Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nude Among Textiles (Part 3)

[Continuing Jon's story from part 2...]

Many naturists equate being nude with being in tune with nature. Try being nude during a desert dust storm of whiteout proportions. It's nature at its wildest. The storms develop suddenly and last only a short time. All you can do is turn your back to the wind and cover your face and nose. When it's over you're coated with a fine white powdered dust. At least I didn't have to wash it out of my clothes.

After living nude and seeing a lot of surrounding casual nudity, it was humorous to one day watch a lone textile, wearing white briefs, struggle to bathe in an outdoor shower. You have to wonder how he ever worked up the courage to even be seen in public in his underwear.

We can all look back on our youth and remember the excitement generated by the ice cream truck when it visited the neighborhood. Similar scenes were abundant at the festival when the water truck sprinkling the dusty streets passed your campsite. People of all ages immediately stripped nude to chase the truck and briefly enjoy the cool spray and a chance to rinse off the dust.

All too soon it was time to leave. After loading the van, I drove off, still nude. Volunteers stationed at the exit, reminded folks they were returning to the real world and to drive carefully because local authorities loved the money traffic violations produced. The volunteer suggested I put something on in case I was stopped. I complied by donning a pair of cotton shorts for the short drive to nearby Gerlach. I was headed northwest for Oregon through a lonely stretch of desert terrain. After passing Gerlach, the shorts came off and I drove nude for the next hour and a half. At one point I took a long break to refill my water bottle and walked up the road for a hundred yards surveying the empty landscape. It was quite amazing to stand nude in the middle of a highway and see nothing but miles of sagebrush and the distant hills.

Signs of civilization appeared as I approached Eagleville, California, the first outpost of civilization, 69 miles from Gerlach. Spotting an attractive local café reminded me it was lunchtime. I parked across the road to put on my shorts. As I entered the café I hadn't quite started to button my shirt when a waitress, obviously alarmed by my exposed chest and abdomen, quickly approached and insisted I button the shirt completely before entering! Welcome back to the world of prudish textiles. I wonder what she would say if she knew I had been nude for the past four days and was naked only two minutes before meeting her?

Burning Man was such a delightful and positive experience in living the nude life, I'm already making plans to attend [another] festival to enjoy all eight days of it.

[If you have any comments, questions, or similar stories, be sure to post them below.]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nude Among Textiles (Part 2)

[Continuing Jon's story from part 1...]

Selecting my campsite, I got out of the van and immediately stripped nude before doing anything else. After setting up camp I wandered around and nervously introduced myself to surrounding neighbors. I let each of them know my purpose for attending the festival was to be nude for the entire time. No one voiced objections or concern. Over a period of time I saw most of these neighbors engaged in occasional casual nudity around their campsites. Later, I observed two other individuals a little further away who also were always nude.

When I set out to explore the festival site that first morning I was still nervous and very conscious of my nudity. It felt like the whole world was watching. As I searched for Center City I saw a lot people who were nearly nude in costumes that in any other setting would be deemed erotic. But I was still the only completely nude person in sight and was beginning to wonder if I had made a big mistake. After about a half an hour, I finally saw another nude guy. Soon, others were spotted in the crowd. Satisfied that I was not a lone nude eliminated much of my nervousness.

Center City dispelled any further hesitations. It is a huge circular tent-like structure, about 200 feet in diameter. It's a desert version of a Starbuck's coffee shop with a lot more attractions. Best of all, it was shaded. Coffee and tea were available along one side on the outer edge. In the middle was a large circular area for performance artists. Surrounding the area were benches, couches, easy chairs and cushions for people sit and relax, drink their coffee, converse and watch or interact with the various activities going on around them. There were also two stages for scheduled performances.

The crowd numbered in the hundreds as they came and went. It didn't take long to feel quite at ease being nude as I elbowed my way through the crowd. No one was alarmed to turn and suddenly discover they were standing six inches from a naked guy! Eventually I saw a nude woman in the crowd. Seeing her, all remaining concerns melted away and knew I would have no further problem being nude for the remainder of my stay.

I'm not particularly 'courageous.' I was a little nervous at the start of this venture because it is basically a textile venue, and who knows what to expect in a mob of 30,000. But where nudity is legal, customary or tolerated, I have had no problem participating because most other participants are nude. Burning Man was an entirely different situation.

