This web site first went online in the Fall of 1995. At that time, net exhibitionism was a relatively new phenomenon. Since then, it has grown tremendously. Personal web sites with nude or even pornographic self-images abound. With the advent of web cameras, the concept has graduated into a new paradigm. Some people view these sites with great anticipation, finding "real" people to be much more captivating than highly buffed models. Others view these sites with disdain, scoffing at the audacity that people like me have to be so publicly self-involved.
This is a personal web site, and I feel that personal web sites are *supposed* to be a celebration of the self, or at least they are about putting one's self on display. All personal web sites are to some degree autobiographical, which by its very nature is self-involved. Mine is probably more thoroughly autobiographical than most, which, combined with the nude self-portraiture, seems to have made me somewhat of a target for criticism. I've received many mail files over the years accusing me of being egotistical. These messages, generally quite blunt, prompt me to defend myself, which, in turn, causes me to really consider what it is that I'm doing. This process has gotten me to think fairly extensively about the nature of vanity and exhibitionism.
I'm most often called an "egomaniac," or accused of having a big "ego." I eschew this word, as it is part of the psychological nomenclature, and has a very specific and technical definition. It has been coloquialized into the contemporary vernacular, but is quite broad in its meaning and doesn't illuminate much about the subject of its usage. There are alternative adjectives, each with its own shade of meaning, and each specific to one of a variety of personality traits.
I believe that all human beings are self-involved. The very nature of sentience is founded in awareness of the self. The term is most often used in a pejorative way, however. It is generally applied when someone is perceived as being more interested in himself than in others. That is generally considered a sin.
Vanity is being concerned with one's looks. I was an awkward teenager in High School, dating my second girlfriend Debbie, when I first pondered the nature of vanity. A bunch of us had decided to go to a party one night. Debbie said that she had to go back to her place to get dressed up. I was in a bit of a rush and wanted to avoid this delay. "Let's just go," I said. "I don't care what you look like." To me it was an innocent statement. I wasn't hung up on appearances then, and I'm not now. But she left in a frosty huff, and I was told later that I had "insulted her feminine vanity." Being a gangly, scrawny boy who fancied himself quite plain, I had very little concept of what vanity was.
Later, in my Freshman year of college, a guy in my circle of friends was accused of being vain because he was always serrupticiously glancing at himself in mirrors. I began to understand that vanity was all about awareness of one's appearance. It becomes a criticism when one pays an undue amount of attention on his or her appearance. It was still nothing with which I was concerned. I didn't think myself to be ugly, but attractive was certainly a word I would never have even considered using to describe myself. In a "bigger is better" culture, my skeletal physique was surely nothing to be proud of. It was difficult then for me to be objective about the looks of my facial features (it still is today, for that matter), so I based my assessment on the fact that women never showed much romantic interest in me. Rather than chalk it up to other factors, I assumed that I was not a particularly attractive person. It didn't really affect my self-esteem much. I just accepted it and went on with my life.
It was later in my college days that I came to grips with the concept of arrogance. Some years after I had pledged my fraternity I was elected to the position of Rush Chairman. My duties required me to design creative, eye-catching fliers. I put a lot of effort into each one. Once I had finished each original, I would take a moment to evaluate it. Generally speaking I was happy with the work I'd done. I wondered if this made me arrogant. It seemed to me that the definition of arrogance is being happy with one's self or one's own work. One day I was in the dorms handing out invitations to the kids on the rush list. I knocked on a door, and when the guy opened it I saw on his wall every single rush flier that I'd distributed that semester. He had displayed them as if they were works worthy of being viewed by the public. At this point I really started to feel arrogant. I was very proud of my work, but I kept my feelings to myself. I wondered if it was still arrogance if no one knew I had arrogant feelings.
During my graduating year my arrogance became a bit more externalized. I had been the President of my fraternity the second semester of my penultimate year in college. All during the following Summer I thought about the role that I would play in my final year. When I was a first-semester member I overheard one of the older members talking about the influence he had in the house. He said that he knew that when issues came to a vote during house meetings, that there were people who would vote one way or the other based entirely on whether he spoke out in support or opposition. He was quite certain of it. That level of influence intrigued me, and I wanted to experience it myself. I envisioned myself, being a past president, as having that kind of influence in the house. I became very vocal and opinionated. I was consumed with being on the winning side of a vote, and I pissed off a lot of people as I attempted to verbally cut them to ribbons. The end result was disastrous. I lost a lot of popularity and I felt bad about myself. I toned down my rhetoric, but I found that my popularity, once gone, was very difficult to regain.
