Kathleen Rooney is proof that there are plenty of jobs out of college. She is also proof that someone with a major in English and creative writing can turn nude modeling into a book.
Rooney, who is also an aide in the U.S. Senate, began nude modeling for drawing and sculpture classes in 2002, her senior year at GW. “Live Nude Girl,” her first book set for release this spring, is a memoir about her experiences as a model.
The tale won’t come as a surprise for most of her friends, who she told about the hobby.
“You never know how people are going to react to it,” Rooney said. “Our society has a backwards and juvenile second grader reaction: oohh naked lady.”
Her parents, however, had a more difficult time dealing with it.
“When people who I have chosen not to tell find out, they sometimes make assumptions that I’m not very smart or modest. They think if I get paid to do something with my body, what else would I get paid to do,” she said.
Author John Berger, who Rooney frequently cites in “Live Nude Girl,” said people make pictures to remind themselves of what is absent because people and things that we love die.
“It is sad and thrilling that these images and sculptures will last longer than you. As a writer myself, I have a sympathy and I understand what it is like to devote yourself to your work,” Rooney said.
Models often develop a deep connection with the artist that is not typically physical or sexual, Rooney said. Throughout her time modeling, Rooney has never had a sexual relationship with an artist.
“Some models say it is the safest sex of all. It is super thrilling and the actual sex is constantly deferred. The anticipation is much better, and you constantly get to imagine what it would be like, which is in other words, hot,” Rooney said.
Rooney said the use of both caution and common sense is necessary for anyone that wants to try nude modeling. Rooney says she has only encountered one “pervert” during her modeling career.
“I have heard many stories which usually start, ‘Well, I was on Craigslist, and.’ from models who have been in difficult situations with artists,” Rooney said.
The first time Rooney posed as a nude model was the toughest, she said.
“The first 30 seconds were intensely weird,” Rooney said. “It’s a shock for model and the class because many artists are students who have never done it, then everyone realizes it’s just a body, and it’s just art.”
She added that there is a big difference between being naked for artists and making pornography.
“I’m not sure I believe it when I hear Girls Gone Wild girls say flashing their tits makes them feel liberated. Art modeling is a different sphere,” Rooney said.
In addition to “Live Nude Girl,” Rooney has also published “Reading with Oprah,” a book about participating in Oprah’s Book Club. Rooney also plans to write more books and poetry in the future and to continue nude modeling.
She said, “One of the many appealing aspects of art modeling is that one doesn’t have to be a conventionally ‘beautiful’ looking person to do it. In its own small way, art modeling carves out a space in which beauty can mean and be signified by more than one highly-doctored, media-packaged, easily consumable concept of Paris Hiltonian hotness.”