It's not as erotic as you may think - but it does have it's moments!
Here's my story:
I went to college after serving in the Marines, and well, the GI Bill then is nothing compared to what it is now, so work-study jobs were a must. During my second year I had a female friend in my study group suggest that I apply at the art building as a figure model. I was in good shape, so I figured, what the hell, why not?
Had an interview with the director of the art department, and for the first semester sat as a portrait model (head and shoulders) and she also had me come occasionally to a "life drawing" class so that the students could draw my hands (after 8 years in the infantry, and being raised on a farm, my hands had what she described as "character"). Pay for this was good, but it was "work", not "work-study." It was only a couple of hours a session, two or three times a week.
In my second semester with the art department, I became a "Life Model" for the figure drawing classes. It was a fairly conservative colleges (church based school), so it wasn't nude modeling - as a male, I wore only a dark speedo type suit. My friend from study group who recommended the job also modeled (but never with me), and she said that she (and all of the women) wore flesh colored leotards. I did, however, learn to pose and to be a life model. In my last couple of years in the military I had begun meditating as a means of handling some of the stress and more traumatic memories associated with combat - and that helped. In college, I started doing yoga (primarily as a way to meet women), but enjoyed the flexibility and strength that it added to my workouts. I mention both of these as I believe that they helped me tremendously as a life model.
Not having anywhere else to go, I usually stuck around school during the summer to take classes and work odd jobs. After seeing me around campus after the spring semester ended, Dr. "K" (the head of the art department) invited me to meet with her at a coffee shop just off campus. Basically, she explained why she thought I was a great life model: I was punctual - always there early and ready to go as soon as the class started (thanks to the Marines, I'm never late), I was focused (I guess that's the meditation), and I could hold poses for 20 or 30 minutes with little movement (that's the yoga). Anyway, she asked if I would be interested in being a life model for some of her off campus classes over the summer. She said that the pay was better and the artists were generally older and worked with a variety of media (but she assured me that there was no photography). After I said that, yes, I'd be interested (the pay was certainly better!) she told me that it would require me to be nude, and would I be okay with that - and reiterated that she thought that I had a natural talent for it. I was a little hesitant, but agreed. When modeling poses for classes in my speedo, I was largely mentally checked out during the longer poses, so I said "sure."
That first evening, I showed up a half-hour before the session was scheduled to start. I surveyed the space - a large loft with a couple of easels against the wall, and a couple of donkeys as well (donkeys are basically wooden benches/chairs that the artist can straddle and that have a platform or brace up front where they can rest a sketch pad). My props consisted of a small dais (about 2' X 2' and about 8" high), a wooden chair, and a studio couch (with a stack of clean/folded linens) and a pole (wooden closet rod about 6 feet long). While I was helping set the lights, a couple of the artists came in - now, some of the unwritten rules (who knows, they may be written somewhere) are that the artists and model maintain some distance - physically and socially. Sure, there may be some small talk, but it's rare (in my experience for classes like this). Sure, the artists and Dr. "K" have conversations, but other than the exchange of some pleasantries, I'm more of a prop than a person. So, as the artists started arriving, I excused myself to go get ready.
Getting ready meant going to the little bathroom to change and do some final stretching and loosening up. I had my regular "art class duffel" with me - my robe, flip-flops, towel, and speedo. I pulled these items from the bag and chuckled to myself as I picked up the speedo and put it back in the bag. I was, naturally, a little apprehensive. I'm comfortable with my body (I still am, but as a younger and more fit young man, I was very confident), but I'll admit, I was a little nervous. So I stripped down completely, took off my watch, folded my clothes, and put them in the duffel. Standing there naked, I took a couple of deep breaths, shook my arms out, closed my eyes and assured myself "you've got this." I put on my robe, stepped into my flip-flops and zipped my duffel.
It was still a couple of minutes early when I came out of the bathroom, so I did some stretches over in the corner away from where the artists were setting up. As it neared time, Dr. "K" caught my eye and I came out into the space in the middle of the room. She introduced me by saying "Our model this evening is Fred. He's worked with me at the college for quite some time" and that was it. At this point, my heart was pumping double-time, my forehead was breaking out in a fine sweat, and my hands were shaking a little. So I took a deep breath, undid my belt, and dropped my robe. I stepped up on the small dais and began my routine and from there, it was like auto-pilot.
They typical routine is to do a series of short gesture poses - holding them anywhere from a minute to five minutes. These are typically poses that represent motion and/or muscle tension. They are difficult to hold for long and are really warm-ups for both the artists and the models. Dr. "K" had set a timer, and I did the gesture poses for 30 minutes and then we took a break. When the timer went off I shook my arms out and put my robe back on. I went to get some water and while the artists largely ignored me, Dr. "K" came over to see how I was doing and told me that I did great.
For the next session, I did 20 minutes in a standing pose, on the dais with the closet rod/pole. Another break, and then a seated pose (and yes, your ass gets sore sitting on a wooden chair for 20 minutes). At Dr. "K's" suggestion I did another standing pose, followed by two recumbent poses (with appropriate breaks in between).
I worked for Dr. "K" most of the summer for evening classes and the occasional weekend workshop or "Open Draw" session. The pay was great, but the process a little grueling. People may think that it's erotic, posing naked in front of a room full of strangers - men and women - ranging from roughly my age at the time to people in their 60s. I can assure you that, other than that moment of apprehension when you first drop your robe (and for me, it was pretty much at every session), it's work - not necessarily erotic. You get sore, your arm or leg (or butt) will go to sleep on you. Places itch and you can't scratch (and it's not just your nose that itches). Sometimes you cramp, sometimes you're cold (even with space heaters), and sometimes you're hot. In some poses, you'll break a sweat and you may be fighting the shakes as a pose grinds on. Artists can be friendly, but they're usually pretty detached. For classes or open draw sessions, they generally treat you like a prop - they're respectful, but don't engage. If they have a suggestion or request, they'd say something to Dr. "K" (or whoever the facilitator was), and she'd relay it to me, usually during a break.
I did do some "private" sessions later, that usually involved two artists - and that brought more interaction between artist and model (and generally paid better). I continued doing work as a life model all through the remainder of school, and even for a while afterwards - occasionally encountering a former student who had seen me model in my speedo, but after 9/11 I went back on active duty and haven't modeled since.