Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fearful Freaky Fright Night 2009

The Badger Naturist Halloween Party was at the same venue as last year's Bare Bones Bash. And just like last year, we had a ton of fun!

Unlike last year, the crowd was huge! Not only did the rooms sell out this time, but people doubled up upon request (we had roommates) and several overflow rooms were booked at a nearby hotel. At least twice as many people wore costumes for the judging. And all evening, we feasted like royalty at the huge selection of thoughtfully prepared pot-luck food and a couple of catered dishes. Last year, we ran out and my emergency pizza's saved the night. (This time, they weren't needed at all.) The hot tub was perfectly hot, and the pool was comfortably warm (even for me).

A lot of Mazo Beach people were there, and a lot of regulars to VVRC, Sun Ray Hills, The Homestead Nych, and Northern Exposure Naturists were all represented as well. A group came from Indiana, a couple came from Florida, and one even came from Canada. We even had celebrity among us -- the head honcho of TNS! I think it's wonderful that all these people attended.

My vivacious lady friend and I were, however, disappointed that some people couldn't make it. Steve & Angie were in our thoughts. They announced the event on their blog, but were unable to attend. I wore the exact sarong that Steve gave to me last year, and promise to do the same next year. Admittedly, I didn't wear it much. I mostly carried it around. I like it a lot more than a towel.

The other couple that didn't attend are the ones who normally coordinate the games. Thus, there weren't as many games this year. I personally don't think this mattered -- the few games and events still provided a full evening of entertainment. People didn't mind socializing to fill in the gaps, or breaking into card games, swimming, hot tubbing, or relaxing poolside. The kids entertained themselves in the pool. The meal took a while. Bowling down the hallway went on for hours. Costumes and judging took over an hour. Music went on all night in both the conference room and the pool area. Puzzles were plentiful. Prizes were won by lots of people.

There were a lot of new people too. Or at least new to me, since many skipped last year but attended many times before. We met a couple our age -- or close to our age at least. The younger of them was the age of the older of us. He's a tech guy like me, and they were both fun to talk to. They are regulars at a TNS affiliated resort that isn't too far away, so we might just have to visit them next summer.

One of their close friends, and ex-roommate, was also at the party. I've never really met her, but I certainly know about her! She's the busty star of one of my Mazo Manor episodes -- Bambi! (Of course, that isn't her real name, and I don't intend to disclose any names here.)

As a funny side-note, remember that I called Bambi "college-age". Kingpin wrote me a letter, part of which was ranting about how far off I was about her age. Come to find out, she's just now finishing up an associates degree. Technically speaking, that makes me half-right about my first impression. She may not be the typical age, but she certainly seemed like a student.

She managed to win a special place in my heart -- she's the first true naturist that I have actually disliked. With clothing and status gone, I strike up conversations with people I would normally never talk to. I have never before, after probably hundreds of people I've met, actually disliked any true naturist. The root cause of my opinion stems from her being completely rude to my girlfriend one sentence after introductions. I won't go into details. We were being nice, and everyone in the group knew that. Everyone else was friendly and cheery except for her. Too much alcohol maybe?

Later that evening, she pestered the musician to put on her CD, loudly, and to play the drums to it. However, he got rewarded... She belly-danced for him (and for the couple of people in the conference room) for almost an hour. She's quite good, but not good enough to be forgiven. Maybe next year?

She at least started out on my good/neutral side. In costume, she laughed and commented on my "cute hairless butt" and how it went so well with the costume. I wasn't really sure is she was laughing at it, or giving me a compliment. Either way, I laughed it off. I still don't understand why she said it.

So what was my costume? I'll get to that... We had it all planned out, and order mattered. That's how we won the "most in-character couple" award. We love the simple costumes that, when seen together, add a whole new level of humor. This time it worked best if we played the part.

My girlfriend got dressed in our room. I was there too, but only to wait for a while. She put on homemade pig ears (headband with pink foam ears cut from cheap sun visor hats, zip-tied together), a homemade snout (paper towel tube, with an end glued on, painted with nail polish), and some pink undies with a tail (bunch of pink pipe cleaners bent into shape). The costume was a hack-job for sure, but she looked great! Her plan was to stop by the BN room, go mingle through the conference room, and mingle into the pool area. She had 15 minutes. Being cute, she drew attention from everyone on the way.

I put on a store-bought butcher's hat and apron, with a big plastic knife in hand. Blood was painted on the clothing, and we used nail polish on the knife. I followed in her footsteps. I hastily walked into the BN room, stopped, and sternly said "Has anyone seen a pig around here?!" Instant laughter! They pointed and said "That way!"

