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Alan Nixon - life model, Washington

Sunday, January 30, 2005; Page W03

It takes a bit of courage to get nude in front of strangers. The artists can see everything -- how the bones show through skin, how light and shadow fall on the muscles. I try not to look at them -- when I do, they tend to blush -- so I find a focus point elsewhere. Posing gives me an opportunity to reflect, to think, to make plans.

I also have a law degree, but halfway through [law school] I wasn't as enthused. Eventually I sat down and thought: Who are you? What do you really want to do? Look at me -- I don't look like your typical lawyer. I came to the Hill, worked in government agencies, then was approached to try modeling. I never thought I'd do this, but it's different, and I like being different.

Alan Nixon: life model, Washington (Susan Rubin)

I've been married for more than 10 years, and [my wife]'s very supportive. Being nude in front of other women -- we talked about that, and she's okay. She said: "I think nudity is a beautiful thing. Don't embarrass me; don't embarrass yourself." If [she were a nude model] and treated this the same way I did, discussing the overall objective, that this is a job and you're essentially a tool of the class to help them learn, no problem. But I'd still be concerned. That's because sometimes the people drawing you say things that can be a little off-putting -- so I might be concerned for her, as a female, knowing how to deal with that.

I was working last night, and one student said, "What are you doing after class?" I just laughed it off and said, "I'm going home." I didn't feel the need to get too personal, tell them that I'm married and all. But sometimes there are comments, and you always have to wonder, in that situation, what the person's intentions are if they offer you a ride after class or whatever. You're exposing your physical self, and people sometimes feel that's an inroad to more. They make it like a test -- and the rest is your integrity.

It's not the same to copy some picture as it is to draw from real life. There is nothing sexual at all -- it's not titillating; it's not meant to be. It's very academic. It's work.

-- Interview by Ellen Ryan

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