Denmark is for naturists

Membership boom for nudist groups

More and more people are joining nudists clubs in Denmark. Over the past three years, the number of members in the national nudist club, Danish Naturalists, has risen by 30 percent.

What we really want to point out here is that this item is found on Denmark’s official web site!

Can anyone imagine such an article being featured on the official website of any U. S. state? Even without the tasteful nude photo?

But then, Denmark is a country of intelligent, civilized people, and so it appreciates, rather than persecutes, naturism.

More info on Danish naturism at the Scandinavian Naturist Portal.

Originally posted September 7, 2005

Lady Godiva in New York

Lady Godiva on two wheels [Link is still valid!]

Jill Feeley, 25, who went topless while wearing an American flag as a miniskirt at Columbus Circle on Sun. Aug. 14 with 10 other women bicycle riders, said she was grateful police saved them from a bunch of excited men who rushed the group at 4:30 p.m.

The only comment we have to make about this is: Why the heck does it take at least half a dozen of NYPD’s finest to protect a group of women, peacefully out for a bike ride, from a pack of slavering males? The things that feminists say about the crude behavior of some men couldn’t actually be right, could they?

Originally posted September 7, 2005

Action Alert: Wreck Beach

From the Naturist Action Committee (September 7, 2005):

The Naturist Action Committee (NAC) asks all naturists to unite in a worldwide grassroots e-mail writing campaign to save Wreck Beach from plans being made by the University of British Columbia (UBC) for three additional residence towers to overlook the beach. One tower is already being constructed. If the University is allowed to continue on its present course, a total of four towers will blight the beach forever.

Go here for the rest.

Check the Wreck Beach pages for information on this great beach in Vancouver, B. C.

Originally posted September 7, 2005

How Berkeley Can You Be?

From the official Web site:

Come and help Berkeley celebrate itself in one of the most colorful, irreverent, and fun events on the west coast. The Tenth Annual “How Berkeley Can You Be?” Parade kicks off on Sunday, September 25, 2005, at 11:00 A.M. It starts at the corner of California and University Avenue and proceeds up University Avenue to Shattuck, turns right on Shattuck to Center Street and then goes down Center Street two blocks, where it ends in Civic Center Park.

And the best part of the parade is — it’s clothing-optional. Or if you’re a little shy, topfree is OK too. So, if you like to “parade around naked”, Berkeley is the place.

Originally published September 7, 2005

If only all religion were like this…

Woman, 5 Children Found Walking Nude (August 31, 2005)

ST. PETERSBURG – A naked woman and her five children – all naked and carrying Bibles – were stopped by police about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The group was stopped near the intersection of 29th Avenue North and 15th Street North. Several people called police to report the group.

The woman was arrested and charged with child abuse and exposure of sexual organs.

Her name was not released Tuesday because officers were investigating the case, a St. Petersburg Police Department news release stated.

The children, who range in age from 5 to 15 years old, will likely be turned over to relatives, police said in a news release.

Police said the woman told them that God told her this morning that she and her children should walk down the street naked.

Originally posted September 6, 2005

Staff writer looking for a clued mood

Yet another comment on art and art appreciation. We seem to be having quite a run of these right now.

Austin American-Statesman staff writer Chris Garcia seems to have struggled mightily to grok the scene at a fairly ordinary (for participants) viewing of photographic art at an Austin, TX gallery recently. The attempt is almost successful.

All the images on exhibit, by photographer George Krause, are of nudes, and (almost) all the spectators are nude too, members of the local Hill Country Nudists club. So what’s the big deal?

Art exhibit’s visitors in a nude mood

The naked man looked at the clothed man, and then he looked at the naked people, and then back at the clothed man, all the time wearing a scrunched look that said, “What is this weirdo doing here?”

The weirdo, fully dressed, was there to talk to naked people. He told the naked man this, and the naked man relaxed. But the clothed man did not relax, for he was one of only a few clothed people in an art gallery filled with naked men and women. Twenty-one of the naked people were there in the literal, quivering flesh, and about as many were hanging on two long walls, the subjects of life-size photographs by Austin artist George Krause.

