It's my own fault for getting so far behind in putting out this newsletter.
Sometimes, of course, there is almost no real "news" to report. But the
past month wasn't one of those times.
As a result, we have quite a bunch of news stories about nudity to offer.
Perhaps it's just the advent of spring in the northern hemisphere, but
it seems as though people are going naked more than ever - or at least
the press is reporting it more. And often, surprisingly, in an even-handed,
responsible way. That may be news in itself.
In any case, we'll forego most of our other usual content this time in order
to sample the latest news of the nude. And we'll try to have the next
issue out much more promptly.
- Body Shop's Ruby too frightening for Hong Kong
- Demonstrating that the American midwest is not the only "modern"
society afraid to confront the appearance of real women, Hong Kong's
Mass Transit Railway has rejected
Body Shop posters of "Ruby" on its
premises. Ruby is a full-figured, nude doll which has been used in
Body Shop's ads for several months. (See the news item in the
Vol 1, No. 1 issue for some history.)
A spokesman for the MTR claimed that Ruby "would cause offense to
passengers". Of course, MTR regularly does allow lingerie ads with
semi-naked fashion models.
- TV fashion show presents a fair program on nudists
- Well, it wasn't really about the joys of wearing nothing at all,
but it was probably much more than one would have hoped for from a
television show called Fashion Emergency Makeovers on the E! Channel.
Why would nudists be concerned about "fashion"? Well, the premise
is that a young nudist couple is suddenly presented with the
necessity of attending a clothing-mandatory dinner party arranged
by the man's parents, and they want to make the best possible
impression on Mom and Dad.
We can pass right by the details of what the show's producers
thought might be an improvement on nudity and note some of the
positives. The main thing is that the people were treated fairly
as reasonable people, some time was spent explaining nudism, and
it was treated as a legitimate
lifestyle. The last part of the segment even allowed the couple
to turn the tables on the experts and present nudist fashion tips.
These included sunblock, the 'N' terrycloth wrap, various coverups
and robes, and the TNS T-shirt.
There's a summary of the show
- Nude joy rides
- Nude joy riding may be on the upswing.
In Tallahassee, Florida, a nude teen-age couple
out for a bit of fresh air had the misfortune of running into
another vehicle at an intersection. But all was not lost, since
they did bring clothes with them. The driver managed to put on
her underwear before rescuers were able to extricate her from the
car. You can find more details
Unfortunately, it's still possible to get into trouble driving
nude, even if you don't have an accident. A 46-year-old woman was
chased by police from five agencies in the small college town of
Alma, Michigan after other drivers
called to report a naked motorist. Evidently, this is the a matter
of compelling interest to Michican law enforcement officers. The
miscreant nudist was eventually apprehended after a chase at speeds
of up to 110 mph.
- Another federal court ruling against women
- Following the lead of the Supreme Court, which refused to
consider an important "topfreedom" case late last year (see
Vol. 1, No. 5), the federal
2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
in New York has ruled that male and female breasts
are not equal in the eyes of the law. The court found that "public
exposure of the female breast ... almost inevitably convey's sexual
overtones." Of course, it is primarily to men that such overtones
are conveyed, while the "overtones" which might be conveyed to
women by men's chests are, apparently, irrelevant. And is it
possible that Court hasn't noticed that "sexual overtones" are not
exactly uncommon in many areas these days? (Well, it's long been
said that justice is blind.) The thinking is no less backward than
that in Muslim countries where women must be entirely concealed,
out of concern for the sexual "overtones" that men might discern
even in a woman's smile.
A copy of the court's ruling may be found
- Naked tax protest
- Or perhaps, just a publicity stunt. In any case, April 15 has
a way of inducing out-of-the-ordinary behavior. One example: a rock
music station near Washington, D. C. offered free concert tickets to
anyone who would bare their hindquarters at the IRS headquarters to
pass out morning donuts to employees. Two people took them up on
- A tax on nudity?
