STEAMPUNK WORLD’S FAIR 2015
TRANSGENDER FIGURE DRAWING
AMBER LOVE 18-MAY-2015 I’ve been mentioning on my social media how exhausted I was after Friday evening’s events at Steampunk World’s Fair. I mustered enough strength to go to the Midnight Transgender Figure Drawing session to see what it would be like. I was curious since I’m a figure model and have wanted to organize an event at cons like this for years, but can’t seem to make any headway in getting one off the ground. Of course huge comic cons like New York make every kind of organizing difficult so I bet that the SPWF scheduling and set up was easier by comparison. The hotel is far more convenient than a massive expo center plus the events were allowed to go into the “adult” hours unlike a comic con that closes by 7 or 8 PM.
The drawing session was hosted by Sangii, an agender individual who was also on the Transgender in Steampunk panel (released as Vodka O’Clock episode 1521). Sangii is a youthful sprite filled with energy who cosplays and is an artist. Preferred pronouns are he/him and they/their. At this event, he was donning a magnificent golden corset and gown accented by his short blue hair and demon horns. He looked like the sort of waif magical figure you could pluck out of a forest. Major props to Sangii for putting this event together.
Inside a small meeting room of the Embassy Suites, sheets of newsprint sketch paper and large boards with clips were provided to anyone coming to draw. A nominal $5 fee was required to participate which is a lot less than the open studios where I model. Sangii organized three other models: Jason, Lexa, and Claire for the fifteen people who showed up to sketch.
As a figure model, usually my work is done nude, but not exclusively. This transgender session was scheduled from midnight to 2 AM and as I said, I was wiped out. For the 30 minutes I was there, I only saw the models costumed in exquisite steampunk wardrobe, some of which was provided on loan from one of the fashion vendors. Because I departed early, I have no idea if they ever worked into nude poses later on.
It’s important if they did pose nude because so many people of the general mainstream public (those outside a cool steampunk con) are hung up on what a person’s dangly bits are as the definition of self identity and they only care about chromosomes. Times have evolved. No longer are celebrity icons like Boy George the only clues cisgender people have into understanding someone else’s life experience. When I look back on my own youth and remember people like Boy George and the androgyny of David Bowie, explanations weren’t there beyond “gay” (who people sleep with) and transvestite (old terminology). The words we use now are so new that my software dictionaries don’t even recognize them. In a safe setting if there was someone up there with a vagina and explicitly says they’re not a woman, that’s a way to train our eyes to disconnect masses of tissue from a label assigned by text books, doctors and parents.
The figure drawing session wasn’t there to out anyone who came to draw the models either; no one was asked their personal identities. They were seen only as open-minded people with an interest in art. Sangii explained the very basic definitions of trans- and cisgender. As an artist and host, he offered to go around the room and make suggestions to people’s sketches. The mood was light and quite peaceful with pleasant upbeat songs playing at low volume. Sangii explicitly stated that if someone finds a song triggering to tell him so he could change it right away – nothing that anyone running a session I’ve worked has ever offered and I’ve been modeling since 2009.
Setting up took longer than expected, but there didn’t seem to be any glitches that hindered their plans. The original rows of chairs were rearranged into two circles so that people could lean their boards against the chairs in front of them. Lexa started the session with a 3-minute pose where they wore a corset, shrug, and charming skirt; followed by a 3-minute pose of Jason spotlighting his body mods, gentlemanly attire with colorful waistcoat, holding his hat. Then the beautiful genderfluid Claire posed for five minutes followed by Lexa for ten minutes.
That’s the point when I wasn’t ready for sleep, yet desperately needed to be resting with my feet up. I went back to the Ops Suite, took a hot shower, and started reading a new book. I think the figure drawing was definitely a success based on the turn out I witnessed.