Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Reality of the Nude Model

Stripped! Secret lives of nudes
Nude models share what it's like to be naked in a crowded room
By: Michelle Oyola
Issue date: 12/1/05 Section: LifeStyle
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Media Credit: Brent Holzapfel
[Click to enlarge]
Could you do it? Could you walk into a room of 40 people, take off your robe and let all of those people see, you know, everything? Could you stand there for two or three hours while they studied your every nook, cranny and crevice?

The nude models hired for the Webster University art department do so multiple times a week. Although their lives are different, most of them have a strong appreciation for artists and share a similar goal - to promote art.

For the Sake of Art

Webster currently has 10 models in rotation. Brad Loudenback, Webster art department associate professor, said the art department seeks equality in terms of different ages and body types.

"We want students to experience all of it - young and old, thick and thin, male and female," Loudenback said.

Figure drawing is a requirement for all art majors. Loudenback said the class is important for all art students because they must learn to understand the structure beneath before they can draw people with clothes on. Observation must come first, he said, and then students can draw the person they saw in the coffee shop or have their friends pose for portraits. Humans will always be an important art subject, he said.

"There is always such a human side to art," Loudenback said. "There will always be people in it."

He said some art students may feel awkward when asked to draw a naked body for the first time, but few freshmen show any outward signs of discomfort.

Sophomore Emily Williams said she felt a little uncomfortable the first few times she drew a figure model, but she eventually began to concentrate on her drawing. She began to see the parts of the human form, not just a naked body.

"Undoubtedly, it was more awkward for me than the model," Williams said.

Williams said figure modeling involves much more than just drawing. She said she had to study the muscles, skeleton and more, because human beings are not flat. There is a lot of geometry involved, Williams said.

Catherine Kustelski

Kustelski devotes her life to art. A musician, artist, dancer and figure model, she has a deep appreciation for St. Louis' creative scene.

Kustelski, 35, majored in English while in college and has since traveled all over the United States. She chose to live in St. Louis because of the art community. She is a member of Maid Rite, a St. Louis-based all-girl country pop band. She also locally teaches Middle Eastern dance and performs Middle Eastern music. She plays a wide variety of percussion instruments, including the doumbek, symbols, spoons, drum sets and washboards. She also plays the guitar. In addition, Kustelski is a part-time photographer.

She has been figure modeling for about six years, but her first figure modeling experience wasn't a professional one. While living in Louisville, Ky., she and a group of women used to get together every Saturday. Since they were all artists who didn't have the resources to take more classes, they decided to draw straws to see who would pose for figure modeling - and Kustelski got the short straw. All of the women were very supportive, she said, because they could've been up there instead of her.

During a trip to New Mexico, she met a woman who taught figure drawing and modeled for her. She began modeling at Washington University in 2000 and began at Webster in 2001. She is now a full-time figure model, scheduling sessions at many area universities and colleges, including University of Missouri-St. Louis, Lindenwood University, Maryville University, Fontbonne University and Washington University.

Kustelski said she loves working with artists and art teachers and being a part of the college community. She loves inspiring artists. She uses her knowledge of dance and visual art to come up with interesting poses. She also has taken some drawing classes which gives her a knowledge of composition and line. Kustelski knows what is required of a good figure model. She said she aims to be a vehicle for learning for other artists.

"My goals are to help communication happen, to support art and to help people feel good about themselves," Kustelski said.

While sitting up there for several hours, Kustelski said she always tries to think about positive things. If she dwells on something unpleasant, the artists may draw her with a sour face, she said. Her abilities as a dancer also give her muscle memory and the ability to center herself into a pose so she can brush hair out of her face and put her hand exactly where it was, she said.

Kustelski said she views her body as a good example of a figure for artists. She doesn't own a television and tries to not be involved in the mainstream media because of the image of women portrayed in media today. She feels she is in good shape and tries to feel good about herself. She hopes other women can see how comfortable she is with her body and follow her example.

"If a woman in class is looking at me and sees how comfortable I am with my body, maybe they can be comfortable with their's," Kustelski said.

She said she became comfortable with herself through Middle Eastern dance, which glorifies the beauty of every woman. She said while her body isn't perfect, no one's body is.

Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams celebrated his 52nd birthday this month, but his nudist beliefs are as strong now as they were back in college. Williams was one of the original University of Missouri-Columbia streakers during the 1970s and he graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism. In Austin, Texas he was part of a nudist group. Taking the next step to figure modeling was a natural decision for Williams.

