“Boys know right from the start that they are blessed with a God-given right to immaturity, though they are often loath to admit it to themselves, or to one another, and never to the girls.Â They exercise this right whenever they flirt, show off, look in the mirror when someone is watching, try to act cool, impress other boys, make leaps that risk physical or emotional injury, smoke cigarettes, get wet, drink alcoholic beverages, get near automobiles that go fast, and play with children, sharp objects, or girls. …
“Boys are men in a state of grace that is often written off or undervalued as foolishness.”
– Dirk Wittenborn, from the preface to Boys, a collection of photographs by Pamela Hanson
I read this just this week andÂ found it fascinating and thought-provoking.Â I can’t help imagining that Ray Bradbury would nod in agreement.Â It was inevitable, I suppose, that I also found myself wondering if and how this might apply to the ways we as men/boys see ourselves, and how this might be reflected in how we (re)create and/or (re)invent ourselves in SL.
The foundation of our SL selves is surely the skin.Â It’s my firm belief that an individual’s choice of skin says volumes about how he sees himself.Â After all, when you’re not stuck with the skin, face and bodyÂ you’re born with, why settle?Â Why not choose something special?Â Very few of us are completely satisfied with our every featureÂ in RL, but in SL all things are possible.
I’ve long been impressed with sachi Vixen’s line of male skins at Adam n Eve–watching the progression has been fascinating, and I always look forward to seeing what she does next.Â When Grazia pointed me to some recent additionsÂ on sachi’s Flickr photostream, it looked like sachi was working onÂ something special.Â I sent her a quick IM (“saw your Flickr, you’re such a tease!”) and her response was prompt and to the point:Â “They’re out now!”
Such was my introduction to David, Jared and Nicholas.Â It’s difficult if not impossible to refrain from making comparisons between three skins by the same designer, released at the same time.Â Fortunately, it’s an interesting process that shows up some of the designer’s sensibilities.Â I asked sachi to share her own thoughts, and she was kind enough to take the time for a little Q&A with me.
“Well, Jared is slightly older looking, I would say in his early thirties.Â David and Nicholas I think are more mid-twenties guys.Â They are all handsome, so I suppose it depends on personal taste of the consumer to see how they feel they want to look.Â Â I think David is quite sporty looking, a bit of a jock, and Nicholas has a very male model feel to him.”
sachi always offers her skins in a range of skin tones, and these three new ones are no exception.Â I was curious about the fact that the four tones for each aren’t all the same–Jared’s lightest tone is lighter than David’s, for example.Â IÂ wondered how sachi decides what tones to use for each skin.Â “The colour base of the skins is very much decided by the skin colour of any photo source I use.Â Some people have a pinker or a more beige colour to their skin pigment.Â I choose photo sources based on their skin pigment group and the skin is coloured according to that.Â Every guy is different, [and] every skin I make is a new guy with different colouring and other options.”
Although sachi’s line of skins features a lot of variety, I don’t see any heavily muscled bodies or “aloof model” faces in the collection.Â This is perhaps surprising, as skins in that style seem to be quite popular.Â How does she decide what “style” of skin she wants to design and release next?Â “I like to think I’m an individual catering to individuals to the best of my ability.Â My skins do have abs and musculature but I am inclined to be more subtle in the pursuit of trying to have them look as realistic as possible while still looking great.
“I get very bored with seeing the same thing on almost every avatar in SL.Â Â I don’t want to be a sheep, so I’m not likely to be swayed [by trends].Â But I like to think, particularly with the new skins, [that]Â I am offering people who want to be more individual an alternative.Â That’s why I love making different skins–each one is a new and unique work of art.”
In my interactions with her, sachi always seemsÂ very comfortable and confident in her dual roles as SL designer and business owner.Â In both my own experience and what I’ve heard from others (I do ask around), Adam n Eve customer service is first-rate.Â How does she strike the right balance?Â “Both Damen [Gorilla] and I try to treat our customers in the same way we would like to be treated.Â We give people the opportunity to try on items with demos as much as we can, and we are aware of SL and its many issues, so [we] aren’t unsympathetic to people’s needs and requirements.Â We also keep records of our sales and accounts so it’s not that difficult to track people down if they are specific as to the problem.”
With all this going on, what’s coming down the road?Â “I haveÂ two more male skins in the pipeline for later this summer.Â I want to bring my male range up to a variety of aroundÂ ten or 12 different skins.Â And I want to focus a bit more attention to male clothing.Â There are always so many things I want to do!”Â
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Of the three, David is my personal favorite.Â sachiÂ was kind enoughÂ to provide samples of JaredÂ and Nicholas forÂ the purpose of this review, but IÂ had already bought David for myself, first in the lightest tone (T1) as it’s closest to what wear regularly.Â Later on, though,Â I went back for theÂ lightly tanned tone (T2), because I found myself trying on the demo again and again to admire the toasted-marshmallow skin color.
The differences in the faces (David, Jared, Nicholas)Â are quite striking.Â For myself I like the openness of David’s “boy next door” face, butÂ Jared’s features are serene, regal and quite striking.Â NicholasÂ has lips that are noticeably moreÂ pink and perhaps a slightly more exotic look to his features in general–or maybe that’s just me.
The body differences among the three are more subtle (David, Jared, Nicholas).Â Although there is a certain underlying “family resemblance,” perhaps due to common photo source elements, the three are cousins more than brothers.Â You’ll see slight variations in the abs (which, as sachi rightfullyÂ points out,Â are indeed present) and lines of the collarbone, among other areas.Â On all three, close inspection will reveal details such as small hand-drawn veins and delicately cut lower abdominal muscles.
sachi’s threeÂ new male skins offer you severalÂ choices.Â Each is available in four different skin tones.Â David and Jared have three facial hair variations; Nicholas has three facial hair options and one skin with lightly applied eyeliner.Â All include skins with painted-on head hair as well as a bald version.Â “Skinlights” (an attachment that casts local light on your body) and short prim lashes are also included.Â You also get helpful notecards entitled “Lighting Recommendations” and “Editing Prim Lashes.”Â I found the “Skinlights” a little bright for my taste, and I wasn’t able to make time to play with the lashes, but I’m sure I’ll get back to them at some point, because I am curious.
All three skins are priced at L$1200 for singles; packs of all four variations in the same tone are L$3000.Â Demos are available in the shop, as are David and Nicholas shapes.
Available at Adam n Eve (Genesis 85, 90, 40).
Be sure to check out Ben’s featureÂ on these skins at SL Men!Â Too much is never enough.Â