The first school play I was ever in was in the fifth grade, and it was a class play (meaning everyone in the class was in it). It had an educational theme to it, being set in a classroom and pertaining to much of the curriculum that year--states and capitals. Despite my enthusiasm for the production, I was not given the opportunity for a lead role since my teacher did not believe I could focus enough to learn all the lines. So I had one of the smallest roles in the show, a boy named Jimmy Johnson (maybe that's really why I don't like the Lowe's 48 #NASCAR #StandWithSmoke), and my first line in the play was, "I'll say!"
When I was in high school I landed my first lead role-with the church theatre group-and I later found out that I wasn't cast based on talent, but because I was the only male that fit the lead's character description. With my high school drama program I was cast in my first musical, Little Shop of Horrors, and although I felt my nerdiness made me a lock for the lead of Seymour, I was cast to appear onstage as an unnamed supporting role ("Wino) in the opening number, but then sat in the orchestra pit to be the voice of the plant, Audrey II. At five feet, two inches tall, and about 120 pounds soaking wet, most audiences didn't believe that such a little guy supplied the booming voice for the alien plant--but I did. Well.
Through my time at Diablo Valley College I was blessed with an array of works to perform with: Shakespeare's MacBeth, Moliere's The Imaginary Invalid, an original Greek work by Nicole Hess-Diestler and Zach Diestler called Iphigenia at Aulis. There were numerous scene studies, or Brown Bags as we'd call them, where I was given great opportunities to delve into pieces by John Patrick Shanley (Frankie and Johnny), Emily Mann (The Execution of Justice), David Rabe (Hurlyburly). And there were even a couple of musicals, Bat Boy, a contemporary rock musical, and Some Enchanted Evening, a Rodgers and Hammerstein revue.
At Cal State Long Beach I played a cholo (Los Lobos de la Noche), an Indian boy (A Chance, an original piece by Chetan Sanathara), a Shakespearean father (Gentlemen Redux), and a gay man (Our Lady of 121st Street).
With the shows that I have been fortunate enough to be in, I've been challenged and stretched and corraled and set free. And even with my tattoos (which are something many of my theatre classmates considered to be taboo or too cumbersome to have to work around), I didn't have to cover them up in as nearly many shows as I was asked to show them off. Actually, for my role in Los Lobos they actually added more tattoos. And through all of this: Shakespeare, Greek, Moliere, cholo, Indian, gay, original pieces, I never had to be naked onstage. In a piece I directed, The Big Funk, by Shanley, one of my actors had to be naked, and I mean fully naked, no socks, dance belts, or nothing, but I myself had never been naked on stage.
Being naked is a scary thing for many people. Taking a shower or bath is probably the one thing that most people can be comfortable doing naked. Yes, I omitted sex, because 1. you don't have to be completely naked (#socks #shirts) and 2. being this intimate with someone doesn't necessarily mean you're absolutely comfortable with being naked.
So that leaves showertime as the singular occasion of being comfortable with nakedness.
I write quite a bit about positivity, especially in regards to loving one's self, and although it probably won't come as a surprise, I feel it to be a strong gesture to say it explicitly. I'm not always happy with my body.
In more bathrooms than not, stepping out of the shower usually places me face to face with the mirror above the sink. Nothing like starting your day with a vigorously hot shower, reviving you from your slumber, only to be slapped in the face by, well, your face...above your naked body. This is typically not the best feeling.
But recently, I've been better about accepting my awesomeness and being happy with who I am. How much better? I took a picture of myself after I got out of the shower today.
With my hair messy and still a little bit wet, unkempt eyebrows center stage, I took a picture of myself at a time when I would normally not want anyone to see me. But today I do. Because I love who I am and I'm in love with myself. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that is in reply to, "If you don't love yourself, why should anyone else be?"
I'm a pretty hairless guy. Have you ever seen me with a mustache? Or a goatee with some sweet chops to frame it? Nope. And my hairless back (which I'm not complaining about) pictured above is right in line with my unmanly (by stereotypical standards) hairless chest.
This commercial was a nice reminder that every style is ok. Thanks, Genesis. #CallMe
The tattooed cat is out of the bag, and my upper back tattoos are now for everyone to see in all its bloggy glory. Kanjis for "wisdom" (Connecticut) and "loyalty" (Virginia), an anchor-inspired Sagittarius symbol (NorCal), and a modification of the Alexander Pope quotation, "To err is human, to forgive divine." (Montana).
I used to think that tattoos helped to draw attention away from parts of my body that I did not wish to show off (especially in my beach bum days when all I wore was a hat and a pair of board shorts), but I have since then refocused my appreciation for my ink as I became a curator of my own gallery. The tattoos on my skin are like patches on a cruise jacket-symbolizing deployments, missions, and battle groups.
Being on stage naked was something that many of us talked about in school, mostly in a fearful light. Just thinking about all those people and making eye contact with them afterwards knowing that they saw you in such an adulterated manner without reciprocation. But with live theatre, after the moment it's gone. With photography, that moment is frozen in time forever.
But what good is a moment unless it's shared with others. So I wanted to share it with everyone (thanks to body positioning and framing a tasteful shot).
I am in love with myself. That's the healthiest, most fulfilling love anyone can have, and everyone should.