Category Archives: Travel

Bob Shell: The Photo Token Sets

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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The Token Photo Sets

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At the beginning of 2001 I was forced out of my job as Editor in Chief of Shutterbug in a disgraceful, underhanded “palace coup.” I had been assured for years that I had ultimate job security, indeed my name was first at the top of the magazine’s masthead, and I had literally turned the magazine from a tabloid on yellow newsprint into a respected photography journal. Behind my back the coup plotters had told the corporate people in New York that I wanted to retire. I definitely did not want to retire. I was at the top of my game, 54 years old and full of energy and creative juices. By the time I realized what was up a new Editor in Chief had been hired and it was too late to stop the changes. I still have very hard feelings about this all these years later. It was some consolation, but not much, that the man who engineered my betrayal was himself out on his ear not too long after.

But, the long and the short of it was that I was still writing and doing other things for Shutterbug, but at exactly half my former income. I had to really scramble to make up the shortfall. I was writing for other photo magazines (while still the Chief Editor for Shutterbug my contract didn’t allow me to write for other photo magazines). But at $ 300 or so per article, that wasn’t bringing in the bucks I needed. A photographer friend in Canada told me about an agency that sold photo sets to token websites. In case you don’t know what a token site is, it is a website that you go on and buy tokens. The tokens can then be “spent” on that site or several others to buy photos and videos for download. I decided to give it a try, and shot some sets of models I knew. The formula was simple, woman starts out fully clothed and strips throughout the photo set until she is nude and then does some “show it all” poses. Some sets introduce sex toys or male partners, but not mine. Around 50 -100 photos per set. That’s it. Pretty much like the photo spreads in the men’s magazines, but more photos. Horny guys would pay to buy tokens and download the photo sets and videos.

Most of the models I knew had no problem with this sort of work, so I worked up a new contract to pay them a posing fee plus a percentage of the profit from the photos. I then wrote a Photoshop action to tweak and resize the images. At first I was shooting on film and using a Nikon Coolscan scanner to batch scan the film strips, but as soon as they came along I bought one of the first Canon digital SLR cameras and shot the photos with it. I believe it was only three megapixels or so, but was plenty good enough for Internet. These photo shoots turned out to be pretty lucrative, giving me and the models money, and the same sets of photos sold over and over as new people discovered them. Of course, this was volume shooting without much creativity, and pretty quickly started to get boring. To relieve the boredom I started shooting my own stuff with the models after we got the token shots in the can. That helped. I did a lot of token sets with Marion after we met. She really liked showing off for the camera. Nice checks were coming in every month. But when I was arrested.in June of 2003 the agency pulled all my photo sets out of circulation. That made me really angry, because I was supposed to be presumed innocent, but my arguments fell on deaf ears. Since nothing ever really vanishes from the Internet, those photo sets are probably still floating around out there in cyberspace. I was just gearing up to add videos when I was shut down. It was nice easy work while it lasted, the models and I often had a hoot shooting the photos, and it helped to keep the bills paid.

Did I have a problem with shooting what was essentially “softcore porn?”. My philosophy was the same as an old friend and photo magazine columnist. He always said, “Shoot anything that pays the bills, but whatever you shoot do the best possible job.”. I agreed.

I understand that today there is so much free stuff on the Internet that pay-per-view sites have a hard time surviving. I know that Marion’s favorite site probably survived, since it was full of free photos and videos. Every morning without fail I could find her in front of our iMac checking out consumptionjunction.com .

I used to look over her shoulder at the really weird photos and videos she loved. When she tired of this we’d watch the Naked News together (www.nakednews.com), a strange news site where the actual news was read by pretty women who stripped while reading. One of the strangest things I’ve seen on the Internet.

Who knew when the Internet first came along that it would become the major purveyor of porn? Just as when TV first came along, people thought its main use would be education — NOT!

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-starting-a-studio/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Art, Blog, Fetish, Hetero Love, Lipstick Lesbians, Models, Nudes, Obsessions, Photography, Popular Culture, Women

Artwork by Thomcat23

DO RIGHT, WOMAN! – A TRAVESTY IN TWO ACTS

BY

A.H. SCOTT

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ACT ONE

If you don’t like this country, you can leave” – President Donald J. Trump

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Progression or regression is a question to ponder for the man in that ultimate position of power which controls the shifting scales that can shape people’s lives.

Now, words have meaning, as anyone who is reading this right now knows. But, that alignment of callous words to calculated actions leads to the parallel pummeling of the powerless.

The hidden position papers and policy prescriptions which have been neatly drawn up and folded in the breast pockets of those who have been salivating for dismantling of many laws and governmental guidelines have now exposed their transparency into the full glare of their gluttonous ambitions.

