Naked Men: Take a Look

The ESPN Magazine Body Issue has been released with five different covers. Every one of them featuring a nude pro athlete. Much like the straight men in the audience at my burlesque shows, men of the internet have expressed audible disappointment at being subjected to the naked male form. In many of the shows where I’ve performed, I’m one male act out of 20+ women. I invited a woman to one of those shows. When her boyfriend found out that I invited her (meaning that I was performing) he refused to attend because he didn’t want to see me naked. He was so homophobic that he feared seeing another man taking off his clothes. He was so goddamned homophobic that he missed the chance to see 20+ women take THEIR clothes off just to avoid seeing me take off mine. (Can you hear how loud I’m laughing!?)

As a sex worker, I’m still somewhat surprised when a woman tells me that she’s never seen any penis other than that of her husband’s. I’m surprised because I expect human beings to learn about each other outside of anatomy class. Shouldn’t we all know what various bodies look like so that we can have a real world definition of normalcy? As heterosexual men, we should all know that what the fashion industry considers “plus size” is a lot closer to the average size when it comes to women. I’m not stating that as a judgment. I’m just saying that there’s nothing average about the edited photographs on magazine covers. I digress. My point is that men need to see more of the naked male form. Society has spent so much time teaching little boys to hide their feelings and to be heterosexual (often homophobic) womanizers, that the very idea of seeing another man naked leaves them scandalized.

Have you ever had the “naked at school” dream? Have you ever felt insecure about how you looked when leaving the house? We all have insecurities. It’s part of the human condition. What do you love about your body? I mean, just for a minute, one vain minute, look in the mirror and celebrate what you love about your reflection. Body image insecurities have kept people from doing so many things due to their fear of being judged by others. We all judge as we all are judged. The sooner we accept that concept, the sooner we’ll be comfortable in our own skin and just say, “fuck it, I don’t care what people think!” My challenge to you, this week, is to celebrate your naked body. Stand naked in the mirror with a dry erase marker. List out 10 things, on the mirror, you love about your body. I’m asking this of all genders. Depending on what box you check, society may have taught you that you don’t fit into that box or some believe you have no right to check that box. We. All. Have. Insecurities. If you’re one of the men who was upset about seeing a male athlete nude on a magazine cover, your 2nd exercise should be to write down some things you love about Ezekial Elliott’s body. (If the thought of doing that makes you cringe, that’s worth digging deeper within to understand, is it not?

Some time ago, I was featured in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. The conversation was about men posing for boudoir photographs. When asked my opinion on why so many men are apprehensive about being nude in front of a camera, I spoke about men’s fear of exposure. Naked, on a wall, in a gallery ripe for the judgment of the public. That sounds like a 3-D version of the naked at school dream! No matter what your gender identity may be, does the thought scare you? Don’t let it. We are all judged and we all judge. Be comfortable in your own beautiful skin and never let anyone convince you that being naked or seeing nudity is a bad thing.

 

FFS: Do NOT interpret this post as an excuse to send dick pics. Don’t be a dumbass.

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Ambition: A Fear of Mediocrity

Ambition is the fear of mediocrity. Ambition is the fear of being mediocre. You can apply this mantra to many aspects of your life. Fitness training: Did you put on your snazzy minimalist running shoes, moisture wicking shirt, and hustle to your favorite fitness class or training session just to put forth a mediocre effort? No. You didn’t. Don’t just show up, put in the work and reach your goals. Career path: Did you work over time and sacrifice your personal life to hate your job as it subtly sucks away your soul? The harder you work, the richer you’ll make the owners. You have to honor your gifts and talents by shunning the mediocre path for a path that ignites your fire inside. Educational efforts: Did you pay all of that tuition just for a class average curve or would you rather excel and learn something? Be afraid of the class average, embrace ambition and be a better student. Romantic efforts: Was there ever a time when you looked at your partner and thought of how lucky you were to have her/him in your life? Do you honor that lucky feeling with mediocre effort or do you express your love in ever-evolving ways? Steer clear of the mediocre love path. The path of ambitious love will help you to treat your partner the way THEY want to be treated instead of treating them the way YOU want to be treated.

You should be afraid of “good enough”, “getting by”, “just fine”, “alright”, and other synonyms for mediocrity. Step up and deliver more. I want to be clear. I’m not suggesting that you change your expectations of others. Don’t be that prick that expects above/beyond mediocre from other people after reading this post. When it comes to how we see others, tensions would ease up if we all chose to love more, judge less. That applies to how we feel about ourselves as well. Shunning mediocrity isn’t about judging ourselves harshly because any aspect of our lives is “normal” or status quo. That’s not what this post is about. I’m planting a seed that I hope to grow into a tree of stronger efforts from any and all who read this. What if good enough was no longer good enough? What if we tried harder by working smarter? What if we reduced the peripheral noise, static, drama, beeps, and buzzes from our lives in order to be better at the things we’re passionate about? Embrace your ambition. Step away from the crowd. Everyone has something that sparks their fire. Determine what that something is for you and burn, brighter.

