See Autumn Spencer's guest blog entry below. Autumn (center) is one of the Vermont Comedy Divas, who will be performing at the Burlington Art Walk Show at Aristelle this Friday at 6:30.
Funny is SEXY!
On Lingerie and Telling Jokes
In 2006, when Josie Leavitt started The Vermont Comedy Divas, I seriously doubt she thought the Divas would be lingerie models. That’s not to say she didn’t think we would do great and wonderful comedic things - and surely wearing underwear could be one those things - just that she probably didn’t imagine we’d model negligees in a full backpage advertisement of a widely distributed Vermont newspaper. And yet, CHECK THIS OUT, here we are! Look at us! We’re wearing sexy nighties and pretty jammies and having a pillow fight! Which, by the way, I won, you can tell because I am looking victorious.
We all loved this gig as soon as Sue proposed it to the Divas. There was no conversation about can’t or shouldn’t. It was YES LET’S GET IN SOME UNDIES AND BE IN THE PAPER! I mean yeah, we needed details. Would it be tasteful? Would we have final say on the photos? Could we pick out what we wear? But there was no reason for worry. Of course we would have control. Of course it would be an excellent experience. It was a fun and thoughtful project, a collaboration of women in pursuit of synergy and art.
And to be fair, the Divas have already seen each other naked. I mean, we’re comics, we share bathrooms and minivans and hotel rooms. We’ve spent a couple of 4-day tours in an RV together. We’ve smelled each other’s morning breath. We know things: if you share a bed with Hillary, she will spoon you in her sleep. Sue, on the other hand, pretty much never sleeps. Josie likes scrambled eggs in the middle of the night. You catch my drift? We have seen things. Like I once saw Tracie round-house kick a dude in the beer gut. I actually haven’t seen what the hell Carmen does in the bathroom for 37 minutes every night before bed but I DO know it involves several lotions and some swearing.
But modeling lingerie is not like all that. Modeling lingerie is a different kind of intimacy. It requires shaving, for one thing, and not just below the knee. Modeling lingerie is a gig that’s more like going out on a first date and less like a slumber party of tween girls eating cheese-whiz and making out with their pillows. You need to shower and moisturize. Maybe wear some heels. Be at your best.
For the pre-photoshoot fitting, we met Andrea (and her newborn baby!) at her boutique, Aristelle. She expertly chose all sorts of options for each Diva. Her space is warm and inviting. The photos on the wall are gorgeous, though they’re not of supermodels in wings. They’re of local women, shot by Beltrami in a beaudoir setting, wearing Andrea’s wares. They’re inspiring, authentic, and they’re real women with real bodies looking sexyyy. We took over the dressing rooms and tried on all the pretty things - things with straps and silk and lace aaand, since this is Vermont, we tried on things with flannel. We modeled the options for each other: WAIT WHERE DOES MY LEG ACTUALLY GO? We even stood in the storefront window wearing our nighties and garters for some quick candids. The cumulative square footage of our exposed just-emerged-from-another-harsh-Vermont-winter flesh MUST have been luminous. By luminous, I mean super white and pasty. A couple of nice folks walked by and offered their sincere thumbs-up. HEY THANKS GUYS!
On photoshoot day, we convened at the Beltrami & Co studio. I was so excited I bought chocolate croissants and champagne for everyone because posing in your undies is when you eat pastries HELLO OF COURSE. The talented Bree LeMay did our hair and make-up. It was a pleasure to work with someone so adept at the art-science of skin and color, product and application. BONUS: she can apply mascara without injury! A morning without me lacerating my own cornea with a mascara wand is a morning I love so much.
We posed individually in front of a green screen. Christy had a vision of the final product and directed us throughout the shoot. It took me a few minutes to calm down and settle in, but she was both at-ease and focused. I took her cue and relaxed a bit, did a little crowd work: HEY GUYS IS IT NATURAL WHEN I HOLD MY ARM AT THIS WEIRD ANGLE BEHIND AND ABOVE MY HEAD? Turns out Christy is also an excellent one-woman audience and I could have lingered in my fancy skivvies telling jokes allll day. But, good things must end. We closed our lingerie-modeling session by swinging into the diner for grilled cheeses and milkshakes. So rock & roll, right?
Here’s what I learned from this project: modeling lingerie is not unlike telling jokes - it’s important to be comfortable. Not too comfortable, not lying on the couch, hands in your shorts, binge-watching Seinfeld comfortable. But comfortable enough to know that you’ve got something to offer, something true and alive, a story to tell. Comfortable enough to believe that it’s worth at least this one shot right here. And if you connect, then hot damn. And if you don’t, better to bomb with gusto and heart than to hack your way through.