Search

Iphigenia Rising

A Little Bit Iphy

On Stillness

I have always been a really kinetic person. I’ve been antsy since childhood. My teachers scolded me for doodling in my notebooks instead of paying attention (I did this in order to pay attention. As a kinesthetic learner, I wouldn’t absorb anything if I wasn’t moving). I still pace around my apartment when I need to think something through and, of course, there’s dance and all the other active stuff I do.

But then there’s art modeling.

When I first started modeling and decided I wanted to model for art classes as well as cameras, one of my friends who had been an art model for years told me, “it’s really important that you stay still.” I was a little worried, but seven months later, I’ve found art modeling to be extremely important to my work, humbling as fuck, and a great use of my physical abilities.

First of all, absolute stillness does not exist. We all have to keep breathing, and breathing means moving. This to me is quite a relief. I don’t ever have to focus on ” not moving,” I can focus on breathing. I find art modeling to be a lot like meditation. Sit still, focus on your breathing, see where your thoughts wander off to. Except with modeling you have to keep your eyes open and allow a room full of scribbling people with furrowed brows to draw you. Being present and relaxed helps.

Mindset is also something that I find helpful when Staying Still, especially for long poses. It is amazing how much easier life is when you go into a twenty minute set thinking that twenty minutes is easy and will go by in no time, versus thinking that twenty minutes is forever and this is gonna hurt so bad. What you think, you create, because all you’ve got when you’re art modeling is the focal point you’re staring at and your own goddamn body. I’ve legit talked myself through poses by thinking about how time is a construct so therefore the amount of time that I’m holding this pose doesn’t really matter at all and shouldn’t be the focus of my thoughts. It works.

Posing for hours on end also teaches you a fuckton about your own brain. You’ve got nothing to do but think, and eventually you start noticing where your thoughts tend to go, or how far they’ve gone down a rabbit hole. In an effort to keep my Modeling Mind as meditative as possible (say that six times fast), I envision my thoughts as Charlie Brown Grown Up voices that I note and then take a big, deep breath and then let go of. My body might not be moving, but my mind goes all over the fucking place.

When my thoughts aren’t wandering, they are intent on maintaining the pose. Figure modeling teaches you a lot about your physical limits and your ability to sit with discomfort. Much of my time is spent making micro-adjustments to my posture, where I’m holding my weight, which muscles are engaged versus which are relaxed, or where I am holding or releasing tension. I have learned to be okay with parts of my body falling asleep on me and not being able to move to wake them up. Fun fact: limbs tend to fall asleep at the 15-17 minute mark, which means you’re sitting with numbness for 3-5 minutes. At least at that point, the set is almost done and you know your break will come soon. Body parts get sore, muscles cramp, your scalp itches. All of it has to be okay. You’ll be able to move again soon enough.

All of this discomfort is ultimately worth it at the end of the day. I always walk around and see what each artist has captured at the end of three hours. The work, no matter what level of expertise people are at, is always beautiful, and I’m happy to have helped. It’s kind of funny to think about. I spend the entire session in stillness, spinning in my own head, and the artists are frantically trying to capture what they can in a short amount of time, also getting frustrated, feeling inadequate, being happy with something done well, judging themselves, adjusting. An art studio is a room full of very silent, turbulent people, all hoping to make something beautiful.

I’m glad that I stuck with art modeling. It’s helped me with a lot more than just my modeling career. I’m grateful for stillness in a way that I wasn’t before and that change in perspective is pretty cool.

Advertisements

A Change In Direction (From My Patreon Page)

My Dear Friends,
I have some bittersweet news for you. After a lot of consideration, I will be ceasing my Patreon venture on 12/20. This was a difficult choice to make, but is ultimately a positive move for me as an artist.
When I started this creator page, I thought that with dedication and some patience, this site would become a mainstay of my creative work. While It’s only been a month and a half, I have come to realize that my creative life is moving in a much different direction than anticipated. Right now I have too many commitments and I have actually worked myself to the point of illness and injury. About a week ago I had the hard realization that I would need to perform some triage to get my workload down to a manageable, sustainable, and fruitful state. Unfortunately, after looking things over, Patreon was put on the chopping block.
I am in no way viewing any of this as a failure and I hope you all won’t see it that way either. Launching this page taught me a lot of things and opened the door to other creative work that I didn’t have the courage to do before. Patreon has been a valuable learning experience for me and I’m glad you all have taken this short trip with me. I am also sorry that I was unable to deliver everything that I promised at the beginning.
All of the proceeds that I’ve made so far will be donated to SWOP Seattle and this page will be deleted before any of you are charged for December, so please don’t worry about that. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you and please don’t think this will be the end of me sharing my work. I fully intend to keep putting my modeling and pole work out there, it just won’t be on this platform.
Thank you so much for your support and I hope you all have Happy Holidays.
Cheers,
Iphigenia

Home Studio! 