With this Administration and their acolytes, one can focus on the entire panoply of corrosive policies; which would definitely be quite lengthy.

Yet, for the man at the helm of this chaotic cyclone veering towards 2020, that added pep in his step, scathing scowl upon furrowed brow, and rip of a remark seems to always be directed towards a certain kind of person.

“Such a nasty woman” – Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump, October 19, 2016

Hey, people back then said he can’t be judged by this remark to a political opponent. After all, that was only a one-time thing, of him saying something like this right? I mean, after all he was only a nominee saying something off the cuff. Besides, if he were President of The United States, he wouldn’t be saying things like this.

Would he?

Hmm…..

“It was nasty, I thought it was an inappropriate statement” – President Donald J. Trump, August 21, 2019

Geez, it’s a funny thing to know that a snake don’t change his skin. And, what is even funnier to know is that female leader of a demographically approved country (by his own bleached standards) even tosses around the word ‘absurd’(1) when it involves him.

This man’s rancid rabidity when it comes to speaking about, of, and towards women directly goes to that stern adage of a perverse thirst to make a woman behave.

Specifying it in more blunt terms: Do right, Woman!

“Do right, Woman!”, seems that silent scream of a command from the lips and attitude which seeps from corners of those feeling their maintaining of control upon the expression and expansion of all which is a feminine rising is slipping from their patriarchal grip of displeasure.

Schoolyard bullying is taken to that extra level of verbal taunting with his miserable mocking that he constantly and ever so consistently uses.

Before going any further, I guess you have to go back a bit to the cornerstone which Donald J. Trump himself used to get a foothold on his campaign to achieve the Republican nomination in the first place.

This is way, way, way before the downward escalator in his gilded tower with his Missus next to him and broad-brushing Mexicans as being ‘criminals and rapists’. Uh-uh, this is his inane obsession with promoting that conspiratorial lunacy of ‘birtherism’, like some backwater carnival barker who drools with satisfaction at hearing his own mouth run like the Mississippi River.

Just to touch on this subject for a moment, I wanted to touch on the ramifications to the crumbling civility in the public sphere and also a lack of giving any compassion to the personal toll taken on a family.

A former First Lady of the United States of America opened up in her memoir on how Donald Trump’s asinine antics put her family’s safety(2) at risk.

“Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.” – Michelle Obama, 2018

And, instead of taking a road a bit higher than the sewer in not responding to Mrs. Obama’s candid concerns, he mustered up the cesspool’s tide with venom in going after her(3) and the former President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Now, that nexus of race and sex goes to the pulse of who this man is when he gets going after women; with an added emphasis of erratic teeth-mashing on specifically those of color.

Maxine! Maxine! Maxine!

Outspoken and unbroken by the barrage of being called ‘seriously low IQ’(4), ‘crazy’, ‘extraordinarily-low IQ’, and ‘unhinged’ by him; United States Representative from California, Maxine Waters is the Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. In other words, this besmirched woman has the investigative instruments and the power of subpoenaing documents from one, Donald J. Trump.

Wow, I guess her IQ is high enough to go deep beneath his house of cards and pull the weeds that lay at its’ crumbling foundation.

In his line of verbal fire no woman is safe, including the highest ranking female politician in the United States of America. By the way, this phenomenal woman is also third in line of Presidential succession.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi from California has been vicious tagged by him as being Crazy Nancy, Nervous Nancy, MS-13 Lover Nancy Pelosi, and High Tax/High Crime Nancy Pelosi.

Foolish is the man who demeans the person holding back the people in her own caucus who wishes to begin an impeachment inquiry upon him. Yet, HE is who HE is.

United States Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren, a woman of plans and substance; has been chided by the man of vile intent and villainous grin with ‘goofy’, ‘the Indian’, and as commonly as he huffs and puffs, ‘Pocahontas’.

Not to mention Senator from California Dianne Feinstein hurled with belittlement of being ‘sneaky’, and Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand being stained with his sexual innuendo of doing ‘anything’(5) for a campaign contribution.

Candidate for Governor of Georgia, Stacey Abrams is referred to as ‘crime loving’(6) by a man who still has not apologized for taking out a full-page advertisement(7) in the New York Times calling for the death penalty surrounding an event in New York City in 1989.

Although he may deny there is no correlation in adoption of the death penalty as a punishment for those five young black and Latino men who are collectively referred to as “The Central Park Five”, the largest-type font usable (view the image for yourself) in the newspaper advertisement(7) read the following words: “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY”; the timing of Trump’s ad buy was not coincidental. 

