In Search of the Final Freedom: An Erotic Socio-Political Novel
Waving the Revolutionary Flag of Sexual Freedom
At 6:00 AM Friday, Cooper crawled out of bed the morning after his long and exhausting "day off" chaperoning Misty’s Euro-Club party. He knew full well he had another grueling marathon of a day ahead. As he got himself ready to go, rather than thinking on all the adult things his daughter had done the day before; he preferred to dwell on how fortunate he was that his teenager still liked having him around.
In his office at 8:00, he checked Salon.com. They had posted the series of articles on art & eroticism, including his own. At 9:00 he left for his presentation for the United Methodist’s conference. Bonnie called while he was on his drive to the conference site. They ran over the weekend’s itinerary and what he wanted her to pack for him. They reviewed and discussed the party and after-party. He understood her feeling that in hosting the two pool parties (Sunday and Thursday) they had crossed some kind of Rubicon; they had passed a point of no return, yet she was not sure of the destination. Mostly though, they discussed an agenda of things they would need to discuss regarding what went well and what they would do differently next time. In closing she made a few short observations about how well her time over at Ashely’s house had gone.
After the call ended, he could not help but ponder how the events of the day before dovetailed into the topic of liberated Christian sexuality he was presenting at the conference. The very fact that his wife had sex with one of his fellow Rotarians the night before; and yet they saw that as a small matter in the course of events, said volumes. Perhaps she’d (they’d) finally moved to the point that sex with other people really was just a normal part of life. He found that a bit surprising; yet it was also a validation of the conclusions he’d come to almost three years before.
After his presentation to a disappointingly small crowd (if three people can be called a crowd), he made the drive back to Augusta state to teach his Friday class. By the time a very tired Cooper returned to his university office at 3:00 he was beat, but had little time to dally.
While he was gone his graduate assistant had taken four messages from reporters regarding his Solon article. Cooper did not call any of them back but rather had Lilly make appointments for each of them on Monday or Tuesday. At 4:30 he picked up Bonnie at home on the way to Atlanta for their flight to New York. He was asleep almost as soon as he sat down in the Boeing 737.
Cooper had traveled a great deal as an architect for two decades, but in all that time he had never done more than transfer planes in New York City. Even for a seasoned traveler New York can be a bit overwhelming. It was late by the time Cooper and Bonnie stood outside the terminal and hailed a cab. Despite the fact it was well past business hours, the traffic seemed daunting and the buildings seemed to close in around them as they road into the city. The traffic, the crowds and the noise all reinforced Cooper’s dislike for big cities.
Their hotel room was small, but well appointed. The bed was comfortable, and that’s what mattered most. It had been a very busy week and though they talked about going out on the town, they ended up eating at one of the hotel’s restaurants and simply taking a stroll on the nearby sidewalks before going to bed.
The next morning, since the opening wasn’t until 1:30, they took in a few of the New York sites. They returned to the hotel after only two hours so they could freshen up and get dressed for the Soft Opening. While Bonnie worked on her make-up, Cooper reviewed his notes for possible interviews. Amy had emailed him early in the week that she would be counting on him to help her field the questions about the philosophical underpinnings regarding public expression of sexuality and the FFF’s position.
Bonnie had also emailed Amy before they left home, but her questions were about appropriate attire rather than content. Taking Amy's advice, she brought what she thought was a fashionable outfit for the afternoon Soft-Opening and the gown she’d worn to the LeMarco’s party for the Gala Opening in the evening. While she was sure a real fashionista would never wear a gown twice, she had no such qualms, particularly at what she’d paid for that gown.
The cab ride to the gallery was not long, and they pulled up in front of a fairly typical New York multi-story building with the bottom floor given to retail. Cooper couldn’t help but be amused that even in New York City; the display cases were empty except for a sign that read CENSORED.
At the door was a man in a black tuxedo. Cooper had to present their tickets before entering. The door was opened and they were politely escorted in.
The gallery was a Spartan affair, essentially a warehouse with an exposed second story steel structure. There were no walls that went to the ceiling, only eight and ten foot panels attached to support columns. But it was airy and conducive for large groups. Inside the door the first thing that grabbed their eye was an ancient rock wall (actually made of fiberglass) with figures of couples copulating carved into it. It ran the with of the space with a single arched passage way in the center. This created a sort of vestibule with the main exhibit space behind it. In the vestibule were larger-than-life two-toned cast aluminum sculptures rising into the trusses that held up the roof. Each sculpture was of a standing couple who had trees growing out of them.
They would have been very nice, but not unusual, works if they had not been so explicitly sexual. Looking up to the nearest one Bonnie could see the foot long penis spreading open a very realistic, though giant sized, pair of labial lips. From the ground looking up it was indeed the most graphicly sexual sculpture Bonnie had ever seen. Also in the vestibule was another sculpture, this one a true to life sized bronze of a couple making love on an actual, wood and upholstery, antique divan. It was quite striking, having caught the couple’s passion in mid-stride.
Moving into the main part of the exhibit, they had to negotiate around small groups of people deep in discussion. Many others had tablet computers in hand making notes. It appeared to Bonnie they were writing reviews of each piece. Cooper noticed a good number had badges around their necks labeled PRESS. He tried to read who they represented, but it was difficult without being too obvious. Moving around they could clearly pick out Amy’s works, they all had a colorful lushness that none of the others could match.
There were a number of paintings by someone with an interesting primitive style. Those paintings looked as if they had been uncovered by archeologist rather than having been recently created. Another artist used mixed media with a more impressionist approach, giving more a feeling of the moment. They had been looking at a grouping of three moderate sized paintings by Amy of human like figures making love when Bonnie turned around. There, taking up nearly the entire with of the twelve-foot-wide panel was the painting of them. She whipped Cooper around to see. It was magnificent. It was all their painting at home was, and much more. The size gave a presence and gravity that took their breath away.
“It was worth the trip just to see this” Bonnie said.
“I can’t believe how much more she put into it. And the sheer size” Cooper gushed.
As they stood and discussed how the addition of two female figures watching them having sex changed the feel of the huge painting, Daniel Holdridge approached them. When they had “posed” for Amy in the greenhouse, he was still Amy’s graduate assistant and had helped her by moving potted plants around and taking reference photos of them making love. Cooper had told Bonnie of how he’d come from a fundamentalist Christian university and how Amy and her friends had corrupted him.