It is an amazing experience to get up in the morning and stroll the half mile to 'Center City' for coffee, a newspaper, and watch the parade of people and performance artists, all while nude. Often time, I was the only nude in sight. Festival participants are basically textiles, but with a difference. As a massive outdoor art show where everyone is expected to participate, most dress in outrageous costumes. Near nudity seemed to be the uniform of the day. Topless was common, as were bikini bottoms, thongs, g-strings and sarongs for the gals. Many guys sported sarongs and kilts, even skirts. Quite a few were 'costumed' only in body paint. And then there was a small minority, like me, mostly male, who were completely nude.

It didn't take long to become accustomed to living nude among textiles. It was an ordinary state of being. And there was no indication the textiled mass cared otherwise. I became perfectly at ease being the only nude in a conversational group or the only nude in sight as I wandered the miles of temporary streets. One morning I approached the Bureau of Land Management trailer to look at the brochures describing the Black Rock Desert where the event is held. A uniformed ranger stepped out and welcomed me. We had a long conversation about the geology and history of the area. Not once did he indicate my nudity was offensive, out of place or unwelcome. Contacts with local Nevada law enforcement officials were the same, but I doubt their acceptance extended beyond the festival site boundary.

Wandering about the enormous temporary city, it was not uncommon to be the only nude in a crowd of hundreds. Nobody cared, stared, or said a thing. It became evident that although most participants might not stroll around completely nude, a very significant number had little hesitation engaging in casual nudity around their campsite while dressing, showering or just hanging out. Interesting to speculate if this attitude might apply to the US population in general, or are the participants just different from everyone else.

An interesting commentary on nudity developed in the locally produced festival newspapers. It appeared a trend was noted when a number of males were observed wearing only unbuttoned shirts. Did the writers tell them to cover up or put on pants or shorts? Quite the opposite. Their opinion was wearing only a shirt looked stupid and it would be much better aesthetically if the fashion offenders dispensed with the shirts and went nude!

[Part 3 (final)]

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nude Among Textiles (Part 1)

I got an interesting response to my annual Burning Man post from a reader named Jon. He attended Burning Man 2003 for the sole purpose of living naked among a bunch of textilers. Him and I share a common curiosity: What would a true clothing-optional society be like? Especially if the majority of the people are textile? There's no better place to find out than Black Rock City.

This clothing-optional city goes from a normal population of zero to (currently) almost 50,000! (That's more than Cap d'Agde!) It doesn't have the same luxuries as a typical clothing-optional venue, but does have the basics such as beautiful weather, grass, large swimming pools, luxury accomodation, a roller disco, and even a few cruise ships. If you're up for recreation, try some hockey, or a few other games. There are also plenty of activities for the kids after school such as teeter-totters, swings, and bouncy castles. Of course, there are adult things too after work, but some just like to complain. Hey -- wait a minute -- that last link has a naked guy wearing a cheesehead hat. Take a closer look and let me know if any of you Wisconsin nudists recognize him.

UPDATE: A number of the links above have broken, but they all linked to funny pictures related to what I'm talking about. I'm leaving them as-is, since removing the links would look silly.

Anyway, back to Jon's story. I found his story interesting because it parallels what might happen if the clothing laws were relaxed everywhere. The first brave people go nude, and the first prudes would freak out about it. Give it some time, and society would likely have the same attitude as mentioned in the story. Being the only nude in a textile group is often uncomfortable -- but why? Is it because we feel that we are dressed inappropriately? Or is it because we are worried about what others are thinking? Jon's story answers to this.

Another reason I found it interesting is because I've wanted to do the exact same thing. I want to go to Burning Man and be naked! One of these years, I finally will, and I'll probably have a similar story to tell. Until then, I have plans to be nude among textiles in a much smaller place next summer. I'll tell that story when it happens...

The following is part 1 (of 3) of Jon's story. Anything that I changed or commented on is in [brackets].


Quite some time ago I came across the following on a site about nudity at the "Burning Man" festival that stirred my imagination [I found the referenced site, but it's not one I'm going to link to here...]:

"The large majority of people at the Festival don't go nude, at least most of the time. But anyone can be nude if they wish to be. It's an interesting lesson in how nudity fits smoothly in 'everyday life' (if it can be called that in this context) when each person is free to choose how to dress without the usual social taboos. Although nude people at the Festival are a minority, in contrast to the conventional society, they are an accepted minority."

[In Aug-Sep 2003] I traveled to Nevada to see, and experience, if this was in fact, true. Believe me when I say it is! My schedule only allowed four days, but they were a memorable four days of living nude among 30,000 textile campers for the entire period!

