Tooth Whore

The artand sacrificeof dental perfection

Johnny Light—which is not his real name but rather the name he always gives when he must give a name and his own seems all too real—has perfect teeth. So perfect, in fact, that his dentist—keeper, tender and admirer of said specimens of dental correctness—recently called to ask if he could photograph Light's perfect teeth.

"Actually, it was his assistant who called," says Light. One suspects he can be a bit of a perfectionist, but really, with teeth like that, how could he not be? These teeth are perfect: white, shiny, excellently proportioned and possessing a winning shape. And yet these teeth are somehow understated. They do not hit you over the head with their you-could-never-have-teeth-quite-so-perfect-as-thisness. That's not what these teeth are about. On the contrary, these teeth are about strength, about confidence. These teeth don't need you to acknowledge how perfect they are. They know, and so they are content to just sit in Light's mouth like quiet sentinels, not having to announce their presence or somehow lord it over you. These teeth are Steve Martin, not Robin Williams. These teeth are Macy Gray, not Celine Dion. These teeth are Jake, not the Fat Man. No, wait, they're the Fat Man, not Jake. No, wait, they are . . . uh . . . Does anyone remember that show? These teeth have it going on. These teeth are never Jim Carrey. And if they say but one thing about Light, it is this: he is not from England.

It was Light's dentist who, years ago, first discovered the Teeth. "I was sitting in the chair, and he started making me bite down so the tips of my cuspids touched one another. Then he said something like, 'Jesus, that's the most perfect bite I've ever seen in my life!'" recalls Light.

It's clear that this revelation was somehow bittersweet. "At first, I just felt weird. Kind of good and weird at the same time," Light admits. "I mean, if he's a dentist, he's seen so many bites in a lifetime. I guess I just never truly realized how perfect they were."

Light's mom was the first to hear the news about his teeth. "I think she said something like, 'That's great, honey,'" he says.

But things haven't always been so rosy for Light and his teeth. "These teeth have caused me a lot of pain," he says, ruefully.

It seems the photo session for his dentist, which included taking molds and biting down on aluminum plates, was rife with dental hardship. And let's not even get into the fact that it was scheduled during Light's spring break, when he would rather have been on a beach somewhere slapping hot chicks' bikini-clad asses and then flashing a smile like god's instead of in an air-conditioned dental office wearing a bib to catch his drool.

"The molds were gross," he says. "I could hardly breathe, and that was uncomfortable. There was some kind of rubbery, clayish flavor not unsimilar to Play-Doh. It was cold, industrial-mold stuff. Then I had to bite down on aluminum, which was uncomfortable and sick. They didn't care about me. They just wanted their pictures. They were results-driven."

Sadly, the ordeal did not end there.

"The ordeal did not end there," says Light. Apparently the actual photo taking, for which Light had to hold his own mouth open with plastic lip dividers (something he likens to "being raped with your own penis") involved not only physical discomfort but a fair share of humiliation.

"When they started taking pictures, it was just the lady who was taking the pictures and me," Light says. "But then they started taking pictures of the bottoms of my teeth, which required a mirror. And then along comes this really hot 19-year-old assistant, and now she's holding the mirror, and I look like a retard, and she's noticing that I'm looking like a retard, and I'm drooling. Plus, she wasn't doing a very good job of holding the mirror, so they had to take the pictures two or three times."

There was psychological torment as well. "I knew that whatever they told me to do, I would have to do it because I'd already told them I would, and I'm kind of a man of my word," he says.

Would Light have removed his pants if that's what they'd asked?

"I don't think I would do that," he says.

Would he be a tooth model if given the chance?

"I don't think there's much demand for tooth models at this point, but if it ever comes up, I'm sure I'd do it," he says.

You suggest that it might just be more of the same. "Oh," says Light, backpedaling. "I thought it would just be, like, smiling and stuff. I would make sure that's what my contract says because the other things are just too humiliating and painful."

In exchange for all this, Light was told, he would be given an electric toothbrush. "I thought it was going to be a $120 Sonicare toothbrush, but instead, it was, like, some shitty, battery-operated toothbrush that costs $20. That's when I realized I'd been had."

Light is a bit worried about returning to the dentist's office for his next biannual cleaning. "They're going to ask me how I like the toothbrush, and I'm going to tell them it sucks."

But he uses it. "It's kind of loud, so you can't use it at night, but I use it in the mornings. I guess it's not that crappy. It's just that I expected something grand. The thing is I went through all the pain, and I got it, and I damn well better use it. Otherwise, I'll feel more like a tooth whore than I already do."

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