I did the same thing in the conference room, and by groups along the hallway. One guy said "that's just sick!" Many of the women went with the "don't lay a finger on her!" routine. Some pointed in the opposite direction, or simply said "no pigs around here." No matter what the reaction, they figured it out quickly and were laughing as they responded.

In the pool room, she hid behind chairs and I pretended not to see her as people were pointing me away. She would "eep!" and run, and people cheered her on. I eventually caught her before the parade (as planned), where we both paraded together as I held on to her wrist. She whimpered a few oinks and save me's during the parade.

There were a lot of clever costumes including:
  • Juggling ninja (who could actually juggle).
  • A couple who were a tortoise and hare.
  • Three people who were bride, groom, and preacher.
  • Dominatrix holding a knife with a bloody slave. (A little edgy, but oh well.)
  • Sexy nurse and surgeon couple, very detailed and well done.
  • Caveman and cave woman, the original skinny-dippers.
  • Guy with a tie: birthday suit. We contemplated what he was wearing when he took it off.
  • A couple who simply glued a beach-ball valve to their backs: blow-up dolls. (She was in character by wobbling around with her mouth open.)
  • A belly dancer in full jingles (wonder who that could be...)
  • A guy with laundry stuck to him: static cling. (Led to many "he's wearing my underwear" jokes from his girlfriend.)

After a dozen winners were announced, the party went on until around 3am. After a few games in the arcade, we finally made it to bed at 3:30, only to discover that our roommates snore in a not very subtle way. The alarm was set for 8am. We didn't get much sleep. We didn't plan on a full night anyway, so it's no big deal.

In the morning, my girlfriend and I got to chat with the couple our age some more. Breakfast was a feast. I have no idea where all that food came from, but I loved it.

Same as last year, we had a giant table full of goods (and money) donated from naturists to the food shelter. The best part about this fundraiser is that there is a link between us naturists, the food shelter, a church, and the DNR who manage the Mazo Beach area. We like to stay on their good side and help out the community. Based on how much gets donated, it's apparent that us naturists are good generous people.

The event this year was a huge improvement over last year, not to say that last year wasn't fantastic already. We're hooked. This is by far the best hotel party we've attended. We plan to go every year.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Burning Man 2009

As is usually the case, I missed out on yet another Burning Man. Long-term readers know this is my yearly ritual. I end up pouring through the pictures and wishing I had gone, while making empty promises for next year.

Perhaps it's an obsession, but deep down I believe that Burning Man represents an experiment for a clothing optional society (among many other things). Nudity is completely legal, and accepted by other attendees. The city is very hot and sunny during the day, and dirty all the time. Going nude seems like the logical thing to do if you want to stay cool and not have filthy clothes. When a clothing-compulsive society lands themselves in Black Rock City, do they take the logical path?

This year I wrote a script. Quite a clever script, actually. It downloads all the pictures without duplicates in 5 photo streams (tags: burningman, burningman09, burningman2009, BM09, BM2009) over a variable amount of time (depending on how busy the feeds are, 10 minutes to 75 minutes). It saves all the pictures along with the original links so I can view it on the flickr page if needed. Note that it will miss pictures when there are more than 20 uploaded between updates, which happens often enough to bug me. Google Reader is worse since it has much slower updates. I use Plumeria (windows program) to delete or save photos one at a time. This results in a large representative set of pictures chosen basically at random, which is better for seeing how the event really is. I let the bash script run on my 15 watt Zonbu (linux) since the event started, and just shut it off this week.

