Monday, June 30, 2008

Censored in Maine

The owner of a cafe in Madawaska, Maine, has censored his own nude photography exhibition in the wake of a complaint.
"The chief of police came to see me and said he had received some complaints," Corbin said. "Apparently a man had come in to eat with his kids and saw the photos."

Corbin said Police Chief Ron Pelletier looked at the exhibit and told him he was not in trouble, but there was a "fine line between pornography and art."
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The New York Times Profiles Gunnison Beach

Did you know that a Wall Street ferry makes two trips each day between Manhattan and clothing-optional Gunnison Beach on the Jersey shore?
Nicole Herbert, 40, a veterinary nurse, strolled the beach in only her abundant tattoos, concerned, she confessed, that sun exposure could fade them while glorying in her freedom. “When,” she asked, “are we going to get respectful of our nudity?”
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wearing the One Button Suit

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Canadian Writer Advocates Topfree Equality

Jack Knox agrees that there is a double standard when it comes to laws governing the exposure of male and female nipples. His solution? Make both men and women cover up!
The thing is, I don't want to see women walking around topless. I don't want to watch men walking around topless, either. Generally speaking, I don't want to see anybody's wobbly bits hanging out, male or female.
Knox acknowledges that he is a hypocrite, that he once enjoyed leering at topfree airline attendants on the French Riviera, but that he loathes the sight of imperfect bodies.
Most people look less like God's image than God's shop-class experiments. Things sag. Things flop, and sweat, and go pear-shaped or concave. Men strut about with huge guts swollen to the point of bursting, as though they're trying to digest an entire piglet.

Not that this should matter. Better to be comfortable with our misshapen bodies than to be made miserable chasing an impossible ideal.

Still doesn't mean you should take your shirt off wherever you want, though.
Again we have this patently offensive attitude that only people with perfect bodies are allowed the freedom to be nude, or partially nude.

Keep in mind that men have not always had the right to topfreedom, and this type of attitude, if it is allowed to prevail, could begin to force men to cover up once again. Think it can't happen? Well, it already has in Washington D.C., the Nation's Capital, where male shirtlessness is considered "indecent exposure". The shocking part of this is that an online Washington Post poll accompanying this article shows that 1/3 of respondents support the mandatory shirts rule!

Apparently some people are so frightened and repulsed by female nipples that they are willing to give up the right for men to show theirs. Equal rights? If this gets tested in the courts, men might soon have to go back to wearing those old bathing suits from the 1920s.

If we are not comfortable with the skins of others, how can we be comfortable in our own?

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British Naturists Threatened With Arrest

New warning signs have been placed on a Yorkshire beach, threatening anyone sunbathing in the nude with arrest and prosecution, even though there are no laws against nudity in Great Britain.
Fun (Fraisthorpe United Naturists) spokesman Max Pratt, 34, of Dore, Sheffield, and other protesters, however, deny they are doing anything wrong. He said: "In June 2007 representatives of the Yorkshire naturist community met Humberside Police diversity unit. "As far as they are concerned nude use of the beach is within the law.

They said they would not do anything about it. Through a Freedom of Information Act request to East Riding Council we discovered they had had one complaint in two years before the signs went up.

"That happened further down the beach, away from the naturist area. The signs are a slur and imply the naked human body is indecent when there is nothing indecent about it at all.

"The signs are beyond the law and the council has gone beyond its powers trying to stop something the law says is legal."
It has always puzzled me how the law can prohibit "indecent exposure" without acknowledging that the implication of such language is that the opposite exists: "decent exposure".

The situation appears to be similar to what is now happening in California with San Onofre State Beach, where the Department of Parks and Recreation abruptly revoked the clothing-optional status of the area.

The British naturists appear to be well-organized, determined, and have law and precedent on their side. Hopefully the California naturists are fueled with the same passion.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

"Basically Naked All the Time"

No, we're not talking about nudists. We know they're basically naked all the time. The subject here is swimmers, and in particular Amanda Beard, who is still competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
Beard, as many no doubt know, received plenty of attention for her toned body when she posed for Playboy and drew positive and negative comments. A year removed from baring it all, Beard said as far as she is concerned, the gap between limited clothing and no clothing really isn't much at all."The swimming community is really conservative," she said in an interview two weeks ago at UCLA. "I don't know why, because we're in no clothing whatsoever. We're basically naked all the time."
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Naturism Meets Pop Music

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Where Did the Innocence Go?

