When Mothers’ Backs Are Turned

by Chester Jones

Our culture correspondent’s professional detachment is tested to the limit as the founders of the latest post-feminist phenomenon, iambeautiful.com, reveal far more than he was expecting...

“iambeautiful is definitely not a porn site,” asserts co-founder and self-styled webmistress Victoria James. “You’ve only got to look at the entry page to see that. Your average porn site is all clashing colours, rubbish typefaces and low-resolution photos of women in G-strings. Not to mention the barrage of pop-up ads and the box to enter your credit card details. Whereas ours contains nothing but that…”

She points to the picture on the reception room wall of iambeautiful’s swish new office suite in – where else? – Soho. A good square metre in area, it is a reproduction of the wording from iambeautiful’s stylish white-on-black entry page. It reads: “This site is a platform for people who want to show themselves to the world at their best, and leave a lasting monument to the beauty of their physical being.”

“That’s all we say,” resumes Victoria. “There’s nothing there about taking your clothes off, and we certainly don’t require it. Nor, contrary to one vicious rumour, do we delete galleries of fully-clothed women. In fact, we don’t delete anything unless it is clearly just junk people have uploaded as a joke.”

The fact that people feel the need to vandalise iambeautiful is testament to how, in the three short years since its launch in 2009, it has exploded into a genuine cultural phenomenon to rival YouTube and MySpace. Every week, tens of thousands of women from all across the globe rush to upload nude and near-nude photographs of themselves for literally anyone to browse, download and set as their desktop wallpaper, making iambeautiful, according to recent figures, the fastest-growing website on the whole web. Just don’t mention the p-word.

“The other crucial difference between our site and a porn site,” interjects Victoria’s fellow webmistress, Sally Barnard, “is that no one who appears on the site has been paid a penny. They’ve all uploaded their pictures entirely voluntarily, and they are all free to remove or replace them whenever they like.”

“People just decided for themselves that showing yourself to the world at your best should be interpreted as showing the world as much of yourself as you dare.”

So there’s no truth, either, in the rumour that they paid professional underwear models to appear on the site in its early days in order to encourage such a traffic-boosting trend?

“None whatsoever,” responds Sally, flatly.

“I don’t know where these rumours come from but they are complete bullshit,” agrees Victoria, with what turns out to be characteristically greater flair. “People just assume from our background in marketing that iambeautiful must all be a manufactured fraud. Whereas, in fact, it happened more or less by serendipity.”

Really?

“Absolutely. The genesis of the site was simply our frustration with lonely hearts’ columns - which we were both using at the time on account of being too busy to stand much chance of meeting anyone in the normal way.”

“We were both in our late twenties, but neither of us had had a decent, long-term relationship since we were at university,” adds Sally, blushing a little, apparently more embarrassed about having resorted to a dating agency than about being the co-founder of what one prominent commentator has condemned as “the biggest degradation of the human female since the Stepford Wives” and another “a demoralising testament to the limitless vanity of women and the limitless stupidity of men”.

“The thing was,” resumes Victoria, “the sites we used tended either not to ask for a picture at all, or to only give you the chance to upload one – which, obviously, is not nearly enough.”

“Pictures seldom lie as a group, but they often lie as individuals,” interjects Sally, with what is evidently a well-used line of hers.

“Quite. So we’d constantly be involved in this to-and-fro of emailing pictures to people and asking them to respond in kind. Eventually we decided that it would be a lot easier to put a few of our best photos online, so we could just email the url to potential partners.”

“We would have just used a regular online gallery site, but as we had just done a web design course at work, we thought we would try to build our own.”

“And we also wanted to set it up so that our potential partners could upload pictures of themselves too – both for our benefit and for the benefit of anyone else they might want to date in the future.”

“And then, of course, their potential partners started doing the same,” resumes Sally, playing her part in the division of linguistic labour. “So the whole thing started to snowball rapidly – so rapidly, in fact, that the site was often down on account of having exceeded the data limit imposed by our ISP. The cost of constantly increasing it was also starting to be significant, so we were very quickly faced with the decision of whether to carry on with it.”

“But, obviously, being the greedy marketing types we are, we saw the opportunity to start carrying adverts to pay for further expansion, so we pressed on with it.”

And was that marketing potential enhanced by the pictures’ raunchiness?

“Not at that time,” answers Sally.

“For a start, half the people on the site at that time were men,” adds Victoria.

“Fully clothed men.”