"Since I followed a nudist philosophy, I didn't have a problem being nude in front of artists," Williams said.

He began figure modeling in Austin, and continued his career in St. Louis. In addition to Webster, Williams models at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley and Washington University. He has modeled for groups as large as 45 and for individuals.

Williams said the nudist group was composed of "like-minded people who socialized and happened to not have on any clothes."

He said people in these groups just happened to enjoy being textile free.

Despite his nudist philosophy, Williams said it is human to be a little self-conscious. Most people prefer to draw female figure models, because they are curvy and more marketable. Flaws are often more noticeable on the male body, he said. In addition, many people are close-minded when it comes to the naked body in general.

Williams said few people understand the effort required to figure model, as well. It takes time and energy.

He is a perfectionist with his poses, so he tries his best not to move. Some poses require him to twist his body or to extend muscles in a certain way. Williams said he has posed in a handstand for 45 minutes before. In order to maintain these poses, Williams said he turns inward and meditates, utilizing his knowledge of yoga. He said he lines his eyes up with objects in the room to lock in his poses.

Williams said he is flattered and proud for the artists when he sees their renditions of him. He aims to inspire artists and help them improve their abilities.

Williams enjoys the flexible hours of figure modeling, and the pay of $10 to $14 an hour is decent. In addition to figure modeling, Williams is a freelance writer, and his topics include poker, art and works of fiction. He also is a massage therapist and previously worked as a sports writer in the newspaper field for 20 years.

Julie Wheat

Wheat was voted most hyper in high school, so her family was more than a little shocked when they learned she had taken a job where she had to be quiet for two to three hours.

Wheat, 29, is a full-time figure model who first tried figure modeling because she wanted to know what it was like to be the subject instead of the artist. Wheat has a bachelor's degree in mass communications with an emphasis in broadcast journalism from Lindenwood University, but is continuing her education and currently studying digital photography. She eventually wants to open her own digital photography studio. She just made the cover of American Art Collector for December 2005.

Wheat said she was very nervous the first time until she took off her robe. After that, it wasn't a problem for her, she said. She didn't care what people were thinking about her.

"If people want to scrutinize me for the way I look, it's not that big of a deal," Wheat said. "If they got a problem with me, they don't have to draw me."

Wheat said she didn't always have high self-esteem. In high school, she wouldn't leave the house unless her hair was perfect. Now she doesn't care, even though more people are looking at her. She said people realize things about themselves as they get older and self-esteem gets better as people age.

Wheat's list of clients includes Webster University, Washington University, Fontbonne University, Maryville University, Principia College and various local drawing groups. Including weekends, she works about 50 hours a week during peak times - not including her jobs as a hostess at Savor Restaurant in the Central West End and a promoter for Hpnotiq liquor.

Wheat said she isn't sure if she would recommend others pursuing figure modeling full-time because it is a feast or famine job. It is hard to find work when school isn't in session, which includes December, January and the summertime.

She has become accustomed to seeing others' drawings and paintings of her, but she remembers how surreal it was when she first started. Wheat said she received a 360-degree perspective of herself that she had never seen before. Now she doesn't bother to look at the artists' work unless she just completed an interesting pose.

Her occupation has resulted in some strange off-the-clock experiences. Sometimes she'll see artists who drew her at bars or clubs.

"It's weird because they've already seen me at my most vulnerable," Wheat said.

She said some people assume that figure models like to dress with a "stripper look," but this isn't true. Others assume being a figure model is an easy job, but Wheat said it is very physically taxing. She has training as a dancer and in yoga, but some of the poses are still difficult.

However, her job as a figure model allows her listen to music most of the time while posing. Wheat said she goes crazy when she isn't listening to something while posing. During the Cardinal playoffs, the instructor put the game on the radio for her and even though she did her best to keep quiet, she couldn't help but let out a few cheers.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Random Musings on Nudity

"Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the
unbeautiful. And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy,
you may find in them a harness and a drain. Would that you could meet
the sun and the wind with more of your body and less of your
Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Full nakedness! All joyes are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be
To taste whole joyes.
John Donne, "Elegie XIX"

"Bare skin is the one and only right criterion for receiving water's
gracious acceptance or any acceptance whatsoever from that element.
But Pliny also seems to say something more: Stripping off not caution
but the stale, crusty garments of preconception, peeling sensibly
down to raw, new nakedness, is the only way to enter and be properly
embraced by the world."
Janet Lembke, 'Skinny Dipping'