Today I finished putting together my home studio space and choreographed the first pieces for my Patreon page, which goes live TOMORROW! I am so excited and a little scared to take on this new piece of my artistic endeavors and I’m stoked to be able to share all of it with you. 

I moved into a new place a few months ago and my room is this weird L shaped basement space. It’s awesome for the privacy, but it wasn’t feeling right energetically despite everything that I was trying. When I finally started integrating everything that I needed for a dance space, things got soooo much better. Mounting my pole and putting up art have been super motivational and now my room not only feels like my room but also my workspace. 

If you subscribe to my Patreon, you’ll be seeing a lot of this little space. My next goal is to get some dance floor paneling so that I can bang my heels around. Kinda impossible to do that on carpet and floor work ain’t so comfy either. Slowly but surely, all of the little things that still need to happen to make this space extra awesome will get done. 

Patreon is so important to me because for the longest time I thought that my art would always be something intangible, especially after I found Dramaturgy. Dramaturgy is mostly about process and helping a product that doesn’t belong to any one person, but rather a collective creative group. It’s something that people want, but there’s not really a whole lot of product where Dramaturgy is concerned. Unless you count research packets and lobby installations. What I’m trying to say is  that for the longest time, I didn’t think sites like Patreon could be for me too. Goodness, for a couple years I thought I would never be on stage again. HA! #neversaynever

Now that I’m a pole dancer, model, AND super smartypants dramaturg lady, I will be using my Patreon to share all of my skills, and I really do mean all of them. I’ll be hosting the Naked Book Club. The plan is to read one book a month along with my subscribers, and then to post my thoughts, critiques, epiphanies, and questions about each book, and to engage in conversation with all of you about what we read–all while Naked, of course. 

As time goes on, I’ll be offering more crazy mash ups of my two loves, scholarship and stripping, but I’m in no rush to force any ideas. I’ll let the universe offer them to me. And in the mean time, we can all get a little bit Iphy with some slinky stripteases and pole stuff! 

See y’all tomorrow! 

Cheers,

Iphy 

Well, hi.

Wow. Three months since my last post??? It feels more like just three days, I swear. Clearly, things have been busy.

For the past few months, which have been extra turbulent and nonstop, I have been reassuring myself that one day soon I would land again. I would finally settle and have some peace and my life would have a new, better, predictable rhythm that I could count on. This crazy pants year would finally cool its shit and calm the fuck down. It would feel like I was some sort of Life Change Gymnast, sticking a final trick in a bad ass routine for all to see. I would come out on the other side of my decision to change my life and be safe. Within the last couple of weeks, I have come to realize that all of that is bullshit.

There is no landing.

And that is perfectly okay. It’s actually better that way. Creativity flows a lot more easily when life is full of surprises and I am definitely not bored right now. Here are some things that are going on:

  1. When last I posted, I was working a tiny office mom job. That’s not a thing anymore. I’m working an events manager and on performances full time.
  2. I launched a new website because I was sick of keeping my professional naked lady life separate from my professional smart lady life. I can be both, and really, people need both. Check it out: Naked Dramaturgy
  3. I’m working on building a home studio space and will be launching a Patreon site in the very, very near future. I can’t wait to have a platform to make pole performance art and mesh my nude modeling with my pole practice. It’s gonna be cool.

So nothing feels very “landed” but everything is really fun and every day looks different. I’m really appreciating my adaptability and flexibility right now. They aren’t always there, but overall I have no idea how I would be accomplishing anything without being a flexible person. 

As for a better metaphor than the Life Change Gymnast, I’ve landed on thinking of myself as a ship on a rolling sea, only permitted to make port briefly, and then back out on to the ocean. Cheesy as hell, but it’s helping me to feel a little bit more grounded (as grounded as sea legs can be?). 

