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Undressing Room

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Participant 5: Anonymous
(Completed on 15th February 2017, Singapore)

1) Why do you choose to be anonymous in this documentation?
I always wanted to keep my identity anonymous to reduce the risks of others manipulating my choices for their agenda.

2) What were your thoughts and feelings when you first read about Undressing Room?
Interesting and provoking. Undressing is an intimate action done in a safe and private space. We live in a society, where undressing in public or in front of strangers, especially of the opposite sex, is unacceptable. Even in gyms and yoga studios in Singapore, undressing in front of same sex is frowned upon. I don’t want to be dragged into thinking like this. I wanted to experience undressing in front of a friend of the opposite sex, in a safe and private space, and I wanted just that, the experience and not a functional action.

3) Describe your experience of Undressing Room.
I sensed the assistant as professional, efficient, thorough, caring and sensitive.

When I entered the undressing room, my heart began beating fast. When I sat down, pearls of sweat began rolling on my skin. I felt myself worried. But Ming served tea for us in silence and slowly, drinking and looking into his reassuring and smiling eyes made it all easier to handle.

When we moved to the mat facing one another, I was ready, despite my sweat, my heart beating still over the normal level, my casual clothes, my smell, the two people behind us documenting the rehearsal*… When we began undressing one another, I felt more comfortable and no longer cared about anything else. I wanted to discover Ming and myself. I was open to feeling what was coming.

At almost every piece of clothing, the tacit request for permission made me feel respected and taken in consideration. At every nod, a sense of calm and acceptance. When we were completely naked, looking and touching became more intense and natural. Not a sexual thought entered my mind. I hardly looked at Ming’s genitalia. He became genderless, as did I. When we laid down, I could have stayed there indefinitely, calm, safe, rested. Ming and I were holding space for one another and created a special space for both of us to enjoy, discover, share…

When it became clear that the session was coming to an end (a small clock was on the white table where we had had our tea), Ming left and I stayed behind. I was not immediately sure of what to do next, probably because I was very comfortable. Then I got dressed, picked up Ming’s clothes and left the room to the adjacent one. There I could talk and I felt this enormous pressure of my words on the tip of my tongue waiting to blurt out. 

I enjoyed the gap between the silent experience and the later feedback. It was good to place a temporal distance between the experience and the choice of words to sublimate, distil, make sense and recount the experience. Real life, in truth, is always ineffable, but with the convention of words, we wish to share it nevertheless.

* This participant took part in the general rehearsal of Undressing Room and had consented to being documented during the rehearsal. No documentation was allowed during the actual performance. 

4) What was it like for you, being a participant in Undressing Room?
Liberating, exciting, daunting, releasing, calming, precious. The most challenging part was to be completed naked with all my imperfections in front of a man. Because, freakishly, I associate the beautiful with the perfect, and conversely, the imperfect with ugly, which should not be seen but should remain hidden. Catholic upbringing loaded with the heavy weight of shame and sin. Superficial societal pressure which photoshops and delivers only the unrealistic.

My heart was beating very fast and I could feel it in my throat. I could feel pearls of sweat rolling down on my back, below my breast. Am I doing the right thing? Am I a bad person or mother for wanting to take part in this? Am I beautiful? Am I good enough?

What are my motives? Purely to experience the action of undressing and the state of being undressed in front of a man. The tea and looking into Ming’s reassuring eyes calmed me and the heart slowed down to an acceptable level.

5) How was it for you to undress each other and touch each other’s naked skin?
I carried out the action of undressing in complete respect towards Ming and with a sense of discovery of his body. To touch his skin and to hug him felt like the most natural things to do in the situation. Funnily enough, I barely paid any attention to his genitals: I did not focus nor did I avoid it. There was no arousal, as I felt myself and him as sexless.

6) What did you get out from the whole experience?
A beautiful memory. The sense of acceptance and being good enough. Unlike for the other participants, I suspect my experience was more daunting, because there were two other people in the room, documenting the rehearsal. I imagined that their presence and their taking photos and video of our bodies would make me feel conscious and insecure, thinking that I would end up looking bad in the documentation. But I surprisingly went over the point where I cared, and ended up ignoring and, even at some point, forgetting that they were there. They were very discreet anyway. In the end, where could I hide? This IS me, at least in this lifetime and with this consciousness and body. It IS me and it is beyond me at the same time. For me, Undressing Room was a beautiful experience.

7) Did you feel unsafe or threatened at any point in Undressing Room?
No.

8) Would you participate in Undressing Room again?
Yes, without people documenting. To experience a different state of mind

9) Other comments.
It went very fast. I could have stayed naked lying down on the mat, skin to skin with Ming and even fall asleep.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It surprised me, because I felt safe and comfortable and because Ming turned out to be a genderless soul, like me. It was perfect, not because we were perfect, but because we were real, unafraid, unashamed… maybe like Adam and Eve before committing the sin.