Nude Nites

It took every ounce of professionalism I could muster to tastefully cover the annual

Warehouse. I hadn't counted on how difficult it would be to remain calm and composed when trying to document an art show featuring over 100 provocative works of art in every median from canvas to skin.

Japanese lanterns dangled from the raw rafters while a DJ and an earthy drummer named Freedom took turns on the PA. A crowd ranging from classy art collectors to giggling college kids wandered through every conceivable depiction of the human form: a five foot phallus made from sheet metal, photos of nudes underwater, an unclothed Barbie trapped in a cage, a live model posing inside a glass booth accented with Christmas lights, a wire sculpture of a woman spread eagle, paintings of bare chest goddesses, and prints of bound erotic models. In contract to pornography, these works were meant to stir viewers' intellects, even if it was by way of their baser instincts.

Every hour Baby Blue Star Productions took the stage, performing a burlesque act that could have been

choreographed by David Lynch. Three fierce, punk-rock models lip sung, chased each other with double sided dongs, and took turns disrobing in the strobe of stage lights and camera flashes, stripping to torn fishnets, black lace panties, and electrical tape Xing out their nipples.

"Most people understand that you're an exhibit," said Maggie, from beneath an array of colorful sushi covering her nude body. "Every once in a while you want to say, ‘Hey buddy. Where are your chop sticks headed?-but Michael does a good job of fending those people off."

[Images and slideshow after this break may be NSFW]

I met Michael when he was fending me off. I was breaking the first rule of

the models.

Originally a photographer, Michael Leoncio started hosting nude sushi events in Orlando when he went to an event where the coordinator got everything wrong.

"I wanted to show nude sushi as the art it is," Michael said before rushing off to stop a guy who didn't know how to operate his chop sticks.

Nyotaimori, which roughly translates as "adorned body of a woman," brought new meaning to the phrase, "tasteful nudes." The models lay motionless like beautiful corpses while sushi was placed and picked off of strategically places flowers and leaves covering their bodies.

I asked the second model, Morgan, if this was her fulltime job.

"I work at Hooters."

When I asked how this sort of thing would go over at her day job, Morgan finally broke the stony expression she had been holding all night.

"No" she said, smiling. "I imagine hot wings might burn. Plus the clientele is a bit different."

In another room, Walt Majewski used Crayola markers to sketch x-rated caricature of attendants. A handful of artists sat around nude model Ed Barron, sketching his shadowy form. Bedazzling by Belinda sold bejeweled thongs for both sexes. What looked like two wooden robots stood aloof. Their movable bodies were jigsaw pieces bolted together.

"I considered giving the guy a robo-pecker for this event," said Donald Murphy, as he repositioned his life sized creations. "I feel bad that he's not equipped."

Murphy began making these figures when he lived in a rough neighborhood and wanted something that

would scare away potential burglars.

A model named Kelly stood over an air vent that perpetually blew up her flowing white dress, recreating the iconic Marlyn Monroe image. Ybor 1701 Studios, had set up a miniature photo shoot for the many photographer at the event, to demonstrate all the props and equipment the studio had to offer. The owner offered me a flash that was rigged to the filtered lights. Kelly began posing. I wasn't used to women being eager for me to take their picture. Nor had I adjusted to the fact that so many of the models roaming the aisles of art were being nice to me, not because they were attracted to my obvious professionalism in covering the event, but because they were looking for work from the many photographers.

"My back hurts, my head hurts, and my face itches," said erotic model, Miss Kaila, of her first time being painted. "But, I love everyone taking pictures of me. I'm just not used to it being because I'm scary."

If she was scary it was in the way Angelina Jolie was scary in Beowulf with her nude form covered in gold paint. Miss Kaila wore a giant head dress dangling with chains. What looked like buckets of black tar and liquid gold coated her.

brushing his art on famous living canvases.

Painted bodies were the most popular attraction of the night, tempting at least one woman to spontaneously remove her shirt in order to be painted. The process was similar to face painting at carnivals, except the images of butterflies and vines were free to travel over the entire body.

Yumi, an Asian model painted in a pastel floral design by Huggi confessed that it really wasn't that strange being naked in front of so many.

"I feel like I'm walking around in a bikini," Yumi said. "The only time I feel weird is when people take out their camera phones. Those people don't appreciate the art. For them it is just a spectacle."

She checked out what kind of camera I was packing. I did my best to keep my eyes on my notepad. I reminded myself that I was paid to talk to these models, that nudity is more than just a precursor to hot bedroom scenes-it's an art form.

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