“Wow! Am I a queer goddess or what?!” Eve Ray
A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of photographing Eve Ray. She will be sharing more of the photos along with her reflections on the afternoon in due course, but in the meantime here’s my favourite shot from the day. I love her response. I’m sure you’ll all agree she is indeed a queer goddess!
As you may have seen from this fabulous thread, @19syllables is approaching a landmark birthday this week. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hanging out with Haiku, then reading through her words of wisdom for her daughters will give you some sense of what it’s like to be her friend. And being her friend is a complete privilege. In many ways our lives are very different and as she wrote here, the media would like women like us to pitch ourselves against each other. But as we all know, opposites attract! Not only are our lives very different, we are hilariously ridiculously different, full stop.
When we’re chatting over coffee I start one of my long and detailed (and sometimes tedious!) stories. Before long she’s impatiently interjecting with questions or a summary conclusion. “Well let me finish the story and you’ll find out,” I retort. When we’re on a photo adventure she’ll be bouncing all over the place, waving limbs and busting moves while I through gritted teeth say: “Hold still, I haven’t got my shot yet.” I am a dyed-in-the-wool planner, carefully and logically plotting things out before I start. She meanwhile will say yes to a day out, then realise she can’t go because it’s A Level results day. Me: “I already checked and that’s not A Level results day.” Her: “Ah, maybe I’m still on holiday.” Me: “No, you’re back by then.” Her: “So I can come?” Me: “YES!” Her: “HURRAH!”
My kitchen is turning into a little shrine of things she turns up with. On the window sill a fading dragon from Chinese New Year and a glass in which she brought a flower for my newly decorated bedroom. In the drawer is a paper vulva and some random stickers that she picked up at a festival to use as a prop for a photo. On the back of the door is a cool bag that she delivered full of food when I was sick earlier this year. So many touches of kindness season my kitchen.
And she is the greatest cheerleader I know. For family, for friends and for nature. She is a clarion call for living, loving and feeling. Recently I was sat at my desk working on a dull document when my phone pinged: “I’m actually fucking crying with rage. IN A FUCKING CAFE.” She’d stumbled across something and in her reading of it a penny had dropped about something that had been causing me sadness. Her response to what she read was passionate angry tears; for me and for others who are dear to me. The words she fired off in the ignominious state of crying IN A FUCKING CAFE did more to ease my emotional burden than she’ll ever know.
So if you want to know what kind of friend she is, know that she will run naked across a bridge at 8am, don her most elegant skirt in a wood, deliver food parcels when you’re sick and cry tears of rage about the things that hurt you. She really is one of the best!
Happy birthday, my friend! 💜
“The Thames is dear to the Londoners. It is the scene of half their pleasures. In the summer season it is ever in their thoughts, and they are often on its bosom.”
A.D., “The Banks and Bosom of the Thames”, The Metropolitan, Volume 41
On Wednesday The Other Livvy, @19syllables and I had a day out to the Tate Modern to see the new (and excellent!) Olafur Eliasson exhibition. Before we headed into the show we popped down to the banks of the Thames so see if there were any photo opportunities. These chains hanging down from a boardwalk seemed just perfect. But the most important question is: do you prefer Christopher Wren’s cupola or those of my beautiful friends?
Last Tuesday morning birthday boy Exhibit A tweeted that his DMs were open for “allllllll your best nudes.” I giggled, wondered how many he’d get then thought nothing more of it. Shortly after midnight he tweeted a thank you. I suddenly realised that not only had I not sent him a birthday nude but it had not even occurred to me to do so.
I am a very bad sender of sexy nudes. I’m an excellent taker and editor of arty farty flattering nudes. I’m on the money when it comes to adding flourish and humour to photos. I’ll make sure my friends and I have so much fun being naked that we forget about the bits of ourselves we don’t like. But I hardly ever just grab the camera to take a candid shot of naked me to send a partner or lover, to let them know I’m thinking about them or to turn them on.
Don’t get me wrong, I do send partners nudes, but it’s always just an advance viewing of one that’s going to be on a blog. And even if it’s for their eyes only, it’s still always slightly curated and edited. In short I send them the photos of me that I like, not the unfiltered unedited ones that are the real me, that would help them imagine they’re there with me. It’s ridiculous really. I’m not a shy naked person. When I’m with a partner I happily wander around with all the wobbles on show and I never feel the need to cover up when we hang out on the sofa after sex or sit and eat dinner. But when they’re with me they’ve got all of me – the whole package of what makes me me and my body is just part of that. When I’m sending a photo suddenly my body is a one dimensional thing captured in pixels and I’m less confident about my nudity. Which is why they get the same curated shots that the outside world gets. And that’s terrible because I’m demanding of their natural off the cuff nudes and I whine if I haven’t had any for a while.