The day they posed for Amy, Daniel had been very nice and quite helpful, if a little standoffish. He had always called her ma’am, even while taking photos of her having sex. Though his words were proper, even diffident, his eyes betrayed what he thought from the moment Bonnie had taken off her clothes. He did his best not to stare at her, but repeatedly she saw him doing so, even when she was just standing waiting for Amy…in the nude. She’d pretended not to notice him adjusting the erection in his pants.
They had already seen several of his paintings and, given the fact he’d only first started having sex on that trip to Guatemala over Christmas break, his work showed a level of intimacy that surprised her. Perhaps the very fact that he did not have sex until well into his 20’s might account for some of that, or perhaps it was due to the fact he must have grown up in a very sexually repressed world; mostly likely it was some of both. Bonnie was no art expert, but she thought his style seemed very 18th or 19th century, not at all modern in any way.
“Daniel!” Bonnie gushed, “Your paintings are magnificent.” And she gave him a hug that seemed to surprise him. “We haven’t seen nearly all of them yet, but the ones we have seen are terrific.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Campbell,” he said a bit befuddled. “I hope you will like the rest of them.”
“I’m sure I will.”
“Look for the one entitled Eternal Intimacy, it is based on you and your husband.”
Bonnie had seen him doing his own sketches while she’d been posing for Amy, but had not even asked herself why. She was flattered and she certainly wanted to see the painting. Daniel went on “You are the only married couple I’ve seen…uh…”
Bonnie finished “having sex?”
“Yes. All the others I observed and sketched were no more than friends. No that’s not right. One dating couple let me draw them, but even they really weren’t serious. So seeing you two was a unique experience for me. Watching you was different, it was…it was…well like I named the painting, intimate. It was like I could see a trust between you two that I didn’t see in anyone else, and you seemed to know what the other wanted and expected. I guess that comes from being married so long.”
Bonnie had to restrain her smile. “I am very happy we were helpful. I don’t know if Amy told you but she’s come by our home and done more sketches of us. You are free to do the same. We aren’t that far from the university and we even have a private back yard with woods if you want to draw something about making love in nature.”
His face lit up. “I’d love to.”
“Well you know where to find Cooper when you want to come. And we also have a swimming pool. Amy said you took to skinny dipping on your trip in December, our pool is always swim-suit optional.”
He again seemed to stammer and just barely got out. “Yes, that would be great. I’ll see you at the After-Show” and he was off.
Bonnie couldn’t help but be amused. Very pleased, she and Cooper moved on. Next, they looked at an interesting exhibit that required the viewer to look through an opening fashioned like an old theater’s proscenium. Looking inside, it was as stylized 19th century theater stage with slightly oversized forest scenery. In the center was a large flat-topped rock beside a half-fallen tree. On the rock were three sculpted nude figures painted as if they were plants rather than animals. The two females were in green tones while the male was in browns. Perhaps, Bonnie thought, Amy meant them to be some type of forest sprites or dryads. In sum it appeared to be a sculptural representation of a scene similar to Amy’s paintings.
While Bonnie had yet to understand what she was seeing, Cooper saw it for what it was. This was the live art display. He knew this was not exactly how Amy had originally spelled out her vision; but the project was still in the planning stage when they last talked about it. She’d said nothing about a second female.
Cooper quietly urged Bonnie, “Now just stand and watch the figures for a minute.”
“What am I looking for?” she whispered.
“Just wait” he asked.
After about twenty seconds the three figures, as a group, shifted their poses. “Oh my! Those are real people in there… having sex.”
“I was beginning to wonder if Amy was going to have them move at all” he said.
“How did you know what to look for?”
“Amy told me she was planning this display about a month ago.”
A middle-aged woman had stepped up just after the model’s position change. “Did you say those are real people?”
Bonnie pointed out “Watch closely, they don’t move very much until they go to a new position.”
Then the lady said “Oh, yes. I see it. She is just barely moving on him, but, oh yes, it is the real thing, they’re not faking it. That’s a ballsy move to have live sex in the Chelsea Arts District. No one has done anything like that since the days of Andy Warhol and The Factory.“
She jotted something down on a steno pad she was carrying, then asked “Did I hear your friend say Amy told him about this. Did he mean Amy Douglas?”
The woman speaking was silver haired and slightly heavy set. She appeared to be in her sixties and was very fashionably dressed, even provocatively, with a low-cut blouse showing a good bit of cleavage, especially for a woman her age.
“Yes, she’s been a friend of ours for years” Bonnie said then added, with some pride, “That’s us” pointing across the way where they could see part of the big painting partially hidden by another panel.
”Oh?” The woman was now clearly interested. “My name is Claudia McPherson, I write for the New York Daily News. And you are?”
“I’m Bonnie Campbell and this” pulling Cooper over to her “is my husband Cooper. Amy asked us to come for the opening because she wanted one of the model couples to be here, and because Cooper writes a lot of the stuff for their non-profit.”
The reporter put out her hand and reintroduced herself. “So, Professor Campbell, glad to meet you. In my briefing I was told you are the spokesperson for the Final Freedom Foundation.”
“Well, I don’t know we have an official spokesman, but I am on the Board and I have written a good bit of the material that was released to the press. Did any of that material come your way?”
“Yes, I read some of it in the press release and your article in Salon. I do both arts and culture work for the Daily News, that’s why I was given this story. It appears to be a bit of both. We could talk here, but I’d really rather have a sit down with you.”
“We are only in town till tomorrow morning” Cooper responded.
“How about right after the press conference?”
“I’ll say yes, but I haven’t even told Amy I’m here and don’t know if she has something for me to do.”
The reporter stuck to her guns and said “I’ll see you afterward. How about I’ll take you two to dinner and we can talk then.”
Cooper, feeling a bit out of his depth. No sooner had he done so than the aggressive reporter scurried off.
He looked over at Bonnie “That was weird. New Yorkers I guess.”
She gave him a wry smile “So goes the life of fame.”
“Yea right. I don’t even rate being a talking head.”
They toured the entire exhibit in well under half an hour. Only then did they finally see Amy. She was engrossed in a discussion with a group of people, none whom he recognized. He and Bonnie slowly moved into her field of vision hoping to get her attention. His plan worked and Amy waved for him and Bonnie to come over.
“I’m so glad you’re here” Amy exclaimed as she gave Cooper a hard kiss on the lips then gave Bonnie the same. He was sure she was making some point to the onlookers, but did not know what. She then introduced Cooper and Bonnie to her audience: an art critic, a writer for an art magazine and a reporter for The Village Voice. Then she continued “I hadn’t seen you and was afraid you didn’t make it.”
“We’ve been here for a good while, but didn’t see you” Cooper said.