I’ll be posting about the Patreon more soon and by supporting my work you’ll get a front row seat to all my shenanigans. 

Cheers,

Iphy 

Two Rules

I’ve got two rules that I live by and I’ve been sharing them a lot in conversation with people, so it’s time I share them here. 

When people find out about the work that I do as a model, pole dancer, and a burlesque performer, one of the reactions that’s really common is concern for my safety. It’s a totally valid concern, but it’s also one of the reactions that causes me a lot of frustration. I’ve worked as a stage manager and a house manager for years. I’ve been in charge of evacuating audiences and offices in case of emergency. I’ve dealt with plenty of crisis situations and I’m a woman who’s lived in the city alone, for goodness sake. Safety is my number one priority. I’ve been put in a lot of compromising situations throughout my live, so I do my damnest to not walk into them (or at least walk into them prepared) as often as possible. 

Rule #1: Don’t be a Dumbass. 

This is my golden rule. It’s a mixture of forethought and awareness, and I use this rule in every aspect of my life, every day. 

Going on a shoot with a new photographer? Don’t be a dumbass, have an on call buddy. 

Walking home late at night? Don’t be a dumbass, walk with purpose on well-lit streets and duck into a public place if someone is tailing you.

Managing a show and a performer gets injured? Don’t be a dumbass, a person’s health is more important than a show.

Know that your schedule is packed for the next three days? Don’t be a dumbass, batch cook your meals NOW. (Your future self and your bank account will thank you later). 

It’s a deceptively simple rule, kind of like using common sense, but I think this rule takes more than that. You have to be two steps ahead of yourself and (when possible) everyone else. It’s constantly asking questions of your circumstances for your own good. 

Okay, then what happens?

Am I familiar with that area? 

Who can I call?

Do I have enough information to take a calculated risk?

Don’t be a Dumbass is also a lot of trusting my gut. If I have a bad feeling about something I just straight up don’t do it. And it’s scary how often I’m right. You don’t always need intellectual evidence to not want to do something or to know that something isn’t the right move. Sometimes you just know. It’s hard to listen to your intuition like that at first, (and to know the difference between intuition and shit like anxiety and paranoia) but once you get a handle on it, it can be a life saver. 

All of this is true because of Rule #2: People are Idiots. 

Now, I’m not saying this to be mean. We are all capable of doing some really, really dumb shit. I’m guilty of being an idiot. Shit happens, we don’t always think shit through–fuck, sometimes we are just plain wrong. 

To me, these two rules are cyclical. At the top of the circle, and at the top of your game, there’s  Not being a Dumbass, and down at the bottom there’s Being an Idiot. You have to work hard at Rule #1 in order to stay out of Rule #2. It’s a sisyphusian effort. I’m not always successful. Sometimes I am an idiot. 

And, the more I think about it, People are Idiots is less about shaming other people for their less-than-thought-out behavior than it is a constant check of my own. I do not want to bring idiotic behavior to my friends, collaborators, and coworkers. I owe it to them to not be a Dumbass. That’s just good work ethic. 

So, those are the two rules I live by. Two sides of the same coin to keep my awareness up and my hustle strong. I hope you might find them useful (or at least amusing) too. 

J-O-B

I’m deleting the word ‘job’ from my vocabulary. 

One thing I’m finding about having a new part time Office Fairy Gig and doing other freelancing stuff is that there is a hierarchy of legitimacy between the different types of work that I don’t find very useful. All of my work is legitimate and I need to be doing all of it in order to make a living. To me, being a rockstar at billing insurance and being a rockstar at posing for a camera are just as much work. (Trust me, both happen on a case by case, moment by moment basis. Both have rules that are meant to be broken). So, for me, referring to one of the four or five of the types of work I do as my ‘job’ isn’t really useful. All of the things are my work. All of them count. 

I barely ever have a day off anymore, which is cool because I’m not trapped in the same environment all the damn time. Yesterday I went to model work. Tomorrow I will go to office fairy work. In the cracks between I’ll be working from home as a dramaturg. And even when I’m “off the clock” I’m usually training for pole/Burlesque/performance work. Work is great. I love all of my work, but I would hate to delegitimizate 75% of my work by calling 25% my ‘job.’ So that word is officially out of my vocabulary. 