“You have people on both sides of that,” – President Donald J. Trump, June 2019, referring to his lack of apology concerning the Central Park Five. (Not to be confused with another statement about ‘both sides)

Wow, ‘both sides’, that sounds familiar in his description of another event on a Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.

But, even further with his own past history (8) of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice filing a lawsuit over racial discrimination (which is a crime after all) in October 1973 against Trump Management Company, his father Fred, and himself; Donald Trump still carelessly tosses a racial grenade in the direction of a woman of color with a sense of obliviousness in describing her as being ‘crime loving’.

Tossing things is nothing new for this President; from barbs of sarcasm to paper towels tossed like he could only wish in his most delusional fantasies were a three-pointer.

Even in the middle of past and oncoming natural disasters, the man bloviates with contempt and non-concern over fellow citizens in the path of devastation in calling the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico Carmen Yulin Cruz ‘incompetent’(9).

To disparage Mayor Cruz in one tweet and then praise himself as a heavenly savior in another  displays the essence of heartlessness from this man.

“I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico!” – President Donald J. Trump

When talking heads kind of offhandedly say that California Senator Kamala Harris has been ‘fortunate’ for not having a ‘pet name’ given to her by that person of pith; does anyone really believe that in private that he doesn’t call her something starting with the fourteenth letter or second letter of the alphabet, when talking about her.

And, when he says Kamala; it comes out of his mouth sounding like he’s uttering Ebola. Check it out for yourselves the next time he has a rally and listen to his syllabic pronunciation of her first name, because of course he never calls her Senator Harris or even says her last name barely at all.

Going further, even during those solemn moments of giving honor to one of America’s fallen heroes the level of sniping can never be curbed by the occupant of that hallowed office.

When the body of a fallen American soldier, Sgt. La David Johnson’s body returned to The United States and a person spoke on behalf of the heartbroken widow, Myeshia Johnson (10) as to the lack of empathy or courtesy from the man in the Oval Office; he just had to twist the knife once more in battling with the retelling of a specific event.

United States Representative from Florida, Frederica Wilson just wasn’t some wayward Janey-on-the-spot politician speaking off the cuff for the family of the fallen soldier, but, a woman who actually knew the dead soldier and his loved ones for many years.

Most persons would be the bigger person, while taking the criticism and taming their tongue.

But, that didn’t stop the President of The United States of America, Donald J. Trump from labeling her as ‘wacky’(11).

And to think, this boorish back and forth with a widow was within the ten months of the Trump Presidency in October of 2017.

(Author’s update: In ceremonies performed across the United States in August 2019, The United States Army has posthumously honored three valor awards to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright (Silver Star)(12), U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Johnson (Bronze Star)(13), and U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson (Silver Star); for their valiant service during an ambush in Niger on October 4th, 2017)

In an awarded citation for the late Sgt. La David Johnson, it noted his ‘courage and dedication to his team’(14).

From where I stand, maybe if Donald Trump truly wanted to ‘make America great again’, he’d pay attention and selfless tribute to those who have made and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. This includes those that are left behind among those living when heroes are laid to a final rest.

Now, moving from one appalling aspect to another is his current rage focused against The Squad (15), a quartet of Congresswomen. New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlalib, and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar are his latest targets of disdain.

Trump’s wraith towards the first two Muslim women elected to the Congress has been almost unspeakable. But, for what comes out of his mouth, it’s just another day, another slur, another lesson in cruelty.

Nothing is sacred to this man of cruel intentions, including a twitter jab at the grandmother (16) of Representative Rashida Tlalib and scoffing at the Congresswoman’s tearful regret at not visiting her.

“The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!” – President Donald J. Trump

All four of these women of color ARE citizens of the United States of America. Three of them were born here and the fourth was born in Somalia.

Oh, by the way, Somalia is in Africa. The way President Trump has spoken of countries within Africa as being ‘shitholes’, it is obvious of his feelings towards anyone born or emigrated from there.

For this man who came into office and made a Muslim travel ban and immigration his hot-button hallmarks of a tornado’s tirade, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is the perfect storm.

She is a physical symbol some may see as being ‘the other’, based on her shade of skin, her religion, and sadly to say it, her hijab.

Oh, and I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of chasing down her words or starting the strain of condemnation. That would be letting the man who leads campaign rallies filled with sycophantic fervor and name-calling off the hook.

Trump tramples everything in his wake, as a baseline criticism of a Congresswoman who is a woman of color has to be taken over the edge and down into the vitriolic valley.

Damn straight! That is where I’m going.

When supporters at his campaign rally started the “SEND HER BACK!” chants aimed at Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, he stood there for over 10 seconds and took in those cheered words. Okay, so he didn’t say that hateful chant, but after a few days of responding to journalists asking about his reaction, Trump let loose with the xenophobic trope(17) which is always used to deflect against any verb or noun of criticism. 

