34 Years…

I modeled for my very first figure drawing session exactly 34 years ago today.  I bring that up here since modeling, especially nude modeling, provided the genesis of my novel The “Volunteer”, and is a major focus of my next novel Life Models.  In celebration of this anniversary, here is a slightly edited piece I wrote a few years ago about how I got into modeling in the first place…


Art modeling is an unusual job because it is one where nudity in front of others is required, and yet, there is nothing overtly erotic or titillating about it. It can be very physically demanding, both doing short action poses and long extended ones. The human body was not made to be still, but to be in motion. Maintaining a pose for any length of time goes against that nature to move. And yet, in spite of the physical demands and the fact that I am putting myself on display to an extent greater than any other job that I can think of, I still love it. I wouldn’t have done it for 34 years and counting if I didn’t.

I grew up in a very clothes-compulsive house. Nudity was simply not present except in the bath or shower. I don’t think I’ve seen either of my younger brothers nude since they were toddlers. So when I was 18 and a freshman in college, I rebelled from that clothes-compulsiveness by taking it all off for art classes. The idea that I could be a nude model for a whole classroom full of people was born in the dormitory cafeteria. I lived in an all-male dorm, but it was next to a female dorm, and we all shared the same dining hall. I was sitting across from a young lady one day in the fall of 1984, eating lunch. This girl was a little odd, but she was also cute. I remember being very interested in her. I don’t even remember her name now, all these years later, but one random fact I do remember is that she was a big fan of Grace Jones. During our lunchtime conversation, she mentioned that she drew “naked people” in her art class.  I knew that such classes existed from watching an episode of Three’s Company not too many months earlier.  In the episode, Jack Tripper (played by the late John Ritter) tries to impress a new girl in the neighborhood by agreeing to pose for an art class she is teaching. When he arrives at the class, she tells him to get undressed. He is surprised, not even suspecting that the art class drew nude models, but he goes through with it anyway. The punchline is that his landlord, Mr. Furley (played by the late Don Knotts), walks into the class with his drawing pad under his arm just after Jack has disrobed. The look on his face was the funniest shot of the episode.  But Three’s Company took place in California.  I didn’t think classes in Fayetteville, Arkansas would use nude models. I was immediately intrigued. I told the girl at my table that I wanted to model.

Later, as I thought about it, I decided that I had to go through with it if only to impress upon this girl that I would do what I said I would. I ventured over to the art building and saw a sheet on a bulletin board advertising for models. They were paying five dollars per hour, which, at the time, was better than any other campus job I could get. I went to the Tuesday evening open figure drawing session and made an attempt to draw the female model there. My drawings were terrible, but I wasn’t too interested in drawing. I wanted to witness a session and see how the model acted, was treated, etc. It took me awhile to gather the courage to sign up as a model myself, but I finally did.

While waiting for my first call, I went to the college bookstore and found the textbook for the figure drawing class. It contained a few black and white photographs taken in drawing classes. One of the things that I couldn’t help but notice was that the female models were nude but the male models in the classes wore a jock strap. That wouldn’t do. I couldn’t see myself modeling like that, with my genitals covered and my bare butt hanging out. That would be far more embarrassing than being fully nude, I thought. Besides, if the females get to be completely nude, why not the males? I went back to the open drawing session, but there was another female model there. I asked one of the ladies drawing if they ever had male models, and she said yes. I then asked if the males had to wear anything, and she said no. That calmed my nerves a bit. Unfortunately, my second attempt at drawing was even worse than the first.

I got a call a few Tuesdays later from the coordinator of that open session. His model had cancelled for that night, and he needed someone to cover. I accepted somewhat reluctantly. Once I hung up the phone, I realized that the class started in less than an hour. I took a long walk around campus before entering the studio. There were only two women who had shown up to draw that night, including the one I had asked about the jock strap thing. It was election night, and I’m sure a lot of people stayed home to watch the returns. (Reagan stomped Mondale that night, by the way.)

I didn’t even have a robe, but the female models I had observed hadn’t had robes either. I started taking off my clothes beside the modeling platform. When I got down to my underwear, took a deep breath, and slipped them off. There I was. The two ladies did not run screaming that there was a naked man in the room. I took my poses and got more comfortable as the evening went on.

