- Why Germans love getting naked in public
Like almost all generalizations about particular societies and cultures, this is a popular stereotype that has some truth to it, but only partially. The truth here is that a larger percentage of Germans enjoy public nudity occasionally than in most other countries. Munich’s Englischer Garten (pictured above), which has had nude use since the 1960s, as well as banks along the Isar river, are popular places for public nudity. But the percentage enjoying public nudity is still hardly a majority.
Even if the percentage of Germans who are naked in public parks, beaches, spas, saunas, etc. is, say, 25%, it’s not certain whether the generalization is valid. There’s probably a greater tolerance of public and private nudity in Germany than in almost all other countries, and that’s good. But it’s unclear whether the trend of popularity of and tolerance for public nudity is up or down. The headline of the article is, at best, misleading.
The article itself observes that
“Since East Germany merged with the larger West in 1990 and restrictions lifted in the former communist state, FKK culture has declined. In the 1970s and ‘80s, hundreds of thousands of nudists packed campgrounds, beaches and parks. In 2019, the German Association for Free Body Culture counted only 30,000-plus registered members – many of whom were in their 50s and 60s.”
But the low figure of FKK members is itself misleading. It’s usually possible to enjoy naturism and social nudity without belonging to a large organization. Around the world, the tendency in most types of formal organizations – from scouting groups to fraternal lodges – is that membership has been steadily declining. But membership in a formal organization simply isn’t any more necessary for participating in social nudity than for pastimes such as playing tennis or chess. Most such things are personal lifestyle choices that don’t require membership in an organization – many of which do continue to exist.
Various factors can account for the membership decline. Many of them affect membership organizations in general, not just those related to naturism. There are, however, a few that may specifically affect naturism. For one thing, if there are increasing numbers of people interested in a particular clothing-optional activity, private and pubic businesses such as swimming pools and gymnasiums can satisfy the demand either on a pay-per-use basis, or even by public funding. For instance, a public swimming pool in Spain.
For an example specific to Germany, there are estimated to be about 300 spa/saunas in the country, with nudity expected in most or all of them. There’s one other thing to consider with Germany. The climate simply isn’t as favorable for naturism as in Spain, Croatia, or southern France. Many German naturists probably visit such places as much or maybe more than places in their country. They’re also likely to enjoy social nudity indoors at spas and saunas for much of the year – or in their own homes.
Private naturist parks are much less necessary when nudity is permitted in public parks and other facilities, as well as many outdoor areas (hiking trails, lakes, rivers, etc.). In countries like Spain, Germany, and even England and Ireland, nonsexual nudity is generally legal if it’s not intended to cause alarm or distress to others. So why pay dues to some organization just to enjoy not wearing clothes?
Another factor is that once an activity becomes more popular there’s less need to participate in it covertly in a private organization. The activity is, at least, respectable and tolerated, even if not preferred by a majority.
This suggests that the way forward for naturism in many countries isn’t mainly through large private organizations. Instead, it’s by establishing informal local groups and using them to promote public acceptance of naturism in local areas. The general public will have a better opinion of naturism if it earns favorable publicity and its members are respected local people. Larger national and regional naturist organizations are valuable when they regularly provide various clothesfree activities for their members. British Naturism is a good example.
- Erding Spa
Therme Erding is one of Germany’s most popular spas. In fact, it claims to be the world’s largest spa. It’s located 31 km from Munich and accessible via public transportation. There are both textile and textile-free parts of the spa complex. The saunas are textile-free, as is normal in European saunas. According to the article cited, which is from a travel agency, the complex includes a wellness, massage, and beauty treatment center. There are also overnight accommodations. So it’s quite possible to enjoy a multi-day clothesfree vacation right there.
- Should I share with my friends and family that I am a nudist?
Yes, absolutely! Provided, that is, you can handle the possible negative repercussions. I just wrote at some length about why that needs to be done – when you’re confident that naturism is wholesome and good.
Here’s the short answer. When you tell your family, and they understand, from what you tell them, what’s so good about naturism, they should support you. Some may even start to enjoy being naked themselves. Of course, it’s a problem if they’re not sufficiently open-minded to appreciate your explanations.
