featurebanner_cameraguyAMBER LOVE 15-DEC-2013 There are creepy people everywhere and in modeling, it’s no different. Before modeling, I was a massage therapist so I had a slight introduction in how to deal with creepy men. There are plenty of instances in my social community where comic convention and cosplay creeps are openly discussed so that all of us can be aware of who to avoid because there are some clever ones that disguise themselves as serious podcasters. This weekend I was hit up by a creeper via email regarding non-cosplay modeling. There is a reason I have very high rates and why I am exceptionally cautious. I probably need to pay someone to escort me (or at least buy them dinner); pay for gas, etc. I don’t think there’s such a thing as “too” cautious – not when it’s the norm to get solicitations like this one (below).

I even wrestled with my conscious whether or not to black out the identifying information of this man but when it comes down to it, if I’m going to use this example as a warning for newer, more trusting models, his name should be out there. First of all, his email identifier is different than how he signed his name anyway. But there are several big red flags about this guy. I don’t want to be so aggressive that a guy who was trying really hard to get me alone naked with his camera makes me look like a terrible bitch but he wanted to know what “other services” I offer besides modeling. He did eventually give up. Eventually!

I feel particularly bad because I was trying to act like the professional model I am. I told him that to start out with photographing women who are comfortable in front of the camera, he could consider people a comic con which would be a great safe place. However, that was before he got even weirder. Now I feel like I lead a potential problem directly into my beloved comic scene.

What I want new models to see is the evolution of this man’s requests. It’s common. This is why it’s called “creeping” because it’s a slow progress where someone slinks in little by little, inch by inch trying to gain access to you. They may be clever and have some kind of podcast making them look respectable. They may go through your Friends’ list first and know that you are more likely to accept a friend request if you have mutual social media friends. They may notice where you spend your time (ie, if you spend a lot of time at your local comic shop and post your locations). They may join forums and lurk without posting or engaging.

My advice to new models:

* Have a dedicated portfolio. I use Model Mayhem (Edit: I deleted my MM profile because of creeps). It’s not the best but has worked for me. You can block people. There’s internal site messaging so you don’t have to give out your personal email/contact information if you don’t want to. There are also a lot of casting calls posted.

* Ask if you can bring an escort (not another girl that someone is likely to creeped on as well; an adult man is best). If they say, no you can’t bring an escort, then don’t do the shoot. I saw one photographer’s portfolio state escorts were welcome to wait outside because one woman brought her boyfriend and he became a huge problem for the photographer. If your boyfriend is exceptionally protective, he might not be the right choice. But find someone “big brotherly” or even a no-nonsense female friend. Hell, if you have a really cool mother, bring her because it’s unlikely someone will want to get their fap on with your daunting mother around.

* Request to see a portfolio. Even amateur hobbyists have something where they post their pictures whether it’s on Facebook galleries, Flickr or a more professional site. Model Mayhem has portfolios for photographers, makeup artists, post-production/retouchers, and artists aside from the models. What’s good about finding someone on the same site is that you can reference that you’ve worked together and vouch for each other. This person who recently emailed me claimed to be an amateur photographer without a portfolio. Red Flag on that play! That means he’s a creep with a camera who wants to keep files on his hard drive.

234 exxxotica 2012 bodypaint rogue x-men cosplayIn reality, I’m very sex-positive. There is nothing wrong with wanting your hard drive or DVR filled with things you pleasure yourself to. Porn is great! There’s also the philosophy that it doesn’t hurt to ask and make the request if you found someone online you find attractive. Seriously, though, I was clear early on in this exchange that I was not going to give this guy what he wanted if he couldn’t provide reasonable proof that he was a photographer.

Red Flags:

* No portfolio.

* No references.

* No studio or space to consider shooting.

* I asked more than once what he wanted in a photoshoot because all he said was “private” shoot. I do cosplay. I do cheesecake nudes. I’ll do stock photography and promotional/marketing modeling. The word “private” instantly comes off creepy.

* Inquiry about what other services I offer besides modeling.

* Claims to not know what “spank bank” means when it’s clearly all he wants.

* Kept insisting on coming to me (ie, my house).

* Asked where I’m from under the guise of gauging driving distance.

* Began complimenting traditionally “fetish” components, in this case, my feet. I would only shoot fetish with someone I implicitly trust like family. It’s not my lifestyle so unless I am close to you personally already, it’s NEVER going to happen.

* Without solicitation from me, began telling me his physical description as if I was looking at a dating profile.

* Asked if we could be friends even if we don’t shoot.

* Kept asking to webcam. I deleted my MyFreeCams account many months ago. I only webcam with people I’m in relationships with and for my podcast which is not about being naked. I don’t live alone so it’s NEVER ever going to happen. I had to have the MFC account for when I would visit my ex-girlfriend and go online with her.

* When he asked where to get photos of me and I directed him to my past professional outlet for nude modeling, Cosplay Deviants, he asked me if I would just sell him some prints. This is a valid request since many of the women do sell their own sets separate from the subscription-pay sites. I don’t have any. In all honesty, if it’s not something on my site, there is no top secret way to see pictures of me. It’s either one of my sites/social media or CosDev or when I figure model for museums, guilds and schools. No trickery on my part. I have an alt Twitter account, @ToplessAmber, where I post about every other week. It’s not much but it’s free. I don’t make a point to post there on any regular basis and I don’t take requests. Twitter offers me a quick on-the-fly post option instead of dealing with all the time it takes to make a post on my site. So when I say, “No,” I mean it. “No I do not have any. No I am not interested in you. No you cannot come to my house.” N.O.

* If you need help vetting the seriousness of someone, have an agent – even a fake one. Have someone you trust email the person back on your behalf with your list of requirements: portfolio, references, expectations, etc.

There are plenty of women out there who do all those things I don’t do. They aren’t hard to find. Go on Twitter and and Tumblr. It’s easy. Those women who are relying on the pay, post constantly about their sales, offers and what they do. Some will take requests. Some will do fetish. Some will webcam. Some will sell prints. Every single porn outlet you can conceive of is available. But when one woman says, “NO” you damn well better learn to accept it.

Ladies, if you have not found the voice to say, “NO” yet and feel like someone is talking you into something, you could be putting yourself in danger. The signs I’ve pointed out might be benign. They might be the messages of an innocent man looking to take pictures for pay but it sure sounded to me like he was looking for BDSM, fetish or prostitution. My interpretation of them is that there was more to it in the metatext which could have lead a predator to my doorstep.