“If you don’t like this country, you can leave” – President Donald J. Trump

Well, well, I guess from zero to a zillion his rage has to go. Not just silence does he want, but also obedience to his own unitary view of patriotism.

It is a blind man’s folly to follow any leader without qualm or questioning them; for, it might not be the brighter horizon that they may take us all towards, but off an unseen cliff of catastrophe.

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him in so far as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.” – President Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

And, of course the insults don’t stop at the water’s edge, as one of his few favorite words of calling women ‘nasty’ was aimed at Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle Windsor.

For him, there’s always another insult via twitter-tornado, rah-rah rally or seated huffing with folded arms of non-concern.

His interactions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been so rundown they are actually physically dismissive, as when she was visiting the White House and seated next to him; Trump wouldn’t fake being a gentleman and shake her hand.

When (former) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May responded to Trump’s retweets from a far-right group in Britain with a slight rebuke for the President being wrong for doing such a thing, he roared back with a tart tweet in the mode of an adult admonishing a child for even making a peep of disapproval. As he also did in a backhanded slam lobbed at New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, when she recounted President Donald Trump telling her she ‘caused a lot of upset in her country’.

No woman; be it a Democrat or even a Republican is out of bounds for such repugnant reflection from him. Republican Presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina was smeared and snickered by someone who would never be considered having the face a pretty-boy with a figure of Charles Atlas or Adonis.

“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” – Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump

Giving just another small smattering of the women his treacherous tongue has battered are journalists Maureen Dowd, Megyn Kelly, and Mika Brzezinski, who he labeled as ‘crazy’. As for a duo of high profile women with the names of Omarosa Manigault-Newman and Stephanie Clifford, they have been demeaned with the insult of being ‘a dog’ and ‘horseface’.

Well, you might think of why you should care or even give the words spoken by an angry man a second thought, for you are not Hillary ‘the hated’, Maxine ‘the moron’, or any other name near or far listed above. Those women aforementioned in this article are not like you, or women like them are not a part of your life as family or friends.

Hmm, I invite you to read further and I think you might find a reason why you should wake up from a clownish, comb-over coma.

DO RIGHT, WOMAN! – A TRAVESTY IN TWO ACTS – ACT ONE

Notes:

1-Trump: Danish Prime Minister’s Comments Were ‘Nasty’ and ‘Inappropriate’ –

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/danish-pm-says-she-was-surprised-learn-trump-canceled-trip-n1044771

2-In Revealing New Memoir, Michelle Obama Candidly Shares Her Story – https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/in-revealing-new-memoir-michelle-obama-candidly-shares-her-story/2018/11/08/

3-Michelle Obama: ‘I’d ever forgive’ Trump For Promoting Birther Conspiracy -https://www.politico.com/amp/story/2018/11/09/michelle-obama-trump-birther-978810

4-Trump’s Tactic to Attack Black People and Women: Insult Their Intelligence – https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/10/trump-attacks-twitter-black-people-women

5-That Special Place in Hell Is Getting Crowded – https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/that-special-place-in-hell-is-getting-crowded/2017/12/12/9ac489a6-df89-11e7-8679-a9728984779c_story.html

6-How Trump Tweets About African-Americans – https://www.npr.org/2018/09/10/645594393/low-iq-spectacular-dog-how-trump-tweets-about-african-americans

7-Trump Will Not Apologize for Calling for Death Penalty Over ‘Central Park Five’ -https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/18/nyregion/central-park-five-trump.html

8-FBI Releases Files on Trump Apartments’ Race Discrimination Probe in ’70s -https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/02/trump-fbi-files-discrimination-case-235067

9-Trump Reignites Personal Feud With San Juan Mayor as Puerto Rico Braces for Tropical Storm Dorian –

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-reignites-personal-feud-with-san-juan-mayor-as-puerto-rico-braces-for-tropical-storm-dorian

10-Donald Trump Just Hit a New Low in The La David Johnson Fiasco – https://www.cnn.com/cnn/2017/10/23/politics/trump-johnson-call/index.html

11-President Trump Continues Feud With Congresswoman Hours Before Sgt. La David Johnson Funeral – https://www.deadline.com/2017/10/donald-trump-frederica-wilson-feud-la-david-johnson-funeral-1202192468/amp/

12-Family of Green Beret Killed in Niger Ambush Receives His Silver Star – https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/08/14/family-green-beret-killed-niger-ambush-receives-his-silver-star.html