"It is so basic. A human being is an innocent part of nature. Our
civilization has distorted this universal quality that allows us to
feel at home in our skin. Other animals have coats that they accept,
but the human race has yet to come to terms with being nude."
Ruth Bernhard, photographer (1905- )

"Whatever the reasons, I enjoyed being nude; it felt natural to me. I
got the same kind of pleasure from being free of clothing that many
people get from being well dressed."
Charis Wilson, wife and model of photographer Edward Weston

With My Body I Thee Worship

Naked wedding photos
Xu Qin
2005-11-24 Beijing Time

It has long been customary for all newlyweds to pose for marriage photographs before their big wedding day.

Many couples are ready to spend months of their salaries on an impressive collection of photos to be put into one or two flashy albums decorated with flowers.

But the same professional make-up, the same choreographed poses and the same theatrical atmosphere won't satisfy the more extravagant personalities.

They are looking for something unique to make their wedding photographs "specific."

Angel, from Hangzhou, is such a bride. In her wedding photo, she and her fiance are half-naked with barely enough props to cover the genital areas. If it were not for the bridal veil, one would be hard put to say it was not pornographic.

Feeling excited about her "realistic" photos, Angel takes approval of them for granted: "If we can record how nice we look when we are young by taking photos, why shouldn't we? People grow older, fatter and uglier."

She must be very confident about her body so as not to feel awkward about stripping in front of an unknown photographer.

She must be something for her guy to show off to other guys — how lucky he is!

A photographer in the studio on Zhongshan Road in Hangzhou where Angel had her wedding photographs taken said that digital copies of photos could be easily released — unknown to the subjects — online even though they had been destroyed in front of the couple once they had been developed.

If those portraits are blogged, it will be gloom for the groom when he finds that his bride is being "gang raped" by thousands of other guys' eyes — unless, that is, he simply doesn't care.

Dai Xiaoxiao, a teacher at a college in Hangzhou, says: "Taking naked wedding photographs is never a good way to find the natural beauty of human bodies. Once it is not appreciated artistically, it is obscene."

There is nudism in the world. But nudism is not just nudity.

The International Naturist Federation defines nudism as naturalism, which is a way of living in harmony with nature characterized by the practice of communal nudity, with the intention of encouraging self-respect, respect for others and for the environment.

"If nudity is wrongly used for stimulating the wedding photograph industry," said Li Zhuo, a researcher in art history, "it is never artistic."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Yes, I Come from a Land Down Under

Club's day in the sun, naturally enough
By BenH - The Canberra Times
November 21, 2005

AUSTRALIA -- They come from all walks of life. And there is no stereotypical type. Nudists.

For Chisholm painter Michael Citton, it's the natural way to be.

As he puts it, he spends his working week wearing clothes so why spend the weekends dressed?

Mr Citton, 42, a member of the ACT Nudist Club, has been a nudist for close to 20 years.

In that time, he has had three girlfriends, all of whom have been nudists.

"I think it's a hell of a lot more normal than what we normally do," Mr Citton said yesterday from the club's private premises on the outskirts of Canberra.

"It's just exactly the normal way to be, the natural way to be. It's just conditioning over thousands of years that said, 'We have to do this, we have to do that'."

Mr Citton cited countries in Africa or on the equator where people wore little if any clothing.

The ACT club held an open day yesterday with a sausage sizzle, attracting upwards of 30 visitors, a number of whom have already decided to become members.

Membership entitles people to access to the club's facilities - including a clubhouse, kitchen and swimming pool - as they choose, and attend monthly social functions.

When The Canberra Times arrived early yesterday afternoon, the barbecue had been cranked up, and people were enjoying the sunshine, sitting beside the pool, or taking a dip. Skinny dipping, one might say.

The club, which turns 30 next year, has about 100 members and is affiliated with the Australian Nudist Federation.

In its early days, the Canberra club had more than 300 members, a number that dropped to about 70 about five years ago before steadily growing to where it is today.

"It's a bit hard here because we've got a lot of people from Defence and you'll get a whole bunch of people and they're here for a year or two and they get posted elsewhere," Mr Citton said.

"We've just lost a really good couple who was helping us organise a convention."

Mr Citton said there was no typical nudist.

"You can get a club like this ... or other clubs that are bigger and you can get people with totally opposite views on every range subject.

"You can have lawyers. You can have policemen. You can have labourers. You can have doctors. What you don't get is people who tend to be unemployed for a long period of time. Mostly everyone tends to be reasonably active."

