitated!! Seems to me that intimidating behavior has no place in any work environment and that avenues ought to exist within the institution to address your very legitimate concerns. I wouldn’t hesitate to raise them….however, I just lost my own job for “pushing back”. I don’t regret the effort…but maybe you wouldn’t feel that way?

    • artmodel says:

      Rob,

      How awful that you lost your job because you spoke up! I’m very sorry to hear that. Since you asked, yes I would feel that way, meaning I would not regret it. I am a “pro-pushback” kind of person.

      Thanks for your comments and please take care!

      Claudia

  13. Andrew says:

    It is disturbing to hear that this has happened to you twice. It makes me wonder how many other models have gone through this as well. At least you were not physically abused, unlike Sandusky’s victims, but there’s a common thread: The school failed to address the problem. That attitude didn’t end well for officials at Penn State, including former president Graham Spanier. College officials elsewhere would be wise to learn from this failure of leadership. Otherwise they risk the same fate sooner or later.

    • artmodel says:

      Andrew,

      Before I started to write my comment replies I was just reading an article about Penn State and how the NCAA is going to rip them to shreds. Good! What a massive failure of responsibility and accountability. So disgraceful.

      Thanks for your comments.

      Claudia

  14. violinhunter says:

    I found this post a little over the top. The generalizations are unlike what I would expect from a person of your extraordinary intellect. You may have just been venting – you may have been terribly upset – I don’t know. The comment about putting these art teachers in a room with their art works and burning it up – well, what can i say? It is shocking. Many world-class artists have led less-than-exemplary lives. Everyone has problems of one sort or another – some problems are very serious and some are just sort of fluffy. For many years now, my philosophy has been to remember that people will say whatever they feel like about you, regardless of what you do, what you say, or how you act. There are people who would not be my friends even if I kissed their ass. On the other hand, there are friends who would remain my friends even if I spit in their face. Life itself is fascinating – regardless. Remember what Herbert said: “Living well is the best revenge.” Why not have a Daiquiri and think your way out of this problem? Every problem and every burden has a solution. I do wish you the very best – always!!! “-)

    • artmodel says:

      Oh violinhunter you’re being completely ridiculous. Do you actually think I meant the part about burning up the artists and their art LITERALLY??? Like I SERIOUSLY want to commit arson? Come on man, get real.

      Claudia

  15. A horrible situation to be in. You are quite right that being hit on (although unpleasant) is unacceptable but liveable with, but interfering with your job prospects entirely despicable.

  16. Karson Eggedal says:

    I’m glad you brought this up. I think it’s indeed the power thing. I worked for many years as clerical help in college departments. It seemed that every year some 40+ professor’s marriage would go up in flames because he was chasing or being chased by some toothsome coed. It seemed to me many male professors did a sly quid pro quo. But often some of the professor were just overt, just plain jerks. When I first started, I was warned about certain professors because they also hit on us clerks. I finally left that line of work. BTW, I do consider myself a feminist and I’ve tried since to avoid any sort of work where women get boxed into sexual situations.

    • artmodel says:

      Karson,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Yes, this type of thing happens all over, in every work environment. Colleges are pretty bad, like you explained. The figurative art world is distinguished from the rest by the nudity aspect, which obviously amplifies the feelings (either real or imagined) between teachers and models.

      Claudia

  17. aquavert says:

    I’m so sorry something horrendous like this has happened to you- men like that are terrible!

    I’ve been a big fan of your blog for quite a long time and usually just read and lurk, but I can completely understand your anger and frustration and felt I had to speak up and support you!

  18. gavinpollock says:

    There is scope for abuse in the instructor/model relationship, unfortunately. I never realised just how much of a responsibility it is until I started introducing new models and running classes, and I think it’s appalling that people would abuse that position. Fortunately I haven’t heard of anything like that round here, it’s a very small world and I think bad behaviour would be quickly stamped out.

  19. gavinpollock says:

    I’ve linked this post to this thread on the British Lifeart forum;
    http://www.lifeart.co.uk/art_talk/showthread.php?p=27760#post27760

    Fight the power. 😉

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