“Unfortunately so. And, as for the women, they were just us wearing nice dresses and well-applied make-up. There was a touch of cleavage at times, but nothing more than that.”

So what happened?

“I don’t know!” laughs Victoria.

“It all changed by very small increments,” explains Sally. “One woman would show a bit of her bra, and, seeing that, the next would go one stage further and show all of her bra, and then the next one would do away with the bra altogether and hold her breast in her hands…”

“Then the fingers would start spreading wider and wider apart until, whoops! Is that a nipple? And so on. There was definitely an element of people trying to out-do each other – which isn’t surprising, I suppose, when you consider that most of them were still dating-agency types, effectively competing to attract the best men.”

And what happened to the men? Didn’t they want to get in on the act?

“They did at first, and there were some excellent photos submitted of men in their underpants,” smiles Sally. “But then, for whatever reason, submissions from women started to outnumber those from men – and the men’s latest newcomers section very quickly dried up after that. I think they increasingly felt that it was a site specifically for women to showcase themselves, even though we had never set it up that way.”

“More than one ex-boyfriend of mine has refused to submit semi-nude pictures of himself because he didn’t like the thought of being masturbated over by homosexuals. I suspect a lot of men felt that way,” adds Victoria. There’s a popular assumption – false, in my view – that only men are aroused by bare skin – of either sex.”

So how did Sally and Victoria feel about these developments? Were they upset that their very practical idea had been hijacked by shameless exhibitionists?

“Not at all,” says Sally. “We’ve never believed that there is anything indecent about the human body – and we were always quite happy to use its charms in our marketing campaigns. More than anything, we were just amazed people were brave enough to launch themselves into the notoriously unpredictable currents of the internet wearing so little. There’s know telling where their pictures might have ended up. In their boss’s inbox is one possibility. Or their mother’s…”

Sally grimaces, so Victoria takes up the reins: “But, at the same time, we were also jealous of that bravery. We looked at the number of hits the newcomers’ galleries were getting compared to the number ours were getting and we wanted some of that action for ourselves.”

To show potential partners?

“Sure – partly that. It certainly makes for a much more tantalising, sexually-charged first date when the man had already seen you stripped down to your knickers.”

“We didn’t want to do anything really explicit,” interrupts Sally, a little nervously.

“No, no,” agrees Victoria. “People weren’t sending stuff like that at that point anyway. They’d only got as far as, you know, breasts and bottoms and maybe the odd tuft of pubic hair.”

So what happened? Did they find their courage?

“Dutch courage, yes,” answers Victoria. “We went out for dinner one night after work, drank a bottle of wine between us and them went back to Sally’s flat and proceeded to claim some of the action.”

How much action, exactly?

“Vicky is fully naked in some of the pictures,” confirms Sally, with a smile. “I hadn’t quite drunk enough to go that far.”

“Sal was wearing a cute little gauzy pink thong which she just wouldn’t be parted from!” confirms Victoria, with a sly grin. “I did manage to get her out of her knickers a couple of weeks later when we did some shot in my flat in the sunlight, but she was still very coy about showing her womanly treasure.”

“Whereas Victoria was actually the first person to upload a full frontal picture of herself to iambeautiful,” adds Sally, with a hint of irritation at her friend’s frankness.

“Don’t tell her that!” cried Victoria, with exaggerated dismay but a genuine blush. “My mum might read it!”

Such talk of their mothers (who, apparently, are labouring under the delusion that they both work for lastminute.com) litters their conversation, and I put it to them that it indicates they don’t entirely share the post-feminist shamelessness about showing their bodies which lies at the heart of the modern so-called raunch culture of female self-objectification - of which their website it said to be a prime exemplar.

“I don’t think it’s true we don’t share those values,” protests Victoria. “If we didn’t have pictures of ourselves on the site, you could argue that, but since, as Sally was kind enough to point out, I was the first person to let the cat completely out of the bag…”

“We believe passionately that no one should be ashamed of their own bodies in the second decade of the twenty-first century,” adds Sally, in another of her pre-prepared lines. “We believe passionately that human bodies are one of Nature’s most beautiful creations and should be celebrated in all their glory. We just know that women of our mothers’ generation wouldn’t agree – so it is probably best to keep them out of it.”

Yet I know for a fact, having looked for them before the interview (in the interests of research, of course,) that Sally and Victoria’s pictures, like those of the vast majority of the site’s other exhibitors, are posted under false names. How can that be reconciled with such absence of shame?