A 16 year-old journalism student writes:
No more than five years ago, all little kids thought about was having fun. When a girl liked a boy, all she could think about was holding his hand and hugging him without letting him go. Whatever kids used to think was at least somewhat innocent, but unfortunately that innocence is now gone...I blame the media because if it weren't for them, humanity would have more dignity.
OK, I'm not going to pick on a teenager because obviously she deserves a lot of credit for writing a thoughtful essay. The problem is she criticizes the "media" for sexual content, and says nothing about representations of violence which are far more damaging and desensitizing to a young mind than sexual awakening.

It's OK to be conservative and adhere to traditional moral values. Everybody has the right to live a life of choice. I just think it's a little troubling that a young teenager would think that all kids her age were once innocent (they were not - remember the seventies?), and that media representations of human sexuality is harmful, yet pervasive violence is ignored.

I do agree that the sexual objectification of people, especially women, leads to distorted views over time. But objectification is not human sexuality, it's the exploitation of it, just as rape is really violence and not a sex act.

Nudists and naturists believe that children should be taught that the human body, and emerging sexuality, is perfectly normal. There is nothing more dignified than the human figure. Blaming the media, and fostering fear about sex is borne from misunderstandings and general misinformation, and poor parenting.

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Can Nudists and Swingers Meet in the Middle?

That is what a Jan Glidewell suggests in the St. Petersburg Times.
The issue here really isn't over the nature or morality of their activity, almost all of which takes place in private. It is more over matters like real estate values, public perceptions, economics and marketing.
Really? Has nudism come to be only a financial enterprise, devoid of philosophy and purity of intention?

I agree to a certain degree that it's not about the morality or nature of the activities. It's about the merging of the two lifestyles.

Nudism and naturism has always been, and always should be, about the family. It's about teaching children, and people of all ages, that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of, that we do not have "dirty" parts, and if we do not all look alike, that is something to be applauded, not booed.

Nudists and naturists also believe in healthy sex lives. Whatever happens among consenting adults in terms of sexual play is generally acceptable. Certainly many nudists are swingers or members of the lifestyles movement, and that's perfectly fine.

The "behind closed doors" attitude is applicable to virtually every lifestyle.

If a clothing-optional resort bills itself as a swinger's club, or caters to swingers, then it can no longer be defined as being "nudist", because it restricts itself to a particular age group, and it's not appropriate for children. People will attend with the intent of seeking sexual encounters, and not to practice the naturist lifestyle.
How to target that market without becoming a part of it is probably the major issue, and today's economy is a dicey one that has most businesses leery of ignoring any part of their market base.
You would not run a brothel out of a church hall, or sell pornography in a Christian bookstore. But that does not mean that churchgoers do not sometimes frequent prostitutes, or view pornographic films. Images mean something, labels are important. People need to know what to expect from their organizations. Truth in advertising is not just a slogan.

Yes, nudists and swingers can co-exist, but not in the same club, resort or community. It's like oil and water, they simply do not mix, and there is no middle ground.

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The Truth About Tanning

Let me just say right off that I don't know what the truth is about tanning.

I don't think anybody does.

An article today by Dr. Arthur Caplan seems to be saying that if you go to a tanning booth, or to a beach, you are going to get skin cancer.
Half of all cancers in the United States are skin cancers. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounts for about 60,000 cases and causes 11,000 deaths every year in the U.S. We spend nearly a billion dollars each year treating melanomas.

So who are you going to listen to — a bunch of folks in white coats with lots of degrees who make money sawing cancerous bits off sun worshippers — or the guy with a store full of coffins with light bulbs at a strip mall?
OK, that sound pretty bad. But according to the Center for Disease Control (.pdf), skin cancer does not even fall into the top 15 for leading causes of death. Between 2004-2005, 652,000 people died from heart disease - nearly sixty times as many as from skin cancer. Over 18,000 people died from assault. And the "billion dollars" spent on melanomas is the cost of a couple of days in the Iraq war.

In addition, some doctors are now recommending people to "soak up the sun" to prevent a vitamin D deficiency.
Just this week, a new study showed that people with a vitamin D deficiency are likely to die sooner than people whose blood contains higher amounts. Death rates from any cause, as well as from heart-related problems, varied greatly depending on vitamin D, it showed.
So the truth lies somewhere in between. Certainly there are people that are at greater risk of getting skin cancer, based upon pigmentation and heredity. And it also seems like doctors universally condemn tanning booths because of the extreme dosage of ultraviolet rays bombarding the body in such a short time.

The vitamin D study indicates that D deficiencies are actually causing mortality rates to increase for other diseases, such as of the heart, and other cancers. A little exposure to the sun, for many people, is natural and healthy for the body.

