She put her hand on my forearm. I felt the hairs stand on end. “Exactly!” she said, “And most of the critics are men who can only think of sex, sex, sex when they see a naked woman.” She paused. “And they can think that if they like. I don’t mind. Most of them can’t help it, but if they at least try to understand what they are seeing and how they are reacting to it, then I can forgive them.”
I felt it was too early to ask her about her relationships. From what I had managed to find out, there had been very few of them, and they’d been short-lived and from a time before her nude performances began.
“But to those who see you…,” I said, “If you don’t mind me saying, you have an amazing body, and you wear sexy red shoes, bright red lipstick and dark eye make-up and, for most men, the only time they see a naked – sorry, nude – woman who looks like you do is only in pornography.”
Mia waved a finger at me as if she were about to contradict me. “Yes! Exactly! But you are wearing lipstick, are you not? And eye make-up? And dainty high heels too?”
“Well, yes, but I’m… I’m not naked.”
Mia smiled the smile that I was beginning to learn meant that the discussion was going exactly the way she planned it. “And what do you think clothes are for, eh? To keep warm, yes. Maybe in Finland. And in the UK too, no? But in Spain? Spain is so often too hot. No, clothes are not for warmth. We wear clothes to make ourselves look more attractive. I look at you in your trousers and your blouse and I can imagine the curve of your hips and your narrow waist and your soft yet pert breasts with their small pink nipples. Or maybe brown. I have no idea whether you have those things or not, but what my mind does not do is fill in these missing details with sagging and folds of fat. No, it paints a very pretty picture, imagining what you might look like naked.”