- Meanwhile, out in the hinterlands, officials in Wisconsin,
desperate for new things to tax, are struggling with how to apply a tax
on "pornography". However, since no coherent definition of that
term has ever been discovered, they are faced with the vexing question of
whether the law, as written, may require a special sales tax on raunchy
candy, risque greeting cards, or nude house-cleaning services.
- Austrian nude ski resort
- It isn't really news, since the Schilcherhaus guest house
Obertraun, Austria, has been in business for 15 years. But the
fact that the Schilcherhaus is a popular base for nude cross-country
skiing in the Salzkammergut lake district has apparently just come
to the attention of a Reuters feature writer. The guest house is
located at an altitude of 5800 feet in the Austrian Alps, and
the town of Obertraun is described as "Europe's nudist skiing mecca".
Since this is Europe, the local tourist board is proud rather than
embarassed by the attraction.
Nude skiing isn't as cold as it may sound - with enough exertion and
high-altitude sunshine, frostbite is less of a danger than sunburn.
But if the idea is daunting nevertheless, the town has an answer:
during the summer Obertraun features a clothing-optional beach on
- Park Service proposes to ban nudity at traditionally CO Hawaiian beach
- Back in the US of A, however, some places remain hostile to
clothes-free recreation. The National Park Service has just published
a notice in the Federal Register of a proposed permanent ban
on nude use of the traditionally clothing-optional
Honokohau Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. The claim is that
"The existing practice of recreational public
nudity is in conflict with the enabling legislation of the park and the
traditional values of native Hawaiian culture."
There is plenty of room to dispute these "traditional values", however.
Visitors to Hawaii little more than 100 years ago noted that nudity
among the native people was common - such as the report by Mark Twain
in our article in Vol. 1, No. 8.
But the proposal is still open for public comment. Take a look at
NAC Alert on this matter for much more background information.
(And review the other Alerts while you're there to get some idea
of how many similar threats to nude recreation there are currently
in the U. S.)
- Mazo Beach problem
- While nude recreation opportunities are under pressure almost
everywhere in the U. S., there are encouraging signs that reason is
able to prevail when naturists and public officials actually cooperate.
At Wisconsin's popular Mazomanie Beach
a problem has arisen due to inappropriate behavior by non-naturists
who misunderstand the meaning of nude recreation. The hopeful sign
is that officials recognize that naturists themselves are upset by
this and want to work with authorities to clean things up. As one
official pointed out, "The traditional people are offended by this,
and they've brought it to our attention." Here's a
news article to check for more details.
- The University of Michigan Naked Mile
- Nudity is controversial in our society; there's no doubt about
that. The problem isn't the nudity itself, but rather a combination
of tendencies in our society towards selfish and immature behavior.
Those tendencies are in action at Mazo Beach (above article), and
in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Since 1986 there has been a tradition on the campus of the University
of Michigan in Ann Arbor for (some) students, on the night after classes
for the spring quarter are over, to drop their clothes and
run naked through the streets. The event has come to be known as
"Naked Mile". It is estimated that about 1000 students
participated last year, and about 250 of those were women.
Unfortunately, selfishness and immaturity have tarnished a great thing.
The 1997 run attracted a crowd estimated at 10,000, and in any group
that size, it seems, there must be a few bad apples. City officials
warnings a few days before this year's run regarding videotapes of
past events being sold on the Web, lewd comments directed at women,
and even gropings.
To their great credit, the authorities stopped there and did not attempt
to prevent the run or arrest any runners. And the worst fears of
violence and assaults proved unfounded. But the warnings did significantly
diminish the runners' ranks to only about 500, with perhaps only 60
women. Officials would still like to "tone down" the event in the
future. Let's hope they find a way to address the real issue: the
bad manners of some of the boozed-up spectators, rather than by
curtailing a great experience for the participants.
As one young woman observed, "It's just so free. You're running down
by the place where you go to classes every day and you're butt-naked."
It would be a shame to lose that opportunity.
for more on this year's run.
- Ann Arbor YMCA rents its pool for clothing-optional swims
- Overall, the attitudes towards nudity in Ann Arbor, at least on
the part of people who aren't too immature and boozy, seem to be
pretty fair. The Southeast Michigan Naturists club has had no
problem renting YMCA facilities for their private swim parties.