I eventually modeled for the regular figure drawing class during the spring semester. Alas, the young lady who had introduced me to this new profession never saw me model (she had only taken the class in the fall). The figure drawing class was small, only five students, and I got very comfortable posing for them. Toward the end of that spring semester, the instructor asked me to model for her introductory drawing class. I agreed, and I was somewhat shocked when I showed up for it. The room was packed with at least 20 people. I definitely had butterflies just because of the number of students and the knowledge that they had never drawn from a nude model before. I went ahead, gulped real hard, took everything off and hopped on the model stand.  My experience in that class was wonderful, as if my platform were an island outside of everything else going in my life and I was sharing it with these special artists in the room.  By the time class was over, I didn’t want to have to get dressed and go back out into the rest of the world. I was hooked on this strange, wonderful profession.

2018 Panther City Review

I am excited to announce that the name of my next novel will be Life Models.  It is a story I started writing two or three years before I wrote The “Volunteer” and has taken a few detours on its way to completion.  I don’t have a release date for it as of yet as I am still putting the finishing touches on it, but an excerpt from Chapter One is being published in the 2018 edition of Panther City Review.

A launch party for Panther City Review is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, August 18th in Fort Worth, from 4:00 until 6:00.  I’ll be there along with several of the other featured authors.  It’s at Funky Town Festival, 1549 N. Main Street.  If you’re in Fort Worth, come on down and enjoy the party.


Who Wants to Be a Millionaire 17th Anniversary

On March 7, 2001, I sat in a television studio in New York across from Regis Philbin and answered multiple choice questions until I missed.  I wound up winning $32,000 at this little exercise, and along the way, Regis and I talked about my nude modeling job in front of the studio audience and the many cameras.

That episode aired four days later, on Sunday night, March 11th.  I went to the store that day, and as I was checking out I looked around at everyone and wondered how many of them would be watching me that night.  All they had to do was tune their televisions to ABC.  In fact, that applied to anyone in the country, all 250 million of them.  It was such a surreal experience.  And for a few days after the show aired, people did double takes when they saw me, many of them actually approaching and talking to me as if they knew me, asking about the show and the money I had won.

It’s hard to believe that it has been seventeen years since that amazing experience, but I have grown older.  My kids have grown up.  My toddler son is now a father himself.

Here’s the video of my appearance on the show (D.H. Jonathan is a pen name I used when publishing The “Volunteer”).

Audible and Amazon Reviews

I just saw that a review of the audiobook edition of The “Volunteer” has been posted on Audible.com.  The review was favorable, giving the book four stars overall, and had good things to say about the narrator Loral Miller.  The review was dated December 18, 2017, but I just saw it on the book’s Audible page today.

There have also been two new reviews of The “Volunteer” posted on Amazon in the past couple of days.  I did notice that the first (and so far only) one star review had been posted on December 10, 2017, by someone who admitted in that review to reading an early draft of the book, so it is gratifying to see the two new favorable reviews posted since.  I had long ago decided not to answer negative reviews in any way.  The work should stand on its own, without having to be defended by its author, and authors have to realize that no book will receive universal praise.  But I did notice today that that one star review had a comment attached to it by another reader, a rebuttal of sorts.  That comment was posted almost a month ago, but I just noticed it today.

I would like to thank all my readers for every review of The “Volunteer“.  The book currently has 41 reviews on Amazon.com, with an average rating of 4.5 stars, plus an additional 6 reviews on Amazon.co.uk and another 2 on Amazon.ca.  And there is also the review on Audible which doesn’t show up on any of the Amazon pages.  Thank you to everyone!

Volunteer book promo

Download the Audiobook

Judging from the running time of the audiobook version of The “Volunteer” as posted on the book’s Amazon and Audible pages, the corrected files have been loaded into production.  If you’ve already purchased the audio version, just go back to Amazon, Audible, or iTunes and re-download the book.  That should replace the uncorrected files with the new ones.  The book is, of course, also available in paperback and Kindle editions.

Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Erotica-Sexuality/The-Volunteer-Audiobook/B0785NJCZN

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/The-Volunteer-A-Novel/dp/B077YR8NSY/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/audiobook/the-volunteer-a-novel-unabridged/id1322630342


Audio Book Issue and the Trials of an Independent Author

I wanted potential readers to be aware that there is an issue with a couple of the audio files that made it into the production audiobook for The “Volunteer”.  I do have the corrected files, but the whole thing has to go through the quality assurance process again.  So it will be a couple of weeks before the corrections appear in the production book.  I’ll make another post when the corrections have been loaded, and I apologize to those who have already purchased the audiobook.

There are a few minutes early in Chapter 7 that didn’t get properly edited, so you will hear a few stops and restarts in the narration.  That will, however, be fixed soon.

Audio Book is Now Available!

Back in February, I posted that an audio book version of The “Volunteer” was in production.  Due to a series of technical difficulties, that production was delayed for several months.  I an now very happy to report that the audio version is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.