Common sense disclaimer. Every corpse on Everest was once filled with ambition. Don’t be a dumbass. Use your ambition to improve the world, not to stroke your fucking ego. The pic you see of me sky diving was my own search for an adrenaline rush. I don’t (usually) take pics of my philanthropic efforts. Peace.

Think Ahead, Use Your Head, Get Ahead, Stay Ahead

Looking ahead to what’s next is how we keep moving forward. I’d never suggest that you live in the future tense. We all do that too much as it is. We wonder about tomorrow, we lament on last week. We wander around distracted with no focus on today. No, I’m suggesting that you look ahead to your more immediate next step. When riding a bike, you look *through* the turn. When running, you judge the obstacles in the distance. Will you need to test your agility to make it past that couple holding hands on the narrow path? Will you run right through them and treat their arms like finish line tape? When performing any coordinated exercise, your brain stays engaged, thinking of foot/hand placement. Embrace that ideal of looking ahead to the next moment while staying present in this one. If that sounds contradictory, recognize that it takes some time to master this technique. (I am not an expert. However, I’ve watched people that are far better at this practice than myself.) Consider a juggler’s process. The hand is ready for the catch before the ball/knife/chainsaw falls to the ground. That happens by looking ahead to the next moment while staying present in *this* moment enough to toss the third/fourth/fifth item into the air. Please remember, thinking ahead is very different from multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is a myth. Multi-tasking is just doing many things, poorly, at once, instead of doing one thing well. Instead, I try to use the same logic as my cousin, the Navy S.E.A.L. “Think ahead, use your head, get ahead, stay ahead.”, he would say. I’m suggesting that you do the same in an effort to help your training. Think about your meals for the day so that you won’t have to *scavenge* for fast food. Think about your training attire and check the weather to see if they match. Think about the duration of the workout and give your best effort, without emptying your reserve tank in the first 15 minutes. (Be patient and your reserve tank will grow as your level of fitness improves.)

Accidental Motivation (Placebo Training)

Due to an injury, I’m not running ATM. So, this post (written about four years back) spoke to me today and I wanted to revisit it. Enjoy!

I’ve never met my favorite running partner, we go on long runs all the time. It happens without planning or engagement. I set out on a run and before I know it, I have a shadow on my heels that I can’t shake.

Sometimes, I run two laps around Lake Merritt. It’s 10 kilometers. Once, I set out for a run after doing some push-ups, I felt the blood pumping before my stride began. It had been two weeks since my last run. So, around mile two, I still hadn’t hit my rhythm. I kept pushing through it, thoughts scattered, lacking focus, then I caught a glimpse of orange in my peripheral vision. “Oh, this dude wants to pass me”, I thought. “I need to run faster” and “this ‘running partner’ has been sent here to motivate me”, was my second thought. My final thought was to run faster, smile and say thank you to whatever cosmic running coach sent this running partner to challenge me.

Orange shirt ran with me, pushing me to run faster as his pace was equivalent to mine, for about a mile and a half. Realistically, he probably never even realized that he was my source of motivation. We never spoke, we never engaged. I imagined that he was there to light a fire under my heels. Around mile 4, his run was done and mine still had 2.2 before completion. So, even though, I turned and realized that he had stopped running altogether, I imagined an orange shirt challenging me to run stronger up to the very end. There are times when fake medicine cures symptoms when we are told that it will. There are times when we are sent the motivation that we need because we believe that the ego stroke of winning will help to shake off the demons. I call it placebo training and you can write your own prescription. What do you need to see, hear or connect with in order to get you to push beyond your perceived limitations? When you’re lifting weights alone, do you imagine someone you trust spotting/encouraging you? When you’re on a long ride, do you imagine that you’re in competition with the other cyclists on the hill? When you go for a run, do you try to catch up to the pair of shoes in front of you only to run faster and try to catch the next pair of shoes beyond that? What’s your placebo for challenging your body through the power of the mind?

You’ve often heard me suggest that you create a training mantra. I still encourage that. (Think of a set of rhythmic, positive words that – when repeated – will help you conquer any obstacle, with your mind. Your body will soon follow.) This week, I want you all to practice your visualization techniques. See the person motivating you, make it real and break through your previous limitations. Set some new personal records. Motivation is all around us, it comes in all forms. It’s our perception that differentiates between obstacle and opportunity. Tap into the abundant motivation that the world has to offer and take flight.

Any of you that have trained with me, one-on-one, know that I don’t listen to excuses. There is always a way to reach your goals. Watch this 2m:30s video and remember, YES. YOU. CAN.