January 8, 2016
It is a hole. Filled with culture. Organized by Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe.
3816 Commerce Street
Dallas, 75226 TexasGet directions
It is a hole. Filled with culture. Organized by Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe.
3816 Commerce Street
Dallas, 75226 TexasGet directions
My report on this exhibit:
I arrived at the Power Station more than two and a half hours early on that Friday night, January 8, 2016. It had been a day filled with nervous anticipation as I struggled through my work day. I found it difficult to sit still at my computer, as I got up and left my cubicle several times just to walk around. I was never more relieved to see the arrival of 4:00 PM so that I could leave the office and set my mind on what was going to happen that night.
I had been booked for a very special modeling gig, much different from the college drawing and painting classes I regularly model for. Within Dallas’s Power Station art gallery is a hole in the floor, normally covered by a metal trap door. This hole is only about four feet deep, and I would say roughly 8 feet long and between four and five feet wide. The people who run the Power Station wanted to use that space, newly dubbed the Culture Hole, for a series of special one-night-only exhibitions, and the first artist selected had been Lana Paninchul, a German-American artist currently working out of Austin. Lana had contacted me via email and hired me to be the “seated male” for a special performance piece. The description was that she would be singing German love songs to me via a video feed as I sat nude in the space.
As our email conversation developed during the booking process, Lana told me that she hoped the German love songs would inspire me to have an erection while in the space, and that her original idea was to have the model try to orgasm without any manual stimulation. I told her that I was willing to try her original idea, but that it might turn out to be impossible. I decided to refrain from any ejaculations, either from intercourse or masturbation, for several days prior to the event, in the hopes of being able to fulfill her original vision for this exhibition.
Of course, in the days leading up to the show, I had done research on “mental orgasms”, and I learned that I probably have what is known as Delayed Ejaculation, which is described on Healthline.com as “a common medical condition. Also called ‘impaired ejaculation,’ this condition occurs when it takes a prolonged period of sexual stimulation for a man to ejaculate.” I had already told Lana that it normally took me a long time to orgasm even during intercourse, so all the symptoms of Delayed Ejaculation seemed familiar to me. I knew that this would make the challenge even greater.
When I arrived at the Power Station, I had planned to walk around the area and try to find some other art galleries to see. But as I got out of my car, I heard my name called. The two curators from the Culture Hole were walking over to another gallery to attend an opening and invited me to tag along with them. Not knowing the area very well, I walked with them to a gallery called Beefhaus, which was hosting the opening of a show of paintings by Michael Mazurek. I have to admit that I had problems looking at or trying to think about any of the works in that show since my mind was elsewhere. The Beefhaus did have fliers on display promoting the Culture Hole event, and I wondered how many of the people at this gallery would be going to see me later on. The fliers and all of the other promotional material for the Culture Hole show I had seen online only mentioned that Lana would be singing German love songs to a seated male. Nothing was mentioned about that male being nude or that there would be any erotic display. As I saw the people at BeefHaus, I tried to imagine their reactions when they saw me in the Hole. Which ones would be fascinated; who would be offended; who would be aroused or envious or impressed or disgusted?
I broke away and did a lot of walking around that area of Dallas. At about 9 o’clock, I made my way back to my car where I put on my contact lenses and grabbed my stack of business cards, hoping that some of the patrons might be teaching figure drawing classes somewhere or might otherwise need a model for a project. I had printed 50 of the business cards, and once inside the Power Station, I put a stack of them at the sign in table and another stack at the bar where drinks would be served.
The lights inside the Power Station were off, ironically, and the entire building was lit by a multitude of candles. The best lit place in the building, and the only place where electric lighting was employed, was the Hole where I would be stationed. The walls and floor of the Hole were bare concrete with two metal tracks in the floor. A large flat screen TV had been hung on one side, and given the small size of the space, that TV took up almost that entire wall. Tucked under the stairs leading down into the hole were a DVD player and a space heater. The Hole was warm since the heater had been running for a while, and Greg, one of the curators, explained that the video feed of Lana had had to be replaced with a looping video of logs burning in a fireplace. German love songs would still be played, but Greg highly doubted that it was Lana singing them.
