"Lorelei Black, a New York native and figure model, was kind enough to have dinner, take some photos, and have a chat with me. Her beauty, willingness to open up, and authentic personality was everything I could've asked for and more."
What’s your relationship with food?
I love to eat it. (laughs)
I am not so much somebody that is good at cooking or particularly enjoys cooking but I so appreciate it and love it when people that I love do it. I love watching people that I love cook, whether it’s for me or for themselves or just in a space where we are all together because it is so important. Cooking is somebody taking the time out of their day to say “ I want to stop and completely focus my attention on you and I want to nourish you and I want you to feel good or feel better or just pause my life for a minute to just catch up with you” and that's so beautiful. Especially living in New York, somebody actually making the time for you is a whole big deal but then somebody taking the time and cooking for you is another level.
Through your job, if and how have you found intimacy within yourself? How have you become comfortable in that space? And has it helped your personal life ?
The nature of my job is intensely intimate because it’s a sharing of your body with people that you may see for just a day, or with people that you might be lucky enough to build long sustained artistic relationships with. I think that process of being nude in front of other people has helped me in my own personal life because in order to first go about doing this job I had to find some sort of level of comfort within myself. It’s not a job you can do if you don’t like your body. It’s the thing you are using to inspire other people to be artistic. It’s unfair if you are not doing that from a place that is not self love. In that way, it did make me become more comfortable with my body. I didn’t have a rough relationship with my body, but I have that relationship most women have with it. Where it’s just something that is kind of there. It’s something to knit pick. It’s something you wish you could improve. It’s something to not necessarily enjoy for what it is. The beauty of my job is that I have found a sense of comfort within my own body.
That has translated into my personal life because, whoever I happen to be with, knowing their judgment of my body, doesn't really mean much anymore because I love my body. That’s all I really need. I don't seek out approval from others. I don't need gratification or compliments because I know it is fabulous. And having assurance within yourself is amazing because you can hold on to that. It’s not to say I feel that everyday, all day, but I experience it enough that I feel really great about myself.
My friend Laura and I were just talking about this. She asked me “is it really awkward for you to be naked in front of other people?” And there is a fine line difference between being naked and being nude. I’m nude when I’m modeling for classes. Even though I’m not wearing anything, that is a performance of nudity. It’s not how I am when I’m at home chillin, naked, eating chips, and watching CSI. I’m nude when I’m in class but I’m naked when I’m in the shower or when I’m hanging out alone because I’m not performing for anyone- It’s just me. Having that separation in my head does maintain a sense of intimacy even though I am nude in front of other people. There’s physical intimacy but there isn’t mental intimacy, and nakedness really does require that mental part to be present.
So you’re naked when you’re with a lover?
Yes- naked is vulnerable. When I’m nude for a class I’m not vulnerable, but I’m naked when I’m with someone I really care about or with a lover. In those moments, yes I feel good about my body, but obviously with a lover I want them to feel good about my body too because I’m sharing it with them. There is a sense of giving that is present in that vulnerability.
Has your job helped you be more vulnerable?
I feel like it has helped me be a little bit gentler with myself and a little more accepting and loving of the fact that I am a vulnerable and soft person. I have the same healthy boundaries we all have, but generally speaking, I am very soft and I do want to be very loving and giving. And I want that from other people. Before I started doing this, I feel like I was really hard on myself for not being the kind of person that I see other people being. They are able to be really aggressive and do certain things that I am still unable to do. In doing this I have grown more accepting of my own softness, which is nice.
How do you find balance in being soft and living in New York?
It’s so hard. I feel like I’m having these moments at least twice a day where I’m like “ I’m becoming such an asshole.” The balance is hard. You so want to be understanding and caring and loving about people, but at the same time it’s so overwhelming. It’s so easy to be jaded. For me at least, growing up here, I have those moments where I’m being really harsh and I have to back track and remind myself “ this is a person.” I think the balance is taking time to backtrack and remind yourself: “ these are living people. They are living the same way you do, and are stressing about the same things you are.” And at the end of the day we all are just people living and struggling and thriving and trying to find our own little niche.
It’s hard to have empathy for yourself, let alone others living in this city. It’s a struggle that you have to want to have. Once you stop wanting to do that, the city kind of wins.
Do you think food helps us be more empathetic?
Absolutely. Living in the city, being so connected with technology, I think we are so use to this sense of instant gratification. We can text our friends and instantly find out what's going on. We can go on Instagram and find out what someone is doing, but we are losing that human connection of sitting in a room with other people and connecting face to face. It’s so easy to say things over text because you are not directly looking at the person. Food is the reminder that we are all still people. It’s such a tradition. Everyone has to eat, and it becomes a ritual that brings everyone together. Since we are all connected through nourishing ourselves, it becomes a communal thing and that strengthens our bonds of empathy.
Dating and technology go hand in hand. You don’t think about one without the other anymore, how do you feel about technology and dating? Do you think it’s a bad thing?
That is a complicated and loaded question because technology is this amazing thing that allows us to connect with people right next to us or thousands of miles away. Dating apps for example get a lot of shit, but there are so many couples that have met and now have amazing lives together because of said apps. The way technology brings us together is intensely intimate. Sometimes the distance that we have allows for us to be honest or more forthcoming which in itself creates a sense of intimacy. But at the same time it is also helping us lose those bonds of intimacy because it is so easy to be forward and put yourself out there, that we are losing a sense of mystery. When we were in middle school, if you liked somebody, you had to wait by the phone and anticipate their call because there was no texting. You actually had to wait that shit out. There was some anxiety and pressure and good nervousness and that's the stuff you build memories on. We are losing that. It’s a blessing and a curse. We can use it to further build bonds of intimacy or we can use it to make that impossible.
"It’s a type of foreplay……. Watching you handle fruit and thinking about you handling me. "
Lastly, tell us about an intimate experience you had over a meal-
I feel like all of my intimate experiences, whether with a lover or somebody I’ve loved, has happened over food and over the process of watching them cook. A meal is the time where you sit down, get together, and talk, that in itself is so intimate. But the process of watching somebody produce something for you and something that is going to nourish you, just the amount of energy that goes into doing that, is really beautiful. Watching someone feed you is so sexy! Watching them chop and stir while holding a conversation with me plus focusing on this thing that we are going to enjoy together, that is such an intimate process. They are making something for the two of us to share.
I also have this thing with hands. I love watching artistic looking hands chop food and get in there with the salad and stir things and handle some tomatoes. It’s a type of foreplay……. Watching you handle fruit and thinking about you handling me.