Danelle Jay has modeled just about everything, from clothing to makeup to hair styles.
Now she can add sushi to the list.
Jay is a naked sushi model, meaning she lays nude as people with chopsticks eat sushi off her body. Uncomfortable with the concept at first, she ended up finding it liberating.
"I'm sure there are lot of people who think it's degrading, but for me it was a powerful feeling,'' said the 20-year-old from Tampa. "It was about stretching my limits and trying something new.''
Naked sushi, often referred to as body sushi or nyotaimori, is a respected art among geishas in Japan and dates back hundreds of years. More recently, it has appeared in Hollywood movies and is available in major cities.
Michael Leoncio founded Naked Sushi Orlando two years ago and was a featured guest at Tampa's first Nude Nite, an art show devoted to the naked body. Also a photographer and wine broker, he brings naked sushi experiences to parties and restaurants across Central Florida.
Being a model, he said, takes patience, a sense of adventure and beauty, but not necessarily the kind you would expect.
"I'm not looking for sexy. I'm not looking for the Hooters girl,'' he said. "I'm looking for beautiful women who appeal to both men and women.''
Not everyone makes the cut. Models must lay motionless for a few hours at a time and can only communicate with their eyes and facial expressions.
Covered in California rolls and banana leaves has its challenges. It's cold and hard to keep a straight face, especially with chopsticks aimed at your private parts.
Still, Jay found the experience relaxing.
"It's like being an observer in a room,'' she said. "You feel like you don't have to participate in the conversation.''
Leoncio sets game rules for naked sushi events — no touching or harassing the models — and hires a guard to keep watch. He does the sushi placement himself and ensures the X-rated stuff is covered.
Hiring Naked Sushi Orlando can cost $1,000 to $1,500 a night, depending on the number of guests and amount of sushi served. Leoncio likens it to dinner theater.
Jay doubts she'll add naked sushi modeling to her resume, but it just might further her career. She plans to become a chef one day.