13-Special Forces Unit Member Killed in Niger Ambush Honored for Bravery -https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/08/13/special-forces-unit-member-killed-niger-ambush-honored-bravery.html

14-Special Forces Team Mechanic Killed in Niger Awarded Silver Star –https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/08/16/special-forces-team-mechanic-killed-niger-be-awarded-silver-star.html/

15-Trump Tells Congresswomen to ‘Go Back’ to the Countries They Came From -https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/14/us/politics/trump-twitter-squad-congress.amp.html

16-‘May God Ruin Him’: Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s Grandmother Reacts To Trump’s Tweet – https://www.businessinsider.com/rashida-tlaib-grandmother-israel-palestine-trump-tweet-visit-barred-omar-2019-8

17-Trump Goes on Unhinged Rant: ‘If You Don’t Like It Here, You Can Leave’ – https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-goes-on-unhinged-rant-defending-racist-tweets-if-you-dont-like-here-you-can-leave

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To be continued…..

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About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go here: http://tonyward.com/a-h-scott-tatianas-theme/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Men, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraits

Linda Ruan: 10 Questions

 

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TW: Let’s start with your acceptance to PAFA. How did you feel when you heard the news of acceptance to MFA program?

LR:  It was only a month between my submission to PAFA and my acceptance into PAFA. I was excited because it would be my first time going to a fine arts academy to pursue a fine arts degree. My four-year liberal arts experience was more on the theoretical side. PAFA seems to be a better place for me to do something more practical. I went to the open house last fall and immediately fell in love with the facilities inside and decided to apply there: a rooftop terrace that holds the best part of the city, spacious private studio space, skylit painting studios and etc. The location is also a plus. Located in center Philly makes everything more accessible. More opportunities to go to gallery openings and to meet more people in the art circle. Hope I could walk outside my comfort zone and experiment with more mediums during my next two years there. Looking forward to the new semester.

TW: You spent part of the summer visiting friends and family in Shanghai. What is it like in China these days with the tariff wars seemingly going on with out an end in sight.  Are the American tariff’s having an impact on daily life in Shanghai and more generally through out China? 

LR: I am not really into politics, so I don’t have much to say for this question. But my friends talk about it, only talk about it because there isn’t much that they could do. I remember the day my friend circle all came out and cried when 1 USD converts to 7 CNY. The currency rate is going insane. It is now up to 7.16 CNY. The rate might be a real problem to those studying abroad because it means that they need to pay more for their high tuition. Other than that, I think people just live their normal life and are not really affected by the tariff. Well, I still need to say that I am not a political person. So my words really don’t count towards this one.

TW: So you’ve clearly drawn a distinction between your art and politics.  Tell me what draws you to make Art. What is its purpose if it’s not political?

LR: I don’t think art should always be political. My painting professor Ying Li at Haverford College was the one who inspired and encouraged me to do art. She always says to me: “just paint what you see and the more you paint the more clearly you will see the object”. Landscape, cityscape, and still life are my current main interests in painting. I am interested in exploring how forms, structures, and colors impact the way I see and make a painting. One of my favorite artists is Joan Mitchell whose work focuses on abstract forms and colors.

TW: You coined the phrase Imitation Kills.  What does the term mean to you and do you apply the concept in life in some way?

LR: I used that phrase for my social platforms. Nowadays people just imitate each other, from clothing style to art style. Influencers post outfits on Instagram and followers go after them. Originality is lost or is diminishing. People are doing similar stuff. I don’t think that’s a good thing, especially in the field of art because we are different individuals and we need to use our own way to prove that we are unique, even if one’s art style has not been widely accepted.

TW: Your current series of paintings featured at the senior exhibit at Haverford College this past Spring revealed a focus on abstraction with an effusive application of paint and vigorous brush work. How do you anticipate your work evolving in the next two years at PAFA?

LR: I look forward to trying something different at PAFA so I couldn’t answer how I would anticipate my work to be. Let this be an open question and we shall see.

TW:  You have a love for fashion that is often reflected in your affection for oversized clothing as part of your day to day style.  In this series of pictures another side of your persona is revealed in your choice of  bathing suit for a series of pictures taken at the Oceana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City.  Tell us about the black two piece you brought back from Shanghai on your recent trip. What is your impression of the Jersey Shore?

LR: I bought the bathing suits from a Chinese lingerie brand named NEIWAI. The brand features intimates for petite sizes. Their design is simple but also sexy in a subdued way. I think that impression is similar to my day to day style. They don’t have too many options in bathing suits, so I just bought the piece that I think might fit me the best in size. I chose black because that has always been my top color. The leather jacket is from All Saints. I feel more comfortable covering more of my body. Speaking of the Jersey Shore, I mean, who doesn’t like the beach? It’s a perfect getaway from busy city life. I like the architecture of the Oceana. The design is quite modern and the curves on the exterior are totally on point. Shoutout to Tony who picked this place to shoot. The surrounding fits the outfit perfectly.

