A Creative Challenge Ch. 11byPvidal©
"Sam, can I take a break? My back's hurting."
Amy was kneeling on the dais with her bum in the air, head and shoulders on the ground, and her back curved downwards, tilting her pelvis forwards and pushing her pussy backwards as if it was presenting itself to be fucked. This was a very beautiful and inviting pose, her puffy pussy lips pressed together and bulging outwards behind her, but my drawing was not going very well and she had been holding it a lot longer than I asked her to when we started.
"Of course. Sorry, Amy, I kept thinking I would nail this drawing in just one more minute and I wasn't being very considerate."
"Amy unbent herself slowly and carefully, obviously feeling a little stiff and sore.
"Ow...ow... you mean I put up with that pose for about twice as long as normal and you didn't even get a good drawing out of it? Sometimes I wonder why I bother."
"The chance of fame and fortune, I would have thought."
"What, 25 dollars an hour and my picture bare-assed in the paper? Sounds more like I got the fame and you got the fortune."
"You were a bit of a sensation for a while, I have to admit."
It was three weeks after the show, and the phone still hadn't completely stopped ringing. It had got so bad in the week after the show, that I disconnected it from the wall when we were in the studio so that I could get some peace and quiet. Greta was over the moon with the success of the show, and still couldn't quite believe that she had not only sold every single piece that was on display, but the exhibition was over and yet the list of backorders for new works was still growing. Which is why Amy and I were in the studio trying to work instead of lying on a beach somewhere.
I have to take some of the credit for the success of the show – after all, it was my artworks that people shelled out their hard-earned dollars for – but I also have to admit that the show would not have been such a commercial success if it hadn't been for Amy. She was the reason the show received so much free publicity and literally days of press and TV coverage.
Greta was very nervous in the days leading up to the show. She was still not absolutely convinced that the art market would accept such a blatantly erotic exhibition as valid and serious art, and if it didn't, she was worried about the damage to her reputation. Her instincts told her it would be seen as a bold and gutsy move for what was normally a fairly conservative gallery, and she was confident that the quality of the pictures would carry it through, but you can never tell with critics – many of whom have other axes to grind and are not always objective in their judgments.
I had never seen her so concerned with the layout of a show before. She must have rung me a dozen times while she was hanging it, rearranging it and making different pieces the focal point when patrons first walked in. Normally she never asks my advice at all, "you just produce the work, Sam, leave the selling to me", but this time she was unsure of herself for the first time.
I was in the fortunate position of not being dependent on the outcome of the show. I wasn't desperate to make a bigger name for myself, so I was pretty relaxed about it. Sure, I wanted people to like and respect my work, but like Greta, I didn't know for sure if they would, and if they didn't... well, it wouldn't make much difference to me. Amy was the only one of the three of us who was utterly confident that it would be a big success.
On the night of the opening Amy and I were planning to arrive together at the gallery, after the first few rounds of drinks and canapés but before the official opening, when Greta usually made a little speech and then circulated amongst the more serious investors with her tiny black order book in her hand, and a sheet of sticky red dots to mark the pictures that were sold.
By mid-afternoon even I was feeling a little nervous. I had a feeling that Greta was up to something and I was afraid she was planning to call on me to make a speech, something I have always hated doing, especially when it was to promote my own work. I'm not very good at self-promotion and public speaking always scares me. Me and a few billion other people.
Amy had been sitting in the studio watching me work myself up into a lather.
"Sam, if you're going to pace up and down all afternoon, I'm going to treat myself to a couple of hours pampering. I'll meet you at the gallery later, OK?"
"I thought we were going to make an entrance together. Partners, remember?"
"It's your night, Sam. You've been too busy to notice because the last week has been such a rush, but I have been getting more than a little bit stubbly. I need waxing and a massage, and you're not very good company this afternoon."
"I have been neglecting you, haven't I? Promise you'll be there?
"I promise. You won't be sorry."
Greta's gallery is quite a big space, but by the time I got there it was already more full than I had ever seen it. Fifty to a hundred people was normally a good turnout, but there must have been three hundred people in the gallery and standing in the street outside with champagne flutes in their hands. The caterers were frantic, scurrying about with trays of drinks and nibbles, but the guests waiting to be served didn't seem as impatient as they normally would. Art lovers can be very hard to impress, and most of the small talk at show openings is about what other people are wearing, or about who's up who, or how the champagne isn't cold enough, but at Greta's gallery, most of the guests were actually looking at the works on display and talking about them rather than talking about themselves. The hubbub of conversation was unusually loud, and Greta had a big grin on her face when she spotted me. My heart sank a little as she made a beeline straight for me through the crowd. Here comes the request to make a speech, I thought, but I was wrong.
"Sam, the vibe is great", she whispered in my ear, "I've got buyers queuing up already for some of the bigger pieces, and I haven't even started selling yet."
She could barely contain herself, she was so excited, and I suspect more than a little relieved. It didn't dawn on me until later that she didn't ask where Amy was, especially as the two of them had talked often in the last few weeks, and Greta knew how important she had been in keeping me on track and getting the show together. But unusually, Amy wasn't the most urgent thing on my mind at that moment. Better to know now rather than be taken by surprise, I thought, so I took my chance and asked the obvious question.