Club vice-president Lindsay Parkyns said he expected some of the visitors would soon become members. 'We actually leave it with them to think about. We give them all the information, explain everything to them, show them all the facilities, and we hope that they'll get back to us."


The Only Way to Row

Bristol University Officer Cadets Charles Bairsto and Tom Bright aim to become the youngest rowers ever to take part in and win the Atlantic Rowing Challenge in November this year, and they'll be doing it naked!

Over the last 18 months Charles (from Oakham, Rutland) and Tom, (from Haywards Heath, West Sussex) both aged 22, have worked hard to raise over £50,000 through sponsorship and prepare themselves for the challenges they will face during the 2,900-mile race from Tenerife in the Canary Islands to Antigua, West Indies.
They have just completed the final sea trials in their 24-foot marine plywood rowing boat, “Atlantic Warrior”, and have been busy getting themselves up to the peak of fitness as well as preparing mentally for the challenge. This has included taking a Yacht Master's Ocean Theory course, a Sea Survival course and carrying out a fitness and weight training programme.

They will take all their own water, which will act as ballast, and food supplies, as well as three sets of oars, solar powered batteries, navigational equipment, radios and lights. They plan to row two hours on, two hours off and will need to drink five litres of water and consume at least 8,000 calories a day to maintain body weight.

Both men are aware of the pressures of being in a confined space with only each other for company for weeks. They have had specialist counselling and plan to have small diversions to relieve the possible tensions and boredom. Both men successfully got their degrees this year, Charles in Economics and International Development at Bath University, and Tom in Electrical Engineering at Bristol. Both are 6th Form Army scholars, serving members of the Bristol University Officer Training Corps (UOTC), and will join the Army after going to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in May next year.

“Atlantic Warrior” is being shipped to Tenerife on the 4th October and the two men will follow on the 6th November ready for the race to begin on the 27th November. “The record for the Atlantic Rowing Challenge currently stands at 40 days which we hope to beat,” said Charles. “More people have climbed Everest than have rowed an ocean so we are pitting ourselves against the elements to stand amongst the elite.”



Generally, the same common-sense guidelines for behaviour apply in the naturist world as in the clothed world. Be polite and respect the rights of others. When visiting a club, make sure you understand the rules specific to that club.
Gawking is impolite. It is OK to look but always rude to stare (particularly with binoculars or through a camera).
For sanitary reasons, sit on a towel when using public seats or benches.
Respect the environment. Stay out of dunes or other environmentally sensitive areas. We can lose access to CO areas by damaging the environment.
Help keep the area clean. In clubs, use the trash cans. On CO beaches, bring your own trash bag. Leave the beach cleaner than when you arrived.
Get dressed when leaving established nude areas. Naturists are not trying to offend anyone.
Follow all parking regulations and other posted rules.
Do not engage in overt sexual activity.
Respect the property of others.
Get the permission of subjects before taking pictures. In clubs, check out club rules on photography before bringing out your camera.
Respect the privacy of others. Many people come to enjoy nature and don't want to be disturbed. It is good to be friendly, but take your cues from their response and body language.
Speak up for standards. If you see people who are violating the accepted standards, please explain to them clearly and politely just how they are violating the rules and what the proper behaviour is.

There are a few considerations of etiquette which are accepted among most nudists. They are listed here for reference and for the benefit of newcomers.

It is a good idea to secure an invitation before dropping in on a nudist club. This usually means writing or telephoning ahead of time. Strangers who show up unexpectedly may be turned away.

Honesty is the best policy. If you are sincere, most clubs will be happy to have you visit. Deceptive stories about why you want to become a nudist are not necessary. Give accurate information in your initial letter to a club and on your membership application.

A a lot of clubs, married people must join with their spouse. Some clubs have a no singles policy while others are more liberal towards single members. It is always better to ask in advance rather than to run the risk of being turned away at the gate. In most instances, single couples (male and female) are just as welcome as married couples.

For business or personal reasons some nudists may wish to remain anonymous and will introduce themselves using first names only. You should respect their privacy and they will do the same for you. It is you that nudists care about. Your personality will determine the number of friends you make at a nudist park, just as at any other social function.

Nudist parks seek to maintain a family atmosphere. Innocent expressions of affection among family members and friends are commonplace, but overt sexuality is not condoned. Unseemly behavior of any kind is out of place and will not be tolerated.