When you tell friends you trust to understand your viewpoint, don’t discourage them from telling others they know who will be sympathetic with the idea. Eventually, some of those others will be people who also enjoy being naked, and they can become friends with you.
Another reason to tell people you’re a naturist is that it gives you a chance to explain what naturism really is, what naturists actually do, why naturism is often misunderstood, and why misconceptions about naturism are wrong. Not only does this help improve the understanding of naturism, but it lets you explain why you enjoy it so much.
- Naturism As A Lifestyle
For many people who enjoy naturism outside their homes, the focus is on places to go – beaches, clubs, resorts, cruises, festivals, etc. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Many of these people also enjoy being naked at home. But for others, habitual nudity simply isn’t a part of their everyday lives. That is, it’s not part of an encompassing lifestyle. This could be for various reasons. Perhaps some living in the home aren’t comfortable with nudity, or there may be frequent visits from neighbors, friends, and relatives who might not even be aware of their host’s fondness for nudity. Everyone needs to organize their lives in a way that works best for them and those they live with.
However, naturism is most fulfilling when it can be a regular and normal part of everyday life. Nudity is quite compatible with most things one typically does frequently at home – preparing and eating meals, cleaning and maintaining the home, or just relaxing with music, books, or video entertainment. But being considered a “lifestyle” entails more than that. It’s a set of attitudes and values that the human body is sufficient just as it is, and has no need to be covered in everyday life, except for physical comfort.
Clothing has practical value for keeping the body warm if necessary. But it also has a social function that tempts people to “dress up” to impress others, indicate social affinities, or create a possibly misleading personal image. By eschewing unnecessary clothes, naturists show that they value personal authenticity.
The citied article originally appeared here (in a way that was needlessly difficult to read).
- Oh! Calcutta!: How nude 70s stage show could still rouse the critics
Few people born after 1989 – the year that Oh! Calcutta! was on stage in New York for the last time – probably have any idea of its significance. It was the first mainstream musical or dramatic production in which actors were on stage, fully naked and under good lighting for long periods of time. In much the same way as the Woodstock festival and naked hippies (1969), it represents just about the first time in recent history that the general public became aware that nudity need not be quarantined in art galleries, “nudist colonies”, or Playboy-like magazines.
I was fortunate to have attended several performances in New York and London. So what I can say about the show is based on actually having seen it, not merely read about it. As one of the actors, Linda Marlowe, is quoted in the cited article saying, “society has moved on and no one would accept a lot of it now. I’ve always considered myself a feminist but at the time I think we found the material less of a problem than we would now.” She also notes that the scripts were entirely the work of male authors, some of the sketches involve male fantasies, women are victims in some sketches, and there’s nothing from the LGBT point of view.
Well, sure. We’re talking about something that first appeared 50 years ago. Hairstyles, for example, popular with young males were also different at that time (long sideburns but few beards). Many of the sketches even then were regarded as “campy” – absurdly exaggerated, artificial, or affected in a usually humorous way. Many of them had sexual themes (novice swingers, a song about masturbation). However, some of the dance numbers, such as the closing act (watch here) and “Oh Clarence” were very good.
What, then, is the significance of Oh! Calcutta! for naturists today? Paintings and sculptures of nudes had been part of mainstream culture for centuries. Photography of nudes had been also since shortly after cameras were invented. But Oh! Calcutta! made artistic, live, open nudity something that the English-speaking general public could witness – if they chose to. It was an early, tentative step toward the normalization of nudity.
Nowadays live full nudity in public performances of many kinds isn’t exactly common – but neither is it quite rare. There are numerous examples:
- Spence Tunick “installations”
- dance performances
- performance art
- comedy nights
- magic shows
- stage plays
- outdoor Shakespeare plays
- performance art in public places
- An Interview With Holistic Business Coach Jamie White
Jamie White contends that “the problems we have in our personal lives are likely to impact our professional life.” Clearly, if a person in a position of responsibility has personal problems that occupy too much of his/her attention, the person’s professional responsibilities may suffer.
A situation where Jaime would be expected to swim nude troubled him. Since he had no experience swimming nude “It brought up a lot of fear, anxiety and worry in me.” Any unfamiliar situation, not just nudity, could have the same effect. After examining the fears and worries he realized they actually did more harm than good. He decided the worries were unfounded and interfered with obtaining something he wanted. So he dismissed them.