During this time I thought more about arrogance. I considered that when I was secretly happy with my own work I was being arrogant, but that was okay. When I became publicly happy with my opinion, that transcended into the realm of conceit, and that was bad. I still see it that way. I don't believe it is a sin to be happy with one's self or one's work. A healthy self-image is very important to being a well-adjusted, successful individual. These days there is a whole industry surrounding the self-image, and it is considered to be a very positive if not essential quality. If one has a good self-image, one is happy with one's self, and, by my definition, is arrogant. I do not see arrogance as a sin.
At the point when one makes public knowledge of his or her healthy self-image, however, that individual is treading on the territory of conceit. Any form of public self-congratulation is a conceited act. The more public and unwarranted it is, the more conceited the individual, and, in my opinion, the more of a sin it is. I believe that one can be arrogant and humble all at the same time. It all comes down to the image that one projects towards others.
By the time I graduated and became a sheepish minion in the workforce, my conceited qualities vanished. Having graduated from college without a fiancee, or even a steady girlfriend, my perception that I was a physically unappealing person was reinforced. Still, I wasn't too concerned with it. I had a career to focus on now, and I looked brightly towards the future.
Years later when I got together with an old college friend, she confessed to me that she thought I was attractive. Actually she said that she considered me to be VERY attractive, and always had. This came as a complete and utter surprise to me. She, herself, was one of the many women from my past who never showed a romantic interest in me. I had assumed it was because she found me physically unappealing, and yet I came to find out that this was not at all the case. I had never really considered that I could be an attractive person, and quite suddenly the possibility existed.
It was also around this time that I began to be sexually active with other men. I garnered enough interest at the local gay bar that suspicions that I might be perceived as being attractive were supported. One morning-after in particular, I was standing before the mirror after I had gotten dressed. My partner from the night before stood next to me and glanced at my reflection. "You know," he said, "you're a really handsome guy." I froze. He continued, "but I guess you get that a lot." I broke out laughing. He wondered what was so funny. I told him that I DIDN'T get that a lot, and it was pretty much the first time that anyone had come out and said anything like that to me.
Now I really began to come to grips with the concept of vanity. I found myself casually glancing at my reflection as my old college friend had been jided for doing years before. When a sales woman or waitress was especially nice to me, I wondered if maybe she thought I was cute and was flirting with me. It was quite a distraction for myself, frankly, and was even a bit unsettling. By this time I was in my late twenties, and was now dealing with self-perception issues that most people resolve in adolescence. Still, I did not consider myself conceited as I kept all these feelings strictly to myself.
Contemporary with this emerging sense of vanity was also the awakening of my exhibitionistic tendencies. Having grown up in the Seventies and witnessed the bizarre and short-lived "streaking" craze, I had a fairly casual and whimsical sense of public nudity. This notwithstanding, I defined exhibitionism in the way that society at large did. Exhibitionists were mentally disturbed people who enjoyed exposing themselves to unwitting victims. They were known as "flashers," and they were considered among the most undesirable and seedy people in society. In my mind I considered them as being people who became sexually aroused by exposing themselves to other people. I was able to make this observation because I fell strongly into that category. I didn't get my jollies by exposing myself to others, but whenever I found myself exposed in front of people I instantly became aroused. Even alone in the privacy of my bathroom, the mere act of removing my clothes would cause me to get an erection. Every morning in the shower I would be hard as a rock.
In certain situations this could be a source of some stress for me as a youngster. Simple activities like getting a physical from the school doctor would become a traumatic experience. We would be brought into the nurse's office in small groups and told to strip to our skivies and wait for the doctor to see us. It would require all my concentration to keep my penis from getting hard while sitting there in my underwear beside my classmates. Going behind the screen and actually dropping my shorts was worse still.
It was also difficult when I went out for the YMCA swim team as an 8th grader and had to wear one of those speedo swim suits for the first time. Those slinky little patches of fabric that leave nothing to the imagination were extremely arousing to me. When I tried one on at home ahead of time, I was erect before I even got it on. When I actually donned it in public for the first time it again took all my concentration to keep from getting hard.