“We just feel,” begins Sally, thoughtfully, “that although there is nothing wrong with sexy pictures, there is a time and place for them. After all, you wouldn’t want your co-workers to be strutting around the office in bikinis, even though it would be fine if you were on holiday together on the beach. And you wouldn’t go to a family party in a see-through crop top and hotpants: it just wouldn’t be appropriate – even though it would be fine at a disco.”

“And, most crucially, you wouldn’t want a professional client – or anyone else, for that matter - to google you and find, as the first entry on the list, a link to naked pictures of you,” adds Victoria.

On the other hand, the site’s browse facility makes it possible that a client or even your boss could still stumble upon your pictures.

“Well, it wouldn’t exactly be stumbling upon them, would it?” laughs Victoria. “My feeling is that a boss would be more embarrassed about admitting to having been browsing iambeautiful than a subordinate would be at admitting she had uploaded pictures to it.”

“Besides, the browse function dates from the site’s inception,” adds Sally. “We just thought it would be a nice thing to have at the time: a gallery of people looking their best to attract potential partners. We could have disabled it when people started taking their clothes off but we didn’t really feel the need – after all, people were uploading pictures in the full knowledge that they could be browsed by anyone.”

“In many cases, that’s probably why they did it,” adds Victoria. “Just look at the number of women choosing pseudonyms beginning with A compared with Z. Is it any coincidence that the browse menu can be called up in alphabetical as well as date order?”

So the legions of male voyeurs – and the scores of chequebook-flashing advertisers following in their wake - drawn to the site by that function didn’t have anything to do with the decision to preserve it?

“We’d be lying if we said that had nothing to do with it, sure,” smiles Victoria.

“But, you know, our point is that there’s nothing wrong with voyeurism,” says Sally, seriously. “Why should we not encourage it? I know the feminists complain that all the women on our site are sort of badgered into being on it by boyfriends intent on stripping them of their humanity and relegating them to the level of sex objects, but I just don’t think that’s true.”

“Not that there’s anything wrong with being seen as a sex object by your boyfriend,” adds Victoria. “Quite the contrary, in fact. It would be a fine state of affairs if he preferred doing the gardening to watching you undress. There’s only a problem if he only sees you as a sex object. But I don’t see how we are contributing to any such attitude. I’d certainly never put up with it in any man I dated – any more than I’d put up with him not getting an erection when I take off my bra.”

But surely there is a difference between arousing your partner and setting yourself up as fodder to be masturbated over by random strangers?

“Unless the two are connected, responds Victoria. “I’m sure many men get turned on by the idea of other men – who can’t have her – being aroused by their girlfriend. And I know for a fact that many women find the idea of random men spilling sperm over them a very erotic one. I know I do.”

“We sent out an email questionnaire recently to our contributors,” says Sally, nodding in cautious agreement, “to see what motivated them to upload pictures to the site. And about a third of the respondents said their boyfriends weren’t happy with their pictures even being there, and over half said their pictures had been taken by someone other than their boyfriends – such as friends or siblings or even professional photographers who they’d paid to take them. Vicky is right – being fancied – as a physical object as much as a thinking, feeling soul - is a major part of women’s erotic experience. The pleasure of feeling, seeing a man’s desire for you is a wonderfully life-affirming thing.”

“And it also gives you power over him,” adds Victoria: “we all know that a man will do practically anything for a woman he wants to sleep with.”

Except respect her in the boardroom, perhaps?

“I just don’t think that’s true anymore,” says Sally. “I think men in this post-feminist world are capable of distinguishing between women as valued colleagues and women as lusted-after sex partners.”

But isn’t there a danger that raunch, in which women are remorselessly depicted as nothing but sex objects, could undermine that ability?

“No,” answers Victoria, firmly. “Because women have so much economic power now. Even if men wanted to force them back into the kitchen, they wouldn’t be able to because they don’t have the power to do so. And I just don’t see how women getting their tits out on a website is going to change that.”

“It’s money that buys you respect in a capitalist society,” adds Sally. “And all the figures show that women – especially young women – have as much of that as men.”

Sally and Victoria, of course, are two women with considerable economic power. They gave up their marketing jobs in 2011 to run iambeautiful full time, and are reported to have earned at least £750,000 each from advertising revenue last year alone. Such is the site’s continuing runaway success – topped off by the array of associated merchandise they are about to launch - they are expected to earn at least double that this year.