Photography is usually taboo. All clubs have strict rules governing photography. Most nudists are camera-shy and it is inexcusable to take a photo of anyone without permission. Don't take your camera to a club without checking all of the rules governing photography.

Observe all of the clubs posted rules. They are for your protection as well as for the safety and enjoyment of all concerned. Some of the more common rules are simple: Watch your children, they are your responsibility at all times. Sit on a towel for sanitary reasons. Shower carefully before using the swimming pools and hot tubs. Respect the rights of others. Respect the club property and keep it clean. Leave your pets at home.

Be as friendly and as open as possible and others will do the same.

Does David Make People Crazy?

Naked Statue Triggers Mental Imbalance

Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

November 18, 2005

Michelangelo's David, regarded as the world's most beautiful statue, can trigger mental imbalances in overly sensitive and cultivated onlookers, according to a top psychiatrist in Florence.

Graziella Magherini, president of Italy's Art and Psychology Association, reported the preliminary findings of her year-long study at a symposium at the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence where the naked marble man attracts 1.2 million visitors a year. She said David can have a particular emotional impact on a certain kind of visitor.

"I've called it the David Syndrome. It causes mind-bending symptoms and affects mostly those traveling on their own or in couples," Magherini told Discovery News.

The condition is similar to the dizzy and disorientating "Stendhal Syndrome" Magherini identified in the late '70s.

Named after the French writer, its most famous victim, after he was overwhelmed by the frescoes in Florence's Church of Santa Croce in 1817, the condition causes symptoms ranging from queasiness, disorientation and temporary panic attacks to bouts of madness.

Stendhal gave a detailed description of the phenomenon, describing "ecstasy," "celestial sensations" and "heart palpitations."

"Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling," he wrote.

In the past 10 years, Magherini studied more than 100 people who had been rushed to Florence's Santa Maria Nuova hospital suffering from the syndrome as they were absorbed in contemplation of great works of art.

The artistic intoxication is caused by a combination of several things, including the stress of the trip, an "overdose" of beautiful art and the degree of sensitivity of the person, according to the researcher.

"We should not forget that a work of art is a very powerful stimulus and can stimulate memories in our unconscious, sometimes triggering a crisis," Magherini said.The David statue may cause symptoms similar to the Stendhal condition — "more rarefied, but equally mind bending," she said.

Interviews outside the museum and comments in the gallery's guest book indicate that gazing upon the recently restored 500-year-old masterpiece can cause heavy perspiration, rapid heartbeat, stomach pains, dizziness and even exaggerated reactions such as aggressive feelings and hallucinations.

"Some think that the statue is alive and talking to them. We have also recorded iconoclastic [destructive] impulses," Magherini said.

The sculpture has raised passions and controversy ever since it was displayed beside the main doorway of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence in 1504, when political protesters threw stones at it. probably because Di Duccio felt he was too unexperienced for such statuary work.

After laying unused for 10 years, the marble was then taken by another sculptor, Antonio Rossellino, who discarded it after a few months.

Michelangelo stepped in in 1501, and promised to carve a statue from the block without cutting it down or adding other pieces of marble.

Three years later, on Sept. 8, 1504, David was displayed beside the main doorway of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. It remained there, at the mercy of the elements, until 1873, when it was moved to its present location in the Galleria dell'Accademia.

In 1527, the statue's left arm was broken into three pieces during an uprising against the ruling Medici family.

In the mid 19th century, it was damaged by acid used in cleaning solution, and in 1991, a mentally deranged artist named Piero Cannata attacked it with a hammer, demolishing one of its toes.

Magherini's study is backed by art historian and Florence's artistic superintendent Antonio Paolucci. He was not surprised by the emotions the statue can trigger: "This is one of the five or six most famous masterpieces in the world, a universal totem of art," Paolucci said.

Americans are the most sensitive to both the David and Stendhal syndrome, Magherini said. Italians, on the contrary, seem to be immune to the conditions, along with the Japanese.

"They are so organized in their sight-seeing that they rarely have time for emotional attacks," Magherini said.


Those Old Folks Just Love to Get Naked

Seniors bare it all to raise funds

November 23, 2005

"The only thing worse than being asked to pose nude would be not being asked," joked former sheriff's deputy and radio personality Don Parker -- one of the men, women and couples over the age of 60 who took it all off for the Council on Aging of West Florida's 2006 Perfectly Aged fundraising calendar.

