Illustration by Pablo Lobato
Illustration: Pablo Lobato

I am not a bachelorette. I’ve been married for nine years, but back when I was engaged, my bachelorette party consisted of 10 women packed into my maid of honor’s parents’ house in upstate New York. And with all due respect to that weekend’s homemade Newlywed Game and plastic penis straws, I know now that it was missing something … and his name is Cameron.

Let’s back up. At the start of a trial class by the Artful Bachelorette, a new-to-Chicago company that provides an art teacher and nude model for bachelorette and birthday parties and other events (from $75 per person, minimum of 12), my friends and I are all a little harried. It’s a rainy Tuesday, and we’re not sure what to expect. Our instructor, the company’s founder, is a striking Australian named Fleur (of course she is) with a fine arts degree. She assures us that not only will we have fun during the next two hours but our artistic talents will skyrocket. Then she instructs Jeff, our shirtless waiter, to top off our Champagne glasses. “The more you drink, the better you draw!”

One last thing before we meet our model: “It’s 2018, and consent is sexy,” Fleur says, meaning there is no touching the model and no photographing him when he’s naked. These seem like appropriate boundaries.

And that’s when he arrives. Cameron, with zero percent body fat and a towel around his waist, is gorgeous. He does this part-time while studying to be a doctor, Fleur notes before calling me up to help him “with this one particular thing he just can’t learn” — taking off his towel.

This is when I black out from embarrassment.

I must have gotten the towel off, though, because the next thing I know I’m behind my easel, charcoal pencil in hand, sketching a very nude Cameron. Fleur leads us in a variety of exercises (drawing Cameron as a stick figure; without looking at our paper; using only straight lines) and reminds us that “we cannot have Ken dolls — we must draw the penis.”

Cameron strikes different poses, and as it becomes clear that he is perfectly comfortable standing naked before us, we relax, too. Fleur creates a respectful environment with clear boundaries, so while the activity feels goofy, it also feels far classier than any striptease or lap dance. No one is making catcalls at Cameron. This is about the human form, people! There are, of course, many giggles. Cameron seems entertained as we mock each other’s drawings (or maybe he’s not entertained but indulging us anyway — in which case, bless his heart), because we are, even after Fleur’s lesson, subpar artists. We learn that running is responsible for his perfect physique and that he’s applying to medical school over the weekend. After each exercise, Cam (I can call him that, we’re old friends) chooses his favorite drawing and takes a photo with the artist. I am pity-chosen in the third round.

At the end of the night, we each go home with our drawings. The evening has struck that delicate balance — racy enough to feel memorable, not so raunchy that we need a shower. It’s got me thinking I should renew my vows. They do bachelorette parties for that, right?