Incidentally, that merchandise will include a range of knickers and thongs bearing various slogans in the florid white-on-black typeface to which even iambeautiful’s advertisers are obliged to stick. Those slogans will include the inevitable i am beautiful, as well as more racy ones such as if I take these off will you take a picture of me?, fifty thousand people in china have already seen what is under here and designer stubble – the latter a reference to the iambeautiful’s reputed responsibility for making shaved labia ultra-fashionable. There will also be a range of black tops with a box across the bust in which the particularly daring can – with the white pen provided – write in their iambeautiful url. And then there is the kit which will allow women to print their urls onto their skin using a variety of inks, including one which will only show up in the ultra-violet light shone in clubs. Victoria suggests they stamp a buttock with that one if they go to one of the numerous ‘underwear or bare’ nights currently sprouting up across UK clubland. That, she says, would have the added advantage of stimulating the male memory (since men are hardly likely to want to prowl the dance-floors with pens sticking out of their underpants) and, thereby, preserve it from the worst ravages of dancing drugs.

“Not that I’ve ever been to a nude night myself,” she admits. “I confess I’m rather titillated by the idea but I don’t think I’d want to be picked up by a man in a leather posing pouch. I’d rather go with someone I was already intimate with – and, to be brutally frank, there’s no such person at the moment.”

So what about the effect of iambeautiful on their love lives? Have potential partners seen Victoria and Sally’s wine-fuelled iambeautiful galleries and instantly melted?

“Sally’s did,” says Victoria. “Didn’t he?”

“He did like the pictures, yes,” admits Sally, who married chartered surveyor, Martin, last summer. “Though I didn’t tell him about them until about our fifth date - by which time he’d seen everything I have to offer anyway.”

Doesn’t that defeat the whole original object of having her gallery – not to mention contradicting her assertion that the female body is something to be shamelessly celebrated in the appropriate context?

“It does,” she nods, ruefully. “But I’m shy. And whatever your politics, whatever your intellectual beliefs, you can’t just transcend you own character.”

So has she taken her pictures down now that their purpose has been served?

“I haven’t, no,” she says. “Martin and I are both still quite turned on by their being there. Besides, I know I will never ever look as good as I do in those pictures – especially if I have children, as we’re planning to do next year. And I quite like the idea that the pictures will stay there forever as a public monument to how good I looked at my peak.”

“Even if you’ll never look at them yourself because they make you so depressed,” interjects Victoria, who is still doggedly trawling the internet for her Mr Right. Does she send potential partners her url?

“I used to. The agency I tend to use actually has a space on its application form for you to put your iambeautiful url, would you believe. But I tend to direct people towards my original, fully clothed gallery these days until a relationship is firmly established. I’m a bit more guarded with people than I used to be. This is what happens when you pass thirty, I suppose.”

“The more the site grows and the more well known we become, there’s also the ever-increasing danger that someone could sell our urls to the press,” adds Sally, quietly.

“Who won’t waste any time in going round to our mums’ houses with a laptop and a TV camera,” adds Victoria.

Indeed, given the ever-growing press interest in iambeautiful, some find it hard to believe that neither Sally’s nor Victoria’s urls have already been unearthed. This has led to recent speculation that their galleries might not exist at all. The suggestion is that Victoria and Sally are nothing but a pair of mendacious marketing professionals who use their galleries’ reputed existence, in an appropriate metaphor, as a figleaf against charges of hypocrisy - as well as, more importantly, to stoke press interest, encouraging sleazy journalists and avaricious members of the public across the globe to engage in hours of traffic-boosting browsing if the hope of unearthing the golden urls.

“That is complete bullshit,” spits Victoria.

“The galleries are there alright,” adds Sally, more calmly. “It’s just that they’re mixed up with over three quarters of a million others – if you set out to look for them you’d be there an awful long time. Having said that, we know they are bound to find their way into the press eventually. Someone will find them. And we’re ready for that day. We won’t instantly take them down. We’re not hypocrites.”

“We’ll just pray our mums don’t buy the paper that day,” grins Victoria.

So why don’t they just get the agony over with here and now and tell me their urls, I suggest. Why prolong the anxiety?

“Because it makes life more interesting,” Victoria replies, sourly dismissive.

“I don’t think either of us are in any hurry to face that particular music,” adds Sally. “We can live with the waiting.”