If you have any doubts, consult a doctor first, and take a look at your family history. And if you do decide to allow the sun to caress your skin, get a good sunblock. And have fun.

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WTF? Potentially Offensive?

There is apparently a new standard adopted by government agencies to protect us from ourselves: potentially offensive. It's not exactly offensive, but someone somewhere could potentially find it offensive.

The protector of the public's interest in this case is the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, who this week notified 10,000 holders of license plates with the letters WTF that they can get a replacement tag for free.


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"This Isn't Europe"

It's the weekend for Comfest in Columbus, Ohio, where many women choose to exercise their right for topfreedom. Ohio state law allows bare-breasted women in state parks, but local jurisdictions can choose to outlaw skimpy swimsuits or topless women. In Columbus, topfreedom is legal up to a point, as long as nobody complains. At Comfest, which is a neo-hippie event, topfreedom is just no big deal.

The Columbus Dispatch explores the swimsuit dilemma in an article today. It's strange how something that simply is not a problem is treated like one. It's as if people are expecting a terrorist attack by stocking up on bottled water and duct tape, but in this case they are making rules and regulations in anticipation of a nipple attack.
At the beach with their children were Julia Sullivan, 36, of Lewis Center, and Kari Wydo, 28, of Pickerington. Both took a live-and-let-live attitude toward thongs but not topless women.

"If you've got the body for a thong, good for you," said Sullivan, who was wearing a tankini. "But topless? If you want to do that, do it at home. This isn't Europe."
"If you've got the body". The superficiality of the American mindset is sometimes stunning. We somehow assign the "right" for sexy people to show off their bodies, with less attractive people left to wear tankinis to the beach, or just stay home. We just don't want to see that. Ugh.

And what does it mean when the woman exclaims "This isn't Europe"? Does she mean that Europeans are more relaxed with their bodies, that they are far less hung-up, that they enjoy more personal freedoms, that the human body itself is not criminalized, that European children have a healthier attitude towards sex, that there are fewer gun crimes, and that the U. S. lags behind Sweden, Germany, the U. K. and many other European countries in terms of women's rights?

Yes, I'm sure that's what she meant.

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Kissing the Toilet Seat

You've certainly heard someone say "I'd rather die" than do something perceived to be offensive, such as go to a nude beach, or to eat spinach. Not to mention the Hillary Clinton supporters who are actually threatening to vote for John McCain because their candidate failed. It goes beyond "sour grapes", it's stubbornness taken to the extreme, where the threatened reaction is actually more destructive than the alternative.

So along comes this interview with Nigerian actress Mercy Johnson, who exclaims quite emphatically that she would "rather kiss a toilet seat than play a nude role". Not even for a million billion dollars. Take note that the interview is decorated with a couple of pouty publicity shots with Mercy showing off her best assets.

Penn and Teller have a good name for this: Bullshit!

So the next time you hear someone exclaim that they would rather die, kiss a toilet seat, or be nailed to a cross instead of doing something comparably mundane, call them on it. The world already has enough bullshit, and somebody has to draw the line in the sand.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

The Mythology of the Swimsuit

Yes, it's swimsuit season again, and millions of women worldwide are hunting for the perfect bathing outfit to flatter the figure.
Dieting for summer holidays is totally unnecessary. Because we all know a ophisticated denial process occurs in the brain whenever we approach sand and water. You know – the delusion that a sarong is a miracle garment which you merely tie around your wobbly midriff to gain the effect of full body liposuction.
This is one of the reasons why nudism is so wonderful. Off come the textiles and there you are, as you really are. No pretense, no illusions, no delusions. Save yourself a bundle and find a place to go skinny-dipping this summer. It's more fun, more comfortable, and more practical.

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A survey shows that nearly one in five Canadian men has played a computer game in the nude.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

All Fired Up

Lorene Kinslow is mad as Hell over the foreign newspaper used as packing material for her new propane grill because it had pictures of women with no clothes on.
"I was furious. Something like this came to the United States. A family could've bought this. It wasn't the fact that I don't have my children living here with me but if a husband, a family and kids could've got a hold of that, that was just wrong, wrong,"
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It Could Be Worse

Ethiopia has banned what would have been its first nude photography exhibition.
"Authorities from the Culture Ministry asked me to submit my photos before the exhibition was inaugurated. Afterwards they said: 'This isn't art, it's pornography,'" (photographer) Biniam (Mengesha) said.
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Art Au Naturel

St. Louis photographer Stan Trampe looks for "dead end" and "no outlet" signs which lead him to isolated areas where he can work on his nude studies. Trampe, who is in his 70s, demands a lot from his subjects, and is not inspired by breast implants, tattoos or tan lines.
“Most of my models are more creative, more intelligent, more real than your average person,” he said, adding that he generally works with a model over the course of a year or more to foster a creative relationship. “I pay them, but mostly they want to create just the same as I want to create.”
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Chilly Willys

A small group of naturists braved gale force winds to stage a nude protest at a Yorkshire beach to try and save their clothing-optional beach.
John Wymark-Hoar, a York-based drug addition counsellor and a regional leader of British Naturism, said: "This is the only naturist beach in Yorkshire and we are going to defend it forever."
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Is Nudity the New Normal?