Officials of the local Y see this as no different from renting to
any other responsible group - and the local paper found this fact
newsworthy enough to report it.
- Charges dropped against X-Plicit Players
- In another college town, on the West Coast, reason and good
common sense have also prevailed. Berkeley, California (of all places)
has for several years had an anti-nudity ordinance. But a street
theater group known as the
X-Plicit Players has stubbornly resisted this infringement on
legitimate artistic freedom of expression. (See our review of their
Web site in Vol. 1, No. 9.)
Local authorities have repeatedly tried using the city ordinance
to prosecute these uppity naked people. But they have been foiled
when juries simply refused to deliver convictions on the misdemeanor
charges (which speaks eloquently about "community standards" in
Berkeley). So officials tried to change the charges to an "infraction",
for which the defendants could not demand a jury trial. They have
been foiled again, when a judge ruled against this type of legal
chicanery, and dismissed the latest charges. Maybe now they'll
stop wasting Berkeley taxpayers' money on frivolous prosecutions.
- Art Bar Opens in Philadelphia
- Speaking of freedom of artistic expression... impecunious
artists needing live models to inspire their efforts with sketching,
painting, or watercolors often can't afford to hire individual models or
find affordable public art classes. Now, thanks to Philadelphia
entrepreneur David Simons, they have an alternative.
Three times a week the Art Bar brings in an experienced (nude)
artist's model to pose for would-be art makers, who in "real life"
may be teachers, librarians, or graphic designers. Liquid refreshment
(beer) is also available for sale, and the proprietor attempts to
package it all in a suitably bohemian atmosphere with music,
poetry readings, and dim lighting. Customers (including many women)
describe the ambiance as "relaxing" and "cathartic".
Report on a talk by Jock Sturges
The following first-person report was written by
William C. Mitchell
and is used here with permission.
On March 7 Jock Sturges gave in imformal talk at the Paul Kopeikin
Gallery (138 N. La Brea Ave (213) 937-0765) His show at the Gallery runs
thru April 14 and opened on March 6. The talk was publicized in the LA
Weekly Issue of March 6 - 12. The talk was to start at 3 PM and I got
there about 2:30 I looked at the 25 16x20 prints was I worked my way up
to the counter. The small gallery was packed with people. The prints were
beautiful and as a photographer myself I know what hard work goes into
creating fine art. I bought a signed copy of the one book that I did not
have. When Mr. Sturges got into the Gallery it was decided to split the
talk into two parts because of the crowded conditions. So some people
left and had to come back at 4 PM.
Mr. Sturges stood in the middle of the gallery and pointed at the
photographs as he talked about the stories of his subjects. And when you
hear the man talk about the people he photographs you learn quickly that
"subjects" is the wrong word to describe the relationship between this artist
and the individuals and families he works with. If the critics of Mr.
Sturges could hear him talk, perhaps they might understand. The story of
Fanny was very moving. I wish Sturges or Fanny herself would publish her
story in writing. The story of Misty Dawn who attended the opening was
also a story worth putting into print.
Another "Model" (I think friend is a better word) was there at the
Saturday talk but I am not sure of her name. She said that after 5
minutes she forgot that everyone was nude, when she described a trip to
There were some questions about being a naturist. I think I was not the
only naturist present. Sturges also talked about the legal problems that
he is in.
Seeing the artwork and hearing the artist talk made for a very nice
William C. Mitchell
More about Jock Sturges
The story keeps generating a lot of press. Here are some additional
Sturges interview in Metro
- This interview with Jock Sturges in Silicon Valley's Metro
weekly newspaper is must reading. There are some samples of his
work here too.
Availability of Sturges' books
- A related article in the same issue of Metro points out
that local Barnes & Noble store managers may be reluctant to discuss
or sell Sturges' books. Don't worry. Barnes & Noble isn't the best
place to buy books anyhow. Try your local independent bookseller, or
one of the online stores like
Statement on the Jock Sturges controversy
- By the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression,
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Borders Books and Music. (Issued
in October, 1997.)
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