It was still early, so we stood around talking and waiting for 10:00 PM, the scheduled start of the exhibition. Jeff, the other curator, was there, and I told him and Greg about some of my past modeling experiences and how this was a unique event for me, even after 31 years as a nude model. At 9:50, we decided it was time to get into position, so I took off my clothes, stashed them in an area behind the makeshift bar, and headed toward the open trap door. Lana had wanted a very minimal aesthetic, so I went into the Hole wearing absolutely nothing and sat on the bare concrete. By the time I got into my spot inside the space, I already had an erection. One of the guys, either Greg or Jeff, turned the music on and started taking photos. I closed my eyes, as I had been instructed by Lana, and began meditation in hopes of causing an orgasm.
Once I was alone in the space, I began to think that I could orgasm quickly via my meditations and the constant flexing of the muscles around my prostate, which kept my erect penis throbbing and dancing. But I didn’t want to come too early and lose the erection before anyone had a chance to see anything, so I held back. I kept my muscle flexing slow enough to keep my penis twitching, and I even started timing them to the music. I kept my eyes closed, but I kind of hoped that it looked like my penis was dancing.
I started to really reflect on what I was doing. When I model for almost any art class, I have always thought of my nudity as a pure state, and that no one part was the focus. Everything went together to make up the whole: head, torso, arms, hips, genitals, buttocks, legs, feet, all equally worthy of study and rendering in art. Yes, my genitals are exposed in those art classes, which makes the job of art modeling unique only because those parts are so rarely exposed in mixed company, but I have always considered such exposure as incidental and necessary in the display of my body in its pure form. But this event that Lana had devised was much different. Because she wanted me to have an erection, wanted me to try to bring myself to a mental orgasm, I felt that the sole focus of this exhibition, this performance, was my penis. So I did everything in my power to keep it erect for as much of the allotted time as I could.
The German music was loud, but I could still hear activity up in the Power Station as people arrived. Keeping my eyes closed as Lana had instructed, I heard people on the stairs, felt the presence of others. I listened to the sound of their voices as I continued flexing, my erect penis dancing and throbbing. There were at least two people in the room with me, and I wondered who they were and what they thought when the first saw me. I wished I could have seen their facial expressions. My penis kept dancing; I felt sensual and sexual, like an object to be viewed rather than a person. I was used to feeling like an object when modeling for drawing or painting, but I never lost my sense of personhood in those art classes. Now, with people in the space with me and with my erection raging and throbbing, I felt like a mere sexual object. I was my penis, and my penis was me.
One of my fears when getting into the hole was that no one would want to come down, that I would be there alone, that no one would see my performance, so I was happy that people were down there with me. The German love song ended, and in the pause before the next one, I heard a female voice to my right say, “Take a picture of me with him.” The entrance to the Hole was to my left, so she had stepped past me to get to where she was. I heard the click and the flash. I had hoped that the girl to my right would stay, but I heard her complain about how hot it was in the Hole. I opened my eyes as she and her companion left, and when they were gone, I crawled over and tried to turn the heater down. Unable to see well up close with my contact lenses in, I wound up turning the heater off, and it stayed off for the rest of the exhibition. Wanting as many people to experience the performance as possible, I didn’t want the Hole to get so hot that they stayed away.