This is a good approach that naturists can use to persuade others that embracing nudity in suitable circumstances could be rewarding. As a naturist, by credibly explaining how naturism has enhanced your life, you can argue it’s worth the effort to overcome fears and worries about nudity. So you may gain another person to enjoy nudity with.
Jaime concluded that “if more people were openly naked for example say whilst swimming, sun bathing, in saunas, beaches etc. it would help people have more confidence in themselves and also less bodily anxieties.” And enhanced self-confidence is of value in becoming successful in many other activities besides naturism.
- Nudity and health
Here are three perspectives on a perennial naturist topic that’s been popular since the earliest days of naturism. It’s not always clear how nudity actually figures into these benefits. Perhaps the main thing is that naturists are more aware of their bodies than people who are almost always clothed. As a result, they’re inclined to take good care of their bodies. Clothed people, on the other hand, may be more likely to identify with what they wear than what they are underneath their clothes. Just a possibility.
Among naturists the practice of naked yoga has received considerable attention. There are some yoga studios that offer occasional classes where students, and often teachers, may be naked. British Naturism too offers live naked yoga instruction by video, as well as a forum for discussion of the topic. But yoga is just one type of fitness exercise. General naked fitness training has also been available for some time but receives less attention. It’s also available online from British Naturism. A few online commercial services also provide naked yoga and/or fitness videos, although nudity itself might be the primary attraction.
I may do a whole post on the general topic, but the post cited here provides a high-level introduction to the idea. After all, most people know that vigorous exercise is usually good for health. Exercise equipment like treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, etc. has been available for many years. But it’s often neglected after a few months since, candidly, using it is rather boring. Being naked while using it, however, could be an effective solution for that problem. Certainly a good excuse to strip off, if you need one, especially if you sweat heavily.
- 7 Benefits of Sleeping Naked: You Really Should Know
I noted here that there are many articles on the health benefits of sleeping naked. This is yet another one. Of the 7 benefits cited, the most cogent may be that any clothing can become constrictive and interfere with blood circulation. That means less oxygen to all parts of the body and inhibited removal of CO2. When you’re asleep you won’t be able to adjust clothing that becomes too tight.
- Health benefits of being naked
Although rather skimpy on details, this piece suggests that “Wearing restrictive clothing can cause excessive sweating which may lead to inflammation of the skin follicles, rashes and breakouts. Going bare gives your skin a chance to breathe.”
- Naked Run 30: Bare Burro 5k
Naked running is an activity that’s popular with a certain subset of naturists. Since the typical race distance is 5 km – about 3.1 miles – participation isn’t exactly limited to super-athletes. Things like this are as much social events – with activities sometimes spread over a weekend – as athletic competitions. The event description itself notes that “it’s three days of sun and fun and runs and relaxation.” And that’s fine, since it’s for people who simply want to challenge themselves, especially if they can do it naked. The event described here – the Bare Burro 5K race – is held at Olive Dell Ranch in southern California.
If you’re interested in this sort of thing and southern California is conveniently located for you, another run, the “Bare Booty 5k Fun Run“, is scheduled for September 26, 2021, at DeAnza Springs Resort.
- Best Places in the World to Vacation Naked
I’ve mentioned the site, gogirlfriend.com, before as a useful resource for women interested in getting naked on vacation. The present article is subtitled “Top Nudist hot-spots that will blow your mind”. Among the possibilities listed are nude cruises, a mineral spa, a genuine nudist/naturist resort, an Australian beach, and a nude hot spring. All of these are high quality, although whether they’re truly “best” in the world is disputable. Unfortunately, most of the other options definitely offer “more” that isn’t naturist.
- Naked dance performance – Doris Uhlich
Doris Uhlich is a dancer and choreographer based in Austria. According to her website, she
“has developed her own projects since 2006. The choreographer’s work frequently focuses on examining everyday gestures but also artificial ones, such as the strict code of movement of classical ballet in SPITZE (2008) and Come Back (2012). All her performances are investigations into beauty ideals and standards of body image, as in her piece mehr als genug (2009). Since her performance more than naked (2013), Doris Uhlich has also been working on the depiction of nudity free from ideology and provocation.”