Nor, they inform me, do they trust me enough to show me the pictures even if I swear on my life not to publish the url. Fair enough – but I haven’t given up yet. What if they stick a strip of paper across the top of the screen so that I can see the pictures without seeing the url? That way I could put an end to all suggestion that the pictures don’t exist without provoking the media storm that would indeed surely follow the revelation of their urls. And, after all, what could they possibly have to be ashamed of?

They look questioningly at each other.

“It’s the context that doesn’t feel right to me,” mutters Sally, eventually. “It would be like showing them to work colleagues.”

What? At the end of an interview about iambeautiful, in which they have already talked openly about the pictures? What more appropriate context could there be?

More exchanged glances.

“I think he’s right, Sal,” murmurs Victoria, eventually. We ought to put our honey where our mouths are, I suppose.”

“I suppose so,” agrees Sally, reluctantly. “But he only needs to see one set of pictures to confirm that we’re not charlatans.”

“Except that I’m not showing him mine if you don’t show him yours.”

Sally frowns before expressing her tacit consent by following her colleague out of the room. And I am left alone to reflect on the unexpected success of my suggestion. For although I had planned to put it to them, I had never thought they would actually agree. I was more interested in precisely how they would decline. And now I too start to have my doubts. How will I react to seeing the pictures? Can I really hope to maintain professional disinterest when faced with revealing pictures of the two undeniably attractive women I have just spent the past hour talking to? More to the point, will they expect me to? Will they be offended if I compliment them on the pictures – or will they be offended if I don’t? What if I just don’t say anything? The whole situation is a veritable minefield. But it would be absurd to back down now, especially when there are genuine journalistic reasons to press ahead. So when Victoria returns five minutes later and tells me to follow her, I do so without a – ahem - peep.

When I enter the women’s large shared office, Sally is nowhere to be seen. She is too shy to watch me looking at her pictures, apparently – for which piece of faintheartedness she is to be punished by having her pictures shown first. Victoria, for her part, will stay to make sure I don’t tamper with the piece of paper taped across the top of the screen. I seat myself in Sally’s chair as Victoria hesitates for a moment before turning on the monitor and seating herself on the edge of the coffee table directly behind me.

There is, of course, no way of being sure the pictures are really live on the site. All I can say is that they certainly look like they are – the borders and surround text all correspond to Iambeautiful’s characteristic style. As for the photos themselves, I can confirm that seven of Sally’s ten pictures (the maximum number for an iambeautiful gallery) show her wearing nothing but a lot of makeup, a pearl necklace and a translucent dark pink thong. Her poses are not always erotic but even when they are - blond hair hanging loose about her shoulders, legs slightly parted, hands behind her head to accentuate her breasts - the effect is more art than porn given the soft, candle-enhanced lighting.

Predictably, you might say, my favourite image is the one in which, as Victoria had promised, Sally is fully naked. She is lying face-down on a wooden floor with one leg bent at the knee revealing the side of one breast but maintaining her crotch in impenetrable shadow. The pattern of the window’s array of coloured little panes is cast all over her body, making her look like a female harlequin. It is a memorable image.

“Why do you think the site is so popular with men?” I ask, as Victoria shoos me away while she brings up her own gallery. “I mean, it is hardly the only place on the internet you can see naked women. Is it just that this one is free?”

“No doubt that helps,” she replies, frowning as she apparently mistypes her url. “But I think it is also that the women on our site are real – they aren’t professional models: they are the kind of women the browsers work and socialise with: the kind of women they see on the tube. And I suppose there’s always the thought that, as they are browsing, they might just stumble across someone they actually know. Like you’re just about to do.”

With that she tapes the paper back across the top of the screen and retreats, this time, to the chair in the corner of the room. In the first picture she is wearing the full glamour uniform of lacy black bra and thong complete with suspenders, stockings and stilettos. However, successive pictures have the effect of a striptease as she sheds the items one by one and leaves them lying on the floor around her. Her narrow strip of pubic hair is on full view by the eighth photo, but even that is shaved off for the remarkable last image which depicts her kneeling on the floor with her arms folded beneath her breasts, her legs splayed at a good 70 degrees and her lips pursed into one of the wickedest smiles you ever did see.

“Sally didn’t take that one, actually,” she remarks, returning to the table behind me. “It was taken more recently by an ex-boyfriend. He convinced me that the co-founder of iambeautiful shouldn’t allow herself be upstaged by all those clitoris-bearing Jane-come-latelies.”

