While reading the recently released erotic novella “A Stranger’s Touch” by Lacey Savage, I was fascinated by heroine Roxi’s unusual profession. Roxi is part of a living art exhibition — one where she’s bound, blindfolded and put on display for people to touch. This is not your average 9 to 5, that’s for sure!
I was so intrigued by this premise that I reached out to the author to learn if she was inspired by art that she had seen in real life. Lacey Savage told me, “[T]here wasn't a specific art installation that inspired this story. However, I've always been fascinated by nude models and what motivates them to pose for paintings, sculptures and other works of art, especially in classrooms or other public settings. Although Roxi doesn't pose for art, but rather is the art, my original fascination definitely carried over into this book.”
It seems that the author is not alone in her fascination of the human form. After finishing the story, I wanted to learn more about controversial modern art and I did a quick look at what some recent “living art” exhibits. There were three in particular that caught my eye.
During the MOCA Gala 2011 for Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art’s fundraiser, a star-studded guest list all donned lab coats and became part of an exhibition. At each table the centerpieces were (living) people’s heads or entire figures stretched out nude and topped with skeletons.
Photographer Spencer Tunick has also hosted several living art exhibits as he turned these bodies into the subject of art. In April 2003, for his piece “Installation” he brought 400 people to Selfridges Department store in London — so that they could be photographed nude. And in 2007 over 18,000 people posed for him in Mexico City’s Zocalo Square. Tunick has also photographed mass gatherings of nudes in Barcelona, Amsterdam and Switzerland. In a 2010 interview with The Telegraph, the artist said, “My work is not about sex. Any eroticism in my work tends to exist before and after [a shoot] but very rarely during it.”
In contrast, artist Lulu Guinness’ temporary installation for the Clerkenwell Design Week was all about expression of the human body in whatever way the subjects decided to use their bodies. The artist set up a full-body sized pin art toy beneath St. John’s Gate, a historic London destination. There, people created temporary art pieces from the romantic to the … romantic, if you know what I mean.
However, none of these are as graphic as the art piece that Roxi in "A Stranger's Touch" becomes part of. So what inspired Lacey Savage to write her character into such an exhibit where strangers can fondle her? Savage said, “I came up with the idea while I was trying to take a nap. I drifted in that creative state between sleep and consciousness, and I heard Roxi's voice clearly say, ‘What can I tell you? I like it when strangers play with my body.’ I could see her in my mind's eye, strung up in the installation, spending her days as living art while people admired her not just with their eyes, but with all the senses.”
And strangers aren’t the only ones who enjoy touching Roxi, hero Donovan Armstrong who acts as her bodyguard, can’t help but want to get up close and personal with this bound beauty. And while Roxi is able to stay calm and unaffected when art patrons and museum guests touch her intimately with their hands and even sex toys, it is impossible for Roxi to not become aroused every time she even looks in Donovan’s direction. She is not only attracted to him, but really feels safe with him which is especially important since she puts herself in a very vulnerable position.
I will admit that bodyguard or no bodyguard, this is definitely not a job I would be comfortable taking. But I did want to learn more about the factors that encouraged Roxi to take the position. Savage says, “She eventually decided to take the job as a way to safely explore her exhibitionist tendencies.”
But while she may be an exhibitionist, throughout her time at the gallery Roxi has kept herself anonymous. She doesn’t even tell her family and friends about the job. Because even though they are loving and supportive, well, this isn’t a position that you take for the money, it’s more about the experience. Savage explains how Roxi made the decision to keep her job vague when talking to friends and family,
“She doesn't want to have to explain what she does, because she believes others wouldn't understand or approve of her choice. Honestly, I think many of us behave this way in certain circumstances. I hesitated to tell my parents I'd quit my well-paying corporate job to write full time, not because I'm ashamed of my decision, but because I know it's unconventional and others might not understand why I do it. Roxi feels the same way about her work — though granted, her job is a whole lot harder to explain than mine!”
Excited to read more about Roxi and her boundry pushing job? Then you can e-purchase “A Stranger’s Touch”, the first in the Shifter's Touch series by Lacey Savage, available now.