I suffered through a total of 21,142 pictures from 660 different flickr accounts. What did I learn?
  • Don't do this again next year, though I probably will since I have a baseline now.
  • Most people take really bad pictures and have a strong urge to upload every one of them.
  • Professional photographers offer small resolutions with watermarks, and their pictures usually aren't as good as amateurs who share in full resolution.
  • Men often wore shorts and no top.
  • Women often wore bikini tops (or bras) and shorts.
  • Despite the freedom of top-equality, women almost always wore tops and the men didn't.
  • For a vast majority of group/crowd photos, there wasn't a single instance of nudity.
  • Roughly 600 of the photos included nudity of some sort within the frame. (That's almost 3%) Beware that there are groups of several photos that depict the same scene, so I tried to limit it down to unique people when tallying numbers.
Of the ones including nudity....
  • There were a lot naked men, mostly photographed by chance. Sadly, I don't have an accurate number. Saving naked men caught by chance was an afterthought a few weeks into it. I consider the women to be the canaries anyway.
  • Excluding the Critical Tits parade (but possibly including after-party):
  • About 35 women were brave enough to go naked or only in body paint among the general public. (In other words, bottoms were exposed.) 4 of these were obviously modeling.
  • About 120 women went top-free without cover. Some were for erotic situations (12).
  • About 43 were top-free but with bodypaints.
  • About 27 were exposed by wearing see-through clothing, all except one wore bottoms.
  • For for no good reason whatsoever, about 41 decided to wear pasties. Why would you even bring pasties to an event with legal nudity?
  • Out of 43,435 total participants, about 225 women and a guess/estimated 35 men (based on this old stat, but likely more) exercised their right to bare breasts or be naked and happened to be caught by a camera, flickr, and my script. That's almost 0.6% of the population. Remember that it excludes the Critical Tits parade and party, which typically sees hundreds topless.
The old stats (from 1999) estimate about 5% go nude or top-free. My estimate is 0.6%, but that includes a set amount of error. Much of the nudity probably isn't captured, and many photographers probably choose not to upload photos with nudity. If I do the same experiment next year, it'll be possible to compare my estimates. Otherwise, I need to stand on top of an RV at the event and count with my own eyes to get a number comparable to 5%.

All-in-all, I get the feeling that nudity at Burning Man is on the decline. I know the American society is at war against nudity more than ever, and it seems like a lot of college students have been more prudish than usual in recent years. Seeing less nudity at Burning Man, in my opinion, confirms that American culture is getting more prudish. In all the pictures I've seen, there was only one topless firedancer, and no topless stiltwalkers. In years past, I saw many of them each year. It worries me that so many women are opting for pasties (ouch!) instead of simple body paint. It also worries me that so many are putting on skimpy tops, and sometimes even layering up with a bra under it all. (Why wear a bra at this event?) It seems that more have done this in recent years.

This year gives me a reasonable baseline for tallying up nudity via flickr pictures. Next year, I plan to travel to Burning Man and perform the same experiment that got the old 1999 stats. Ha! More realistically, I'll probably end up cruising pictures again. At least next year I can draw some conclusions statistically.

I'd love it if any of my readers can contribute. If you attended BM this year and in previous years, in your opinion has the amount of nudity changed? If you go next year, please stand on top of your RV for a while and do some counting.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Free Book? Rejected!

While visiting TNS HQ earlier this year, I decided to buy 6 copies of their latest book: "The World's Best Nude Beaches and Resorts" The plan was to keep a copy for myself, and give the rest away. Two were given away at the Nude Olympics. The rest are still in my apartment.

I liked TNS's suggestion to donate them to libraries, so I did just that with our small local library. My girlfriend dropped it off a few months ago, and has checked back periodically. She was told that they would put it in the "adult section".

They never had an "adult section". Even if they did, this book belongs in the travel section since it talks about beaches all around the world. It's clearly a travel book.

We got a call recently that they decided not to accept the book. As we picked it up, we were told that "it's a really good informative book, but we don't have a place for it." In other words, they don't want to put it in the travel section and don't want to make an adult section.

Why was it rejected? Nudity! Lots and lots of nudity!

Follow along with my analogy... Alice is a firm believer in the National Rifle Association (NRA). She believes that she should be able to carry a gun with her anytime she wants, and does so as much as she can. She also wants to attend the annual NRA meeting that is many states away. By going, she can contribute a lot to advancing the rights of gun lovers everywhere. She doesn't have the vacation time to drive, so therefore she must either not go at all or fly there. By not going, she can't do anything to promote the right to carry guns. By going, she must leave her gun at home in order to be allowed on an airplane. What should she do? The obvious answer is bite the bullet and leave the gun at home, despite her belief that she should be able to take the gun with. She'll have a much bigger impact on the future rights to carry a gun if she goes without it.

Bob is a firm believer in naturism. He believes that he should be able to go naked anytime he wants, and does so as much as he can. He also wants to promote naturism. Can you see where I'm going with this?

Where the stories differ is that naturists put naked (and exposed) people on EVERYTHING. This is akin to Alice wearing her gun to the airport anyway, and then promptly getting stopped (arrested?) by TSA. Naturist stuff gets promptly classified as "adult" by most of society and then ushered off to places where nobody will see it. Naturists will all agree that this shouldn't be the case -- but it is and we must deal with it anyway. Sorry, I don't make the rules.

How can I promote naturism if no libraries will accept my books? I can't just remove the nudity like Alice can remove her gun and leave it at home.

I have the same problem with TNS's latest tri-fold information pamphlet. I'd love to slip these into tourist information centers guerrilla naturism style, but the cover shows a naked woman with a naked child. If certain things were covered, everything would be OK. Since they aren't, it could lead to a police investigation and a sting operation to catch me for "distributing child pornography" or something stupid like that.