“The show is absolutely terrific.” Bonnie then added “I love your painting of us, it is even better than the smaller one. I didn’t think that was possible.”
Amy then turned to the group of reporters and said “If you will follow me.” They went past two of the partitions to the large version of the first painting she made of Bonnie & Cooper.
Bonnie asked “When did you decide to add the other two figures? I love it, but I don’t recall you ever talking about it.”
“After I finished yours, I began thinking it needed something more. It was only when Cooper’s graduate assistant, Lilly, posed for me I decided to put her in the final painting.”
Bonnie nodded, “Oh yes. I see it now. Then who is the second figure?”
“It’s me. I decided I should be in at least one of these.” She then turned to the reporters and explained the paining was of Cooper and Bonnie. She described them as an upstanding southern couple, active in their church and community and they had agreed to let her paint them making love last winter.
Cooper corrected “That’s all true but we are also old friends of Amy and her husband.”
Amy agreed “Oh, yes that’s true. That’s how I knew that Cooper is the true Renaissance man. He is an extremely talented architect, a philosopher, a teacher and a passionate lover.”
Cooper was shocked she had said that. He knew she was opening her life up to the world at this exhibit, but did not think she was going to go that far. Evidently, she saw his shock because she added “but that last thing is strictly off the record.” Then she winked at him and said “but it’s the truth”, then she added “And they are very progressive parents of two fine teenagers. They caused quite a stir in their little Georgia town when Bonnie here, and their daughter who was sixteen at the time let a photographer shoot a whole set of photos of them at a nude beach last summer. This spring the photos surfaced on a web site. Quite the scandal, but neither Bonnie nor their strong-willed daughter ever apologized to anyone for their choices. When their daughter turns eighteen next spring, I have a standing appointment to paint her, just as I did her parents. But, leave that last part out of any story, they have enough problems with the local prudes without that bit.” Amy then looked around and said “Well gentlemen, that’s enough for now, I’ll answer more questions at the press conference after the doors close at 3:30."
“They are also the centerpiece of a second painting on the other side of the gallery.”
Bonnie and Cooper looked at each other in confusion.
Amy turned to them and said “Look for the one entitled May in the Forest. You two are the central couple.”
Once the reporters left Cooper asked “How do you think it’s going?”
“I think really well. Our publicist did a good job of inviting the most open-minded media people. So far I’ve only heard positive things, but I’m new at this working with the New York press.”
“So am I” Cooper agreed. “I got cornered by a woman from the Daily News.”
“How’d it go?”
“We got roped into doing dinner with her.”
Amy seemed to understand. “It could have been worse. You heard what I said about the press conference. I want you to join me and the other artists on the panel to field their questions.”
“I’m not sure I should be there. It’s your time to shine.”
”But I want you there to discuss the open sexuality philosophy with them. And besides I want them to meet the real couple behind what many have already called the best piece in the entire exhibit.”
“OK, we’ll come, but we will sit to the side and if you need us, we will be there.”
A woman with a press badge around her neck approached, this prompted Amy to agree to Cooper’s suggestion before she and the reporter began to discuss her paintings. They had time to kill so they went back to take a second, closer, look at the exhibit.
As they wondered, they looked for the painting entitled May in the Forest. When they found it, they could not believe they’d not realized that was them. After all, how many bald and bearded forest spirits did one see?” In this painting, almost as large as the other one with them in it; they were on a rock with Bonnie on top of Cooper. Around them, a dozen other forest spirits danced and made love. Bonnie asked her husband “Do you think Amy envisioned us as dryads here?”
Cooper had no idea. Over the next hour, they ended up having several interesting conversations with others invited to the soft-opening which helped the time to pass quickly. Thus, they enjoyed themselves until the gallery closed. About a dozen chairs had been set up in the vestibule area after official closing time. The press conference was a low-keyed affair, and apparently most of the reporters and critics knew each other well. In addition to the reporters there were several photographers and a video news crew. The questions were mostly about the artists’ background and how they came to create the exhibit. Amy related much of the story that she had told Cooper at the LeMarco’s party, but she completely omitted the fact the artists were sleeping with each other.
One of the critics asked why almost all of the art was of heterosexual couples. Amy answered “We actually do have quite a few more works involving same sex couples and of groups that include same sex couples. We excluded most of them from this, our first exhibit, frankly for political reasons. We didn’t want to fight more than one battle at a time, if we had put them out the entire press reaction would have been about homosexuality given the fact this exhibit was started during a project funded by a government grant. That brings me to mention the FFF, the Final Freedom Foundation for which this show is raising money. Let me introduce Cooper Campbell and his beautiful wife Bonnie.”
She motioned to Cooper and Bonnie who were standing behind the chairs. “Cooper and Bonnie are old friends and they were among the first couples I asked to sit for me…if you can still call it sitting since they were making love. For the record they have been married over twenty years, are active in their rural Georgia church and have two wonderful teenage children. The large painting near the north wall you all liked so much is of Bonnie and Cooper. Cooper is a highly regarded architect but has recently moved to the academic arena and teaches at Augusta State University. He is one of the co-founders of the FFF and writes most of our position papers. Cooper, could you come give a brief summary of the FFF position on gender and sexuality.”
This was Cooper’s moment. Over the years he had given hundreds of presentations to groups of this size, but not on this subject. It was only twenty feet from where he stood to the lectern, but it seemed much farther as the tension rose in his stomach. He so wanted to do this well.
Stepping behind the lectern, he began to speak. “The FFF rejects the modern dichotomy of hetero or homosexuality, instead we take our philosophical approach to human sexuality from the classical world. We believe nearly all humans are naturally sexually responsive regardless of gender and that preferences for one gender is a matter of taste influenced by a myriad of both biological and environmental factors. For instance, many young people are sexually attracted to people with tattoos and piercings, most older people are not; but that does not make those who are attracted to tattoos somehow fundamentally different than those who are not. Similarly, a non-body art practitioner could have enjoyable sexual relations with someone with body art. Of course they could. Thus, the FFF position is that people are sexual and under the right circumstances nearly all people can have enjoyable sexual relations with people with either sets of genitalia. Now, having said that, romantic attraction and sexual attraction are not the same thing and it is a mistake to treat sexual and romantic attraction as one and the same. Perhaps we need to decouple those two in our public discourse. However, my point is that the deeper one goes into this, the more people we would offend; thus, for now, we have largely sidestepped that topic.”