When I first went off to college and discovered that my dormitory only provided group shower space, I was greatly concerned. I had gotten erections in the shower virtually every morning for the past several years, and I had no reason to think that this would change now. The mere thought that others could come in and see me naked made it even worse. Many a shower was cut short by an unwanted erection that had me walking back to my room dripping wet with my shampoo bottle and towel strategically place over my groin.
Even today the dreaded speedo is a constant source of instant arousal. Having one thin layer of nylon between me and utter nakedness is practically MORE arousing than actually being naked. When I'm in the mood to masturbate but am having trouble achieving a full erection, all I have to do is REACH for a speedo and my penis suddenly starts to stiffen up. Today when I suit up to swim laps over my lunch break I have to tuck my dick tightly down in front, because if I just let it jiggle around in there I'll have a semi before I even got to the showers.
This aspect of my physiology seems to be hard-wired. I have no explanation for it. Other men I observed didn't seem to be affected by their own nudity the way I was. I would have LOVED to go streaking when it was popular. In fact many of my friends did, but I knew I'd have a big fat erection flopping around between my legs if I ever tried it. After swim practice I would shower quickly with my suit on, and dress immediately after I dried off to avoid any erections in the locker room. Other guys would linger naked in the showers for ever, and walk casually around the locker room stark naked for extended periods of time. If I had walked naked I would have been totally hard after just a couple of meters.
I assumed it to be a gay thing, but without any other gay people to talk to I could neither support nor disprove this theory. In subsequent years I was able to determine that there didn't seem to be a strong connection between sexual orientation and arousal from public nudity.
For many years I struggled with this situation and coped with it primarily through avoidance behavior. But there was one particular event which caused me to reassess my attitude. When I lived in Syracuse I was hanging out with some straight friends of both genders, and we all got a little crazy one night and decided to play strip poker. This was another situation where I always stressed out about getting an erection. But on this particular occasion I decided to just let it go, and if I got hard then so be it. I eventually got to the point that I was bare naked, and of course I had a full erection. I made no attempts to cover myself at all. Even when I would get up to change the record I would stand bold and proud with my huge erection sticking out for all the world to see. No one freaked out or even said anything at all. It was an incredibly empowering experience. I felt as if I had been freed from this horrendous burden that had been hanging over me my whole life.
I decided then and there that unless there was some compelling reason not to have an erection when naked in front of other people, that I wouldn't stress out over it anymore and just let it happen. Occasionally I will still get an erection in the locker room showers, and while I don't flaunt it neither do I hide it. Although I'm a little concerned that one day some homophobic jock might bash me because of it, I don't allow myself to stress out over it anymore.
Not long after I discovered the world wide web, I found the page of a photographer in Boston who said he was always looking for new models. I sent him an email, and we agreed to get together. I eventually planned a short vacation in Boston and I went to see him. I found myself very much looking forward to the situation. I had every expectation that I'd be doing some nude shots and I knew I would be totally aroused. I didn't think the photographer would mind, and I found myself actually enthusiastic about having an erection in front of someone I didn't know. That became arousing in and of itself. It turned out that the photographer was happy to photograph me nude and erect. Although we did a lot of clothed shots too, I was so turned on I basically had a boner for several hours whether my clothes were on or off.
After it was all over I didn't think I would actually wind up putting any of the "dirty" pictures out on the web. When I eventually saw the prints, however, some of them struck me as being very artistic and in good taste. I figured I'd go for it. Some people still ask me why, and to that I can only say, "Why not?" I do get the occasional sleazy mail file, usually from someone making lude propositions or requesting pictures of a more pornographic nature, but with the safe distance of the electronic medium I hardly find that threatening. I don't feel I have anything to be embarrassed about, displaying the pictures doesn't put my job in jeopardy, if my friends can't handle it then that's their problem, and if a potential lover is turned off or intimidated by it then we're not right for each other anyway.
Ultimately I put myself on display like this because it gives me pleasure to do so. That's where it begins and ends. If people consider me to be full of myself because of it then that's their opinion. I don't regard the label of "exhibitionist" with any stigma whatsoever. This web site has introduced me to more people and opened up more opportunities than I ever could have imagined. It's been an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I have no intentions of turning back now.