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Woman with Plans

A figure study in erasable crayon, May 1981, by Wayan

This started out as mere practice, a figure study, but it revealed something unexpected. I didn't have a modeling group or class at the time, so I worked from photos. My dad had just given me a stack of back-issue Playboys. The most recent had a photo-shoot set in Kokomo, Illinois. The heartland.

I was amazed how few of these women felt sexy! And I'm an artist; color and texture alone are often sexy to me, quite without a foreground figure that happens to turn me on. And Playboy photographers, regardless of what you think of their politics or their airbrushing or posing, do have a professional eye for color and texture; their shots are often beautiful as abstracts, regardless of who they're shooting. But the vast majority of these models felt so blah even strong backgrounds couldn't compensate, with a few vivid exceptions.

This woman really stood out--for a reason I didn't get at first. Not consciously at least. (I won't name her now, though it's scrawled on the sketch; having the image resurface on the web 25 years later is odd enough, let alone having the model's name posted for spiders to crawl on...) nude woman with a halo of backlit hair, on a blue sofa, writing a musical score; architectural sketches under the score. Piano and green lamp in background.  Click to enlarge.

I have three reasons to show this drawing:

  1. I'm curious if others find the image attractive, and if so, if it's the pose or the expression or the composition and color. Maybe it really is the setting, not the model at all.

  2. As I drew, I discovered I saw her as very intelligent--and that that was what made her sexy to me. Brains! But of course, though props can suggest one's interests, they can easily lie. Did this girl really write music, draw, play the piano?

    But this photo spread, like many in Playboy, had a paragraph on each model--their jobs, tastes, aspirations, often a quote... And to my surprise there was a perfect correlation. Every one of the girls I was attracted to really was an artist like me, a college student (by no means common for women in small-town Illinois a generation ago), or already working in an intellectually demanding profession. Every one. And the dull-eyed ones really were cheerleaders and retail clerks and farmer's wives.

    Brains really were the deciding factor. Somehow, through the Playboy filters and props, it showed--and I knew my own kind.

    We didn't have the word then, but the best analogy I can use today is gaydar.

    Braindar, brighdar, gifdar?

    Those of you who've explored the World Dream Bank in any depth know I'm obsessed with giftedness issues, wanting to understand both my own bizarre childhood as a prodigy, and how to survive the scars. At that time I was scouring the Stanford Education Library for studies of child prodigies and geniuses. I didn't expect to find answers in Playboy, or sketching, or Kokomo, Illinois.

    I wanted to know how geniuses find each other. Ooops, that's an ambiguous phrase. And I did mean it in both senses: how to seek others like me, AND how we see each other if and when we meet.

    This was the first hint of an answer: much of what I call "shyness" is really an instinctive reluctance to date across a fifty or hundred-point IQ gap. I'd better trust that reluctance--and notice whenever it dissolved. I CAN spot those like me--if I let myself.

  3. Oh. I said there was a third reason I posted this study. Because I dreamt it was hung in a church as if it were some sacred masterpiece! Well, not a Christian church. It was an interfaith pagan dream-cathedral, where I married my spirit-wife, Silky. Though my conscious mind overlooked the issues it raised, my dream saw its importance.


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