The reporter from the Village Voice asked “So does the FFF support LGBTQI efforts to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
“We support and promote everyone to come out of the closet. We support each person’s right to live out their sexuality, publicly, in their own manner without fear of discrimination. We support the right to be celibate, we support the right to be monogamous, we support the right to be sexually involved with as many people as you may choose and of any gender you choose. So yes we support the LGBT community and all the other groups that are marginalized for their sexual behavior. We support sexual openness in all its forms, but our focus is our opposition to the hypocrisy of public stands for one sexual standard while living a different standard in private.”
“So do you support a national ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation?”
“I said we support free expression of sexuality without fear. To limit our focus to just those who give their sexual behavior and desires the label of an “orientation” would be to miss the very point of promoting universal openness of sexual lifestyles and behaviors. We will not promote an agenda that limits protections to the relatively small percentage of Americans that identify as LGBT, to do so would be to privilege that group over those who are in the BDSM community, or nudists, or swingers or polyamorist and a whole range of other sexual behaviors that currently can be used against people in employment, housing and child custody. Even among people who engage in homosexual behavior, it is fair to say that only a small minority self-identify as LBGT. Back in the 1950’s Kinsey found that right at half of males had sexual contact to orgasm with another male in their adulthood, yet a UCLA meta-analysis of many studies find less than 2% of men identify themselves as gay. Why is that? I would suggest that the insistence by certain groups on labeling men who on occasion have sex with other men as gay, only drives that sexual behavior further underground. The queer community by very definition and title make a real effort to present themselves as outside, not of just the mainstream, but marginalized. That outsider status is very much the core of their identity. They have every right to take this position, but that is not the position of the FFF. We propose that the mainstream is far more diverse than is ever acknowledged. We seek to break down the barriers of silence, but of overzealous labeling as well. To do this we know we will run afoul of not only the religious right, but of many left-wing activists as well. That is precisely why we side-stepped the issue for now."
Cooper took a breath then went on. "The FFF would suggest that if we would let people just be people without sexual labels, we would find many more people open about the fact they enjoy sex with men, women and a good many other expressions of gender. For instance, a good number of my friends, who would never associate politically with the gay movement, will, in certain settings, enjoy having sexual contact with other men, some do so regularly. It is the use of labeling to control behavior, by both the left and right, that drive sexual openness underground. That, the FFF opposes.”
“Would you be one of those men?” the reporter asked.
“We are committed to diversity.” Cooper said using the old tactic of answering a different question if the question that is asked is not one you want to answer. Though he was beginning to admit to himself that he did enjoy the sexual experiences he’d had with men over the past few months, he was not ready to make that public. “FFF members do not exclude any race of people from our sexual world and similarly I would not be breaking confidence by saying most people I know who are involved with the FFF are open to enjoying same sex sex on occasion.”
The next question went back to art style and so Cooper sat down. About half an hour later a reporter asked “I would like to ask Mrs. Campbell a question.”
Amy, who was the moderator agreed and the reporter asked. “Mrs. Campbell, since it is likely that people in your very conservative home town will likely not only see photos of Dr. Douglas's erotic painting, but they will find out that you modeled for her live to paint it; are you afraid of any backlash? Second, I’d like to know how you feel about these ideas of complete sexual openness, again in light of where you live.”
Bonnie, though she had been a school teacher at one time and had taught classes in church for years, was totally unused to speaking in a professional setting. She sat frozen until Cooper pushed her slightly. She almost stumbled over to the table. Using one hand to brace herself she stalled “Can you repeat your question?”
As the reporter repeated her questions something happened to Bonnie. It had been two years ago that she and Jill had begun to talk about their sex lives. Over that time, her life had certainly changed. There had been many firsts, but overall, the transition had been incremental. To her, there had not yet been a point of no return. Even the events of the week’s parties were limited to a small group of people. She’d not yet done anything that would prevent her from keeping her life as quiet rural housewife intact. She’d heard and read Cooper’s thoughts on sexual openness, and though she had come to share his view on these things, it was his cause not hers. But in that moment, standing before the twenty or so reporters and cameras, the vision of Misty’s school principal trying to make her feel like dirt for going to the nude beach popped in her head. Then the faces of all the self-righteous women at the school and at church and even at the grocery store looking at her as if she were wearing the scarlet letter came to her. She became angry. Her fear left, and the same feeling of power she felt as the sex goddess came over her.
She stood up straight and began. “As a woman and mother how do I feel about my husband’s ideas of complete sexual openness?”
She said the words slowly, emphasizing her Southern accent. “First I should point out that sexual openness is not just Cooper’s idea. The concepts you are asking about were carefully worked out by both of us. It was a joint project. They were twenty years in the making before my husband put them to paper. I also need to say that I’m not just a woman and a mother; but I am a Southern woman, a stay-at-home wife and a mother of two teenagers. The world in which I live is entirely removed from the experience you live here in New York. Mayberry is still alive and well, and I live there.”
Cooper noticed how she had slipped into that silky smooth cadence of the southern aristocracy. He knew full well she had different levels at which she spoke with her combination of American Standard, Tennessee Appalachian and Georgian gentry accents. She had tuned up the Georgia gentry to full volume to underscore what she was saying.
Bonnie continued “In my world, middle-class morality is enforced by an aristocracy who do not feel themselves obligated to obey such moral niceties. In my community sexual repression is just another tool of the elites to control the working class in general, and with an ever-watchful eye on the black community. I live in a state that just a few years ago released an African-American young man from a twenty-year prison sentence for allowing his girlfriend, who was only two years younger than him, to give him a blow job. I come from a place where in the next county a fifteen-year-old honor student committed suicide last year after the police came to her school and took her away in handcuffs for sending her eighteen-year-old boyfriend a naked photo of herself. I live in a town where a young kindergarten teacher was fired from her job, her life dream ripped away when she was named in a divorce proceeding as having an affair with a married man. I live in a state that has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world, yet the schools are forbidden to teach teens the most basic methods of birth control. And……I myself have been dragged before a room full of school officials, including law-enforcement, and shown nude beach photos of my sixteen-year-old daughter from the internet. Their intent was clearly to destroy my girl’s life for violating their unilaterally imposed rules of decorum. The school officials focused their attacks on what they assumed would be a powerless sixteen-year-old."
"Had I been a poor single mom, or even worse in our community, a poor single black woman, they likely would have succeeded. However, by virtue of the fact that our daughter’s father, Cooper, is a white professional man with deep family ties to the county's ruling elites, she was never in real danger of prosecution. Yet, they still could have damaged my daughter in the same way the girl who took her own life was. Fortunately, our daughter is self-empowered and refused to be shamed for her choice to go naked on a public beach. And it helped our daughter's resolved that on that day she was on that public nude beach, her mother was right beside her, equally naked."