Somehow, Garcia’s prose comes across in shades of purple:

Naked people admired the photos’ indiscriminate honesty, and the boxy, concrete gallery echoed with the slappy patter of bare feet. Sipping cheap cabernet in plastic cups, nudists mixed casually in the shocking altogether, proud in their mammalian resplendence. They embodied all sizes and shapes, from pears to bears, though the age scale tipped to ear hair and backaches.

But here’s the part that gets me going:

There was chatter about “liberation,” “society” and the nudist “agenda,” yet a curious dearth about sexuality and the whole naked thing. One wondered how these people abstain from . . . looking.

“With some practice, it’s completely possible to maintain eye contact with a topless woman,” Morgan said. “You don’t stare, but you don’t avoid looking in a particular direction either.” Gotcha.

What the writer is struggling to understand is that looking is simply not a problem. It’s not a problem, because people who really get naturism don’t mind if anyone looks, or at what parts. To be naked means that certain body parts, which the prevailing culture considers to be taboo and “private”, are uncovered. But since these parts aren’t taboo for naturists, there’s no problem with their being seen, or even something one may pay attention to.

That’s subject to reasonableness, of course. A person who stares without interruption at anyone or any part of someone certainly will be regarded as weird, uncouth, oafish, or gauche. But even then, many, if not most, naturists will not be so much “annoyed” or “offended” as simply pitying toward such behavior. Naturists are quite used to seeing nudity. They enjoy seeing it, but aren’t mesmerized by it. Anyone who is clearly hasn’t got the idea yet.

In traditional Japanese culture there are communal bathing facilities known as onsen and sento. In connection with these, the saying is that “nudity is often seen, but seldom noticed.” However, such bathing facilities usually have separate areas for men and women, so there remains a definite nudity taboo.

Naturism is different. It has a culture of its own where even noticing nudity is not a problem. That is because the nudity — one’s own as well as that of others — is something to be enjoyed. Just so long as one doesn’t take it to excess.

There’s another newspaper story on the same event, by Houston Chronicle writer Louis Parks, who doesn’t seem quite so overwhelmed by it all — and thanks to Mark for this:

A great night for art buffs [Link still valid!]

The gallery served wine, the guests stood around and chatted and discussed the photos. What could be more, well, natural?

No big deal.

To a fully dressed observer, the most striking aspect of this gathering — aside from the vastness of skin, the profusion of body hair and the usually hidden wrinkles — was how similar it seemed to a clothed gathering.

And yet not quite the same.

“It’s refreshing,” said Kathy, whose father, a photographer, taught her ‘the difference between nudity and pornography.’ “It’s nice to meet people where you feel comfortable. One thing about people who are truly nudist, you are not looking at the body image thing, it’s more who they are.”

Vive la différence.

Originally posted August 28, 2005

A breast too far

How well hidden must tasteful art involving nudity be in order to keep knowledge of adult nudity out of the view of children, and thereby to pass on unhealthy attitudes to yet another generation?

At least as far as a wall behind a row of book stacks would appear to be the attitude of a librarian in the body-phobic state of Virginia.

VA Library Moves Nude Painting Behind Stacks

After a mother and tutor complained in July, Chesapeake Public Library in Virginia has moved a painting of a female nude from a place near the building’s main entrance to a wall behind a row of stacks, the Norfolk Virginia-Pilot reported July 29. Roughly 12,000 people walked past the piece, based on library estimates that a thousand people a day visit the building.

Morning Dreamer” by local painter Karen Kinser was on display for two weeks before the mother and tutor complained that the painting was on view in a place where children could see it. The painting depicts a woman, one of whose breasts is visible, reclining in bed. Kinser has been showing her work for eight years at the library but it has never been objected to before.

We mentioned this story a few days ago. But it seems worthwhile to revisit it for more emphasis.

Kinser called the relocation censorship. A library official said she made a practical decision for a public facility funded by taxpayers’ dollars.

Margaret Stillman, the library’s director, loves Kinser’s work. But she made the call to move the 16-by-18-inch painting on July 13.

We can sympathize with Ms. Stillman’s dilemma, given the known antipathy towards nudity in a place like Virginia. But we humbly submit that librarians share with parents and other educators the function of transmitting the best of our culture to future generations, not finding ways to keep it out of their sight.