“No. Quite,” I mutter, awkwardly, transfixed by the screen.

“Does it turn you on?” she smiles, peering over my shoulder at the biological proof of that fact clearly discernable in my lap.

“You certainly have a beautiful body,” I venture, clicking back through her gallery in the hope that the evidence will be erased by the illusion of her getting dressed again. “But, tell me, aren’t you worried that your mother may read my description of it?”

“I am a little,” she admits, nodding thoughtfully at the screen – before replicating the grin in the photograph and adding: “But then, disapproving is what mothers are there for, isn’t it? Otherwise there would be no thrill in doing anything.”

* * *

Victoria and Sally agreed to email some of the women who responded to their recent questionnaire to ask whether they would agree to a telephone interview. Below are printed edited extracts from interviews with three of them.

“Helen”

Age: 24

Profession: Media sales

Appearance: Petite, long blond hair, smallish bust, narrow hips

Describe the pictures: I’m wearing lingerie in all of them. The most revealing it gets is probably actually the one taken from the back of me leaning over on a chair in a G-string. You can see the side of my breast too – though not the nipple.

Who took the pictures? My mum, believe it or not! One Sunday last spring it was raining outside and she got talking about her past and how beautiful she used to look and how my dad (who left her when I was still very young) had to fight off about six other men to take her out. She said none of the pictures from the time did her justice and she was very sad that now her beauty was lost forever. I had heard about iambeautiful from a newspaper article and I mentioned it to her and she instantly said I should go on it. I said I didn’t really have any pictures to put on it and I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time to take any either, but she said she would do it. So we hung a couple of sheets from the curtain rail as background, set up some lamps, turned on the heating and did it. We’ve always been very close so it didn’t feel weird or anything.

How do you think you look in the pictures? I think I look sexy in a classy rather than tarty way. I really like the way my hair and make-up look. I think my mum is even a little bit jealous.

Why did you draw the line where you did? I made the decision not to show any more than I would on the beach. My mum actually encouraged me to do some nudes but I wasn’t comfortable with that. I think it is good to leave a bit to the imagination; I think that’s actually more sexy than just offering it all up on a plate.

Will you ever pose for new pictures for your gallery? How far would you go? I might if I ever meet a boyfriend I feel I can really trust and if he really wanted to take some. I would possibly go topless if he wanted me to, though I definitely wouldn’t take my knickers off. I think only your boyfriend should see what’s under them – even if he disagrees!

How many people have you sent your url to? A couple of ex-boyfriends have it – though God knows how many people my awful last boyfriend sent it to. Probably everyone he knows, judging by the number of hits I have. I also sent it to my sister who lives in America. She really liked them and has a gallery of her own now.

Number of hits to date: 3,986


“Janet”

Age: 32

Profession: Public sector administration

Appearance: 5’6”, Shortish, mid-brown hair, average weight and bust.

Describe the pictures: All my pictures involve images being projected onto my naked body and the white wall behind me in such a way that I become of the characters in the image. For example, there’s one of me as a Labour Party activist being hugged by Tony Blair after an election victory. It’s quite an interesting effect – as if you can see through her clothes. There’s also one of me as a player from my husband’s favourite football team lifting some trophy or other. Then there are a couple in which photos of myself posing in sexy lingerie are projected onto me replicating the pose naked, and one with me replicating a naked, side-on pose of my husband’s, giving a kind of hermaphrodite effect. I’m also in paintings. I’m the nude in Henri Rousseau’s The Dream and also Manet’s Olympia. I’m also in Manet’s Déjeuner sur l'Herbe, but I’m not the naked woman in that – I’m actually the reclining, black-suited student of the right, subversively enough. I’m also Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man – you know, the famous drawing with two arms and two legs. My legs coincide with the outer ones and my arms the upper ones. The last two show details from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. In one of them I’m in the garden straddling a giant cat in apparent ecstasy while another man on a cat pursues me with a giant fish. In the last one I’m in hell with a helmet over my face while a sort of winged fish with a shield thrusts a sword into my belly in retribution for my foul sins. Appropriately enough.

Whose idea was it to post them? I can’t really remember – we both agreed instantly that it was a good idea.