The black and white photographs feature not only some of Pensacola, Florida's most historic and popular landmarks, but a baker's dozen of community leaders as never seen before -- including cover girl and arts patron Gerda Gernon who gives new meaning to the term opera "buff" as she strikes a pose under the stage lights of the Saenger Theatre in little more than long gloves and heels.

Though it's all in good taste and fun -- it is for a good cause. "The proceeds from the calendar will be used to provide services to area seniors currently on the waiting list for assistance who are designated as in immediate danger of institutionalization if in-home services such as Meals on Wheels and Alzheimer's respite care are not available," said Council public information manager Jeff Nall.

Gernon's and Parker's fellow models include a retired doctor, his wife and their dog, Tiger, enjoying the outdoors au naturale, an educator and local artist smiling from behind her work, a drink bearing restauranteur, a real estate developer speed boating across Pensacola Bay sans tan lines, a businessman and car expert alongside his Viper convertible with the door open just right, a former ad agency owner toasting the good life -- and even the Mayor Emeritus and his wife.

"We like to do things out of the box and have fun. There is fun in aging," explained prominent businessman and Mayor Emeritus Vince Whibbs, who posed in downtown's Seville Square alongside his lovely wife Anna, clad in a black bow tie and black patent leather shoes, while holding a strategically placed heart that reads "I Love Anna." Mrs. Whibbs, posed beside her husband in heels, pearls and a big smile, as she holds her heart that proudly proclaims "Vince Loves Me," explained how they talked it over with their priest, their seven children, 26 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren before "deciding to do it for the well-being of our community."

And in Escambia County, Fla., ranked 17th in the U.S. Census Bureau 2003 American Community Survey of poverty levels by county with 19 percent of the population living below the poverty level, that is good news for the community. With the majority of those in need of services from Council being lower-income individuals, helping seniors live independently in their own homes makes sense for taxpayers. Nursing home care, a more expensive alternative, would be paid for by Medicaid funds, a combination of state and federal tax revenue.

Calendars are available at Happy News or by phone at (850) 432-1475. Unsigned Calendars are $25. Limited edition, autographed calendars are $40.

After is for a good cause, but as John Paul Whibbs, 10, said, "The best part of all is Nana's legs!"


Going Naked in Sproutland

Belgium prepares for second nudist beach

23 November 2005

BRUSSELS — There is a great chance that a second nude beach will be constructed along the Belgian coast next year.

The naturist beach in Bredene has inspired the Liberal VLD in Middelkerk to launch a similar initiative.

VLD Middelkerk Mayor Michel Landuyt said a site has already been reserved where the beach can be constructed.

The site is located between Lombardsijde and Westende-Bad in a reasonably isolated area where the camp ground Cosmos operated in the past.

Flemish Spacial Planning Minister Dirk van Mechelen still needs to give final approval to the plans.

In August, Bredene unveiled plans to expand its nudist beach in 2006 due to rising popularity.

Mayor Willy Vanhooren said he wants to completely refurbish the beach, which was opened four years ago and is increasingly successful.


Florida Nudists Raise Funds for Katrina Victims

They'll Give With Shirts Off Backs
Published: Nov 14, 2005

LUTZ - -- Van Bradley is looking for a few good nudists.

Bradley, manager of Lake Como Family Nudist Resort, is specifically looking for a nudist family affected by Hurricane Wilma. The Bay area nudist community is ready to adopt that family, give them free housing for six months and donate money to help them get back on their feet.

No one has yet come forward to accept that offer, but that didn't stop nearly 400 nudists from holding a hurricane relief benefit at Lake Como on Sunday. A $5 donation gained people entry to the clothing-optional event, which featured live music, food and, ironically, clothing vendors.

Sunday's benefit was the first time four of the Bay area's largest nudist facilities -- Caliente, Lake Como, Paradise Lakes and Gulf Coast Resorts -- have come together for an event. Bradley, who often wears shorts so he has a place to carry his keys and cell phone, said the previous separation was the result of old-fashioned competition.

"We're all in business," said Bradley, who left his job as regional manager for a national company three years ago to move to Lake Como with his wife. "Even though it's a lifestyle, we all have to make money."

This explanation is from people who choose the lifestyle to free themselves from the constraints of money. In nudist communities, no one worries about how expensive your clothes are, said 27-year-old Lake Como resident Jessica Ward.

"You can't lie about who you are because it's out there -- so to speak," said Ward, who was topless but wearing a sarong.