"So, in our daughter's case, the attack only emboldened her to publicly express her sexuality. Unlike that poor girl who was shamed and bullied into taking her own life, our daughter did not let the oppressive forces back her into a corner when those photos appeared on the internet. Knowing Mom and Dad had her back, she refused to accept the shame they tried to pin on her. The next day, she went to school with head held high. With her own courage, she gave courage to her fellow students to stand up for what they believed to be right, not what those in power believe. I could not possibly have been any prouder than I was that day. All these attacks by the powerful on the powerless are premised on the assumption that nudity and sexuality is dirty and should be hidden. So, you ask what do I think of the idea of bringing sex into the light of day?”
“As a woman, I believe such openness will bring about more equality of both social class and gender. As a mother it is simply advocating to others what Cooper and I have practiced in our home and recommended to our friends since our children were infants." Bonnie was full of confidence now and knew what she was about to say next, she knew this, not the parties, would be her Rubicon. She took a deep breath. “What do I think about bringing private sexual behavior out of the dark and into the light of my public life? We live in a society where polite lies are more acceptable than open truth. Few people, even professing morally conservative women, are monogamous throughout their marriage. A research study using DNA testing of nuclear families found that one out of three women who stated they had never ever been unfaithful, bore at least one child who did not share the father’s DNA.” She paused to let that sink in. “Yes, one of three not only had lied about not having sex outside marriage, but were so sloppy about it that they bore their lover’s child. So how many marriages really are monogamous? I would suggest very few. I make no apologies to anyone that I am not.
She paused to let that statement rest for a second before continuing. "Yes, Cooper and I have an open marriage by mutual negotiated consent. While some might take offense at that, the reality is that nearly all marriages are open. The only difference between our marriage and most is that we have negotiated consent while most marriages do not. We declare openly to each other and to the world what most people hide even from their mate. For us as a nation to keep clinging to false public morality that bears little resemblance to actual private behavior is bad both for relationships and for society as a whole. I know I’ve given you more of an answer than you asked, so the short answer is; I think, no I know, the freedom to express one’s sexuality in public is as basic a right as is freedom to express oneself by speech in public. Is that what you wanted to know?”
There was a pause after Bonnie’s wholly unexpected response. Finally, the reporter said “Yes, you answered that part of my question, but what about the painting?”
“As far as the painting goes, it is beautiful. Why should I be anything but thrilled? That piece of art will be viewed and appreciated for generations. You may not know that the paining you see here is the second, final version of Amy's vision. Her smaller test version hangs in our living room in Sparta, Georgia. So, I guess we can’t be too embarrassed by it.”
With that the questions moved back to the artists until the press conference was over. Quietly Bonnie asked Cooper anxiously “How’d I do?”
He whispered “You were great, I mean really. You could not have done better.”
After the meeting broke up, Amy came over and with enthusiasm said, “You were fantastic, both of you. I wish I could thank you more, but now I’ve got to get ready for the big show tonight.” She leaned forward and gave each of them quick kisses. Then before she left, she said “It will be crazy tonight so if I don’t see you then, I want you to come to the After-Show in the FFF hospitality suite at the Warwick. We’ll all get drunk and naked, for artistic reasons of course. It’s room 3106” She smiled a wicked smile and was off.
“So are you two ready for a great New York dinner on the Daily News?” Claudia McPherson asked from behind them. “I know I said 5:00, but since you are still here, and I can’t imagine you are not hungry.”
Though he really didn’t much like this woman, Cooper really was hungry. “Lead on, the tourist will follow.”
With a jolly air she said “You’re not a tourist, you’re on business and that makes you one of the people who make this city go.”
Bonnie had not thought of it that way. She had to race to keep up as Claudia headed out the door “Where are we going?”
Hailing a cab, the reporter said “Now if you’ll promise me a great interview, I’ll take you to the Blue Hill, my favorite place on this side of town; but we should hurry since our reservations are for 5:15, so we will be as good as walk-ins.”
“We promise” Bonnie said as Claudia pushed them into a cab.
She wasn’t kidding, the meal was amazing. Bonnie and Cooper tried to make it worth her while. For a long time Claudia took notes as Cooper discussed the FFF’s philosophy that political freedom is impossible without sexual freedom. Then he continued on to their central premise that the continued censuring of public sexual expression is a violation of basic human freedoms.
“So” Claudia asked “the FFF would say that if a couple wanted to get naked and have sex in central park they should be allowed to do so.”
“Absolutely, the state has no vested interest in telling them to stop.”
“What about in this restaurant?” she asked.
“The state does have a vested interest in public health and we would not oppose the laws requiring full clothing where it already deemed necessary for hygiene, such as restaurants. As a general rule, the FFF would say that the state has no right to prohibit nudity or sex in most public outdoor settings.”
“So you link public sex to free speech?”
“Yes, I thought Bonnie made that point pretty clearly. The courts have long supported the concept that clothing is speech. It is the same as nonverbal communication, such as pantomime; so too we believe sexual expression is a form of speech. We just suggest the two should be linked.”
As they were finishing dinner Claudia moved to Bonnie and Cooper’s personal life. Starting by quoting Bonnie from the press conference she said “Bonnie, you used the term open marriage. To be clear does that mean you have sex with people other than your husband?”
The sudden shift of focus took Bonnie off guard; however, she was ready for the question. “Like I said earlier, Claudia, from the research I’ve done, there are very few healthy women of my age who have been monogamous since their first marriage. So the fact I am not monogamous, makes me in the vast majority of women. I’m sure your personal knowledge, like mine with my friends, would support that contention. What is unusual is that I will sit in front of you and my husband and freely say that I have had over ten sexual partners in the past two years. Though we began discussing the possibility of me having sex outside marriage a good five years before I first acted on it, once I did, he followed suit. Cooper doesn’t object that I have adult fun with other people including our close friends, as long as I take safety precautions.”
Claudia busily wrote notes long after Bonnie finished. Cooper had seen her turn on her recording device, so the notes must be supplemental. When she finished her writing, she looked at Cooper, “Bonnie seems to indicate that she initiated the practice of open marriage. So you were monogamous after she was not?”
Cooper simply said “Yes” but Bonnie elaborated “It was over a year after I became sexually active that he first had sex with another woman, and even then I was there encouraging him or he probably would not have done it.”
“That’s seems unusual, I would have guessed it would have been the man pushing for open marriage” Claudia said almost to herself.