I was fairly confident because nudity was said to be acceptable, but approaching the Black Rock Desert, I was a bit nervous because I wasn't really sure of what to expect. My confidence was bolstered as I was met at the entrance by a topless volunteer greeter wearing only a bikini bottom and baseball cap. When she asked if I was looking for a particular theme camp, I boldly replied, "Anywhere I can be nude!" The reply was, "Anywhere you want."

[Part 2]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Project: Skorpion

Earlier this summer, I tackled the problem of having to walk to Mazo beach. My current situation is the following:

TransportCost (150 miles, $3.80/gal)Travel to BeachEnd Result
Car$19.00 (30mpg)Can fit only 1 bike, so we go at walking speedEaten alive by mozzies
Motorcycle$12.66 (45mpg)No bike, we walkEaten alive by mozzies

Since I don't really like the end result, I carefully evaluated my options. The solution for most people is to purchase a bike rack ($65) for the car. Since the price of gas is always rising, and I'd prefer to ride the motorcycle anyway, I decided to purchase a pair of "Hummers for my feet" ($150). They are quad-line skates with 5 inch wheels -- plenty big for the long gravel path. There are two other options for this type of skate that I could find: The famous Landroller skates ($200) and some even bigger Trail skates ($370). I chose the Skorpion skates (Hummers) due to cost and reviews saying the Landroller boots were very uncomfortable.

The idea was to purchase two sets, one set for each of us, and attach them to the motorcycle. (I only purchased 1 set to try.) This would provide efficient travel to Mazo, and mozzie-dodging travel to the beach. Also, we'd be the first to skate to the beach! At a total of $300, it would require 38 trips to the beach in order to be cost-effective (as compared to taking the car and two bikes, and assuming gas prices don't change).

After waiting a month for them to ship, and almost another month of being too busy, I finally got to skate. I tried pavement, grass, and small-sized gravel similar to Mazo. Years ago, I was pretty good with in-line skates and thought that quad's would be easy. I was wrong -- they don't seem as stable as I'd like.

First of all, the wheels stick out on the inside, which makes it easy for them to catch. Landroller wouldn't have this problem, since the wheels only stick out on the outside. Second, the short wheel-base makes it difficult to keep your balance in the forward/backward direction. Most quads have that issue. However, going on uneven surfaces like gravel makes staying balanced far more difficult since the skates push forward and backward depending on the resistence of that inch of terrain. In other words, there's a big learning curve to using these on gravel or grass! I think that Landroller would be a bit easier since the wheels are slightly bigger and further apart, and the trail skates would be far easier than both of them.

It didn't work as expected. I might be able to skate well enough in them for next year, but would much prefer to try the other skates instead. If you'd like a pair of new Skorpion skates for cheap -- make me an offer!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mazo Manor - S1E05 - Not an Airport

There were only a few cars around when we got there at 9am, the day before Labor Day. Little did I know, cars would be parked along the road by noon and a lot of exciting people would be there:
  • The Elders, of course, who delivered pictures from the party.
  • All other groups were represented, including the Diligents.
  • The "high up political official" was there.
  • The DNR.
  • The couple with the neat electric boat.
  • One guy brought a big flag and flew it high to celebrate the holiday.
  • The guy that flies the helicopter landed it on the island.
  • Another guy flew in with a plane...
The plane was this style of ultralight, and the pilot was apparently a newbie. He circled around the area for a while, and made at least 10 attempted landings along various beaches. It was apparent that he has never seen a runaway truck lane, which uses sand to stop trucks whose brakes have failed. In other words, there is huge drag when tires meet sand, especially when they are small. He ended up crashing the plane at the beach on the opposite side of the river. He went into town to buy some parts, and had the plane fixed by the end of the day. I don't know if he was able to take off again to return home -- I seriously doubt that he'd be able to from sand... TheDNR was investigating this, and he probably got a ticket of some sort.

The DNR warden passed through at some point. He stopped and talked to Kingpin for a bit, and made his way to the South-Ender section. Despite how busy the beach was today, it was all in good clean fun. Everyone was chatting or playing games and having a good day. The only issue I heard of was a South-Ender with a camera, and he got talked to pretty quickly. He was too far away to get any decent pictures, so he posed little threat to the main part of the beach.

I spent most of my time talking with the Diligents. While I can't dive into the details, there are a few things that I should be able to mention. First is that I'm amazed at how deep-rooted the group is in the community, and how much actually goes on behind the scenes to help the whole community out. I used to be sceptical about their lack of information regarding what they were up to, but they have recently earned a lot of my trust.

