Sensual and Superyoung | Ageless Fabulosity
Note| Nudity I am thrilled beyond words with our new project Ageless Fabulosity, born of my promise to readers that Anne of Carversville will launch an Old Ladies Rebellion in 2011.
Our Ageless Fabulousity celebration of timeless beauty and sensuality is officially in liftoff mode. Enjoy honest straight talk and inspiring words, combined with provocative, deeply-sensual images of two highly-credentialed, real-world women who are nude models, as well as established career women.
The clues to Dr. Carla Johnson’s real age, emerge in her interview by Alex B. We will post Carla’s interview of Alex B on Tuesday, December 7, 2010.
These interviews initially had nothing to do with me. After reading Anne of Carversville, Alex B and Carla asked me if I might be interested in publishing their private online dialogues and sensual, sometimes nude, art and fashion photography. Within two seconds, I said “Yes, let’s do it! I’m in.”
Ageless Fabulosity is focused holistically on mind, spirit and body. We will be talking to — and looking at — real women of a certain age — but always over 50 — who celebrate their sensuality and physicality as key to their self-identity, good health and positive well being.
I’m so excited by the confidence and positive attitudes of these two women about their bodies and sensual beauty, that I want to know them inside and out.
Behind every Sensual and Superyoung woman is a sense of control about the decisions she makes for herself. How have these women learned to love their bodies, celebrating them with confidence and a love of the woman in the mirror? Don’t answer “It’s easy with their genes and beauty.” I know that these women have challenges like we all experience.
Please add your questions of Carla and Alex B in the comments section after their interviews. Links to nude and sensual images of both Carla and Alex B will appear all week long at Anne of Carversville and Sensuality News.
Enough of me. Sound the trumpets. Let the Old Ladies Rebellion ignite the era of Ageless Fabulosity. The truth is that only women can take matters into our own hands, insisting that we be regarded as beautiful, sensual creatures at every age. Only we can change our cultures.
Do remember, American ladies, that French, Italian and Brazilian cultures celebrate the inherent sensuality of older women.
Let all women believe what these women already know about themselves. They enjoy Ageless Fabulosity. Anne
An Interview with Dr. Carla Johnson By Alex B.
Q. Women traditionally peak as models in their late teens and early 20s. As a model in her 60s, you have broken through several ceilings. First of all, you are older than most models. Second, you already had a doctorate and a university position when you began modeling. How old were you when you first modeled, and how did you come to begin?
A. I was always interested in modeling. In my late teens, I did portrait modeling for a painter and later for drawing classes to make some money while in college. I interviewed with a modeling school but was told I would have to be a hand model. That was not what I had in mind. I did not think about modeling again until I was 59 years old.
I was in Paris with a student. A young man came up to me in a Sephora shop on the Champs-Élysées and asked for a date. I declined because I was with my student, and he wrote his phone number on a card. Everywhere in Paris the eyes of young men were upon me. I realized I had something going on, so when I returned to the United States I phoned a photographer I had seen featured on a PBS station.
Our first shoot produced a fine art nude that was accepted in a juried show at the Midwest Museum of Art. For three years I modeled for him, and our work hung in galleries all over Midwest America, even in a high-end beauty salon. In October 2007 I began to work with other photographers. A year and a half later I retired after 20 years on faculty at a prestigious private college. I decided to more openly pursue my interest in the visual arts.
I had worked for over 20 years as an arts and entertainment writer for a regional newspaper, but at some point devoted myself to academic publication - journal articles and several books. When I started modeling, I returned to arts writing for a magazine published for an affluent arts and leisure audience. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was setting myself up for a surprising future, one that had only been an old dream.
Q. What is your doctoral specialization and how does it support your work as a model?
A. I have always been a writer. I think I was born for it. In another life I might have followed my dreams to be a performing artist, but we don’t really live twice. I studied dance as a child and again in college, and theatre consumed my high school years. My doctoral specialization is Modern Drama, so the performing arts have always been a passion.
Modeling came as an incredible joy. It has allowed me to use my acting and dance training. It also put me back into the world of arts writing. Eventually I became editor-in-chief of a French online fine art magazine, and from there managing editor for Carrie Leigh’s NUDE, a fine art nude print publication of coffee table book quality.
I never expected my passions to somehow come together like this, and at such a late date, but they have. The work I did as a college professor was centered on nurturing my students’ development as writers and women; now it is my turn, and I am rediscovering my self.
Q. What type of modeling have you done? What type do you prefer?
A. My modeling choices reflect my choices in the literature I have always loved, studied, and taught. Modern Drama has explored feminist issues from its beginnings in the work of Henrik Ibsen, and I see fine art nude modeling as an extension of the same themes – the woman as confident, independent, creative, and intellectual.
Although I did some runway work for the college, I am not very interested in fashion and clothes. I fell in love with nude art when I took a two-semester Art History course in college. The works we studied were shown as slides on a huge screen, and I will never forget a photograph of an ancient Greek statue of Zeus hurling a thunderbolt. It filled the screen with the power and breathtaking beauty of the human body. It was immediately clear to me that, without clothing, the focus shifts to the core of an individual, stripped down to pure spirit, determination, and soul.
I also found the same stripping away of the dated layers of a society’s facade in the work of writers like D. H. Lawrence and Tennessee Williams. What I see in the works of the great writers is the same thing I see in the works of the great photographers such as Helmut Newton, George Hurrell, and Carrie Leigh. While Carrie Leigh continues in the tradition of the beautiful classical nudes of antiquity, she shows the influence of the greats of the generation before her. She envisions the timeless nude woman as beautiful and sensual. This is the type of modeling to which I aspire.