Pieta Woolley makes the argument for Vancouver:
For the greater good of society, public nudity is worth pursuing, according to Brian Ferris, a clinical psychologist in private practice in North Vancouver. All this bare skin is a good sign of the city’s mental health, he said. Vancouver has a playfulness drought, Ferris believes, and being naked in a group not only is playful but can break down feelings of social isolation.
Social nudists and naturists have long argued this point. In fact, nudity is the old normal, it's the gradual imprisonment of the human body in textiles that is the abnormal, reaching the height of ridiculousness during the Victorian era. We have gradually backed away from that time of woolen swimwear.

Now if only we can figure out as a society that the human body in it's natural state is healthy for the well-being of its people, then we might enter a new era where we celebrate our bare skin rather than worship its covering.

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Jen Moss Denied Parade Permit

"Nudity Activist" Jen Moss will appear topfree in Oregon on July 4 at the Asland parade, but on the sidewalks, because her permit to march has been rejected.
"I'm not indecent," she said. "... I don't deserve to be discriminated against because of my beliefs. I'm not trying to get attention. I'm here standing up for liberty — and most clothing is made in sweatshops with child labor and billions of tons of dyes.

"How dare they judge me? Some people look at me and feel thoughts in their minds that 'she's a slut' or promiscuous. How dare they look at my body and teach their children to be ashamed of their bodies? I love children and would never do anything to hurt them."
How dare they, indeed.

Although it's legal for women to be topfree in Ashland, the Chamber of Commerce rejected Moss' request because her nudity was deemed inappropriate for the parade's "positive, family-friendly theme." What could possibly be more positive and family-friendly than a female breast?

Moss threatens to sue and bring in the ACLU, but it's too late for this year's parade.

Just watch - lawmakers in Ashland will begin to consider anti-nudity laws after the holiday, because there is nothing more dangerous to children and the public at large than female nipples.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Word About My Return

Turns out that I only needed about a month to refuel. There's nothing like warm weather and a nudist outing to rekindle the muse.

I am dispensing with my "Daily Newds" features because they take too much time to compile, and many of the stories are of marginal interest anyway. Also, I am cutting down on the number of photographs I post here, but I have uploaded over 2000 vintage nudist images to Flickr here. If you want to see the images, you will need to remove your safe search filter first.

Again, thanks for stopping by, and all you lurkers out there, please leave a comment now and then. Stay naked!

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Mooning the Streakers

I don't get it. Back in the 70s college students were running naked everywhere. Ray Stevens had a hit song called "The Streak". What better way to burn off some steam than by throwing off your clothes and running around the campus. And who didn't drop trou and moon someone at least once?

A Penn State student was arrested for mooning a group of students who were streaking by his dorm. Can a group of streakers possibly be offended by someone's bare ass? Not likely, but a particularly dickish "residence life coordinator" witnessed the display and told police that he was "indeed offended", and so the student was charged with lewdness and disorderly conduct and will stand trial.

This is not a crime, and the police should not be wasting the court's time with such a trivial matter. As a first-time offender, the student will eventually have his record expunged, but you can just imaging the personal shame, financial expense, and stress upon his family and friends. For showing his buttocks? Are we really this insane as a society? I guess we are.

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I'll Suckle Where I Want

A group of 100 Italian women bared their bosoms to protest laws prohibiting public breastfeeding as part of their "I'll Suckle Where I Want" campaign.
"People still give a start when they see a woman breastfeeding, but they have to learn that a breast is not just a sexy object," Grazia Passeri, president of the Salvamamme breastfeeding group said. "It's ridiculous that showgirls can show theirs but mothers can't."
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British Store Censors Nude Baby Bottom Photo

Just when I got finished saying that the Brits were ahead of the US in terms of body acceptance, here comes an item about a store which refused to print a photo showing a baby with a bare bum because it was "pornography".