This annoyed Bonnie and she, with some irritation, launched into Claudia “I would suggest you have been listening to those who think all men are sex maniacs and all wives are oppressed. I live in the most conservative part of the country and I can tell you with some certainty that the married women today are at least as sexually active as the men, if not more so. So I think maybe you should do some research and write a story on that.”
Claudia backtracked and said “I guess I need to do some background research. I didn’t mean to offend you. Let me ask this to make sure I have it right. You two have an open marriage, but it is Bonnie who most often has other sexual partners?”
Bonnie agreed that was correct.
“Is the FFF also in favor of open marriage?”
Cooper answered “The FFF does not have a position at all on that subject. What the FFF favors is for people to openly practice whatever type of relationship two people might choose to have.”
“Two or more people” Bonnie added.
Cooper corrected himself, “Yes, or more, we would certainly be supportive of the concepts of polyamory. Though to be honest, we only have one set of friends who would fit a strict definition of polyamorous.”
Bonnie again jumped in “I don’t know. I think we have several friends who would fit that definition. I can’t be specific, but we have friends who as a couple have had a regular lover, and Cooper I think that might even apply to us.” Bonnie shielded her face and mouthed Trish where the reporter could not see.
Cooper then understood “Oh, yea, I guess I was thinking something more formal, yea, I guess we would fit under the polyamory umbrella too.”
Bonnie then went on “For instance, Claudia, you might not know it but among young people, at least in our area, there is a trend to polyamorous type dating, where a group of kids go out together rather than in pairs like we did. I know I’ve heard Misty refer to her relationship with several of her friends as poly. In her group, they are sexually active with each other on a fluid basis. A girl might be with one guy one time and another guy or girl the next night, same with a guy. But they don’t consider themselves promiscuous because they mostly keep it within the group.”
“So, your seventeen-year-old daughter is part of a polyamorous grouping?”
Bonnie said “I’ve said all I’m going to say specifically about her. I won’t violate her privacy by telling you more without her permission. If you want, you can give me your number so she can call you. She likely will be glad to talk to you in more detail. But, I’ll say again in case I wasn’t clear, there is fluidity in groups and a group view of sexuality so that even while there are distinct couples, there is a tribal element as well. But I will say in general terms, that among the teens we know, there are far fewer exclusive couples than there were when I was their age. In fact, I can’t think of any of Misty’s friends who have an exclusive relationship.”
“This might be a story in itself. I will do some work on the new sexual attitudes of teens. I guess it wouldn’t surprise New Yorkers that teenagers here do that, but the idea that such behavior is now in rural America might be quite surprising to my readers.”
Bonnie leaned forward, “Now Claudia, my guess is it is hard for you to grasp that not all teens are city kids, or even suburban. Rural America is alive and well, even if you New York City folks don’t know it. And, despite the common belief; a sizable minority of rural Americans are not Trump loving, Confederate flag waving, immigrant hating red necks. Yes, a majority are, but it would be wrong to think they are the only type of rural southerners. If you’ll give me your business card, I’ll give it to our daughter and if she want’s she’ll contact you so you can ask your questions directly to her.”
Claudia did so, then said “Go back, you just ran over something. You indicated that both the girls and boys might be sexual with other girls and boys. Are you saying they are also sex role flexible too?”
Cooper answered, “Like I said in my presentation, we think the social trend is toward abandoning the heterosexual-homosexual divide. Sex is what people do, not what people are. Unless forced to firmly choose one or the other, most people will develop a preference for having sex with people who have one or the other set of genitals, but a preference for one does not exclude enjoyment of the other. In the same way I prefer mint-chocolate chip ice cream doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy butter-pecan.”
The reporter smiled, clearly remembering something, “in the press conference, you were directly asked if you were one of those people who can enjoy both flavors. But you conspicuously did not answer the question. That won’t play well for some of the stories they will write. I’ll save you a headache and ask the question again. Do you enjoy sex with both men and women?”
Cooper was on the spot. He knew the fact he evaded rather than answered no to whether he had sex with men sufficiently addressed the question. “It’s like this. I didn’t want to be put in a box and I know there were two reporters in that group who work for LBGT activist magazines. And…” He paused “I’m not sure what to say.”
“I wasn’t asking for a label. I just asked do you enjoy having sex with both men and women?”
Cooper phrased his answer carefully, “Yes. I have had enjoyable sexual experiences with both men and women since Bonnie encouraged me to expand my horizons. So, it’s all still rather new to me, given the fact that until February, I had been monogamous for over twenty years. And I only had a few sexual partners before I met Bonnie. Does that answer the question?”
It did, and she promised to speak with the reporter who had asked about it in the press conference. She said she would ask him not to press the issue since his magazine had a policy of not "outing" people.
After dinner Claudia dropped them off at their hotel. They had a little more than an hour to change into their formal clothes and get back to the gallery. Cooper had his black tux and Bonnie into her very low-cut burgundy gown. Cooper thought she was extremely sexy and wasted no time in putting his hands under the fabric to ascertain that his eyes were right to think she wore nothing under it. She indeed wore absolutely nothing at all underneath.
Bonnie and Cooper asked the doorman to take a photo of them in front of the hotel with Cooper’s iPhone. She thought they looked very elegant. As she knew it would, even the weak flash of her phone shot right through the fabric making it appear she was wearing something far more sheer than she actually was.
As the cab pulled up it was clear this was a very different kind of event than the one earlier in the day. In front of the gallery there must have been two dozen or more media people, all with cameras. These were not art reporters but rather the infamous paparazzi waiting for celebrities. It was unnerving when the cab stopped. Before they opened the door, it was surrounded by peering faces. Bonnie’s mind jumped to the fact she wore no underwear and this was just the same situation as when several celebrity women had accidently shown off all their goods to the waiting cameras. She wasn’t sure if the prospect of being exposed like that was exciting or frightening.
Even though it was not dark, the camera flashes went off once her first, well-tanned, leg stretched from the cab seat to the curb. She felt like a star. However, nearly all the photographers backed off once Bonnie and Cooper were fully outside the cab. It seems when they saw the cab held neither a socialite nor a celebrity, they lost interest. The disappointed cadre’ of photographers made way for the nobody’s; however, several flashes went off as Bonnie walked by. She knew those powerful flashes would leave little of her shape hidden. Not far from the door, a photographer asked her to stop for a photograph, and then asked for her name and relation to the exhibit. She knew famous or not, she looked great in that dress. The photographer seemed to take some interest when she told him that she and Cooper were the primary models in two of Amy Douglass’s large format paintings.
Bonnie and Cooper presented their invitations and went inside.