The book is, of course, also available in paperback and Kindle editions.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Share a Slice Podcast

I was recently a guest on Sean McGuire’s Share a Slice podcast, where we talked about my book The “Volunteer” and several of the aspects of that story: public nudity, nude modeling, activism by Andrew Martinez and Gypsy Taub, and sexualized nudity in media versus commonplace nudity in practice.  We even talked about an old episode of MASH and my 2001 appearance on the TV gameshow Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  Give it a listen here:  http://shareaslicepodcast.com/2017/11/07/volunteer/


Grandparenthood and NaNoWriMo

My first granddaughter arrived on October 10, and I have been over the moon about her.  My son and his girlfriend live with us right now, so I get to see the baby every day when I come home, and I have trouble putting her down.

November has, of course, arrived, and I am using the big National Novel Writing Month to motivate myself to write a huge chunk of the sequel to The “Volunteer”.  I’m off to a good start, all things considered.

Here’s a shot which gives you a bit of an idea about my life right now.  I am, of course, working on the sequel on my laptop…

Writing with Piper

The Great Eclipse Road Trip

August 21, 2017 was supposed to be the first day of high school for my younger son.  What he experienced that day was so much more amazing than anything he could have ever experienced within the walls of any public school.

We had originally planned a big family summer vacation to Florida and the Southeast which would have culminated with a viewing of the solar eclipse from my sister-in-law’s house in West Columbia, South Carolina. However, family and job issues prompted us to cancel that trip in favor of a mini-vacation to Colorado earlier in the summer.  Still, seeing this total eclipse, the first visible on continental U.S. soil in 38 years, was very high on my to-do list.  I figured I could drive from my home in Fort Worth, Texas to northern Missouri or southeastern Nebraska to see it with very little cost or effort.  The closest place to me would have been St. Joseph, Missouri, but my drive back would have taken me through Kansas City traffic on a Monday afternoon.  Instead, I chose Beatrice, Nebraska as a location, mainly because the National Homestead Monument, run by the National Park Service, is right there and was planning several eclipse events.

Hotels within that 70-mile-wide path of totality were ridiculously expensive, so I booked a room for the night before the eclipse at a Super 8 in Manhattan, Kansas.  Beatrice was only a 90 mile or so drive from Manhattan, and even with the heavy eclipse traffic, I didn’t think I would have any issues making it to that location before the eclipse.

I run the nursery at my church every Sunday morning, so my plan was to take care of the babies and leave right afterward, about 11:00 AM Central time.  My younger son Elijah was going with me, but the rest of the family had prior commitments and would be staying in Texas.  The weather was a huge concern of mine in the days leading up to the trip, and when I awoke Sunday morning, I was rather dismayed to see that clouds and possible thunderstorms were in the forecast for both southern Nebraska and northern Missouri.  The forecast for locations in the path of totality in eastern Wyoming were for clear skies.  I didn’t want to travel any distance and have our view of the eclipse obstructed by clouds, so I made a snap decision. I would drive to Wyoming.

Elijah and I hit the road shortly before 9 AM, leaving nursery duty to the rest of the family. With the less than 24 hours before the reservation in Manhattan, I didn’t think I could cancel the room I had booked, but I was prepared to lose the 64 dollars I had spent on it.  During our first gas stop in Amarillo, I got on my phone and booked a room at a Motel 6 in Denver, Colorado for that night.  Rooms further north in Fort Collins and Cheyenne were grossly inflated, but I got a good deal with the room in Denver, only 75 dollars. I didn’t know how bad the traffic from Denver to Wyoming would be, but I planned on giving ourselves lots of extra time.

I made the drive from Fort Worth to Denver in, for me, record time, less than 11 hours.  I slept somewhat sporadically from 9 PM until 2:45 AM. I showered and dressed and dragged Elijah out of bed at 3:00 AM.  We left our Denver hotel by 3:15 in the morning and started the 225 mile drive to Douglas, Wyoming. Driving through downtown Denver on I-25 at that hour was a breeze, but we ran into heavy traffic just before Fort Collins, and it remained heavy all the way into Wyoming.  I joked to Elijah that this stretch of I-25 had probably never been this busy during any 4:00 AM hour. What was amazing to see was the steady line of red tail lights in the two northbound lanes ahead of us and virtually no traffic at all on the southbound side.

We were able to move at a fairly steady 60 to 70 miles per hour for most of the way, although we did encounter slowdowns due to congestion within Fort Collins and Cheyenne. We came to a near standstill just after 6:30 AM somewhere in the middle of Wyoming.  I wasn’t too worried since I figured we were already in the path of totality at that point, and the start of the eclipse was still over four hours away.  I did notice that the left lane was moving at least a little bit, so I moved over.  As I suspected, the backup was due to a two-mile long line of cars trying to exit at Glendo State Park.  From what I could see from I-25 as I drove past, the state park was a sea of tents and parked cars.