TW: The Chinese government has blocked access to Google, Facebook, Youtube, and other mass global communication platforms on the internet.  What do you think the reason for that is?

LR: I think the voices on these social platforms are different, especially when the problem goes to politics. However, I am not saying that one voice is better than the other. It’s just that politics has always been a complicated thing. Our minds could be easily influenced by words spreading on these platforms. The government is just trying their best to eliminate the unnecessary issues that might arise.

TW: Are artists based in China heavily censored by the government as to what they can express in a work of Art?

LR: I am not familiar with the art circle in China because I spend most of my time here in the States. But I think we can do whatever we want unless we create and show art that has strong politically sensitive subjects. Other than that, I believe that artists based in China have enough freedom.

TW: With the exception of Al Weiwei are there other leading artists from China having an impact on the global stage that inspire you to make Art?

LR: I am thinking about adding more Chinese elements in my paintings. My two favorite Chinese artists are Cai Guo-Qiang and Xu Bing. They are both creative in their way of making art and are also the ones who incorporate Chinese materials and culture in their work.

TW:  What are your goals in the next 5 years?

Haven’t planned that far. I hope to have a solo opening after graduating from PAFA. So I guess I will keep painting. I am thinking about going back to Shanghai to spend more time with my family after graduation. It just has been a while since I first came here.

Editor’s Note: Linda Ruan is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College with a concentration on painting and art history. She recently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

Also posted in Art, Blog, Erotica, Fashion, Fetish, Glamour, Models, Obsessions, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraits, Women

Katie Kerl: Dream Changing

Dream Catching

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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DREAM CATCHING

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When you mention Robert Li’s name around Philadelphia there are very few people who have not come into contact with him. I’ve known Rob for the better part of a decade. have to say he’s one of the most positive friends I have. 

He’s always into something different and exciting. His calendar of events is a tuff one to keep up with. Rob has appeared on many local news stations showing off his unique hobbies

We met in 2011 through music and a love of costume parties. Anything silly that was an excuse to dress up and dance the night away just being yourself. 

We lost touch here and there through the years. I ran into Rob last fall walking down the street in Old City, Philadelphia. He let me know he was starting his own active wear line. Knowing Rob I was not surprised at all. He is a go getter; cheer coach, acro teacher, #ridetherob challenge, and is always at every major event the city has to offer. 

He had invited me to try acro a few times in the past. I declined many times being I have a full metal forearm. Rob always tried to get me to overcome that, but it was one heavy mental block at the time. 

When his line was sample ready; I stopped by to try some of it on. I have to say I do not spend $100 on leggings to work out at home EVER, but these were worth every penny.  I actually ended up buying two pairs!! You can wear them from fitness class long into the night being so versatile. One pair is a black V waist leather look, with ribbed accents going down the sides. They are perfect for giving you the illusion of a waist line. The second pair is reversible, black with a pretty white tree design, and red solid opposite side. They stayed in place perfectly. Not having to constantly pull them up with no hips was amazing. Also, no horrid camel toe like with cheaply made leggings!

After a try on session with a bit of acro on Rob’s roof top; he finally convinced me to come to an acro class! I was a bit nervous when arriving being it was an intermediate class, but everyone was super nice. I picked it up as well as a first timer could. It brought me back to my own cheerleading/ gymnastics days at 35. Another sentence I never thought I’d be typing this late in life. I will absolutely find the time to fit that into my schedule more now. Overcoming my horrible mental block was the best part of it all, and in my new Active Elixir leggings, thanks to Rob.

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Acro Yoga Class

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After checking this all out, I asked Rob to write his own piece because he seemed so happy with his career change. I want people to know about his line, everything he is into, inspirations, difficulties he has overcome, and where you can check him out through the week!

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Find Rob Dream Catching 

One Active Elixir Flyer at a time! 

Link to Rob Li’s article written exclusively for TWShttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/robert-li-acro-yoga/

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Katie Kerl wearing Robert Li’s acro leggings.

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-modern-mom/

 

 

Also posted in Blog, News, Popular Culture

Robert Li: Acro Yoga

 

Text by Robert Li, Copyright 2019

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Acro Yoga

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Ikigai. Have you heard the term before? It’s a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Essentially, it’s a reason to get up in the morning. There is a sense of purpose and a reason to enjoy life.  If you take four elements – That which you love, That which you are good at, That which you can be paid for, and That which the world needs – and put them in a Venn diagram, your Ikigai is the intersection of all four. Someone told me that I found my Ikigai in Acro, and I believe she was right.

