By Herald de Paris Contributor's Bureau on December 14, 2010
By Marine Vidal
PARIS (Herald de Paris) – Have you dreamt to jump in the wilderness, naked?Â No gravity, no clothes: perfect physical freedom. A childish dream Morgan Tepsic is currently fulfilling.
It all begins in the Oklahoma blizzard, in December 2009.Â Morganâ€™s electricity is down; he stays with his parents for a few days. Claustrophobia ensues. â€śI was getting cabin fever so bad. I had just got a new camera and wanted to take a self portrait of me naked in the snow. Cause there was no people around. So I put it on the self-timer and then at the last second I just decided to jump. To see what thatâ€™d look like.â€ť Thus is born the idea which would drive the young American all over the world for nearly two years.
The project is simple: find a nice spot, get undressed quickly, jump and take a picture.Â Dozens of jumps and hundreds of pictures later, Morgan is now touring America with his girlfriend. The both of them have settled, jump after jump, into a working team. â€śMost of the times, itâ€™s her taking the pictures. At first, she was pretty nervous, but now weâ€™ve got a good system down of making Xs on the ground, where we should stand and how the angle should be.â€ť He takes pictures, she writes, and they plan to release a travel journal of their adventures in America. â€śWeâ€™ve been documenting everything. Weâ€™ve saved all the receipts of everything weâ€™ve bought and places that weâ€™ve slept and been. Itâ€™s going to be a huge archive.â€ť Contributors to the project can already see their travel log on the Internet, hence following the daily twists and turns of their adventures.
The system isnâ€™t always exactly extremely organized.Â They travel with a peculiar balance between planning ahead and going along the way. â€śWhen I arrived in San Francisco, I got a map and I knew four places I wanted to go. And then we just schedule, we look and see whatâ€™s in between all those different places, and then we take them as we go. Nothing is really planned further than five days.â€ť Sometimes, the experience can take a turn for the worst. â€śThere happened sometimes where weâ€™ll literally be broke, and we have been stuck in a small town, with no Internet or anything, and sleep in the car until I get my next sponsorship check. And then we can have gas money to roll on.â€ť On the road again, would sing Willie Nelson.
Morgan’s project breathes youth and energy,Â two focal points that are passed on through the pictures. â€śThatâ€™s a huge part of it, especially when I started jumping in the snow. Itâ€™s a huge rush that Iâ€™ve never felt before. So that was another reason to keep on doing it.â€ť Still, one has to have pretty bad cabin fever in order to jump naked in the snow. This is the type of story that makes me glad I don’t do Gonzo. â€śHonestly, it was because I was out of weed!”Â Morgan laughs.Â “And I knew that running in the snow was going to be a really cool rush.â€ť
Cabin fever being the project’s ignition, was adrenaline its fuel? Not nearly. What started out of a whim would have flopped if it were merely just that. Its growth into a statement ensured it would continue. â€śItâ€™s hopefully making male nudity more tolerable through mainstream media, without it being necessarily gay or shunned from the public eye. When male nudity is seen, in the way it goes, itâ€™s basically homosexual. If you see a naked guy, automatically, thatâ€™s gay. But if you see a naked woman, itâ€™s sexy, itâ€™s art. Female nudity can be anywhere, but I feel like male nudity is kind of in its own bubble from everything else. I felt that it needs to change.â€ť The pictures are graphic, nothing is hidden from the viewer’s eye, but this is no adult images.
For all his refusal of categorizing, Morgan’s name appears often on Gay oriented websites,Â which have had a good hand into making the project buzz. â€śAt first I thought that maybe girls would really like men. But I just got a huge reaction from the gay community and I totally embraced that. I love it!â€ť It’s not a statement, either political or sexual. However, Morgan’s random involvement with the gay community goes much further than just featuring on a few websites.
Treasure Island Media, the controversial San Francisco gay porn company (1), offered Morgan sponsorship, which he readily accepted. â€śMe and them had talked about what we wanted to do, it came out pretty great, and I donâ€™t care if theyâ€™re controversial, I think itâ€™s great. So Iâ€™m definitely proud to be sponsored by them and being a part of that. Reading about the controversies is so crazy, but then I went to their offices, theyâ€™re all the nicest people ever.â€ť A touch of childishness, then, and a just a little bit of what could seem to be naĂŻve.
Or so it seems.Â Morgan is not quite the happy-go-lucky folk he first gives the impression of being. An example lies in one of his pictures, where he blithely gives the finger, naked, to the Oklahoma State Capitol. â€śIt was about the Health Care bill; my state was really divided. Theyâ€™re totally conservative. I decided to take the picture and then I mailed it to Oklahoma representatives, and told them that they really didnâ€™t speak for me.â€ť However, the aim of the great majority of his pictures is not political, and there is no other political statement to find,
The Oklahoma State Capitol picture was not the most dangerous situation he found himself into.Â If Morgan never got a cold for that first jump in the snow, he did hurt himself near Mount Rushmore, a few weeks ago. â€śIt was pretty high security. It was the most stressful jump; I was literally at Mount Rushmore for about three and a half hours, trying to find a good location. I was up on this high pillar and I jumped and I really messed up my foot. My foot was bleeding and itâ€™s still kind of messed upâ€¦ A lot of places are dangerous, but that was my first injury. It was kind of surprising.â€ť
Even walking naked in the streets of San FranciscoÂ was met with no more than a few strange looks from passersby. Looks that are easy to ignore: â€śFor about 40 percent of my pictures, there are people behind the camera. So Iâ€™ve gotten over the fear of somebody seeing me, if itâ€™s just a random pedestrianâ€¦ Itâ€™s just really the police that I care about.â€ť Letâ€™s hope Morgan can keep jumping for a long time.
Find more information about Morgan Tepsic on www.morgantepsic.com.
(1) Treasure Island Media, or TIM, specializes in bareback porn. The proclaimed refusal to use condoms
has met with quite a bit of criticism. For more information, see TIM owner Paul Morris’s explanation HERE