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Nudists Raise Money for Breast Cancer

Last Saturday, June 21, Sky Farm naturist park in New Jersey held an open house to raise money for the Avon Foundation for Breast Cancer.
Sky Farm’s membership chairperson Ken, commented during the event “The Sky Farm community is both unique and very ordinary. It is unique in the sense that we have these beautiful grounds and facilities where we can enjoy social nudity in a safe secure environment. We often say that when we come through the front gate, we leave all of troubles of the outside world on the other side. Well some of the troubles can’t be left at the front gate. That is where we as a community are ordinary. Demographically we have the same makeup as any community. We face the same challenges, and face the same health issues.”
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British Naturism to Sponsor Open Days

British Naturism is sponsoring a series of "open days" at beaches and other venues in order to give aspiring naturists a chance to try nude recreation.
British Naturism chairman Richard Daniels said: "There is no greater place than a beach to discover that naturism is a comfortable, healthy, relaxing, enjoyable and perfectly normal thing to do."
In this respect, the Brits are way ahead of the Yanks when it comes to body acceptance.

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Fear of the Locker Room

A Cleveland writer has gymnophobia at the gym.
I walk in from my swim and there are four naked women chatting like they're having scones at Panera. Women are sitting, bare-assed on the benches, methodically putting on their socks. Dude, you got your naked junk on that filthy bench, it may as well be a subway railing. Put your pants on first. Sorry, but I can't chat about the weather when I can see your nipples.
Wow. The writer blames this attitude on "Midwestern home training", but this is something far deeper. Read the entire article, the writer has an aversion to people in general.

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Public Breastfeeding Encouraged in Toronto

Cafes in Toronto, Canada, will begin displaying decals in their windows to show that breastfeeding mothers are welcome.
For Leila Monib, a nursing mother, she said this a "good beginning" to eradicate negative views about women's breasts. "I want breastfeeding in public to be normalized, made more acceptable. Women's breasts are so sexualized. We're used to seeing them up on billboards and not seeing them in use," the 33-year-old said. "But when the baby cries, duty calls. I always say: 'Have breasts. Will use.'"
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It's All About Behavior

By now you've heard or read about AANR's suspension of the Caliente resort in Florida because it was catering to swingers.

Personally, I have no problem with sexual behavior between consenting adults. Nudists are not prudes, and simply being comfortable in one's own skin is bound to improve the sexual side of life.

So if nudism can improve sexuality, why are nudists fighting Caliente's decision to allow swinger groups to use the facilities?

The central core of nudism, or naturism, is that the human body is natural, beautiful, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and that people of all ages should be able to exercise the freedom of nudity.

Social nudity cannot succeed unless the behavior of all those participating is acceptable to every age group. Once the wholesome family atmosphere is removed, it is no longer nudism.

If nudists and naturists wish to succeed in the creation of nude beaches, achieving topfree equality, and public acceptance, the overt sexual element must be separated like a cancer.

Eden Condominiums in Florida is making a big mistake in barring anyone under the age of 18 from using its proposed clothing-optional pool. Taking children out of the mix immediately gives the pool a Vegas-style appeal, that what happens there stays there, and gives it a "naughty" element.

Take away the children, and eventually you take away responsible behavior. It's the kids in our lives that remind us of our responsibilities, that give us balance when making decisions, and make us think twice about how we behave.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Public Nudity Becoming More Accepted?

Interesting article today about public nudity in Boulder Colorado, where on the surface there seems to be a double standard when it comes to arresting people for public nudity.

Organized events such as The World Naked Bike Ride and the annual Pumpkin Run are tolerated by the law, while a single man jogging naked down a city street is arrested and faces being listed as a sex offender.

It's good news that the police understand the difference between civil disobedience and indecent exposure, but Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner says that if enough people became outraged at all displays of public nudity, he would crack down.

Law enforcement seems to be saying that nudity which is organized and accepted by the public at large is acceptable. It's similar to a Spencer Tunick event, where sometimes thousands of people technically violate anti-nudity laws, but it becomes impractical and against the greater public interest to begin mass arrests.

Safety in numbers.

The reason that jurisdictions pass anti-nudity laws, take away nude beaches, and arrest topfree women is because the number of people voicing their offense is greater than that of the proponents. Politicians will generally always take the side which promises the most votes at election time. It has very little to do with civil rights, human rights, equal rights, or the rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In the 1960s, people drove without seat belts, smoked in restaurants, dogs and cats ran free, kids skinny-dipped in ponds, homeowners burned their leaves at the curb. Between then and now the Constitution of the United States did not change, so why were these apparent freedoms lost? Because people organized, made noise, and forced lawmakers to bend to their wills.