Parents who learned to fear nudity in their own upbringing should have the right to pass this fear on to their kids, if they must. But they shouldn’t be able to deceive their kids into thinking there are no other points of view. It’s true that nudity is controversial, but as the “intelligent design” enthusiasts and their political supporters claim, we need to “teach the controversy”. Libraries do this by making available the writings of “intelligent design” proponents to anyone who’s interested. They should do no less with respect to tasteful artistic presentations of nudity — even for kids.

Karen Kinser’s paintings certainly qualify. By all means, visit her home page and see for yourself. (More here.) The work is striking and beautiful, especially in her handling of color and pose. Kinser illuminates her artistic philosophy with a quote from Picasso: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Or, as I like to say, “Art helps explain us to ourselves.”

Originally posted August 28, 2005

“We need nudists on the beach now more than ever”

No nudes is bad news

The sad thing is, we need nudists on the beach now more than ever. They alone are brave enough to defy the tyranny of the body beautiful. Dedicated as they are to feeling comfortable in their skin, they eschew such practices as bikini-waxing, fake tanning, or plastic surgery. Lumpy, hairy, defiantly natural, they are our last defence against the porn-star aesthetic.

That may explain why there seems to be a growing mood of fondness towards nudies. Last month, Stephen Gough set off from Land’s End to reprise his historic walk – this time in the company of a naked girlfriend. They got as far as Shropshire before they were arrested. But the locals have come out in their defence: in a poll for the Shropshire Star, 67% said they wouldn’t mind encountering a naked rambler. If only the people of Illinois had been so enlightened.

This opinion piece wasn’t contributed by a recognized naturist/nudist leader, but instead by editorial writer Jemima Lewis of the UK’s Guardian Unlimited. (If you read the article, it will be apparent why it didn’t appear in a major U. S. media spot.)

The piece is based on a couple of interesting news tidbits. The first is the rather unhappy story of the passing of an elderly U. S. naturist named Robert Norton. The best account seems to be here: Nudist’s naked burial wish denied, again from a UK source (the BBC). Some out there may recall having read about Norton in recent years. The octogenarian liked to work nude in his garden in the midwestern small town of Pekin, Illinois, for which he was regularly arrested on the complaint of his neighbor, Brenda Loete.

Brenda Loete said she never spoke to Norton despite living next door to him for more than a decade.

“We didn’t really know him. We just had him arrested,” she said.

She had spent years taking her daughter to the park rather than letting her play in the garden because of the naked old man next door, she said.

“Normally, if we had him arrested in the spring he’d be gone for the summer and we wouldn’t have to worry about him until the next spring.”

How mean-spirited can a person be? Well, even more mean-spirited than Ms. Loete, it seems. Norton’s last wish was to be buried nude. His own family, especially a brother named Jack, who is a minister from Columbus, Ohio, saw to it that this wish was denied:

His brothers have decided to lay him to rest in grey trousers and a shirt.

One of them, Jack, is a minister. “He’s not going to be buried in the nude,” he said.

How’s that for small-mindedness? (More news reports: here).

The other story is a bit more upbeat and concerns the “naked rambler” Steve Gough. It’s true that Steve and Melanie were arrested in Shropshire on July 19. However, the complaint of only a single individual was required to trigger the arrest, and the case was eventually dropped on August 15. Even better, the trek by Gough and his friends has revealed widespread public support for the naturists’ plucky adventure. This public relations victory, of course, was one of Steve’s objectives.

There’s been a considerable amount of additional news about the little jaunt of Steve and friends (which you can find at, but we’ll put off commentary on that for another time.

Originally posted August 28, 2005

Nude theater… in Kansas!

Nude actors to perform in Topeka

Actors and actresses will bare it all next month at a city-owned theater when a nudist colony stages a series of plays it commissioned to promote a clothing-free lifestyle.

The Lake Edun Foundation
Inc. (Edun is nude spelled backward) promoted the plays in its August newsletter under the headline, “No Sex, No Violence … Only Nudity.”

The plays are scheduled to be performed Sept. 24 to Oct. 1 at the Topeka Performing Arts Center’s Hussey Playhouse.

Of course, just to be nasty, the writer of the Associated Press story had to use the word “colony”. But that’s Kansas for you.

Longer article: Curtain to rise, clothes to fall

More: here, here.

