Elle Chase is the one of the best things that’s ever happened to porn. She has raised the bar on a medium that is often low on aesthetic value and insults one’s intelligence. Spend five minutes on her gorgeous tumblr, Lady Cheeky, and you’ll understand why smarts and sensuality make sexy even sexier.
When I found out she was doing a boudoir shoot with the amazing Nick Holmes, I pestered her until she agreed to let me showcase her photos on my blog, and tell me what it was like finally being in front of the camera.
Tell me why you like these photos.
These photos capture a part of me that I could visualize, but never feel. Nick was able to coax a vulnerability and a sexiness I reserve only for a partner or a lover. Not only could I see what I look like when I feel my sexiest, but I now have a visual of how I am perceived by my lover. I used to avoid mirrors so I only had the feeling and never an image of myself. Imagine that. At my age (45) finally seeing what I look like turned on, flaws and all.
What made you decide to do a boudoir shoot?
I am sexy. I feel sexy. But I had never looked objectively at a photo of myself and thought, “Fuck, that’s one sexy broad.” As a woman of size, particularly one that lives in a city that values a certain kind of mainstream beauty and sexuality, I had never outwardly experienced myself as unequivocally desirable. I wanted photos that showed me the outward manifestation of what I felt inside. I don’t say this out of hubris, but out of an acceptance for a part of my womanhood that I worked very hard to achieve.
What was it like getting naked, or nearly naked, for a male photographer?
I was lucky to have a photographer who genuinely loves women. In the past, when I had contacted photographers for a “sexy shoot,” I was mostly told that I wasn’t their “aesthetic.” So when I spoke to Nick, I said: “Look, I’m a woman of size. If that’s not your thing, fine. But I need to feel that you can see the beauty and sexiness in any woman, even a plus-size woman.” His response? “You’re beautiful, let’s shoot.”
On the day, I was terrified. But it was less about showing my body than letting my past dictate how sexy/vulnerable/sassy I would let myself get. I wanted to challenge the message of unworthiness that still skulked around the corners of my self-esteem. I think it’s a basic human desire to want to be appreciated for the beauty we naturally inherit. That needs to happen first within, and then after that, it’s fun to have that appreciated by others.
It didn’t hurt that I had a cocktail, but that was just to help me loosen myself up. Oh, and there’s this: when embarking on a sexy shoot for the first time, it helps to have a photographer you can imagine seducing you (drops mic).
What was the experience like for you? Were you self-conscious? Or were you relaxed?
I had to shake my feeling of awkwardness and my expectations of how I had to be, look, pose, blah, blah, blah. Here I was, with my hair done, a full face of make-up, clothes that make me feel like a minx and I felt like Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show. NOT a mood that was in my best interest. But a supportive call from a good friend, a sip of liquid courage, and a photographer who made me feel comfortable and desirous, helped change that. The photographer created a safe space for me to let go and inhabit that sexual part of myself. I felt like he wanted to see me get to the ‘good place’ as well. Without that, I don’t think I would’ve gotten such veracious photos.
Note from Erica: I had to look up “veracious,” so in case you don’t know, it means “speaking or representing the truth.”
What were you thinking and feeling during the shoot?
Feeling? Like sex incarnate. Thinking? None of your business.
You’re a body-positive advocate. With than lens in mind, how did the shoot/photos affect the way you feel about yourself/your body/your sexuality? Did the experience change your self-perceptions?
This was the best part of having a shoot like this. It was a litmus test which demonstrated to me, in real-time, how much of what I proselytize I actually put into practice. Not only did my own framework prove effective for me (to feel comfortable in my own skin), but it left open a space for another person to experience it with me. I don’t think I’m special in this regard. I think this kind of ownership of one’s body and sensuality is not only our right, but part of being a fully integrated human being.
As to how it affected the way I feel about my self and how it may have changed my self perceptions … it added to the ‘Gestalt’ of my sensual/sexual confidence. This was another well, from which I could draw to support that part of self-confidence that can wax and wane based on … well, life. For better or worse, I know what my lover sees when I’m desirous or aroused or flirty or seductive. That’s another layer of real-world, self-knowledge that informs my sexual side.
When I’m imagining myself making love or fucking or having sex — no matter the situation, I now have an idea of what ‘he’ physically sees. I can imbue those images with the sexuality of the moment, making my experience more authentic for me and therefore, just a hint more satisfying. That’s a VERY long-winded, esoteric way of saying: it made me feel yummy.
She is best known as the popular sex blogger and aficionado of beautiful erotica, Lady Cheeky. Her body-positive Tumblr site, LadyCheeky.com(NSFW), boasts a loyal and sizable following that believe in her credo, “smart is sexy.” Her sex blog, SmutForSmarties.com, features op-eds, personal essays, sex ed resources, toy reviews, as well as sexuality support for people with self-image concerns. In 2013, SmutForSmarties.com took the Best Sex Blog title in LA Weekly’s Best of the Web Awards and LadyCheeky.com was named on of Salon.com’s ‘Best of Tumblr Porn.’
As a sex educator/coach, Elle teaches sexuality workshops privately, at conferences, universities and for the public at large. Elle has been featured by a number of outlets, including; The Toronto Sun, The Rumpus, The Frisky, Men’s Health UK, The Huffington Post, as well as NBC’s THE TODAY SHOW and popular sex and sexuality programs, including; ‘Sex Out Loud with Tristan Taormino’, ‘Sex with Emily’ and Playboy’s ‘In Bed with jessica drake.’
This December, Elle can be seen in the film ‘Inside Her Sex,’ a Canadian documentary focused on the stories of three women. Elle, Candice and Samantha. Three women who, on the surface, appear to have little in common, but whose many stories reflect a deeper narrative of societal shame. ‘Inside Her Sex’ airs in Canada on the CBC Documentary Channel on December 14th.
To see more of photographer Nick Holmes’ work, check out his web site here.