So it's good news that some public nudity is beginning to become accepted. Simple progress can be made in this climate of change we seem to be going through at the moment. It is not the politicians who are changing, it's the people, who are demanding more responsibility from the government when it comes to the environment and human issues. At the same time we are demanding alternative energy sources, we ought to be demanding more topfree and nude beaches. At the same time we are demanding a reworking of our health care system, we should be demanding a de-criminalization of the human body.

If we are indeed entering a new progressive era, then all progressive ideas have a chance to flourish. It's all about organization.

So, I'll state it once more, join The Naturist Society, or AANR, join and support your local naturist groups, both landed and non-landed, and get involved. We can't change society with mere words, we also need action.

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Nude Hiking = Terrorism?

A report from some nude hikers in Maryland indicates that the State Police warned them what they "were doing might have been acceptable before 9/11 but not after".

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Perth to Display Sculpture of Nude Nine Year-Old Girl

Oh my God! What are they thinking? A nude sculpture of a nine year-old child? Right in the city streets? It's pornography! Child exploitation! It will attract pedophiles!

Yes, the city of Perth in Australia has received a gift from 80 year-old artist Judith Anketell, who posed nude in 1935 for the original plaster cast. The artwork is to be cast in bronze for outdoor display, and the subject denies that it is pornography.
"It was very tastefully done. It was a beautiful reproduction of my body."
Yes, the human body is beautiful. We should all be so lucky to have ourselves immortalized when we are youthful and innocent.

Anketell also has a few words to say about the recent dust-up in Sydney over the seizing of 20 images of nude young teenage girls from an exhibition.
"As far as I'm concerned what's happening in Sydney shows people have no appreciation of art," she said. "It sadly seems like these things are taboo these days. "I think it was absolutely crazy what went on over there (in Sydney)."
Crazy is the appropriate word, when people allow their emotions to overcome rational thought. We must begin to stop looking at our children through the eyes of a pedophile.

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Holy Breastfeeding

After four centuries of censorship and irrational prudishness, the Vatican has begun to embrace images of a bare-breasted mother of Jesus, finally recognizing the “artistic and spiritual” and “loving and tender” nature of the wholesome images.

Now if American society would only begin to recognize topfree equality for women, that breasts, both male and female, are not sexual organs, and that nobody, no body, should be criminalized for their display.

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Vermont Beach Gets a Temporary Reprieve

Lake Willoughby in Vermont will continue to have a nude beach as the Westmore Selectboard decided to set aside the issue pending research into the legalities of making any changes.

UPDATE: Vermont Public Radio has a story with audio here.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Paradise Gardens in Ohio

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of reports on naturist/nudist venues in the Midwest. Most information on the Internet is done from the point of view of a journalist, who is usually more interested in the fact that there are actually naked people there, or from a promotional aspect in the way of a commercial web site, which does not always serve as a model for "truth in advertising".

And just to be honest up front, I am a naturist, so my point of view will be slanted, too. I understand that these venues are struggling to maintain themselves in the face of declining memberships, and a conservative political climate which seeks to label all forms of nudity as criminal. Also, I have no personal or professional ties to any landed naturist groups, so I have no reason to favor any particular place, and all my reports will be based upon first-time experiences. Perhaps in the future I will provide follow-up reports as they are warranted.

Paradise Gardens is located on 34 acres of land northwest of Cincinnati, just minutes from Interstate 275. A map can be found here. Facilities include clubhouse, campsites, fishing pond, hiking trail, sunbathing lawn, large pool, sauna, hot tub, volleyball court, children's playground, and more.

As with all nudist venues, it's strongly recommend that visitors call first at 513-385-4189, since entry to the park is by automatic gate with call box. We arrived shortly after 10 AM on a Saturday to find the grounds virtually deserted, with only a handful of employees and residents at the clubhouse. We received a very friendly greeting, and a 20% discount was applied towards the ground fees upon presentation of our AANR or TNS membership cards. Although it is not stated on the park web site, day visitors are limited to being on the grounds between the hours of 10AM and 6 PM. Apparently only visitors staying overnight are welcome at evening events. Again, it's best to call ahead and clarify any of the details for your visit.

Take note that Paradise Gardens is not clothing-optional, meaning that everyone is expected to be nude on the property. First-time visitors are given some consideration. Singles, couples and families are welcome.

There are no lockers at the facility, so day visitors need to carry around certain necessities (towel, sunscreen, hydration, food, footwear). There seems to be plenty of parking close to the clubhouse so it was not particularly difficult going back and forth to the car all day, but I basically had to carry my keys around all day with me in a small pouch. I did not see anyone wearing a fanny pack. While the venue appeared to be more than safe, I am reluctant to leave valuables in an unlocked car anywhere.