It doesn’t help me or anyone else respect my total work appropriately and, quite frankly, my hustle is better when I take this approach. If you’re doing work-especially work you’re getting paid for- that isn’t your ‘job,’ I encourage you to make the same switch. 

Don’t Call Me Pretty*

Because I am well aware of the fact that I am. I am amazed by compliments, or rather, I’m amazed by what people (mostly dudes) think a compliment entitles them to. As a pole dancer, model, burlesque performer, red head, and above all else, a woman, I get complimented a lot. I have a perspective on this frequent experience and it’s outlined below in all of its complicated glory.

On a daily basis, some dude will tell me I’m pretty. When I hear this, I think one thing: Yes, water is wet. He’s not wrong, in fact, I know more than he does how right he is. I am pretty. It’s a statement of the obvious, like the fact that water is wet. It’s just true. I know it in my bones. I mean that literally.

Wow, your abs are great.

Yes, I felt the pain from all the sit ups I did to get them.

Your ass is perfect.

Yes, I do I lot of squats.

Your tattoos are so–

Yes, I worked with an artist to design them and place them exactly where I want them on my body and we talked about Halloween parties and ex-boyfriends while she injected the ink into my skin.

You make such great poses.

Yes, I’ve been dancing my whole life, I know how to move through space.

You really know how to work with that (insert costume/prop/architecture here).

Yes, I have Viewpoints and clown training. I’m a theater kid. I know how to be in relationship with things around me.

You’re so pretty. 

Yes. I know. I am well aware of this fact, just as I am aware that the sky is blue. And while stating the obvious to me is not a cardinal sin, there are some other pieces involved in the Instance of a Compliment that are problematic.

Pretty privilege is real. I experience it all the time. People give me shit because I am pretty. People are nice to me because I’m pretty. But this privilege is a double-edged sword and I expend a lot of labor out in the world because of it. People also assume something about my level of intelligence because I am pretty. They assume things about my sexuality. They assume things about my sexual history.

I work as a model. Pretty privilege puts a roof over my head and food on my table and I am not complaining about any of that. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a freelancer, I do research, I edit people’s writing, I dramaturg, and I model. Guess what earns the most money? The one that is the resource that lots of people want: prettiness. And not only do I have this privilege and use it to my economic benefit, I also am fully, irrevocably aware that I have this resource and that it is one of the many things I can use to live.

When some random dude calls me pretty a few things happen:

  1. They think they are telling me new information. With every compliment, especially from total strangers, there’s this air of She Has Never Been Told This Before. Actually, the only new thing is who is saying it to me. I’ve heard, “You’re so prettybeautifulgorgeousstunningohwow,” plenty of times. Most likely, I will only hear it from you once. Knowing that I am pretty puts me in an interesting position. I don’t beg for compliments, I don’t pretend that there is much of anything special about these kinds of interactions because they are frequent and usually meaningless. Some might say this makes me jaded, I say it makes me practical because:
  2. Once the compliment has been given, there is a sense that the Compliment Giver is now owed something. The something they get is usually, “Yes, thank you.” Even this, not just saying, “thank you,” but adding a “Yes,” in front, throws people for a loop. They don’t expect me to agree with them, because like I said, this is supposed to be new information to me. It’s not. I’m loud about the fact that it’s not. When this doesn’t work out the way the Compliment Giver wants it to, when I don’t show undying gratitude for the obvious information that just came out of their face, they try again. They dig themselves into awkward holes about how my hair looks amazing, just like their sister’s. So you want to fuck your sister? I let it get awkward. They started it. I can end it.
  3. It is this idea that anything more than an acknowledgment that words were said to me, despite their obvious nature, that gets to me. Like I said, my prettiness is a resource that earns me money. As the owner of this resource, the most that you can reasonably expect me to do in response to such a compliment is to hold out my hand with an itching palm, asking you to pay me. No you cannot just have my resource because you mentioned that it exists. A smile costs ten dollars.

Now, some of you might think that all of this is jaded or bitter or mean of me. It’s really not. This attitude was forged for many reasons, among them are my safety, my sanity, and that hearing the same basic thing over and over again is incredibly boring. What would I rather hear instead of “You’re pretty?”