The temperature of the Hole was fine for me even with the heater off, and I concentrated on keeping my penis hard and throbbing. I felt the beginnings of what could become an orgasm, and my mind drifted to past sexual experiences. I heard and felt people enter the Hole and leave. Then people entered and found seats for themselves. Conversations started, with topics ranging from my erection to the coziness of the room and video of the fireplace. Someone thought the burn marks on the logs looked like Jewish script. Another person said that I looked like George Clooney, and I amused myself by trying to imagine Clooney doing a scene like this in a movie. People shifted and moved around as I kept my eyes closed and tried to concentrate on creating an orgasm. A young lady to my left tried to talk to me, told me that she had drawn me before in art classes somewhere. She was sitting so close to me, her shoulder touching mine, as more people crowded into the Hole. I wondered what the reaction would be if I shot a big load of semen across the space; I really wanted to hear what they would say. I didn’t know how many people had crammed into the space with me, but if I was going to orgasm, I wanted to do it with a lot of people there. The conversations went on, and I tried to block them out, tried to get myself off as Lana had hoped I would. I was almost there, almost to the point where I thought it was possible and that I would be able to do it, when someone with a heavy boot accidently stepped on my toe as he tried to get to the far section of the Hole to my right.
My concentration was broken, and my eyes shot open. I didn’t cry out or say anything, but I did wiggle my toes, trying to make that second one, which has always stuck out farther than my big toe, regain circulation. I was never able to get back into that pure meditative state, and anytime I felt someone move, I would crack an eye open and look to make sure I wasn’t about to get stepped on again. Still, I kept flexing those muscles around my prostate, and my erection kept dancing to the music. Some people were amused by it. Several told me that they admired my dick. During one of those times when I cracked an eyelid open, I saw that at least eight people were sitting around me in the Hole. I kept working, kept my erection dancing, but I never came close to coming again. At some point, a guy lit a cigarette (he had asked me if it was allowed but wanting to speak as little as possible, I had only shrugged), and he began passing it around like it was a joint (it really wasn’t). A girl to my left asked me if I wanted to take a drag, but I shook my head.
When Lana had told me that she wanted me to keep my eyes closed during this performance, I didn’t question her as to why. But I figured that keeping them closed would be less intimidating to the guests than my looking at them would have been. So I was surprised by how many people kept talking to me, trying to engage me in conversation, and ultimately trying to get me to open my eyes and look at them. There I was, completely naked with an erect cock that I kept twitching and throbbing in a sexual, some would say obscene, manner in a public space in mixed company, and people kept trying to get me to connect with them. I wondered if they were doing this in spite of my sexual display or because of it. I do know that it had to have been a unique environment for everyone involved, coming across such a blatant sexual display. I felt so exposed, so open, with my erect penis protruding out like it was. I’m used to lots of people seeing my penis in my years as a model but not in that erect and throbbing state. If the model for this exhibition had been female, she would have had to have been in OB/GYN stirrups with her ass in the air and legs spread wide to feel as exposed as I felt. And to be honest, I loved that exposed feeling. It was new and exciting. I wished everyone upstairs could have been down in the Hole with me, so that I could have been so exposed to everyone at the same time. I used those thoughts to maintain my erection, to keep trying to have that orgasm that I no longer thought was going to happen (but I was still trying anyway).
At some point after the Hole had grown quiet, I opened my eyes and saw one guy left inside with me. “It’s midnight,” he said. “Really?” I asked. “12:06,” he replied after looking at his phone. I don’t remember if we said anything to each other after that, but he started climbing out. I looked up and out of the trap door. I had been told that when the exhibition ended, the trap door would be partially closed and that all the guests would be ushered out of the Power Station before I could get out. I didn’t really like that plan, and now, after hearing all the people trying to talk with me, I wanted even more to just come out of the Hole and make myself available to anyone who wanted to come talk to me, to ask me about the experience.
