Last week, Fanny and I did our first workshop. And since we never do things half-way, we chose to do it at the easiest place on the planet for regular people: the Oasis Aqualounge.
If you were to remember only ONE thing about us, it's that we believe that you should be able to do whatever the hell you want with your body, as long as you are not putting yourself or others in danger. We pride ourselves to be respectful of people's choices even though they might be different from ours. In case you are not familiar with the Oasis, it is the only high end sex club downtown Toronto. Meaning that you go there with or without a partner and you do or don't do things. No it's not dodgy, and yes it's safe (and clean).
Now that we cleared the air, you must wonder why we ended up here at the first place.
We actually contacted them. It's that simple. They were pleased with our body positivity approach and the diversity of our models, and offered to give us a timeslot during their monthly event. We saw an opportunity to talk to people directly and took it. However, here is the difference between this specific adventure and a regular workshop: people pay the entrance ticket to the place, not to your speech. It is available to them if they feel like it. Meaning that people came or left half way through.
We had NEVER spoken in public before, especially in English. We had no idea what to expect. I seriously had notes with me that just said "SPEAK" so I remembered.
How do you practice for an event that you know no one is coming for specifically? You can't introduce yourself multiple times if new people show up. What happens if it's boring and people leave in the middle of it? To be honest, all of these thoughts kept me up at night.
So here we were, a few days before the workshop, rehearsing in my living room, and timing our speech to keep it short and sweet. We got frustrated by our accents we think are too thick. We changed our speech 20 thousand times. We rehearsed for 6 hours non-stop one day. Again, again and again.
The day of, we grabbed two glasses of wine, generously offered by the Oasis, took a deep breath and stepped on the stage, in front of strangers. "Picture people naked" they say. Well they already were. Surprisingly, after 3 minutes and a second glass of wine, we didn't even notice it. We did our speech - with technical difficulties and our awkward English - and we started asking for volunteers to take pictures of.
Then something pretty cool happened.
Instead of having one couple and one woman volunteering like we planned initially, we had 6 couples. We managed to make people trust us even though the first thing they said before listening to the workshop was "I don't want my picture taken". Our short intro did work. We even had to turn people down because we were out of time (and releases).
We met amazing people. All shapes, age and gender. The connection they share with their partners is unbelievable. We only had a few minutes per person and yet, we got amazing images. We saw the trust, the love and the complicity between two people and we were so honoured to be given a chance to capture it.
A lot of things didn't go as planned. We messed up quite a bit, we stuttered, we made jokes no one laughed at, saw people leaving when we were speaking, and had tough lighting conditions to shoot in. But we did it. We. Freaking. Did it. Because at the end, all that matters is that:
Some people stayed
Some people laughed
Some people were excited to have their pictures taken
Some people sent us nice emails
Some people believe in what we do.