Ward -- who also paid homage to her boyfriend's band, Free Beer, by painting the phrase "Got Beer" across her chest -- moved to the resort seven months ago. It was an unexpected move for Ward, who was wary when Calvin Ealy, a two-year resident of Lake Como, discussed his lifestyle during their first dinner date to Chili's.

"I told him he can take me to Chili's anytime he wants, but I'm not going where all those naked people are," Ward recalled.

Ward said she was too distracted by the idea of being surrounded by nudists to understand the real reasons people become nudists, such as being part of a community that emphasizes tolerance and kindness. After several visits to Lake Como, she started to change her mind.

"They just welcomed me here," she said. "It was just so friendly."

If the nudists don't find another nudist family to accept the money raised Sunday, Bradley said, they'll donate to nonnudists. And now that the Bay area nudist community has come together, they plan to make the communitywide gathering an annual event, Bradley said.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Canadian attempts to shed her inhibition — and her clothes — on a nude beach in Spain.

Written by Ayah-Victoria McKhail / Cádiz, Spain
Published Monday, November 7, 2005

“Te enseño en una playa nudista cuando vienes.” (I’ll show you a nude beach when you come.) “I’ve never seen so many penises in my life.”

And with that, my friend Beth, a fellow Torontonian, signed off on yet another e-mail to me. She was living in Cádiz, a port city in the southern Andalucía region of Spain where some of the country’s most beautiful beaches are located, and I was going to visit her in two weeks. I had just learned that a nude beach was on the itinerary.

Going nude was not an option for me.

My friend Joe tried to convince me otherwise over drinks in Toronto one afternoon before I left. “No one knows you there anyway, so what difference does it make?” Yet to me, it made all the difference.

I have always equated nudity with intimacy. Being naked with someone makes me – especially as a woman – feel vulnerable to that person. When we’re nude, we reveal ourselves in a profound way where nothing is hidden. The mere thought of being nude in front of people I didn’t know made me cringe.

But I didn’t rule out making a visit to a nude beach. Curiosity, and that sense of adventure that takes hold of me as soon as I board a plane, got the better of me.

This beach is too permissive …

And so, a day after arriving in Cádiz, I found myself — a tall, slender 25-year-old woman — lying rigidly on a beach towel under the searing sun at Caños de Meca, a nude beach 45 minutes from the city centre.

No, I wasn’t nude. I was wearing a low-cut, black designer bikini with ivory-hued straps. The loose ends on each side of the bottoms tied right at my hips. Top and bottom fit perfectly, and flattered my hourglass figure. (Not that I was showing off, lying prone on my towel.)

From that awkward position, I began to take in the sights. This was my first trip to a real, functioning beach. Born and raised in Toronto, Lake Ontario never looked very clean to me, despite those safe-for-swimming “Blue Flags” awarded to the beaches once certain environmental criteria were met. City Hall must have shared my doubts because they strategically placed a public swimming pool directly in front of one of the beaches.

The beach at Cádiz was stunning. Hidden beneath a hilly terrain, we had had to hike down to reach its shores. Golden sand glistened beneath the sun and gentle waves whistled a soothing melody in our ears.

Eventually I mustered up enough courage to check out my fellow beach bums at Caños de Meca. What I saw were far too many harried potbellies, dangling private parts of the young and old, sagging breasts flopping about, and yes, bouncing bums. I saw pierced nipples being erotically rubbed; people sensually lathering sun block on their partners’ most private parts; nude families building sandcastles as they shared refrescos (cold drinks) with each other. Dozens of random strangers willingly sharing their bodies with me.

And there I was: A subdued, self-conscious Canadian in a bikini who, rather than feeling covered up in the midst of all these naked people, was feeling rather naked herself.

I found it difficult to believe that so many people could be comfortably naked in front of each other. But that’s what my eyes were telling me. People frolicked about playing Frisbee, the girth of their bellies visible to everyone in their midst. Lumps, bumps, stretch marks, and all that cellulite we normally try so hard to hide, on public display.

I felt like a criminal, surreptitiously stealing glances at the women around me, comparing the size of my waist, hips, thighs, and breasts, with theirs. When naked men walked by and smiled at me, I couldn’t look. Perhaps it was my conservative Palestinian background, but I felt I shouldn’t look. That I would be invading people’s privacy if I did.

Carlos, a Spanish friend and regular nudist, playing the guitar at Caños de Meca.