Jeff was messing with the trap door, as I crawled over to the foot of the stairs. My legs and butt were numb, my arm muscles sore from propping myself up. I wanted to stand up and stretch. I could tell that all of the remaining guests were across the room, still inside but near the exit door of the Power Station, so I told Jeff to just leave the door like it was. He seemed OK with that and got up. I tried to stretch my muscles as well as I could, but I was limited by not being able to stand up. Someone approached the trap door and motioned for me to come out. At the time, I thought it was Greg, but I realized that it was someone else when I made it up out of the Hole. I was so glad to be standing up straight. My penis was still about 80% erect, so at least it wasn’t protruding at full 90-degree attention. Several people turned and looked at me as I walked out and toward the bar. It was cold up here in the larger space, but with everyone looking at me, I wanted to stay naked, to keep that feeling of being so exposed that I had relished inside the Hole. Someone offered me wine from the bar, so I drank a glass as I went to the restroom and peed. I came out, and there were still people lingering. I was still naked, my penis still hanging large, but I was beginning to shiver from the cold. The lady who had tended the bar was packing up stuff right in front of where my clothes were stashed. I felt a bit strange invading her personal space while I was naked and aroused, but I was also cold. She stepped aside when she saw what I was trying to get to, and with shaking hands, I put my clothes back on.
I heard nothing but raves from Greg and Jeff about how pleased they were with the event and my performance. They invited me to a nearby bar for a drink, and I went for a beer. When I asked one of them what future projects they had planned for Culture Hole, he shrugged and said it was still up in the air but that tonight’s event set a standard that might not be able to be topped. I was, of course, flattered by this and by the reception I got from everyone after the performance was over. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to orgasm, but Greg told me that there had been rumors that I had. I shrugged and said I had probably emitted a lot of pre-cum during the course of my two-hour erection but that I knew I hadn’t had a full scale ejaculation. He shrugged and said that the event was a success anyway and that he hoped I got a lot more opportunities from this. Of the fifty business cards I left out on the two tables, I only got 16 back.
For years, I had always wanted to delve into performance art or to be a nude model for some kind of gallery event, fully open to the public. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have been the performer for this very special event as it was the inaugural opening of Culture Hole. I told Lana in an email later that night that it was a privilege to perform for this exhibition. In that email, I told her what I told Greg and Jeff in that bar, that it was special to have been part of a performance that celebrated male sexuality in a culture that so objectifies women in that regard, especially when without such male sexuality, none of us would have ever been conceived. And I told all of them that I would do it again in a heartbeat if ever given the opportunity. I am so grateful to Lana for selecting me for this. The biggest disappointment of the night was that Lana had not been able to attend the event herself. She had, apparently, not been able to make it into town. I do hope to meet her one day. In fact, I had hoped at the event to have gotten a photo of Lana and me together, her in whatever she had planned to wear and me naked. When we do finally meet in person, maybe the desire for such a photo will give me an excuse to get naked again…
I am hugely impressed by your commitment to this project, and to making it happen the way the artist imagined.
Although I’d be comfortable posing nude, my first thought would have been “how the hell am I going to stay hard and then ejaculate?” And then I realized that I’d do what I’ve done to help execute other projects … I’d dig in, research it, try and find some plan to copy or adapt for myself, and rehearse it in advance. That’s because I’m a “prep monster” and don’t like to have instructions or a plan that I don’t know for sure that I can carry out.
Flexing the muscles around your prostate sounds like a good idea, and I love the way you were able to add an extra dimension with your pulsing penis. “Dancing” … that’s great. There’s music, and there’s dancing.
It takes me a long time to reach orgasm, too, so I totally get your concern about that. I have all those same symptoms. That’s probably what I would have been most concerned about … I’m pretty sure I would have figured out how to stay erect, but the ejaculating part … wow. Intimidating.
Anyway, great job “putting yourself out there.” And what a great comment from Greg that they might not be able to top that exhibit. What an honest view of male sexuality, too. Our penises are in a way a representation of our physical lives. Erection and ejaculation are dramatic, but a penis is always changing … reacting to the temperature, the feel of clothing or the open air, hanging larger or softer or even pulling into itself. We talk about flaccid and erect as if they are two different states of being, when they’re really two points on a continuum. And penises are honest … a characteristic of male sexuality at its best. They react appropriately to what’s around them. Not appropriate in a societal way, but in an honest expression to the surroundings or stimuli.
What an interesting event! Dan, you did a remarkable thing. That night. As a nudist and proponent of human sexuality, I fully agree that this exhibit opended the door for acceptance of not just the male body and male sexuality, but also for all genders.