Ginaire: Destroyer of Men
We met on a dating site for Mormons. Ginarie lived in Denver, I lived near Salt Lake City. One picture like led to another, one joke led to two jokes, which led to short messages, which led to long emails, which led to phone calls, which led to meeting for lunch one day while she was in town visiting her sister.
I was nearly two hours late picking her up for lunch. I brought my camera along. Despite my staggering apathy for showing up for our date, something magical happened. Lunch led to browsing bookstores, which led to walking around town chatting and holding hands, which led to making some photographs of her, which led to dinner, which led to going to a concert in the park, which led to hanging out on her sister’s porch passionately making out until 5am in the morning, which led to her driving home to Denver on zero sleep.
Those portraits of her in downtown SLC led to ideas for a second shoot.
Though I’d never done any fine art nude photography, I had a vision in my mind:
A starkly lit black and white image of a woman’s naked hip next to the curvaceous body of a Les Paul electric guitar, their curves following one another in parallel.
The two aren’t that different.
Part of being a good Mormon boy is refraining from pre-marital sex, and pornography is very much frowned upon. Though what I was envisioning was definitely not pornography, the situation could very well lead to premarital sex, which would lead to Mormon Jesus being very, very sad, which would also lead to his Dad – God, being very, very mad.
I recalled the words of the good Lord in the Sermon on The Mount:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
– Matthew 5:28
I hoped that looking upon a woman through a camera lens created some sort of exception in The Lord’s eyes. I borrowed a guitar from my old bandmate, loaded up some photo gear, and drove towards Denver.
After arriving at her apartment in downtown Denver, I unloaded my car and set up a makeshift studio in her apartment, and we commenced the shoot. My palms were sweaty. A dash of adrenaline garnished my bloodstream. I had never photographed a naked woman before. This was not just any naked woman; it was HER. My newly discovered soul mate and muse.
Ginarie emerged from her bedroom in a satin robe. I nervously directed her into the optimal spot. Once in place, she untied her robe and let it come open. Her face glowed with a smile that said a thousand things. Her smile was informed by whatever awestruck expression was on my face. She was a confident girl, and had every reason to be. Being a textbook Leo, Ginarie had some shred of exhibitionism in her as well. She was clearly enjoying this.
I took in every curve, every expanse of bare, smooth skin, everything little thing made her a woman. Everything that makes me a man surged to full attention.
‘I’m a good mormon’ I kept reminding myself. ‘We are going to keep this artistic and professional’.
This photograph called for a bare hip, so I beckoned for her to remove the robe completely. Like a racer anticipating the green light, she immediately slid the robe slid off of her shoulders, down her back, and onto the floor, dropping as fast as the laws of physics would allow.
As a cat, astrologically speaking, she basked in the warmth of the lights on her bare body and the even warmer light of my gaze upon her every womanly detail. She readily gave me every pose I requested, reading my mind and co-creating exactly what I hoped to capture.
We worked out several variations on the shots I needed to create the finished piece. I reluctantly told her that I thought we had every shot we needed. I hated to tell her that and bring this moment to a close, as I was enjoying her being naked (as was she).
As is customary, I showed her some images on the back of the camera so she could have a sense of what we did, and hopefully, a sense of accomplishment. Still naked, she stood close to me and looked over my shoulder at the LCD screen on my camera.
Also being a Leo, (our birthdays are 6 days apart), I basked in the heat radiating from her body.
I flipped through dozens of photos of her naked hips, each shot having a variation on light, shadow, composition, angle, etc. I proceeded to delete images that were obviously flawed and unusable. An image came up that seemed unusable, my thumb moved to the delete button.
Ginarie read the situation in real time – “No, stop! Let’s look at that one again!” She called out. She pulled in closer, both of us giving the image more scrutiny.
This dark, underexposed image, was actually something unintentionally and exceptionally beautiful. It held dark truth in it’s unintentional shadows.
Throughout history, many great discoveries were made accidentally, while in pursuit of something different. In that moment, I was Albert Hoffman accidentally discovering Lysergic Acid Dyethylamide-25 in my laboratory.
My world was forever different after that.
The shoot was done.
She draped her robe back over her shoulders, but left it casually open. We meandered down the hallway toward her bedroom. Pausing at the door to her bedroom, we kissed deeply. I slowly dropped to my knees, her lips one dangerous inch from mine. I looked up to see her grinning, saying,
“Look all you want….”
After a few agonizing moments, she recused herself to her room for some privacy.
Beauty and art can lead to charm, which can lead to lust, which can lead to love, which can lead to suffering, which can lead to more art.
Though I already had a name picked out for the hip & guitar shot, we collaborated on what to call the mistake that led to art.
The name, “Destroyer of Men” pays homage to a line from the Hindu scripture, the Bagavad Gita, in which Lord Krishna reveals himself in his full and terrible power and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.
As for the other piece, “Rhythm & Blues” – if you have to ask why… you obviously have never tried to love a woman.