There’s a long tradition of nudity in theatrical performances. Consider Isadora Duncan (1877-1927), for instance, who’s credited with being “the creator of modern dance”. Another article (Nude Vibrations: Isadora Duncan’s Creatural Aesthetic) states that Duncan “insists upon the human harnessing of earthly vibrations, the value of nudity and barefootedness”. Doris Uhlich has certainly carried on that philosophy.
Since 1969, full nudity in theatrical productions has less often received attention in choreography than in dramatic productions and musicals, such as Oh! Calcutta! (which did incorporate segments of ballet and interpretive dance). Uhlich’s work occupies an extensive space between theater and pure dance – but plays a much more essential role in the latter, where spoken dialog is absent.
- Naturists visit a Paris film library
In the past 20 years there have been a few occasions when museums have had special events – by reservation only – for an evening or two when visitors are able to be naked. In fact, nudity is usually required. (Shoes may be mandatory or not, depending on local regulations.) Mostly such events have been in Paris – as in the present instance – but a few have taken place in Austria, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere. It would be a well-kept secret if there have been any in the nudity-phobic U. S. Perhaps naturists in the States just aren’t too interested in “high-brow” events of this sort.
According to the first article cited below, “Parisian nudists descended upon the city’s film library on September 13 for an exhibition celebrating a famous French comedian. With COVID-19 protection measures in place, the only mandatory accessory was a mask. The Association des Naturistes de Paris (Paris naturist association) organised the event at La Cinémathèque. … The Paris naturist association has organized regular visits to museums.”
- How looking at myself naked in the mirror empowered me
Most people cringe, at least to some extent, when looking closely at themselves fully naked in a mirror. Partly this is because what they notice is the various ways their bodies fail to be “perfect”. Even though they realize that hardly any bodies actually qualify as “perfect”. But most people probably feel the same way about only their faces. Why else would they be so concerned with having their makeup “just right” (if female) or their facial hair exactly projecting a desired image (if male)?
Another aspect of this is the social conditioning people from a young age feel that there’s something inherently wrong with full nudity itself, that paying too much attention to “private parts” – even one’s own – just isn’t acceptable.
Is it any wonder, then, that most people dread the thought of their naked body being fully exposed to the scrutiny of others – especially strangers?
The article here explains why overcoming these attitudes is so important, and why seeing yourself naked in the mirror is a big help. Although it’s written from a woman’s perspective, much of it is relevant to men as well. Here are some key points, in the writer’s own words:
- Watching myself naked in the mirror was the start of my empowering journey with my body.
- I felt like a strong and independent woman who was ready to take over the world.
- I had learned to stand up for myself, to not believe in what others were trying to make me believe.
- I had found renewed self-confidence in the mirror glaring right back at me, making full eye contact.
- Once you accept and own your own vulnerabilities, there is really nothing that someone else can point out to you which will make you see yourself differently.
- Looking at myself naked every day makes me feel more comfortable in my skin every day.
- Looking at myself naked in the mirror has given me the power to know myself deeply. It has given me the power to ignore what others say about me and to make a move forward.
A key step to fully enjoying naturism is getting very comfortable with the appearance of your naked body just as it is. That doesn’t mean you can’t choose to work on “improving” your appearance – in your own opinion – if you so desire.
- Naturism during lockdown
Probably the most common story about naturism in 2020 is how well naturists have coped with the Covid pandemic. This wasn’t, intuitively, to be expected, since naturism is inherently a social thing – and in-person socializing is severely constrained by the pandemic. Nevertheless, naturist organizations in various countries have reported surges in membership.
There are several articles cited here about this counter-intuitive phenomenon. Here’s another one: ‘There’s nothing weird about being naked’: Inside the lockdown naturism boom. It says that, for example, a spokesperson for British Naturism claimed “The organisation has seen a 400 per cent increase in members since the start of lockdown, rising from 184 to 930 new members since the day restrictions were announced.” The article goes on to offer several anecdotal accounts of how people who are deprived of other sources of enjoyment – and have unexpected free time on their hands – have discovered the significant pleasure of simply being naked.