Second is that the DNR and other groups, at times, are against us. They spend a lot of time crawling through Mazo-related groups and blogs digging up any dirt they can to help their own case, which probably means taking things out of context and quoting only people that don't know what they're talking about. I've re-read my previous Mazo posts, and I think they would really have to twist my words to consider any of it "dirt". It would be hard to dig up dirt on such friendly, happy, peaceful, and helpful people such as ourselves. If only the opposition had such qualities...

The last point that I should talk about is that NAC did help Elizabeth Book. They covered the cost of mailing a lot of stuff and did several other things to help out. (I could get the details if needed, but I hate to bug them about it now...) A NAC representitive was there with Liz during one of her earlier protests. They didn't comment on Nudiarists open letter to NAC because of his request to organize mass support. They should've at least detailed what they were doing, but didn't spend the time to do so. She wasn't arrested as expected by Nudiarist and I, and NAC probably knew she wouldn't be. I take back the couple of bad things I said about NAC regarding the Liz Book issue -- they've earned my trust as well.

The Elders gave me a lot of grief for chatting with the Diligents, which may impact my social standing with them. Hopefully they realize that I can be a benefit to both groups at the same time. TheDiligents have a powerful network set up to support the beach politically, despite their occasional visits. The Elders are always there, know everyone, and do a great job in keeping the beach itself clean and family friendly. Both groups have their sets of contacts, and both groups have certainly played a large part in keeping the beach. I intend to help both groups in the work that they do, and may eventually end up being the bridge that links them both. If only these two groups would work together themselves...

On the way out, we met two women (newbies) who were just starting their way to the beach. They didn't bring bug spray, as usual. We gave them our can, which should've lasted the trip before being empty, and they were very appreciative. I'm sure they had a positive experience from that moment on, and we'll probably see them again sometime.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Status Update (Year 2)

Over the last year, my attitudes have changed with hiding my nudist lifestyle. If people find out, I'm confident in my abilities to defend the lifestyle -- and maybe even make them jealous with all the fun stories. My trophy is on display at home, and my blogger profile now has my real name and some other info. I'm not hiding as much as I was a year ago, because I realized that all the people I know probably wouldn't care. As they find out, I'll be sure to post the stories here.

Last winter, I promised two longer series. Sorry that it's taking me a year to get to the second one! It's in queue, along with a soon-to-be-released Mazo Manor and a multi-part Burning Man feature contributed by the commenter to this post. Since I'm done with all the school-related projects, I will hopefully have more time to contribute to this blog and to other nudist-related projects.

Looking back, it's amazing how great the dive into social nudism has been for both of us. We've made more friends than in previous years, enjoyed our stays at a few venues and beaches, attended an awesome party, helped out the community, met a helicopter pilot and a high-up political official (among many interesting people), got nice tans, won a cool trophy, and overall had a great time doing all these things naked. I can only imagine what the future has in store for us!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Some Burning Man Stats

Another year, another Burning Man festival that I missed. As usual, I keep up with all that is going on there, look at pictures, wish that I had gone, and mutter to myself that I'll be there next year.

(Update and Side-note: I noted in 2007 that there appeared to be a decline in nudity between 2006 and 2007. It can have many explanations. This is a trend that I continue to observe even through the 2009 Burning Man.)

So how do people act when they are celebrating radical self-expression? How much damage is done in a festival that aims to burn stuff? How wild to people get when there is nudity around every corner? From Wired:
The crowd for the weeklong celebration peaked Saturday at a record 49,599, up from 47,097 last year.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials said the festival ran smoothly and no major problems were reported. They made 11 arrests and issued 175 citations to participants, most for drug violations, BLM officials said.

Those are really low numbers for arrests and citations, considering the number of people and the number of days. For being such a wild theme, people are very well behaved. Some even bring kids.

In almost any other city in the US, arrests and citations would've been made for the nudity. If some old stats I found are still true, another 2480 people (5%) would've been arrested/cited and lives ruined by the sex offender registry. But, they weren't. Apparently the rule is that if 5% of the population or more goes nude, it's ok.

On a bigger scale, the US population is 305,986,357, of which an estimated 20,000,000 go nude socially. That works out to be 6.5% of the population, and more if you include non-social nudists. Yet somehow, it's NOT ok.

I like Nudiarist's stat: "It's safe to say that at least 99% of the crimes in America are committed by people wearing clothes." It would be interesting to see if any of the arrests/citations at Burning Man were of nudists, because chances are that they weren't.

All-in-all, I'm wondering how nudity is ok in Black Rock City and not ok in most other cities.