I came to the US from Taiwan when I was 11 months old and grew up in Huntingdon Valley before attending Drexel University, though I studied abroad in Berlin while working for the German government. I majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in Chinese and German, and minored in Business Administration and History.

After college, I was a professional party promoter and professional cheerleader for the Philadelphia Soul as well as the Philadelphia 76ers while becoming familiar with the point of sale industry. The combination of food and tech seemed like a perfect place.  Food has always been a passion of mine, so it was great to work with staff, managers, and owners all across the country.  Still, I was either working or on call from 10am to 3am every weekday and on call every other weekend.  There were a lot of perks, including working from home and free food when clients insisted I eat, but I felt like a slave to my phone because I had to answer at all hours, no matter what.  When I discovered Acro, something clicked. I wanted to do it all the time.  I realized that the other aspects of Acro align with what I enjoy in life as well: travel, meeting amazing people, and potential for beautiful photography.  At first, Acro was a hobby, but by the time my thoughts, actions, and even dreams involved Acro, I knew a life-changing decision was coming.

With the #ridetherob project, the timing was right. When I started Acro four years ago, I didn’t know what to wear. I figured others must have the same problem. Why not create something that could fill a need? The concept of creating a clothing line became more than a fleeting thought. As my passion for Acro grew into a full blown love affair, I knew I had to take actions instead of just thinking about it. My heart and mind shifted focus from my job to the possibilities of what I could do with Acro. The #ridetherob project was building a lot of momentum, and studios started approaching me to teach. With so many amazing opportunities knocking at my door, I needed to answer the call and see what adventures await. Here was a big step towards the unknown, comforted by the thought that I have a whole community of amazing people supporting me in this adventure.

I wanted to create quality apparel for active lifestyles, and I had no idea where to begin. The first step was to make my intentions known and to make the time for this endeavor. Leaving a stable job with steady income was necessary to see this through. I was a motivated and knowledge-thirsty sponge, soaking in every piece of information and detail. Then I started making moves and developing my brand and products. Active Elixir was born (www.active-elixir.com). It’s the “perfect solution for people of movement.” I would address issues people have with apparel in various movements and provide solutions for them. My focus would be on all the various niche markets, starting with which I was familiar – Acro. Now I am developing Pole Wear, Swimwear, and in the next year, Belly Dance Wear and Social Dance Wear. Items are designed with ideas I’ve had, recommendations from friends, or random inspirations, and once they were realized, I test the prototypes on people who are actively involved in the practice. I listen to what they want, gathered feedback on the piece, made changes, and try again until it’s perfect — functional, comfortable, well-made, and stylish. I offer a direct line to someone who can make the changes you’ve always wanted to see in apparel, especially for your practice. I just hope that when all is said and done, I don’t end up with an absurd amount of women’s clothing in my apartment; I want to give them happy homes. In the near future, I’m looking towards fashion shows and collaborating with yoga studios.

My other pet project is #Ridetherob.  Funny enough, the idea for it came in the shower.  I recently got into Acro, and I wanted to show people how much fun it can be. I didn’t know this little project would evolve into something more and inspire others to create challenges and personal goals beyond expectations. At first, it was to show the world what Acro was, and then it was to make people feel good and happy while creating a deeper connection between human beings. At least, that’s what I observed the first couple of years. Now I realize it shows that people can learn and do things they thought was impossible. I’m also working on adding a philanthropic element to this project as I collaborate with various charities and other events.  My current count is 5,323 people I’ve lifted up on my Journey to 10,000.  The heaviest person I lifted while on the ground was my former rugby teammate who is 360 lbs. The heaviest individual I lifted standing was 250 pounds and almost 7 ft tall. I’ve also lifted a family of 6 at the same time and did a Triple Cupie with 3 flyers standing on my hands.

The Philly Mag article was great.(https://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2018/02/13/rob-li-lift-acro/) It was the first published article about the project. Being on Good Day Philadelphia and lifting the anchors as well as just about everyone in the Fox 29 office was also a lot of fun.  When CBS3 asked me to come in, I lifted anyone that wanted to be part of the project, and it seemed to make everyone’s days seeing how happy they were. (https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/video/4121404-local-acro-yoga-instructor-on-mission-to-lift-as-many-people-as-possible-to-spread-teaching/?fbclid=IwAR0sqCjL4QA5dneLLk4BaJO3qCCljjCwiYJeDAIBUSQOpWp0yTsD-1W57x4)

Growing up, I was quite chunky. I would eat everything in sight. Then I got into sports one summer. I lost about 20 pounds unintentionally and just have been active ever since. I played football, wrestled, ran track, fenced, did cheer, and played rugby.  I coached Temple Co-Ed Cheer because the head coach wanted to bring back a co-ed stunt team and asked me to help out. It’s amazing seeing the cheerleaders progress in their skills season to season.   