Another article (One Way People Are Dealing With the Constraints of Lockdown: Being Naked) delves somewhat more deeply into reasons that more people have discovered the pleasures of nakedness and naturism while mostly confined at home. What it boils down to is that confinement at home allows for dispensing with clothes – thus avoiding the trouble of deciding what to wear, getting dressed, and washing clothes that have been worn. Choosing to be naked directly confers additional benefits.
- Going naked allows people to become more aware of their own body, to get used to seeing parts of their body that clothes generally cover, and to become familiar with the overall appearance of their naked body.
- Limitations on where it’s possible to go causes frustration. Frequent nudity has mental health benefits to offset that, since familiarity with one’s naked appearance leads to increased body acceptance, self-confidence, and feeling empowered. (See the article above about looking at oneself naked in a mirror.)
- There are also physical health benefits from eliminating the restrictions of clothes, such as lack of discomfort and skin irritation caused by clothing, freedom for the skin to breathe and evaporate sweat, and improved blood circulation.
- The very pleasurable feeling of total nudity contributes directly to overall happiness and enjoyment of life.
- Wearing nothing while living with others who may also be clothesfree makes being seen naked and seeing others naked become considered normal and unobjectionable.
- Types of healthful fitness activities – such as yoga and using exercise equipment – are easier and more natural without restrictive clothes.
- Europe’s best nude beaches
People interested in finding the “best” experience of almost anything to be had for a limited amount of time, money, and effort naturally seek out advice from reliable sources. Understandably, when you want to visit a clothing-optional beach, you’d like to know which of the possibilities have the nicest sand, friendly people, easy access, good swimming, and so on.
Many lists of “best beaches” consist mainly of subjective opinions of writers who may or may not have criteria similar to yours. OnBuy – a UK online shopping site that claims to be “UK’s most trusted marketplace” – took a somewhat more systematic approach. In early September they consulted Google reviews for 50 European clothing-optional beaches that garnered at least 200 comments. The data was then summarized by averaging the number of “stars” in each review to single out the 10 beaches having the highest average rating. The results are here.
Spain’s Playa de Ses Illetes beach on the island of Formentera came out on top, with an average of 4.8 stars out of a possible 5. Spain had 2 beaches in the top 10. The remaining 8 countries, with 1 beach apiece, were England, Croatia, Portugal, Italy, France, Greece,, Germany, and Belgium. The following list includes some news reports that describe the findings.
- Last weekend’s most interesting race: a naked 5K
There was a report on naked running in the previous collection of articles. The subject also came up before here. The present report is about a 5K run at the Sunny Rest Resort in Palmerton, Pennsylvania. According to this report, there were “hundreds of competitors”. Check out the earlier reports for other such events. The only thing to add is that naked runs like this are a good example of how nudity goes well with activities centered on exercise and fitness.
- Nudity in protests
Nudity is not infrequently found to some extent or other in social or political protests and demonstrations. World Naked Bike Rides are perhaps the best known examples. Louis Abolafia – who (sort of) waged a naked campaign for U. S. president in 1968, using the slogan “What Have I Got to Hide?” – is an instance from more than 50 years ago. There have been many other examples since then.
Last year we had an extensive report on the subject here, and another example in a Black Lives Matter protest here. Well-known celebrities also went naked in a video to encourage voting in last year’s presidential election. (More about that here.) There was also this, about protest in Australia.
The other example, which isn’t from either the U. S. or Australia, is probably more unexpected. Would you guess there’s a long history of women in some African countries using nudity as a means of protest? Evidently, according to a professional historian, there is: Undressing for redress: the significance of Nigerian women’s naked protests.
I’ll let the professor explain:
“Hundreds of women – mostly naked – staged a protest in the northwestern state of Kaduna, Nigeria. Wailing and rolling on the ground, they protested at the killing of people in ongoing attacks on their community. … The protesters, mostly mothers, demanded justice and called on the government, security agencies and international community to intervene. Such naked protests are not new in Nigeria.”
Although the focus of the article is on naked protests by women, it should be clear that using nudity in protests is powerful because it attracts attention to whatever the grievance happens to be. It also demonstrates that protesters will dare to violate social norms in order to communicate their resolve to bring about change.
“The female body is a site of immense power both inside and outside. Through naked protests, women engage in re-scripting and reconfiguring their bodies. These women who have stripped naked to wage a righteous war must be duly acknowledged.”