Once inside the gallery, Bonnie was glad she had spent the money for her very nice dress back in March, all the women were fabulously attired. No matter their age they were all sexy and beautiful. Bonnie wondered if word had gotten out that this was an opportunity for the women to show off. Bonnie had long wondered who bought those haute couture dresses she saw on Fashion TV and why. Now she saw who bought them and that they were for events like this. She felt much less glamorous and racy than she had before entering the gallery. She was far from the only woman wearing a very low-cut dress risking a wardrobe malfunction and from the last time she wore this dress, a “malfunction” was more a probability than a possibility. Even if (when) her areolas peeked out, she still would not be the most exposed woman she saw. That award went to Amy Douglass.
While all the other women wore showy gowns and such, Amy had chosen a different tack. She wore a well-made black wool skirted suit, except the skirt had been hemmed above the knees (Bonnie couldn’t imagine a suit like that had been made that way). Rather than high-heels like she and all the other women wore, she had on low-heeled boots. But that wasn’t what got Bonnie’s attention. It was the very completely sheer purple blouse over a lace quarter-cup bra that turned the business-like outfit into something quite different. The overall look was perfect: serious yet provocative. It was exactly right for her for this occasion.
In her silk dress Bonnie did not look out of place even if she still felt so. The people at this event nearly all lived in a world of wealth and glitter that she’d simply never even dreamed of entering before. There were few people looking carefully at the art. Most stood around preening and talking. As they walked through the gallery, she saw more than a couple of faces she’d seen on TV or magazines. Though Bonnie was not a People Magazine type and didn’t recognize many of the socialites and celebrities, it was not hard to tell who were the VIP’s; they were the best dressed and sometimes had an entourage in tow. She tried to remind herself these people were no better than her; still, it was hard for the daughter of a West Virginia hillbilly not to feel a little out classed.
Cooper, unlike his wife completely missed the social class statements of the women’s attire. To him a dress was a dress. He couldn’t tell one that came from a department store from one that came from a fancy Manhattan designer’s shop. However, he did notice very few people seemed to be making any sort of serious appraisals of the art. Right off he also decided this group was at the gallery for clearly different reasons than those who had come in the afternoon.
He also noted that compared with the dozens of paparazzi outside, inside there were only two photographers working. They were busily shooting photos of just about everyone, even him and Bonnie; though they clearly took more interest and more photos of his wife. He didn’t blame them. She was stunning, even in this company. He just wondered how he could get copies of some of the photos that the FFF’s photographer took of Bonnie.
Early on he’d seen Amy. Her outfit he had noticed and knew full well why she’d chosen it. A little later he saw Dr. McKinnon’s head between two larger men in an animated discussion with a group of well-dressed socialites. She saw him, smiled and waved before launching back into her discussion with those around her.
After only a few minutes he and Bonnie were standing next to a short older man who was, unusually, taking a great deal of time looking at the art. Cooper thought he looked familiar. It wasn’t until he began to talk to his companion that Cooper recognized Woody Allen’s voice. A little later on, even he was able to identify Parris Hilton wearing a sparkly, semi-transparent dress revealing only a lace thong beneath. Cooper’s first thought was that he hoped the photos of her, and all the other celebs, would say something about the art.
It was shortly thereafter they ran into Gillian Moyers. Cooper knew she would be there since her whole role with the FFF was to bring her Hollywood star power to the cause. Her dress took him off guard. If she wanted to make sure everyone knew she was there, that dress ensured everyone would look at her… and look again. Back in Georgia, her outfit would have gotten her arrested in a heartbeat. Her breasts were entirely exposed. The dress was fully cupless and she wore no pasties or body paint, only a dusting of gold sparkly stuff.
Bonnie had never met Gillian and had to force herself not to act like a tourist rube when the actress saw Cooper and waved for them to join her. Approaching, Bonnie noticed that not only were Gillian’s breasts exposed, but her skirt was sheer enough that she could see that rather than panties, the movie star wore only a string of gems. Quickly she ascertained that the woman was wearing pseudo-panty jewelry like Bonnie had worn to the pool party last week.
When Cooper told the family he’d met Gillian Moyers at the first board meeting, she had not really known what the actress even looked like. Misty however said that she was a huge fan. It seems she’d starred in a movie called Firelight, one of those far-fetched spy films. She’d played a female James Bond type who was both lethal and sexy. Misty explained to her mother that because the movie’s sex scenes were outside the boundaries for its “R rating to open in the US, the MPAA demanded some editing. The movie’s director and Gillian both put up quite a fuss. They had gone very public with their outrage that TV shows on HBO and Netflix crossed those boundaries all the time, yet they had to trim their film to get it onto theater screens.
The explanation helped Bonnie recall reading about the controversy, though she’d not noted the people involved at the time. She’d read that when Firelight opened in Europe a week after the US premier, it was ten minutes longer than the US version. Most of the additional footage was in a scene of a naked man, with an erect penis, carrying on a conversation with the female star (Gillian). The director had tried to get a less graphic version of the scene approved by the MPAA, but ended up cutting it out completely for US theaters. Additionally, a combined three minutes were added to Gillian’s two sex scenes. That was what created the buzz around Gillian.
The two scenes were so “realistic” that a reporter actually asked her if the sex was real rather than simulated. Gillian, on camera, answered “Yes it was real. In both scenes I was actually having penetrative sex. I’m a method actor and I decided that it is nonsense to keep pretending to do something that we all do all the time. Sex should not be treated the same as violence. We would never actually shoot someone while making a movie so we have to make something fake look real. But there is no reason to do that with sex. Before shooting began, I spoke to the two men I was scripted to do the scenes with and suggested we not just simulate the sex, but actually do it.”
According to what Misty told her mother the night Dad had said he’d met Gillian, over the next few months after that interview there was a concerted effort to ruin her career. Rather than cower, she became even more outspoken about her sex-positive beliefs and openly talked about her free-love lifestyle. That was what made her a hero to Misty and the Euro Club. She told her mother that when she found herself in the same situation, Gillian Moyers’ response to slut shaming had been an example to her. Bonnie had not been aware of any of that.
Walking over to Gillian, Bonnie felt more out of her depth than ever. The actress greeted Cooper with an air kiss, then she introduced him to her two companions as the writer of the FFF material. He, in turn, introduced her to Bonnie. Bonnie’s first thought was to not act like she was star struck, after all she had never before met a real movie star. Gillian made a very kind comment about Bonnie’s appearance, before telling her friends that she and Cooper were the primary models for the big painting that was creating such a buzz.