Lake Edun’s newsletter provides a little more detail:

From the frantic and funny to the reflective and informed, these brilliant and witty one-act plays promise a rare evening of Topeka theatre. So rare, in fact, that almost 30 years have passed since the last time auditions were called requiring actors to undress for the stage.

Originally posted August 26, 2005

Nudity — U. S. vs. Europe

Interesting opinion piece from USA Today:

Prudishness is one thing; censorship quite another [URL still valid!]

Europe’s light and easygoing approach to sex and nudity can provide some shocking moments for U.S. travelers:

• On a recent trip, my wife and I had to take the TV out of our children’s hotel room, as the porn stations were free and available, going at it right there between Euro-sports and MTV.

• In Munich, workers take a summer lunch break in their Central Park. They lay out a blanket, fold their power suits neatly, and sunbathe fully nude, oblivious to wide-eyed American tourists passing by.

• Mediterranean beaches are topless — and would be much more so if not for a current concern for skin cancer.

• Germany’s steamy mineral spas are co-ed.

• On billboards everywhere, lathered-up breasts promote the latest soap product.

From Norway to Naples, it seems Europeans have a relaxed attitude about public displays of nudity and sex. Even prim, churchgoing German hausfraus seem to accept that the human body and sexuality are facts of life, and displaying or talking about it in public is no big deal.

Sounds reasonably good, despite the negative spin that the writer uses here and there.

So how does the U. S. stack up? We need only think “Janet Jackson” and we sort of know the answer to that. But here are a few more recent data points:

Woman wants kids clothed on beaches

Helen Hoffman wants the board to address the problem of nudity on town beaches. It’s not what you think – the nude people in question are small children.

Hoffman sent a letter to the selectmen asking them to put a new rule in the town’s beach ordinances banning nudity. She sent the letter after witnessing a few incidents where parents were letting toddlers run around naked at the beach.

Virginia Library Relocates Nude Painting

After receiving complaints from two patrons in mid-July, Chesapeake (Va.) Public Library has moved a painting of a nude from an area near the building’s main entrance to a wall on the opposite side of the facility, behind a row of stacks. Local artist Karen Kinser’s Morning Dreamer depicts a woman, one of whose breasts is visible, reclining in bed; it had been on display for two weeks before the complainants—a mother and a tutor who works with students at the library—objected to its placement in an area where children could see it as they entered the building.

Nude art upsets Ankeny residents

While a spray-painted figure of a nude angel on the side of a Des Moines building gave residents a rise in early August, artist Martin Davis was adding nude figures to his sculpture “Water Bearing Figure” at the entrance to a subdivision in southwest Ankeny.

Neighbors of the sculpture in the White Birch development called it “pornographic” and approached the Ankeny City Council.

“My 8-year-old daughter has seen it, which is unacceptable,” said Brian Strait at a Monday meeting. “We feel that the object can diminish the value of our property, and we’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in our homes.”

Women’s nude awakening

Topless women on skates, bikes, and foot drew a surging crowd of grateful gawkers in Columbus Circle yesterday when they doffed their shirts to affirm the right to bare a lot more than arms.

The 10 or so women gathered and showed nearly all to protest the arrest of Jill (Phoenix) Feeley, who said she was taken into custody this month after going half-naked on the lower East Side.

But Feeley and friends soon found out that taking such a revealing stance in New York can be risky.

“It got hot, then it got rainy,” said Feeley, 25.

Then at least a dozen drooling men rushed through barricades and surrounded the women shortly before 4:30 p.m.

Just selected examples, of course, but these details pretty much sum up the U. S. vs. Europe as far as intelligence and common sense regarding nudity is concerned. And the U. S. comes out looking pretty dumb.

Does this really matter, given that a large majority in the U. S. (as well as Europe) don’t care to go nude in public all that much?

Maybe it does, for the overall psychological health of the society. The USA Today article puts it like this:

Mingling with Europeans as I do for a third of my year, I listen to them when they give their perspective on America. “Here in Italy,” brags my friend Francesca, “we see racy ads for phone sex on TV all the time, but we still have less teen pregnancy and fewer abortions than you Americans. Less rape and domestic violence, too. Why is that?”

Originally posted August 2, 2005