- Edmonton group clashes with naturists over nude bike ride
As noted, World Naked Bike Rides aren’t protests with just a single focus. WNBR participants are concerned with making various different points, such as the need to eliminate use of fossil fuels, concern for the safety of bike riders on public roads, and (of course) the pleasure and wholesomeness of nudity. But obviously, the fact that large portions of the population dispute or ignore these ideas is what makes demonstrating in favor of them necessary. And so there may well be counter-demonstrations to denigrate some or all of the original demonstators’ views. Although that rather seldom happens with WNBR events, it does occur.
The Canadian province of Alberta is just north of the U. S. state of Montana. People in both places tend to be politically and socially very “conservative”. That means they’re very strongly in favor of “freedom” for themselves – and just as strongly opposed to freedom for people they don’t like or agree with. As a result, the “conservative” freedom lovers are interested only in their own selfishly imagined “freedom” not to see naked people in a World Naked Bike Ride. Of course, they’re almost as fervently opposed to the WNBR message of curtailing the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Especially since the nudity in WNBR events is very effective in calling attention to the event’s environmental message.
Many stage plays have been produced in which one or more actors are fully naked for large parts – or all – of the play. But most of these aren’t exactly “naturist”. They may have major themes like shame and embarrassment, sexuality, exhibitionism, prostitution, or something else entirely. Classic plays may also be performed with naked actors – such as Shakespeare plays. Some nudity may even be appropriate in a few Shakespeare plays, such as Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and The Tempest. (There was a major film version of the latter, titled Prospero’s Books, with abundant nudity.) But for present purposes we don’t consider any of these to be “naturist”.
Nevertheless, there are a few plays which really are “naturist” – but just a few. Probably the great majority of these have been performed only in experimental theaters, on college and university campuses, and similar venues. Most of these, I think, have never been published so that they may be used by other theater companies. Perhaps the only example that has been published and is in any sense “well known” is Barely Proper, by Tom Cushing. Cushing was an American playwright who had a modestly successful career with several plays being performed on Broadway between 1910 and 1930.
Barely Proper was published in 1931, but subtitled “An Unplayable Play” – because Cushing couldn’t imagine it being performed at the time, as most of the characters are always naked. A film with the same title was released in 1975, but with a different plot. The play was eventually performed on Broadway, in 1970, but got poor reviews. It’s not a literary masterpiece, but it is a competently written play – although not one that would especially appeal to non-naturists, and it’s not fully satisfying to naturists either.
Cushing may have hoped the play actually would be performed within a few years, since nudism had just begun to gain some traction in the U. S. in the early 1930s. Perhaps the play’s lack of success motivated its author to turn to other pursuits when he was in his early 50s, since he had no other plays that made it to Broadway after then.
The play’s weakness is that the plot is rather formulaic. Frieda Schmidt and Derek Leet are engaged to be married. Frieda is German and is an avid nudist, having been raised in a thoroughly nudist family. The family is wealthy and quite serious about nudism – even their maid works naked. Derek, however, is a prudish, stolid British twit. The stereotypes are obvious. What Frieda may have seen in Derek isn’t clear, but the couple’s devotion to each other is apparent.
Unfortunately, Frieda hasn’t been honest with either Derek or her own family. She hasn’t told her fiancé that she and the rest of her family are avid nudists. Derek learns this only when he visits Frieda’s family for the first time. The family tries to be understanding and educate Derek on the nature and virtues of nudism, but he is unpersuaded. The resulting denouement is unconvincing, and may have been the real reason the play was never successful. It’s possible that if the play were acted by professionals who could lend more depth and credibility to the characters it could be enjoyable. That, however, hasn’t been the case. The play is occasionally performed in nudist/naturist groups, but that’s for a rather forgiving audience.
Barely Proper has been reprinted in a small collection of naturist plays. Sadly, the other plays in this collection are much shorter, more formulaic, and do even less to show nudism/naturism in a positive light than Barely Proper. Don’t bother trying to find a copy, since it’s out of print and virtually unobtainable.