The woman standing by Gillian reached for Bonnie’s hand. “It’s a wonderful painting. I understand it was made from sketches Amy Douglass made from live modeling sessions. I understand college students being willing to have sex in her studio, but for people like you, it took real courage. To do that in today’s political climate means taking real risks.”
Bonnie brushed off the compliment.
Shaking her hand, the thought came that the other woman seemed vaguely familiar, but she wasn’t going to ask. It was only when Gillian introduced her as Emilia Clarke that Bonnie realized she was the young woman on Lamar’s screensaver. She hadn’t recognized her without the white hair she sported on Game of Thrones.
Bonnie completely lost her ability not to act like a tourist. She knew she had begun to yammer but couldn’t stop herself. “If our two teenage children knew I was talking to the two of you they would die of jealousy.” She looked to Emilia and said “We loved you in Game of Thrones playing a strong young woman, though I’m afraid our son loves you for other reasons. He was twelve when we let him see the series and well….I think you’ve made a lifelong impact on him.”
That got some laughs which calmed Bonnie down. Because she knew what she wanted to say to Gillian if they ran into her, she did not stop talking yet. “And Gillian, I want to thank you for your courage to stand up to those who tried to shame you last year. When some photos of our daughter at a nude beach showed up on-line and at her school, your example helped her not to cower. She was able to respond by claiming ownership of her actions and to show pride in her body. While nude photos shared on-line without permission have destroyed many teenage girls; with some inspiration from your actions, she came through it stronger than ever. I just wanted you to know you are making an impact on a great many teenage girls.”
Gillian seemed pleased and replied “From what Amy Douglass has told me, you are the one who taught her to stand up. After all, you came to this event to represent all the models who made love in her studio for her to photograph and sketch. When I had sex in front of a camera, I was paid, but you did it out of principle. And since, as I understand it, a smaller version of one of the paintings of you two hangs in your living room; I can assume you have raised your daughter in a sex-positive home. Clearly your example said more to her than anything I have done.”
It was Bonnie’s turn to be pleased. “Thank you. I certainly hope so. Do you think your example will inspire other actors?”
Gillian replied “So far I’ve gotten lots of support from my colleagues, but none have followed my lead. I don’t know if you have heard, but I am co-producing a new series based on the life of Empress Josephine. We don’t have a deal yet, but Netflix is interested in streaming it.”
“No, I hadn’t heard. I’ll admit I don’t really follow Hollywood news. Will you be in it?”
Gillian smiled, “Of course. I’ll be Josephine. I’m a real fan of hers. She was like a modern sexually emancipated woman two hundred years ago.”
“And you can get away with things on streaming that you can’t on the big screen.” Bonnie then asked “Might I ask if you plan to continue with unsimulated sex. I ask because I assume that a series based on a woman who was quite open about her decades of having one lover after another would have a good bit of sex in it.”
Gillian laughed again. “So you know something about her life. Yes, there will be a great deal of nudity and sex. There will be more than was in Game of Thrones but less violence. The open sexuality of Josephine’s time was a lot like it was in ancient Rome, so the series will be more like the Spartacus with Lucy Lawless than anything else. What will be ground breaking is that the plan is that all the sex will be real, nothing will be simulated. You won’t see couples in contorted positions so as to show penetration or guys pulling out to cum. I envision the sex on screen will be pretty much like the European cut of Firelight which showed only brief glimpses of actual penetration; but there is no question it was real.”
Bonnie nodded “Yes, that is what it was like in your movie.”
“That is the plan we have pitched to our investors. I know that people have gone through Firelight frame by frame and highlighted the three seconds or so that actually shows a penis in my mouth, and another ten that more-or-less shows one arching up into my vagina; though there are no gynecological shots of the dicks going in me. But just watching the film, those eleven seconds are broken up into bits of one or two seconds each, so they are far from intrusive. What we found from that project was that shooting in a way that neither hides nor highlights the mechanical parts of actual sex yields a final product that is more beautiful and natural than can be achieved just faking it. Our focus groups tell us that for the audience, it was more important that they knew I was actually enjoying the sex they saw on screen, and I did; than seeing the penis going into my mouth or vagina. I don’t know if you’ve seen the European version of Firelight, but it is not porn for sure; but it doesn’t artificially try to hide things either.”
Bonnie put in, “Yes. After Cooper told me you were on the board, I made sure to see it. You are right, knowing it is real did change how I saw it.”
“We will be shooting entirely in Europe where there will be little controversy about the nudity and genuine sex on set. I am already working with an accent coach to learn to speak with a Caribbean French accent like Josephine had…though the dialogue will be in English not French”
After a few more minutes of chatting, the FFF photographer came by and asked to get a photo of the two actresses’ together. Taking advantage of them posing by one of the large statues together, Bonnie boldly asked if Cooper could take a photo of her with the two of them for their kids. That took Ms. Clarke off guard in that the other woman was effectively topless. Gillian assured Emilia that the Campbell family are nudists so they are not afraid of bare breasts. Of course, Bonnie didn’t consider herself a nudist, but she let the comment go. Not only did Cooper shoot a photo with his cell phone of the three of them, the FFF photographer took two more.
Over the course of the evening, Bonnie recognized the faces of a good many famous actors & models; however, most of the VIP's she had no idea who they were. The highlight of the evening was meeting Angelina Jolie whom both Cooper and Bonnie thought was the most beautiful woman alive. They’d been there for nearly two hours and were beginning to get board when they finally got at chance to speak with Amy. She was talking to a couple of people who were facing the other way in her animated style, not far from one of the paintings featuring them. Amy, seeing them waved them over and said “Cooper, your just in time, Ms. Jolie was asking about the FFF.”
Cooper almost fell over himself. In person, and now in middle age, she was more stunningly beautiful than he’d realized. He felt completely unnerved and began to stammer. Amy rescued him by saying “This is Cooper and Bonnie Campbell, they were the models on the rock in the painting over there” she gestured to the May in the Forest painting. “and Cooper wrote most of what you have read about the FFF’s philosophy.”
The beautiful star put out her hand and said “Call me Angelina. The painting is absolutely wonderful.”
She went on to ask about the FFF and Cooper was delivered from having to really talk because he just repeated the spiel he had now given a dozen times. Even still he quickly excused himself as soon as he’d answered her questions. Bonnie, now more comfortable than she had been before, stayed for quite a while longer with what had grown to a group of about a dozen people discussing art and FFF philosophy.
Cooper, as he waited for Bonnie, watched people’s reaction to the live art piece. Most, he saw, did not see it for what it was and simply walked by. Perhaps one in four stopped short when they realized at what they were looking. Naturally when one person in a