So anyway, in the early hours of Wednesday morning I read Exhibit A’s thank you tweet, had a sudden flash of guilt about not sending him a birthday photo, sat bolt upright in bed and snapped three quick photos. I sent them along with an apology and a less wordy version of this post. The response was encouraging but also gently chastised me for continuing to think this negative shit. And you know what, I do like this photo. The natural me isn’t as bad in reality as it is in my head. I doubt you’ll see many photos like this on my blog. I like my arty farty funny style too much. But I am resolving to send partners more photos that are simply me.
This short and ridiculous story has been prompted by The Other Livvy’s other blog, @sexlovevideo. If you’re not following it already then you really should: every Sunday evening she posts an in-depth analysis of a movie, rating it on how sex positive it is, whether she’d want to watch it again, the fuckability of the cast, whether it inspires fantasies and whether it passes the Bechdel Test. This week it’s the turn of clanger What Women Want, a truly dreadful film – do go and read Liv’s take down of it.
I was on a round the world trip when this film came out and I and the two friends I was travelling with watched it on a flight to Australia. We laughed our way through it in disbelief and horror but the final straw in our incredulous hooting was at the end when Mel Gibson (spoiler!) gets his woman: they kiss in a dramatic lobby and the camera pans out to show her with one foot in the air. We lost it. WHO KISSES WITH ONE FOOT IN THE AIR?!
We were still cackling about it when we bonded with a group of women in a hostel, some of who I’m still friends with now and who’ve taken one or two photos on this blog. We (probably under the influence of too much white wine) decided that our mission was to get a photo of one of us snogging a man with one foot in the air. It was the start of a ridiculous list of photo challenges we set ourselves, including photobombing wedding photos on Sydney harbour and sneaking photos of men on the nude beach (forgive our poor awareness of consent – we were young and stupid and know much better now!).
Anyway, the opportunity for the leg in the air photo came a few weeks later when we went to one of Sydney’s less salubrious night clubs for a school disco. A chap starting making the moves on me on the dance floor and my friends were quickly egging me on to get the photo. When the bloke snogged me I’m not quite sure what he made of all my friends roaring with laughter and snapping away. Anyway, as it happens he was pretty hot and a great snog and it wasn’t long before we were sneaking off to a hidden store room. A store room that was dark and had a mattresses. It was funny and pretty hot and after he nipped out for condoms some more than passable sex ensued. Given we were drunk and in a manky storeroom it’s remarkable there were any orgasms but there was. Then on the ‘comfort’ of the mattress we slipped into a deep slumber. Which is how we found ourselves sneaking out of the fire exit of a closed and quiet nightclub at 6am on a Sunday morning and wandering through the streets of Sydney dressed as a school girl and school boy.
I’m not sure who has those photos these days so I can’t share one, but the leg in the air game continued so please enjoy this photo of me kissing Toadie from Neighbours.
Footnote: the nightclub later featured on an expose of the sex lives of backpackers in Sydney. I did not feature but I now have a good idea of how many other people may have used that mattress!
“Lavender blue, dilly-dilly
If I were king, dilly-dilly, I’d need a queen…”
I’ve been sitting in a hammock doing some googling and I’ve learnt that dilly was a medieval word for ‘cheers’ but it’s also an obsolete word for delightful. And apparently Cleopatra used lavender as a tool of seduction, women used it to “inflame” their husbands and sex workers used it to attract clients. So there you go, some old etymology and some lessons in seduction. Oh, and here’s me and @19syllables naked in the lavender fields. Cheers! I hope we delight and seduce you!
“I’m just a little bit heiress, a little bit Irish
A little bit Tower of Pisa
Whenever I see ya
So please be kind, if I’m a mess“
Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk
Maybe I should have paid a bit more respect to when visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sits on consecrated ground, but, well, you’ve got to be silly sometimes!
Not sure if I have really achieved soft focus here but at least you get a look at my super dark new bedroom walls. I suspect they may provide the backdrop to a few photos over the coming months. As will this cute grey velvet cocktail chair in the corner.