The remaining five plays in the collection have a lot in common. All of them are short, performable in about 15 to 30 minutes. A nude beach is the setting for each of them, entirely or in part. The plot in each case centers on a conflict between individuals who are either romantic couples, siblings, or (nominally) friends. Most of the characters have dysfunctional personalities in some way or other. And, predictably, part of the conflict revolves around a reluctance to get naked. Seriously. Naturists will be quite familiar with the latter problem. Non-naturists might just take the conflict for granted, assuming that hardly anyone would want to be naked with strangers around.
One good thing about the collection is the Introduction by the collection’s editor, Mark Storey, a well-known naturist. It’s mainly about the initial and later history of Barely Proper, in particular how it has been performed and interpreted by various nudist/naturist groups.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have some plays in which the main characters are naturists, who are usually naked, but the plot centers on issues of more universal interest? Such plays would normalize nudity, while only intermittently alluding to the societal hang-ups that make a naked lifestyle difficult. The message of the plays might be, “See, you don’t need to wear clothes in order to experience – and overcome – the vicissitudes of human life.” Off the top of my head, I can think of a variety of plots. For instance, consider a middle-aged naturist couple who have adult and teenage children (who are also naturists). One of the parents is hospitalized with a serious illness. The spouse and children want to visit the ill parent daily, and must deal with the disapproval of their nudity by some members of the hospital staff.
There have recently been a few theatrical productions that have featured considerable nudity – including of the audience as well as the performers.
- Parisians brave nippy temperatures to attend play – in the nude (1/23/19)
“Actors are known for baring their souls on stage. But the cast of a new French play went a step further — and so did their audience. The one-off performance of “Nu et Approuvé,” or “Naked and Approved,” which took place at the Palais des Glaces theater in Paris on Sunday, required all audience members, as well as the actors, to get naked.”
- Naked Comedy DISROBED Unveiled For Hollywood Fringe Festival (5/25/19)
“The producers of the immersive hit “Love the Body Positive” return to the Hollywood Fringe Theatre Festival this June with the full-length comedy “Disrobed: Why So Clothes-Minded?” The play has been adapted and updated by Steven Vlasak, the award-winning author of “Nights at the Algonquin Round Table” from the British naturist classic “Barely Proper” by Tom Cushing. It’s “Meet the Parents” with a twist: A bashful buttoned-up groom-to-be arrives to meet his fiancé’s family, only to discover that they’re all Naturists (Nudists), and for the festival performances so is the audience.”
Presumably, since this production is based on Barely Proper, the plot is quite similar. It would be more interesting, however, if it were altered in some important aspect. This could be done in various ways. The male and female roles could be reversed, with the former being the naturist and the latter the non-naturist. The final outcome of the plot could be reversed. Or, more dramatically, the setting could be a society in which nudity is normal, and wearing clothes (for instance, by a small religious sect) is outside the norm. Or any combination of these things. Many other variations are also possible.
It’s encouraging that naturists are still working at presenting their lifestyle on the stage. The problem, though, is that the performance is limited to an audience in which everyone is agreeable to being naked. It is, at this point in time, the general non-naturist public that needs to be “exposed” to the naturist world, in all its variety.
In order to appreciate the different sorts of plots that could be explored, I’d recommend checking out a couple of short videos, whose script could easily be adapted for a theater stage.
- Nude Not
The plot here is, refreshingly, quite different from that of Barely Proper. Even so, it plays with the tension between being naked and being clothed. It’s short and isn’t at all “realistic”. How different characters perceive “reality” is the crux. It would be interesting to develop this one into something longer, while retaining the same twist.
- Guys 1st Naked Party
(Note: This is on a porn site, but the video is very naturist and definitely not porn.)
The plot here is actually quite similar to that of Barely Proper. There’s a romantic couple where the female is a naturist and the male is not. Everything comes to a head when the couple attends a naturist party hosted by the woman’s parents. One has to wonder why more dissimilar plots haven’t been tried, even simply making changes as suggested above. The problem is that we live in a society where everyday nudity is, unfortunately, very much not normal, so it’s difficult to come up with believable plots where nudity of the characters isn’t a major plot driver. However, the theater has a long tradition of playing fast and loose with “reality”. Just think of Waiting for Godot or many of Shakespeare’s plays.
Would anyone who actually has experience with theater and drama care to comment?