Saturday, October 15, 2011

Product on sale: The Nude Singer

Ever since I got the body I have today from slaving off in the gym, I have received a lot of compliments for it on gay dating sites (Fridae, Trevvy, Gaydar, Manhunt, Grindr, Scruff, BoyAhoy). You see, it all started with the need to search for a partner (hence the many platforms) which then slowly got me used to those compliments till today when I think I might develop withdrawal symptoms should that stream of nice words stop completely all of a sudden. I know I know, call me a narcissist or a slut or both, I really don’t give a hoot for I would rather be a narcissistic equal-opportunity lover than a self-hater who cannot see the beauty in every human being. By the way, I am also an exhibitionistic nudist if you still do not know.

I have always wanted to bring my modelling-as-a-hobby to another level since about a year ago and after a failed attempt at signing with a model agency (something which lasted for less than a month before the agent decided to change career direction), I thought it was time to set up my own Facebook fan page. Seeing how social networks permeate every stratum of today’s society, there is really no good reason to not have a website where people who love my body, my modelling work and music can congregate and have a chance to see and hear more of me. The Facebook page can also help put a masculine Asian image out there which I think the Western world needs more of, especially in countries like Australia. Of course the now more-targeted stream of compliments makes me feel even better about myself. It is a win-win-win situation.

So out of all this, The Nude Singer was born on 28th August 2011. With things like social networks, YouTube, blogs, as well as modelling profiles (of which I have 1, 2, 3) and web albums, it is necessary to hit a critical mass of followers and hits before you become a runaway viral phenomenon. Although I am still far, FAR from that, I am working on it and it is only when you start thinking of ways to thrust yourself into the scene that you begin to see how inept you are when it comes to selling yourself on these new media platforms. It is of no surprise at all that a new industry, countless jobs and websites have sprouted out of this need to maximise one’s reach using such burgeoning and oft-confusing and -conflicting avenues in the most effective and efficient manner. Making sense of it all by itself is a full-time job and I am doing this on the side so I should at least be given some credit for my “achievements” so far right?

A lot of people may wonder why I named my site “The Nude Singer”. You see, I actually have a talent that I am even more proud of than modelling and looking good in front of cameras—it is actually singing and song-writing. However I am acutely aware that singing in the nude is not really mass-marketable and we are not even talking about the flak Facebook is giving me because of the pictures I post (they COMPLETELY missed the meaning of the word “nudity” and that resulted in me having only one more strike before the page gets removed). I also understand that I do need real musical gigs and to sing live in front of an audience to be really recognised as a singer. Although being a foreigner trying to make it musically in Australia adds another whole new level of hardship, I must admit I am little lazy in the musical–promotion department and I should be smacked hard into some action.

But for now, let me worry about the modelling aspect of my skill set that I want to sell on Facebook. At the moment, instead of getting viral, I am hitting the wall of saturation (despite having only less than 150 “Likes”). One obvious thing to consider at this juncture is to evaluate whether Facebook is a good platform to begin with for doing the things I would like done. I am a no-holds-barred kind of guy who wears brutal-honesty and total-transparency as a badge and by continuing to stay on Facebook and heeding its warning to not post “objectionable” pictures, I am essentially compromising my identity, my expression and my art. I might as well walk back into my closet while I am at it.

So I have come to a conclusion that should I be banned by Facebook, I should take it in my stride, thank my fans for their support and get on with life knowing that Facebook is only good for a segment of the world population despite having more than 500 million users. Sometimes I feel so fortunate to not be a starving artist or photographer who needs such avenues to promote himself so as to land the next meal on his table. Because this facet of my life is still a hobby to me, I can hold on to my integrity and choose not to play by other people’s rules, especially when they are rules that I totally disagree with. You know, I still wonder if no one complains about my pictures since they are all fans who opted to subscribe to the page, does Facebook have enough resources to scour the entire world-wide-web for pictures to remove? A friend suggested that maybe the word “nude” points the search-bots in my direction and as a result I get much more scrutiny than others. Well it is too late to change the name now that I have more than 100 “Likes”—yet another idiotic Facebook rule. Oh, and this is not the first time I was plagued by Facebook woes, it has happened once before. That was one of the reasons why I wrote the song “Are You Looking at Me”.

However while I am still alive and kicking on Facebook, there remains a need to find a way to reach a wider audience and frankly I am at my wit’s end trying. To give you an idea of what I have been doing thus far in terms of self-promotion, I am directing most of the complimentary-messages I get from gay dating sites to my Facebook page and this blog (which sometimes irk people because of the act being too “impersonal” and “self-centred”) and posting my pictures on Trevvy’s “Hotbods” with directing links (which sometimes garner nasty comments). I guess they have yet to actually visit my page which has the following description, “This will be about me, raw and peeled in all its glory. There’ll be no holding back, no turning back and no apologies”. So I think being self-centred is kind of the thing. I have painstakingly re-invented myself from wretched beginnings of low self-esteem and self-hatred so I know I deserve my break and moment in the sun now.

At the end of the day, regardless of whether this whole endeavour actually leads to somewhere good, I will need to be comfortable with the fact that I might very well be not sufficiently-talented to make it big enough to quit my day job. As long as this remains as a hobby that generates enough chatter to distract me from the dreary life as a chemical engineer, I will be contented. And so I shall continue to safely-bask in the warmth created within this intimate circle of fans (some of which are extremely supportive—my hugs and kisses go out to them!).

But still I would like to ask—what do you think I should or can do to further promote myself given the direction that I have chosen? Is the lack-lustre performance of my site simply due to the fact that I did not invest enough time on it?

PS 1: I am in the process of putting together a gig at my friend’s upcoming birthday party at The Midnight Shift in an attempt to officially-whore myself out as The Nude Singer. The hardest part of this gig is figuring out the best way to sing sans clothes without coming across as a total weirdo or worse-still an ultimate cheese-ball.

PS 2: I have an interview and video shoot with ACON's (AIDS Council of New South Wales) Gay Asian Men Project today which are part of series of moves to reach out to more sections of the community. You can rest assured that I will plug The Nude Singer while I am at it.


Kyle said...

I agree with you that Facebook has very limited potential for self-promotion. You can buy ads to promote your page, but they're VERY expensive and you're still stuck with the problem of creative integrity. It's always a bit disappointing to see a visually stunning shot ruined by those censor stamps.

Even Blogger has it's own weird policies re: nudity. Plus, Blogs don't really get a lot of accidental traffic. Also, Blogger is somewhat limited in how you can control the appearance of your site. Personally, I favor Wordpress which has a huge library of free templates, including some really gorgeous ones that are designed for big, lush photo galleries. Still, for the integrity of your work and creative freedom, there's no substitute for having your own domain. No more worrying about Google's puritanical policies.

Then there's Tumblr, which will get you a LOT of followers very quickly, but your images will end up being reblogged on hundreds of other people's Tumblr blogs. This can work for you if you create a discreet watermark in the corner of each image, just a simple "copyright 2011 the Nude Singer" for example, with a URL to your blog.

Anyway, it's definitely frustrating trying to find the right combination of services for self-promotion and creative expression. Facebook's policy isn't going to go away though and if anything, I expect they'll get worse over time.

Kim said...

Thanks Chris for your suggestions and your sympathetical words.

I know this Facebook thing is kind of going nowhere but now I have a bigger thing to worry about -- my impending move to Melbourne in Jan 2012.

But thanks for your continued support. I TRULY appreciate it.