Q. Since models such as you have broken the taboo on older women modeling, especially nude, how do you think people should refer to older models? I have heard older women called mature or non-traditional models. Or do you think models are models, and no designation need apply?
A. When I “came out” on model networking sites, I discovered age was not optional. Prior to that, I had not thought much about age, rarely being asked how old I was or feeling compelled to bring it up. Having taught women in their late teens and early 20s for decades, I came to identify with them. In my mind, I was their age with just a little more life experience and wisdom.
At the modeling sites, people saw my age and the response put me into a state of shock. All they commented on was my age. “You look great for your age” is the typical comment I receive on a daily basis. While it is meant as a compliment, it actually sent me into an identity crisis. Suddenly I wore an “over 60” designation with which I really did not identify.
I would like to say no age-related name for models my age should be necessary, but over time we reach acceptance of things. I have come to be pleased and proud to be a healthy, vital woman with the ability to still model nude at 66. At first I would have preferred just to be called “a model,” but now I have accepted that I am “a mature model” or “an older woman.” And why not? Whatever you want to call what I am, I am glad to be it.
Q. Do you think that it would be better not to have to disclose one’s age on online profiles? Would it bring in more work?
A. I am absolutely sure if I were 20-something I would be a traveling model struggling to work with anyone who will pay. I paved my financial future with another profession, and I don’t need to model for money. At age 20, I was a dime a dozen. Now I am unique, a rarity, and because of that, all the best photographers want to shoot me.
Q. Has the United States been conducive to the advancement of your modeling career or do you think it might be easier if you lived and worked elsewhere?
A. I might not be modeling if I had not been in Paris at age 59. It was the same year the Dove campaign launched in the USA, and I remember a 70-something woman who posed nude for Annie Leibovitz. I believe their image appeared in TIMES Square. The woman appeared on Oprah to talk about posing nude for Dove, and I was greatly inspired.
I could have signed with a “minority” agency but chose to keep my independence and do only work I want to do. I have had the privilege to work with some of the best fine art nude photographers in the United States and France.
Q. What has been your greatest achievement as a model?
A. The desire to participate in the creation of art was my motivation to model, and I have been rewarded many times over, each time one of my works has been accepted in a juried show or become part of a gallery exhibit. Recently, one of my favorites in my portfolio, by photographer Dave Levingston, became a holding of the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle.
Some of my work with fine art nude photographer A. J. Khan has been published in The Body Beautiful. I also had the privilege to write the Foreword to his book, released in October 2010 and available online at A.J. Kahn online.
My greatest achievement came in modeling for Carrie Leigh. The layout was featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE. Carrie asked that her thoughts about our shoot be included here:
“Carla and I had such great chemistry that we barely needed to verbally communicate. She created great poses, and it was incredibly inspiring for me as a photographer. I believe the confidence that comes with age gave us a bond that is reflected in the art we created.” ~ Carrie Leigh
Shooting with Carrie was a dream fulfilled. I had never before been photographed by anyone with her intensity, drive, and attention to detail. I imagined this was how it must have felt to work with the greats of the 20th century who photographed Carrie, such as Helmut Newton and George Hurrell. I had been in the presence of greatness and considered quitting modeling. It was hard to figure out where to go after that. (Note to readers: Carla’s Carrie Leigh photographs are now posted in Sensuality News.)
Q. If a model considers herself an equal collaborator with a photographer in the creation of art, as I believe you do, what obstacles will she encounter?
A. I have reached the point where I will not sign away all my rights in a model release. My concern is not with financial areas. My concern is with my image. If the work isn’t to my standard or represents me in a negative way, I want to have the right to say NO to posting, showing, or selling it.
Dave Levingston always shares copyright with his models, and recently, another photographer gave me joint copyright with both our names in the watermark. This is the ideal direction as photography is male dominated and most models are women; inequities in credits and rights must change.
The 20-something models have their whole lives ahead of them. If they do not have the right to remove images of themselves from the Internet, their lives could very well be ruined.
Q. Have you been successful in forging a place for older women in fine art nude modeling?
A. I have definitely opened doors and inspired other women. I hear from 20- and 30-something models quite regularly. They say I have given them hope for their futures. That is exactly what I hope to do, and I will keep modeling until a photographer drops the camera and runs.
Bio|Dr Carla Johnson
Carla has worked as a special assignment and freelance arts writer specializing in celebrity intrviews and dance and theatre reviews. After achieving her PhD in Modern Drama from the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Johnson taught at a prestigious women’s college for 20 years. She has presented papers at international conferences, most notably at Oxford University and Cambridge University in England, and published books, all distributed internationally. Two editions of one of these books have been published in the United States, India, Indonesia, and China.
Dr Carla Johnson is the Managing Editor of Carrie Leigh’s Nude Magazine and met Anne through an article she wrote in early in 2010 on New Eroticism, in which she mentioned Carrie Leigh’s Nude Magazine. See Carla’s blog.
Alex moved to London from Italy at the age of 19 to study at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she obtained her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. With a PhD in Art and Archaelogy, she pursued an academic career, as a research fellow at several prestigious universities in the UK. Alex B studied dance for many years. Anne and Alex B became Facebook friends. See Alex’s Blog.
Note: PLEASE don’t use images or concepts from the Ageless Fabulosity series, without crediting Anne of Carversville. One person, in particular, is about a day behind me on everything I write. This is original work, and I expect it to be credited. Thanks. Anne
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