I knew the center of the path of totality was just south of Douglas, so I stopped at a truck stop at a little place called Orin, Wyoming.  There was a restaurant in the truck stop, and Elijah and I hoped to get some breakfast.  The place was overrun with cars and people even at 7:00 AM.  Inside the store, lines of people waiting for the restrooms intersected with the line of people waiting to buy something at the registers.  The restaurant was off to one side, and there was one lady in a red shirt taking all the orders, doing all the cooking, and serving all the guests.  I felt bad for her, but she did her best.  Once we did get our food, more than an hour after we ordered it, I slipped her a ten dollar tip.

After eating a really good breakfast (the bacon was so thick it was almost like ham), Elijah and I ventured outside to find our viewing spot and wait.  We were pleased to see that there was not a cloud in the sky.  We climbed a hill and found a white-bearded man sitting by himself in a prime spot for seeing the countryside all around.  As we talked, we discovered that this was to be his second total eclipse.  He had seen one previously in Mongolia.

As the time for the partial phase arrived, a family from Minnesota and a young guy from Denver joined us at the top of the hill.  We all talked and had a great time, checking the eclipse’s progress through our special eclipse glasses.

Since the entire United States saw at least a partial eclipse, I will skip to the moment that made the entire trip worthwhile, that buildup to totality.  By the way, I love that word totality, and I’ll have to find ways to use it more often.  Photos and videos do not do justice to the experience of witnessing a total eclipse.  Cameras just can’t deal with changes in light the way our eyes do, so there is always something missing from any photographic representation of a total eclipse.  I was surprised by how quickly darkness descended as the eclipse hit totality.  There was an eerie glow on the horizon all around us, like a dark dusk that encircled everything.  Stars were visible in the sky if you could pull your attention away from the glowing ring with the black center.  It is an amazing thing to look directly at the sun with the naked eye and see that ring.  It was surreal, like being in some kind of otherworldly animated movie.  The video I took of the sun didn’t look anything like what I saw in person.  But speaking of video, here is what I took of that build up to totality.  (Since WordPress is framing the video rather awkwardly, it is also visible at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7nCErVFLYw ).


Once totality ended, we started to pack up and leave.  The remainder of the eclipse would just be a repeat of the partial phases, only in reverse.  And really, once you’ve experienced totality, a partial eclipse is barely anything.  Of course, getting out of the truck stop parking lot toward I-25 was going to take multiple hours. So I turned left, away from that main highway back into Colorado, and I continued to take the path of least resistance all the way out of Wyoming and into South Dakota.  At that point, we figured that we might as well go see Mount Rushmore.  We made it there from our eclipse viewing location in less than four hours.  I did make the comment to Elijah that it was strange that when we finally get to see Mount Rushmore for the first time, it isn’t even the highlight of our day.  But to be fair to Mount Rushmore, nothing can compare to a total solar eclipse.

We started for home right after leaving Rushmore, stopping at an overpriced hotel in Ogallala, Nebraska to spend the night.  At least the room was only 168 dollars and not the 500 and up I was seeing for the night before the eclipse.  We slept well, probably because of sheer exhaustion, although I did dream about seeing another total solar eclipse.  We woke up about 7:00 Mountain time, skipped the free breakfast at the Denny’s attached to the hotel because of the long wait, and drove the rest of the day.  We arrived home at 8:50 PM on Tuesday.  There was a symmetry to that arrival time as we had left home at 8:50 AM on Sunday.  In those 60 hours, I drove 2,268 miles through 8 different states.  My lower right leg is still sore two days later (I like to be in full control at all times, so I never use cruise control).

It was an amazing experience, with some wonderful bonding time with my son.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  There is another total eclipse coming to the US on April 8, 2024, and the path of totality passes near my home here in Fort Worth.  If we are still living here by then (these hot summers are starting to get to me), we will still take a drive to get to the center of the path of totality.  And you can bet that I will be watching the weather that day, prepared to drive to a location with the greatest assurance of clear skies.

It is an awesome thing to spend time with loved ones pursuing our mutual passions.  My older son and I love baseball, and he and I have driven to attend games in three different World Series (to Denver in 2007, Arlington in 2010, and St. Louis in 2011).  My younger son loves science, so this trip to see the solar eclipse was a perfect opportunity for us. I hope they both remember these special trips we’ve been on and take their own kids on adventures in the future.  We do only live once, and it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity.