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The naked animator

Bob White, a professor of communications at Simmons College, hands me a list of reasons why he’s "interesting." Here’s one: "I am going to be 60 next week and I have a [birth] certificate welcoming me as a citizen of Boston." Here’s another: "I have been seen throwing my Lucite cane at cars running lights at crosswalks. (This is a bad thing for me to do.)" Another: "I say ‘confound’ and ‘confounded’ in class instead of goddamnit and the Fuck word." And finally: "I am interesting because I made this list."

White also animates interesting nudes. Yep, you read that right: a soon-to-be 60-year-old male professor at an all-female college likes to create short films that often star naked, hairless, pointy-nippled cyber women. Since he was 12, he’s made 50 animated shorts — not all starring naked ladies — or about one a year. "That is not unlike a poet writing 50 poems," White explains. "It’s not like somebody writing 50 books." Beauty & the Liquid People (2005), a 10-minute short of fluid nudies and a conquered liquid lion, is his most recent. But the one that’s garnered him the most attention has been Goddez (2004), a 12-minute cyberporn-sci-fi-fantasy of screaming babies, topless tweeting spacewomen, giant robots, and a medieval scientist. An earlier version of the film, Moonage Nightmare, won an award at Worldfest Houston. And then last spring, Goddez showed at the Somerville Theater during the Boston Underground Film Festival. For BUFF’s post-screening Q&A, the congenial White made up his own mock dialogue to save the audience the trouble. He admits, "Not like I don’t prepare for every second of my life."

Settled behind a thick wooden desk in his fifth-floor office in the Fenway, the Brookline resident strokes his long, hoary beard, which complements his fluffy canescent hair and silver-framed glasses. The wizard whiskers, he says, "just happened," giving him an unforgettable visage that, as students point out, resembles that of Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore. Actually, White jokes that he designed his office, a darkened corner perch atop the school’s under-construction library, as a "riff on Dumbledore’s office and [Biography Channel sleuth] Nero Wolf’s desk." There’s a gargoyle in one corner, a sword in another. Stacks of film cans loom. Above his wide-screen monitor is a papier-mâché sky hook, a peacock-feathered headress, a stuffed "bobwhite" bird. Then a personalized touch: an old black-and-white photo collage of poofy-banged former students making ridiculous faces on one wall.

A gregarious, extroverted character, White instructs three classes a semester: one in video production; one in computer animation; and an introductory lecture held in an amphitheater and catalogued as "Communications in Media" that he calls "my claim to fame." A college-radio DJ at his alumnus Holy Cross, White bolsters his lectures with all sorts of multimedia tools. "My lecturing is very much like a show."

He is also a sometime poet. In Sidelines, the Simmons College literary journal, he wrote an erotic short piece featuring only these words: "send me a picture of you naked/then i will have a picture of someone naked that i know/i have so many pictures of naked strangers." Before the piece was published, a Simmons administator worried White would get inundated with hundreds of nude student photos. "I didn’t get any," he writes in a follow-up e-mail. "If you mention it in the Phoenix and I get some, it proves that more people read you than read the literary magazine." A cheap ploy, but perhaps what really makes White interesting is that he’s willing to use a little press as an open call for nude digital pics. Add that to the list.

Send your nude photos to bob.white@simmons.edu. View his animated shorts at www.simmons.edu/~white.

Issue Date: September 2 - 8, 2005
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