"Greta, are you expecting me to make a speech?"
She look at me like I was crazy. "Do you want to?" she asked a little hesitantly.
"Hell, no." I replied quickly.
"Thank goodness for that. You can relax, Sam, you're not the main attraction."
Two well-dressed guests were waiting to talk to Greta, so she stopped wasting precious selling time with me and disappeared with them into the crowd. I picked up a glass of champagne from a passing tray, feeling much more relaxed about the rest of the evening, and was about to take my first sip when I became aware that the noise was dying down behind me near the entrance to the gallery. It seems funny to say you can hear a 'hush' spreading, but that is what happened. By the door, all the guests were now very quiet, and I could see that people were edging backwards away from the door. Others on my side of the room were now also aware that something was happening and heads were turning and necks craning to see what it was. I could sense that a path was opening up in the crowd, and between some of the other heads and shoulders I could see that they were making way for someone who was stopping to look at each picture in turn as she moved round the gallery. I could only see the back of that person's head, and although her hair was carefully piled up quite differently to her normal casual look, I knew that it could be no-one else but Amy. As the corridor in the crowd moved towards me, it opened up enough to reveal to me that Amy was beautifully made up, her hair was sensational, she was wearing a three-string pearl choker round her gorgeous neck, a pair of simple but elegant strappy heels that I had never seen before, and absolutely nothing else. Not a stitch covered her naked and newly waxed body. I had never seen any sight more beautiful in my entire life.
She paused in front of each picture, occasionally consulting the catalog in her hand, then moved to the next, seemingly oblivious to the several hundred people around her, all of whom were probably staring at her as gob-smacked as I was, and all of whom were by now completely silent. You could have heard a mouse fart.
Amy was looking at one of the bigger pieces on the main wall, when she cocked her head to one side as if suddenly remembering something. She turned around and looked at the crowds of people as if she had only just noticed them. She smiled at and made eye contact with the guests nearest to her, then spoke in slightly puzzled voice to no-one in particular.
"They said there'd be champagne."
One of the men closest to her began to laugh, which broke the tension of the moment, and Amy started to laugh with him. Another guest further back started to clap, and the applause spread quickly until it was like a standing ovation at the opera. It had been a fabulous piece of theatre, and very appropriate given the theme of the show.
Amy knew she had pulled the stunt off beautifully, and beaming, she looked around until she saw me towards the back of the gallery. The applause slowed down as the path widened in front of her, but it resumed even louder when Amy walked up to me and kissed me, gently but full on the lips. I was as mute as a stunned mullet, but Amy was relaxed and completely in control, as she always is when she is at her exhibitionist best.
"That should get you noticed," she said quietly.
"They're noticing you more than me. As they bloody well ought to. You look fanTAStic."
"Wait till tomorrow, Sam, you'll be the talk of the town. And thank you, that's what I wanted to hear you say."
Greta was by now shepherding the members of the art press in Amy's direction, and the guests were turning back to their champagne with a new hot topic of conversation. The event now had a more relaxed mood to it, somehow, and judging by the expressions on their faces, most of the guests had been amused and entertained by Amy's stunt.
The art critics and social column hacks had realized that Amy had given them the chance of writing more than a couple of column inches in the weekend art review column, and they were keen to talk to her. One of them had a camera, and was taking pictures of Amy, Amy and me, and both of us with Greta. Amy was so relaxed and comfortable, and did a wonderful job of bringing all her answers to their questions back to the drawings and paintings on the wall. She was a natural at it, and if she wasn't standing there stark naked, you would think she was running for some sort of elected office.
Somebody must have phoned a tip in to one of the local TV stations, because within about 15 minutes a news crew was in the gallery, and Greta and Amy were persuaded to let them film a re-enactment of Amy's naked entry into the gallery among several hundred fully dressed up guests. Greta never lost sight of her main reason for being there, and tirelessly worked the room, writing names in her book, putting up red dots all over the place, and picking the key investors out of the small crowd of people waiting to talk to her.
When the press finally left her alone and went off to file their stories, Amy wandered about, casually chatting with the guests as openly as you like, as if she was as fully dressed as they were. Most of the conversations she was having were with the women guests, who seemed to be fascinated by her. Everybody has had a dream at some time of other of being naked in a crowd of people, but here was a beautiful young woman living out that fantasy nightmare right in front of them, totally comfortable with the situation and completely uninhibited, and they all wanted to know how she could do that and what it felt like. The men, on the other hand, were quite happy to stand nearby and just look at her.
Amy was smiling and talking, and pointing at me, and then pointing at some of the pictures, and sharing a joke with them, like the perfect hostess. On the walls were some very graphic images of Amy on display – reclining with her legs wide open, playing with herself, washing and shaving her pussy, looking out at the viewer seductively, sweaty and dishevelled after an orgasm – yet she was talking about them and showing them to people without any embarrassment at all, as if they were paintings of very nice bowls of fruit, not of her in her most intimate and erotic moments.
As Greta scurried by, I caught her arm.
"You two cooked this up together, didn't you?"
"Guilty as charged, Sam. Amy thought you might not approve, so we didn't tell you. But it was quite something, wasn't it?"
"She is, as you say, quite something."