How do you think you look in the pictures? I think the images themselves – especially the paintings – are really beautiful, and I think I look fine in most of them – probably because I’m partly obscured by the projections! My husband likes the football and lingerie ones, not surprisingly. I particularly like the Rousseau one – all those lovely colours. I also really like the Da Vinci one and the one of my husband: I think a penis really suits me. I had to shave off my pubic hair for the Da Vinci one to show up properly but it was worth the trouble: I think it looks really sexy superimposed on my crotch.

Would you ever pose for new pictures for your gallery? How far would you go? We do new pictures all the time – we both really enjoy it. We use it as a prelude to sex – a sort of extended, artistic foreplay. If any of the pictures are particularly good then I’m sure we’ll add them to the gallery. I don’t really have any boundaries.

How many people have you sent your url to? No-one, actually. We just put the pictures up and let internet trends take their course. If people pick up on them and the url finds its way to people we know then I won’t be too upset. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s nothing wrong with a husband having some fun with his wife’s body – especially if she enjoys it too. Besides, we didn’t post the pictures as showcase for my beauty so much as for my husband’s photography skills.

Would your mum approve? I don’t see why not. She’s a big art buff too.

Number of hits to date: 10,678


“Debbie”

Age: 19

Profession: Student

Appearance: slim, long dark hair, average bust, pierced belly button, shaved labia

Describe the pictures: They are all in black and white. I’m naked in all of them except for a pair of black hold-up tights, high-heeled shoes and, sometimes, a bowler hat. I’m usually smoking too - it made the pictures look more atmospheric, as well as a bit more erotic. Most of the images involve a stool, with me either sitting on it or leaning over it or whatever. Two of them are particularly daring. In one I’m leaning on the stool pointing my bottom towards the camera. My legs are spread quite wide so you can see my anus and because I shave my pubic hair you can also see the silhouette of my labia. In the other one I’m sitting with my feet up on the stool facing the camera. My arms are resting on my knees and my legs are open just enough for you to see into my vagina.

Who took the pictures? A friend of mine – a photography student. He just asked me out of the blue one day whether I’d heard about this website. He said he’d been looking at it and had been really struck by some of the pictures and was really keen to try taking some beautiful nudes. He asked if I would like to do some. I actually quite fancied him and I wondered if it was his way of saying “maybe I’m not gay” so, after a few drinks one night, we went into one of the studios in the photography department and took them. I was really scared someone would come and find us, but no one did, thankfully.

How do you think you look in the pictures? I really like the pictures – I think they look really beautiful and the way John (the photographer) did the lighting with all the shadows I think I look really striking. My dark makeup works really well in black and white too. Even John said I looked stunning - though I didn’t convert him to heterosexuality unfortunately.

Why did you draw the line where you did? The pictures on the site were actually some of the tamer ones we took. I was pretty drunk and I really wanted to make John fancy me, so I really pulled out all the stops! Also, the fact that I knew I probably wouldn’t succeed made me feel freer than I would with a normal bloke. So I actually ended up letting him photograph me masturbating – all the way to orgasm. He described them, in his photography student’s way, as “pure, beautiful images of unbridled female sensuality”, but I wasn’t convinced and I made him delete them all the next day when I had sobered up.

Would you ever pose for new pictures for your gallery? How far would you go? I’m not sure I’d see the point. I’m never going to look better than I do in the pictures that are there already, and there’s no more of me to show that I haven’t shown already. On the other hand, I did enjoy taking them so maybe I would. Maybe I ought to do some more of me touching myself, like some other girls have done. I’m sure that would increase my hits.

How many people have you sent your url to? Initially I was very shy about it and wouldn’t let John tell anyone about it. But then I got drunk one night and confessed to everyone that I’d done the pictures. Then a few weeks later they got the url out of me after buying me vodkas all evening. So now basically everyone I know at university has seen them. They have all been really complimentary, actually, and a couple of my friends have also done sessions with John. They both have better bodies than I do, but their poses aren’t as sexy as mine – in my opinion, anyway!

Would your mum approve? No way – she’d kill me if she found out!

Number of hits to date: 29,348

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Chester Jones’s earliest memory is of wailing over the absurdity of his own christening. He claims to have once won a fight at school, although the vanquished party failed to acknowledge as much. He doesn’t like mushrooms and has never done a first aid course, but his climbing ability has allowed him to view several internationally famous tourist attractions without paying. Horse chestnuts laden with sentimental value are to be found in various of his coat pockets, kept permanently young and polished by the grease from his palms.

When Mothers’ Backs Are Turned
© 2007 by Chester Jones


 
     
     

 

 



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