T&A No MoreTuesday, August 11, 2009
Five years ago I went to Buenos Aires with Rosemary and Rebecca. Wherever I went I saw the near naked and young female figure advertising everything from eyewear to toothpaste. I asked my Irish nephews why this was the case. I told them that the images were almost obscene to me. My nephews were puzzled and jokingly challenged my manhood.
It was some 20 years ago that I shared a show of nudes with two other photographers. My nudes included my subject’s faces. I remember that there was one salient comment in the gallery guest book, “ Alex, thank you for showing us the faces.” When possible my nudes are always also portraits. At Focal Point I have been teaching for some time The Contemporary Portrait Nude. If I were to try to explain the concept to my nephews they would smirk and comment to what lengths I go to justify taking pictures of naked women.
It is difficult to try to explain not only to my nephews in Argentina but my friends in Mexico about what has happened to the traditional male-oriented approach to sexuality or to the language men (at least in Canada with my own contemporaries) used to used to use when speaking of women.
In the 80s and early 90s I was an enthusiast of female exotic dancers. I never drank in these establishments as I have never enjoyed drinking. My interest in these bars was to gaze on the female figure in all of its glory. My enthusiasm waned and disappeared one evening at the Marble Arch 10 years ago when I was there with some architect friends and a journalist. This bunch was very much in control of their drinking habit. They would invariably drink a couple of pitchers of beer and at a certain point they would stand up (extremely sober) and go home. Some were married and they were going home for supper. But on this one evening one of them told the rest, “Let’s wait to see her ti.. before we go.” I had heard this expression for years and I had never given it much thought. This time I was shocked and disgusted. I never returned and I have not seen an exotic dancer since. My nephews would laugh at me, “¡Che, necesitás Viagra!
It is in the spirit of the above that a much kinder and respectful man, this man has to make a confession. In the late 70s ane early 80s I used to take still photographs of CBC variety shows. The TV cameramen and I would often ogle the female dancers that were part of the troupe called The Jim Hibbard Dancers. In particular it was Hungarian-born cameraman Michael Varga and I who really liked to compare notes. We loved staring at Viktoria Langdon. She had the most perfect legs we had ever seen or that I have ever seen since. To top the legs she had Cinemascope cheekbones and a sophisticated (to us) South African accent. Then there was Jackie Colman who had sex appeal. This term has pretty well disappeared. In the 50s men and women would say, “He or she has SA.” Everybody knew what SA was! In contemporary language you would say that Colman had bedroom eyes and sex rushed out of every pore of her body. If the minimum clothing that these dancerw was much too much we could always catch Colman at the No Five Orange sans costume.
Jackie Colman had this Mezzo-soprano voice and she often spoke to us as did Viktoria Langdon. There was a third dancer who was in a different category. She was remote. When she wasn’t dancing she was preening or stretching. I was mesmerized watching her. She was like watching a spirited Arabian horse. Mike and I thought she had the most perfect bum (we used the word that is a synonym for donkey). The rest of her body was compact and her legs were beautiful.
She had a narrow, almost streamlined face. Her blond hair was wavy. In was in the mid 80s that I had my chance to photograph her in my studio for Vancouver Magazine. I used Hollywood lighting and I stupidly ( I repeat, stupidly) arranged to cover most of her body with clothing. Here she is in all her clothed glory. But there is that picture that I snipped from some contact sheet that is inside the Whalley, Moira file. I know that the dancer on the right is Whalley. I am sure that my nephews would find that picture to their liking.