I am so thankful that I did cheer. I did not know that people tossing would be such a valuable life skill to have. Having a strong foundation in the fundamentals of standing Acro has helped me achieve a variety of skills. It also led me to teaching Acro. One of the people I lifted had her own yoga studio, and she insisted I teach an Acro workshop. I told her I wasn’t certified and have just been doing Acro for a couple of years, but she told me that the way I instructed her into her pose was evidence enough that I would be good at teaching. I taught my first class and really enjoyed it. Having about 20 years of cheer experience also helps out. Because of this foundation, I was able to learn skills in 20 minutes that people work on for a year or more.

Even though I have a strong personal practice, teaching people who are trying Acro for the first time has been really rewarding. Sometimes I find myself in random situations– I’ve been invited to a number of Bachelorette parties, and I would come in and lift everyone. One of my personal goals was to hit a Rewind, which is a dynamic cheer stunt in which the flyer essentially does a back tuck while the base tosses her in the air and then catches her feet as she comes out of the tuck. I was so thrilled that I even did a Happy Dance while holding the flyer in the skill. Unlocking new skills is such an amazing feeling, especially when you work for it. Some other stories include me lifting a flight attendant while 34,000 feet in the air. I’ve done Acro on top of bars at clubs and lounges. In the kitchen or counters of restaurants. At a few gentlemen’s clubs. On stage at a gentlemen’s club. On boats and yachts. On paddle boards. At hospitals. In offices. Every day is an adventure, and I’ll do Acro wherever. The pose depends on who is flying and what feels safe and what I call concrete-ready. 

Acro has even led me to perform and compete in one of the country’s largest competitions of this kind. When I went to see Diamond G a few years ago to support my friend, I saw some Acro in one of the performances. My thought process quickly went from I can do that, to I should do that, to I will do that. For a whole year, I was thinking about who should be on the team and what I should do. I recruited very talented acrobats, aerialists, pole dancers, and exotic dancers to compete for the coveted Diamond G-String title and $15,000. Despite being new to this, we came home with the title and prize money, and I met some amazing people in the process and have the utmost respect for anyone that puts on a show of this magnitude. 

It was a challenging and exciting endeavor, much like starting an apparel company, and I’m learning more about the industry each day. Almost every night before bed and every morning when I wake up, I am talking to my contacts in Asia. There has been no shortage of delays or mistakes that needed to be addressed in a timely manner. My search for reliable manufacturers that can take my ideas and create quality products has led me down some interesting roads. For those who might be thinking about embarking on a similar project, do your research. Be prepared for a lot of things to go the way you don’t expect them to go, and learn how to overcome those challenges.  Learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to future situations. Take lots of notes. Make sure you have money put aside because you will be spending more than you think. Believe in yourself. Take calculated risks and put yourself out there. Be kind to everyone. You never know who you’re going to meet who can help you in some way.

It also helps to listen, and I mean really listen to what women (and male consumers too!) have to say.  I’ve learned so much about bras and boobs. It’s still very confusing though. There are many body types and preferences to consider. I’ve learned about various tests women try when deciding which pieces of apparel they purchase—squats, jumps, and inversions. Learning from women firsthand means that I can develop clothing that fits their needs directly. I’m also studying shopping habits and learning about marketing through social media. This is a lot for someone who basically posts twice a month on Instagram. Yes, I’m working on that.

The support from my friends and various Acro communities has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the amazing people that have helped me and believed in me in realizing my vision. It’s heart-warming to see how happy people are with my products. They tell me stories about how great they feel and the amount of compliments they’ve received from wearing my clothing line. It’s really rewarding to hear that after putting so much time, energy, and money into such a huge endeavor.  It can definitely be difficult at times, but it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

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About The Author: Robert Li grew up in Huntingdon Valley, PA and resides in Philadelphia. He majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in German and Chinese and Minors in Business Administration and History at Drexel University. He is the Founder of Active Elixir, a clothing brand focused on creating solutions for people of movement through apparel. With his experience as a cheerleader for Drexel University, the Philadelphia Soul, and the Philadelphia 76ers as well as Cheer Coach for Temple University, he is also an AcroYoga instructor teaching at various studios in Philadelphia and Acro festivals across the country.

www.active-elixir.com

If you want to get in touch with Rob, you can find him on Instagram – @themojoshow and @activeelixir or email him: activeelixir@gmail.com.

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