Since there was no activity when we arrived, we decided to hike around the grounds. We were surprised to find so many well-developed campsites dotted throughout the hill surrounding the clubhouse. Most were small trailers, a few were elaborate tents, and many of the sites were neatly cleared and landscaped, some with decks and patios. It appears that many of the members live here for a significant portion of the year.

People were very friendly, waving and saying hello as we walked by. A few were up early making improvements on their sites. We stumbled upon the hiking trail and ventured back down the hill. The trail is not very long but is easy to follow and adequately cleared. We came upon one member hiking the trail wearing only flip-flops and toting a large can of Miller Beer. He told us that there are a lot of deer in the surrounding woods, once seeing as many as 15 together at one time.

A word about footwear. Good athletic shoes and socks are a very good idea if you are planning on walking the property. While most of the roads are paved, there are large areas with gravel, and the grassy areas surrounding the fishing lake is sloped. Flip-flops are fine if you are planning on staying near the clubhouse or on the paved areas, and barefoot only seems practical on the well-maintained grassy sunbathing area.

Still looking for something to do, we ventured into the clubhouse where there is a dance floor, some tables and chairs, a bar with a television, a pool table, and dart boards. There are many board games on a shelf that appear to get little use. We dropped 50 cents into the pool table, and when racking up the balls we discovered that all the balls rolled slowly over to one side of the table. Needless to say I do not recommend the pool table unless the club does some repairs. If you like to play darts, it's best to bring your own because the darts on the shelves were for the most part broken or missing flights.

Let's face it - most people do not go to nudist venues to play pool or darts, but it would be nice to see an improvement in the PG clubhouse so that visitors could make better use of the facility. I'm sure that on dance nights the place is rocking.

I brought my own sandwich and bottled water, but the club has a big grill running at lunchtime for burgers and brats. For 5 bucks you can get a hot sandwich and a soda, and folks I talked to seemed to enjoy the food. Also, in the clubhouse, there is a refrigerator filled with cold beverages for 75 cents each, paid by the honor system.

By lunchtime, the grassy area was beginning to fill up with sunbathers. The club has only a few lounge chairs so it's best to bring your own if you don't like lying on the ground. There is plenty of shade on the south side of the lawn if you want to get out of the sun.

On their web site, Paradise Gardens state that "People of virtually every age, shape and size are visitors or members here". For the most part that appeared to be true, except that I saw almost no children all day long. Aside from a couple in the pool early in the day, there were no young nudists, and the very nice playground area was never used. The pool area also has many games and pool toys, but again, no children were around all day.

The pool is billed as Olympic size and it is very large. It is completely enclosed with glass and a fiberglass roof, which makes the pool area very hot and humid. While a pool is often the centerpiece of activity at nudist venues, not so at Paradise Gardens, where only a few people were to be found swimming at any given time all day long. There is a ping-pong table inside the pool area, and after playing for 5 minutes we began to contemplate moving the table outside where the 82 degree weather felt air-conditioned compared to the air inside. We instead showered and got in the water, which felt cool at first, but after a few minutes felt nearly as warm as the air. I'm sure the pool is great in cooler weather when being nude out of doors is not practical, so it's a trade-off.

The pool/clubhouse complex also houses toilets with privacy doors, open showers, a sauna, and a hot tub which I never got around to using. A hot tub on an 80+ degree day is not enticing, but I'm sure it gets crowded in the cooler evenings.

Getting back outside, we decided to play some basketball, but their only ball was popped, and the portable basket and pole was damaged. After finding someone who knew the rules, we tacked the game of petanque, which is similar to bocce ball. This went much better. The petanque gravel pit is good and the club has six sets of metal balls with which to play. At this time some corn hole games sprang up on the lawn area. Take note that while the lawn area is large enough to accomodate sunbathers and corn hole gamers, there is not sufficient grass area for badminton or frisbee without inconveniencing sunbathers, and there is no miniten court.

The volleyball court is very nice and surrounded by a high chain link fence. The folks at PG appear to take their volleyball very seriously, and several of the folks on the court participate in the annual White Thorn Volleyball Superbowl. While players of all skill-levels are welcomed and encouraged to play, it can be intimidating to be on the court with so many experienced players. Once a game got going it made for good spectating.

Down by the fishing pond there are paddle boats and a canoe, which went unused all day by my observation. There is a small gazebo in which relaxing massages were being administered, and this seemed to be popular all day long. There is no swimming in "Bass Lake" and you would have to be very brave to even contemplate taking a dip anyway.

