{ Interview } Cam Damage: Naturally Naked

{ If you’re a tumblr user you’ve more than likely stumbled upon a photo or GIF image of model Cam Damage. Often nude more than clothed, strong, opinionated and consistently challenging herself and her audience; Cam embodies what The Naked Issue strives to be.  It was a real pleasure to pick the brain of this unique and passionate artist. }

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Hi Cam. We’re finally getting around to doing this! So sorry about the delay. First of all, you’re a primarily nude model. We’d love to know what initially attracted you to modelling and specifically doing nude work.
Excited to be here, Matt.  I’d say that in a game show voice if this was out loud.  Anyway – I’ve been interested in alternative culture and modeling from a young age, probably 9.  I actually applied to several modeling agencies online when I was little without my parents permission – they were less than pleased (the agencies were most likely scams mind you, i didn’t know because I was fucking 9 years old).

With that background in mind, fast forward through several years of exhibitionism and extensive nude picture taking for boyfriends/random internet groups/random image boards.  Add the discovery of tumblr, which led to the discovery of tons of my now favourite photographers and models – leading to the thought, “hey, maybe I could do this whole naked thing in front of photographers I really like and make images I really like!” And here we are now. Huzzah! 

I came across a quote on your tumblr awhile ago, something along the lines of ‘fear my vagina.’  It really struck a chord for me.  In today’s society we seem bound by clothes –in a way cut off from our sexuality and our own bodies.  Those who choose to explore their sexuality and their bodies through art are deemed pornographers or worse.  What is your take on how nudity and sexuality is perceived by those around us?
I think you hit the nail on the head with your description above.  Many today are in fact bound by the clothes they wear.  Nudity seems to be seen as this dirty little secret by the general population that links directly to deviancy – it’s something we know we all have hiding under our jeans and t-shirts that we’re apparently not supposed to let out, lest anyone see us in our most vulnerable and/or primal state.  And just as you said, those of us who choose to explore our bodies and our own sexuality by posing nude/creating art centered around some form of nudity or erotica are labeled pornographers (not that being labeled as such is a terrible thing – porn rules).  Most people in our culture see nudity and think immediately that this nude body is some crudely wanton thing only existing to perform perverse sexual acts – of which said people certainly do not speak.  On the contrary, I see nudity as a form of freedom – sexual or not.  Being nude is liberating and can allow self-exploration that will in turn lead to higher self-esteem and self-acceptance.  A lot of awesome self-stuff is going on thanks to naked bods.

Quick fun and actually related anecdote;  I remember growing up my mom would talk about “self-love”, and how her mother told her while growing up that if she ever masturbated, she would go blind.  This kind of comical view on sexuality and nudity in general still exists today, just maybe with different conditional sentences.  Hence the whole “fear my vagina” thing.  Touching it will make you blind.  Fact.

Can you walk us through your first nude experience in front of the lens? Has your perspective changed since then?
I did a shoot a few years back from this random alt porn site run by a girl who’s on Burning Angel.  Although the site featured a lot of explicit stuff, being the nervous nelly I was I chose to do an “explicit nude” set.  I didn’t know anything about modeling whatsoever then (I just knew I wanted to pose naked eventually), so I want into the whole thing pretty blindly.  After the initial nervousness of meeting the photog and such, I remember just stripping in the room in front of him to change into my shoot outfit.  This minor act of changing in front of him totally made me not nervous anymore – I was already naked, there was nothing to worry about!  I was still a little self conscious about my body, but from there I found the more I posed naked – the more comfortable I was with my body and how to work it (still learning though).  The only thing about my perspective on all of this that has changed since then is how explicit I’m willing to get in shots.  Initially I was all for celebrating/showcasing my vulva, but I’ve learned over time that in certain cases some things must be left to the imagination… Like when your mother asks you to stop flashing your vagina all over the internet.

I think you would agree that a naked body does not necessarily make an image sexual.  This is the case in a lot of your work, but there is also an element of sexuality that cannot be denied; I’m thinking of a number of your GIFs. I remember a post you had made about being open to all projects as long as they weren’t too “porny” –what is the line for you? Do you find you are constantly reevaluating the line of your own work?
I actually laughed out loud at the GIF comment :D.  My GIFs are definitely sexy, as are MANY of my images.  I always maintain I’m open to a lot of stuff shooting wise – I mean, if you’re familiar with my work you’ll recall I’ve done a shot with Fox Harvard where I actually urinated on his lovely lady Michelle’s head.  Actual pornography is indeed where I draw the line – but pornography is incredibly hard to define.  Hey i made a rhyme!  … and another accidental rhyme.  Anyway.  To me, pornography is the EXPLICIT portrayal of sexual matter – i.e. a penis/tongue/finger actually entering a vagina or anus.  There is no ambiguousness of where that finger may be going between that hypothetical girls legs in pornography like there may be in a sexual (but non-pornographic) image.  In porn, you see the finger go IN the girl.

I do find myself reevaluating my line of work pretty consistently.  I want to push my own boundaries often, but I know if I want to get certain types of work I shouldn’t stray too far from my limit line.  It’s a struggle between wanting to become a fashion/editorial/whatever you want to call it-focused model doing partial nude work who is taken seriously while also wanting to be an exhibitionist who participates in the creation of sexually suggestive and emotive images.  Although these groups aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, it’s certainly a difficult balance to find between them.

We have to ask about self consciousness.  Being naked in front of the lens as you have, how do you stay comfortable?
I used to be terribly self-conscious of my body when I was younger.  It actually wasn’t until I started posing naked in front of the lens that I got comfortable!  Basically the only awkward part is initiating when to actually GET naked – it’s like, “so uh… I’m gonna be naked now and just be walking around for the next few hours naked – that’s cool right?”.  The truth is, I don’t even need to say that.  Everyone in this naked-picture-taking-world is so used to nudity that no one bats an eye at it.  It’s odd, but now I’m to the point where I’m more comfortable naked than clothed..

What are the future hopes and dreams of Cam Damage? Where do you want to go with your work?
Realistically, I hope and dream to keep moving forward with my modeling and to keep improving until I hopefully begin finding work reliably in magazines and other publications.  Ideally, I want to settle into whatever the hell my style is, do the above, and to then work my way into other medias – music or movies possibly.  Who knows!  I’m terrible at talking about the future.  In the most fantasmic of realities, my dream would be to become an actual leading lady and/or metal music video vixen.  I’ve tried contacting The Sword to get in one of their videos, no luck yet.

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{ Thank you Cam Damage for the interview. Cover photo by @KennySweeney411 }

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