Ask me a question.

What time is it?

When does the next bus come?

What parts of this costume do you want to accentuate?

What story are you trying to tell?

Where did you get those shoes?

Ask me literally any question. I like questions more than compliments for a few reasons:

1. You have to think up a question to ask me. That takes more engagement and brain power than it does to observe something and blurt out the observation.

2. You actually have to listen for an answer. You have to remain engaged in a way that you won’t be if you’re just listening for acceptance of a compliment. You don’t know what to expect. You have no idea what I’ll say. (This is half of the reason I have started to say things other than just “thank you” to compliments. It throws people back into the present moment).

3. Asking a question means you are bringing less assumptions to our conversation than giving me a compliment does. A question, at it’s base level, is an admission that you don’t know something and not knowing is fantastic. We should all do more of it. It rocks. A compliment assumes that I want to be told this information and, like I said, it often assumes that I am straight/single/looking for love at a bus stop in Ballard. (If you must know, I am: not straight/perpetually single/ and definitely not looking for love at a bus stop anywhere).

In short, compliments are cheap. Questions are expensive. I am an expensive person. My time, energy, looks, and thoughts are valuable to me. I do not like wasting them. I do my best to avoid wasting them. Come at me with content and with an intent that is something other than, “I want to get inside you,” Because you won’t ever get that, especially if your first words to me are some variation of, “You’re so pretty.”

Yes, water is wet. Tell me something I don’t already know.

*Pretty is used as a stand in for all related adjectives including but not limited to: beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, strong, stellar, interesting-looking, perfect.

 

My Shop

Absence of shirt and shoes is acceptable.

But Whatever you do,

Keep the bulls out of my China shop, 

Because I am too tired to piece all of these 

Delicate dishes back together

So that others might eat off them.

They tell me how beautiful, 

How well crafted each cup, 

saucer, and plate is,

But it is also insisted that they live in a cabinet.

They are only to be used for special occasions

Or to be shattered by a bull who gets too close…

By accident of course.

Absence of shirt and shoes is acceptable. 

Goodness knows we might as be comfortable 

Among the shards of glass. 

The Fuck It List

In my One Year of Pole Dance post, I mentioned that pole dancing was a kind of bucket list item for me when I started. Whenever I say this to my older friends, I am met with squinty eyes and assured voices that say, “You’re too young to have a bucket list.” And that’s true. Last night, mid-photo shoot, I figured out what I actually mean and what to call this brand of risk-taking. 

I have a Fuck It List. Fuck is the only word in the English language that means both to ‘make love to’ and ‘to do great damage to’ (thank you Derrick Jensen for this beautiful definition). Items on the Fuck It List are both attractive and repulsive. There is something terrifying about them, but they draw you to them with a mixture of curiosity and beauty. For me, they are things that make me think, “That’s crazy….I want that.” 

Pole dance was an item on my Fuck It List. Nude modeling was yet another and I threw myself into that yesterday. Just like pole, I was Good Nervous beforehand. (I make distinctions between Good and Bad Nerves, due to the fact that regular nervousness and anxious nervousness feel very different in my body and mind. Good Nervous is not a cause for alarm). I was also incredibly excited and, as it was with pole, I fell into the activity naturally. All of it was surprisingly easy. Don’t get me wrong, modeling is exhausting work, but it is too much fun to be difficult. 

So, on the stairs of a parking garage near Seattle Center, posing naked with the Space Needle in the background, as the camera clicked and my arms and shoulders twisted,    I realized that I had checked off yet another item on the Fuck It List. I didn’t know that I needed to do fine are nude modeling (especially in front of the fucking space needle) but I definitely did and thank fucking God I am doing it. 

The thing about Fuck It List items is that they are scary. But then you get into them and they aren’t so scary. They rock. They feed your soul (and if they’re the right kind of thing, feed your wallet too). Fuck It Lists are not about hopes and dreams, they are about doing the thing that you love and are scared shitless of. The thing that you don’t quite know if you can do or not. And the only way to find out is to go for it. 

I am in the process of fully articulating my Fuck It List. It’s not long. One has to be strategic about their risk taking. That being said, I fully encourage everyone to make a Fuck It List. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. 

We get this life once. Be bad ass. Fuck it. 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