The Paradise Gardens web site indicated that the facility is for sale to the "right person or persons", so if you are interested, call or visit.

All in all, I enjoyed my visit very much. The minor inconveniences were more than overshadowed by the friendly people, the beautiful surroundings, and the relaxed atmosphere. Any criticism I have expressed in this observational review are meant only as information so that potential visitors know what to expect. Paradise Gardens is a great place for a first time experience, or to take the entire family.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ready for a Nudist Summer

OK, I've got my hat, my towel, my sunblock, my flip-flops - this cottontail is ready to go! This will be my first actively nudist summer, and I hope to visit many venues in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania before the season is out. This Saturday I'll be at Paradise Gardens near Cincinnati. Look for me in the orange Comfest hat and please stop and say hello!

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Nude on the Job

I consider myself to be one of the lucky naturists who doesn't have to go to venues and club events in order to be nude. Since I work at home, I am sans clothing all day long, except when answering the door, or stepping outdoors. In the summer, it's so much more comfortable than sitting around with fabric sticking to the skin in all the wrong places, and it saves energy by not having to crank the A/C and do laundry all the time.

Canadian Nikki Lafrance (shown above) is even luckier as the front desk receptionist for Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park.
Lafrance didn't know naturist camps existed. "I thought it was just in Far Side comics" – until she visited Bare Oaks three years ago when her parents sampled naturism and got a trailer there..."I'm usually bouncing when I'm there. I feel so happy and free," says Lafrance.
The one thing that all nudists wear is a smile.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Red, White and Boobs

What could be more American than a Fourth of July parade, complete with marching bands, Boy Scouts, and flag-waving veterans? Why, a topfree bicyclist, of course!

Jen Moss is planning on baring her boobs in the Ashland, Oregon, holiday parade. She will not be breaking any laws, since statutes only require the covering of genitalia in a city park or commercial district. That has not prevented the prude patrol from trying to keep Jen out of the parade.
"We don't feel that someone in the parade who is topless or nearly naked is appropriate for a family audience," said parade chairman James Kidd..."She's welcome on any other day of the year to do that," he said. "But not on the Fourth of July while in the parade."
Not all are opposed to the topfree display.
City Council member Eric Navickas said he's on Moss's side.If she can't be in the parade, Navickas said, it would be "an interesting commentary on our society that we're willing to tolerate dead bodies through our aggressive foreign policy from the war, but not healthy, naked bodies."
Moss says that if she is not allowed in the parade, she will step-up her near naked protests and seek help from the ACLU to protect her civil rights.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Naturism Under Attack in Vermont

Any naturist will tell you that one of the great simple pleasures of life is to be nude in nature.

The human skin is the largest of the organs, and shedding artificial clothing allows the body to breathe, to feel the breeze, the warmth of the sun, and the enveloping cool of the water.

The human is the only creature on Earth to wear clothing. The same intellect which invented textiles for protection against the elements, also created shame and guilt as a false means to keep the clothing on, even when completely unnecessary.

Little by little, humans have lost the right to be nude in nature. What was once natural is now illegal. What was once commonplace is now rare. The human body itself has become illegal.

In Vermont, one of the last bastions of personal freedom in America, a popular skinny-dipping venue is being threatened with extinction by a group of people who are blinded by something they do not understand, and motivated by a personal disgust for the human body.

Southwest Cove in Westmore, Vermont, is listed in naturism guides and on web sites as being clothing-optional. There is even a sign warning people that they "may encounter nude bathers".

But something has stirred up a group of residents to petition the town Selectboard to force beachgoers to cover up. Perhaps it was the Brattleboro fiasco that has given these people impetus to act - I stated over and over that nothing good would come out of that. And once again, it appears that town officials will likely err on the side of the moralists, simply because it's a safe political stance. No politician wants to be seen as being pro-nudity, not in today's conservative Christianist climate. When the Board takes up the issue on June 23, they will be under a lot of pressure to trample the basic human right to be nude in nature.
"For me, it's about common public decency — getting families and kids and people and Westmore back down to what they all talk about as being the most beautiful place, and they don't go there any more," said Tony Strange, who lives about a half-mile from Southwest Cove and helped circulate a petition asking the Select Board to enact the ordinance..."All we're looking for, you know, is no nudity on the public beach," he said. "You want to be naked in private, fine... I just don't want you to prance around like a puffed up chicken in front of my kids and think it's OK."
Once again, it's all about "the kids". Nobody ever tackles this issue with any common sense, otherwise it would be obvious that the nude human body has never harmed anyone.

Hopefully calmer heads will prevail and shoot down this unnecessary anti-freedom ordinance.

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