And this beach is too restrictive …

My only other memories of being at a beach are from ten years ago when I last visited family in the Gaza Strip. I was 15 and I remember the sense of peace I felt while I was there. At Gaza of all places, it was easy to forget your worries while staring into the vastness of the Mediterranean and listening to the lapping of its calm waves. Everything — from the laughter of the children bathing in the sea to the sight of ladies from the local refugee camp carrying pots and pans back and forth to be washed at the shore — remains etched in my memory.

I wanted to swim in those salty waters so badly.

But I knew that I would have drawn a lot of unwanted attention to myself if I dared take the plunge. We were in a predominately Muslim area and, only in the still of night, when the lurking eyes of men were fast asleep, did a few intrepid women slip off their sandals and lift up their long flowing gowns for a quick wade in the calm waters. I spent my time sitting in a hut drinking diet Pepsi, chatting with my brother, or adding to our growing collection of seashells.

Fast forward 10 years. Here I was on another beach and not much had changed.

For the most part, I had overcome the self-consciousness about my body that plagues most young women my age. But I still wasn’t home free. Even in my bikini, it took me a long while to muster up the courage to get up off my beach towel and take a dip in the Spanish waters, or walk along the shore with Beth. Even clothed, I felt that all eyes were upon me.

I wasn’t brave enough to break local customs in Gaza, and I wasn’t brave enough to follow them in Cádiz. Where did I fit in?

As my friends and I stood up to leave, a middle-aged man with piercing blue eyes made eye contact. Keeping his intense gaze fixed on me, he began stroking his penis. It was definitely time to leave. I lowered my head as I quickly stuffed my belongings into my beach bag and scooted off.

As I walked back up the hill to my friend’s car, I made a mental note to myself to give one of Toronto’s staid beaches a try when I returned to Canada. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all.

Maybe that beach would be just right, for me.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Warning: This article may contain nudity

Warning: This article may contain nudity
By Kristyn Ostman - The Beacon (Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA)
October 31, 2005

It has become increasingly apparent to me that the more I learn about those wacky Europeans, the less inclined I am to try an alternative spring break trip. Nonetheless, I continue to read up on the new, sociocultural phenomenon across the pond. I am pleased to say that I am rarely, if ever, disappointed when looking for a juicy new trend.

Recently, I came upon a delightful story about free expression, social taboos and change. Above all, the reason this story caught my eye is that it centered on nudism. Though I, myself, am not a nudist, it is topic that I find incredibly interesting. The only nudists I've ever seen or heard about have been far from the types anyone would want to see disrobing, yet nonetheless, these ordinary Joes are living life au natural.

Here's a little history on it: at the forefront of the nudist movement was pre-WWII Germany. People joined clubs where membership became so high that guards were posted to protect the patrons from peeping toms.

Now membership has been dwindling for the most shocking of reasons - a general decline of social taboos across the board. Modern Germans do not view nudism as shocking or wrong. In fact, it has become a part of daily life. Magazine covers, television and even supermarkets maintain loose policies on clothing as a necessity. Even if there are laws against it, they are certainly not being enforced.

When nudist clubs were at their peak, members expressed the sentiment that baring it all was about escape and total freedom. So why are the traditional nudists so upset now that we're all liberated? Many might look at this and see a level of hypocrisy. Nudists of old acting like the A-list kids in high school; surely we must be mistaken at the thought of these pioneers being so selfish! When I learned of the enmity they feel toward the anything-goes regime, I thought about their initial motives for donning only a pair of moccasins in the first place.

Our traditional nudists don't want to be socially acceptable; they are exhibitionists. With the culture moving to accept all walks of life there is no longer a venue for them to stand out, which I suppose would outrage anyone that is purely concerned with himself. The biggest gripe I have about this public display is not the blatant desperation for attention but having their ideology forced on me. Like telemarketers or people passing out leaflets at the airport, nudists are pretty obvious, and irritating, in how they share their values. However; unlike a telemarketer, we cannot simply hang-up on a naked woman asking us for the time because watches are just as confining as underpants.

Nudism is a growing subculture today in America. This past summer, a group of seniors and baby-boomers gathered in Pennsylvania for some naked recreation. It leads me to question how soon it will be before people are walking stark naked to class. Laws in New York have already been altered to allow either gender to go topless in public. Certainly, this is not common practice now but rest assured that when you give an inch, people take a mile.

Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that next year nudists will have taken over but I do see where there is a foothold for the U.S. to socially progress into a very dangerous place while continuing to taunt how "free" and "accepting" we are being. After all, why ban something that isn't hurting really anyone, or is it?