TNS's DVD, Chasing the Sun, is absolutely great for introducing naturism to political leaders and anyone else. However it's scene after scene of naked people with all bits exposed. Those who are seriously offended by nudity, perhaps the very people that SHOULD watch the video, won't because of all the nudity. The nudity prevents it from being shown in a lot of places. I believe they should put a censored version on YouTube for everyone to see.

The answer is that we need to bite the bullet and censor ourselves to get past the firewall of society. It's fine to have uncensored books and DVD's for naturist consumers, but it's also a good idea to have censored versions as well just in case they are required by non-naturist consumers. When the choice is to have a censored video or no video at all, I believe the answer is clear. People can use their imagination to fill in the blank spots, like they do with expletives. We should be educating people before we offend them, because if they are educated they probably won't be offended by the nudity. (My hiking signs are a good example of this.) Currently, we offend them with nudity first and then expect them to hear what we have to say. It doesn't work.

I seem to be the only person advocating for naturists to cover up sometimes. I suggested that naturists should wear clothing to save money during the winter. I suggested to put clothes on and do road cleanups, as we have done several times. We put clothes on and covered nipples to protest. I suggested to do clothed fundraisers at places other than resorts. I suggested a lot of things that require clothes! I also don't post nude photos on this blog, which is why it doesn't have Blogger-induced warning messages. By self-censoring, my words can reach a bigger audience. By getting dressed on occasion, we can have a bigger positive impact on the future of naturism.

I intend to ask the local library if they will accept the book for the travel section if I go through and marker out all of the normally censored bits. I know this action might tick off a lot of naturist purists, but it's the ONLY way that the book will end up available for public browsing at that library.

UPDATE: Wow! It's not the coarse I planned to take, but under NAC's direction we're going to pressure the library to accept it! Apparently NAC won a case a while back that deals with this issue. My fear is that they will accept it, then keep it behind the desk instead of on the shelves. We'll see where this goes... I have a letter to draft!

UPDATE 3-2010: Still working on this one...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Slippery Slope to Winter

Right after my last big post, I noticed that my blog queue was empty. Mind you, I have a LOT that I could write about, but nothing that I was actively perusing at a high priority. So, I put up a twitter post requesting ideas, and got a reply.

The response I got was from @EDUNARAS. She (?) is from Wisconsin (somewhere, depending on which profile you look at) and seems like she (?) is fairly new to naturism. The reply asked What can you do in a Wisconsin winter?

With the trees already turning colors and dropping leaves, we're on a slippery slope to another dreaded Wisconsin winter! Normally I don't acknowledge this fact until it's snowing, but since it was forced upon me I'll write up my list. Note that this is mostly from memory, so I could be missing some stuff or have things incorrect.

I'll start with what you should be doing in the summer. When it's warm, lots of naturists congregate at Mazo Beach (every nice weekend) and VVRC (at least for the car show). Even visiting a campground such as VVRC, Sun Ray Hills, Aurora Gardens (though I haven't heard the best about this one), The Homestead Nych (See N magazine, 28.4), or Dragonfly Beach. When you're there, you'll meet people and make connections. These connections are vital to survive the winter as a naturist. The months are cold and lonely without them.

A common thing during the winter months are "hotel takeover" parties. This is where a group sweet-talk a hotel owner into closing the doors to the public and reserving the whole place for the group. This is almost always done in smaller hotels that have a pool and hot-tub. A list of the parties I know about are as follows:
  • Badger Naturists always have a Halloween party West of Madison. (I like to go to this one!)
  • Badger Naturists sometimes have a party in the early spring, and sometimes it's a collaboration with Northern Exposure Naturists.
  • Northern Exposure Naturists usually have their own party. Haven't been to one yet, but I'll be a member soon.
  • VVRC has a mid-winter party, which I've been to.
  • Cold Tanners are a little further north. I don't know for sure if they have a hotel party, but a house party is likely.
  • [UPDATE - bowling! There's a group who does monthly nude bowling in the Oshkosh area.]
All of these parties and clubs are actually in the bottom half of the state. If you live in far northern Wisconsin, you'd better find some friends.

A majority of the things going on during the winter months are between friends. We have some friends that live nearby who own two sauna's (outdoor and basement). We like to stop over every couple of weeks, have supper in the nude, and jump in the sauna. They visit us sometimes too, where we offer food and theater seating. We have a projector, a white wall, and a bunch of classic nudist "sexploitation" films which provide hours of entertainment. We also have a Wii which is great on the big screen.

There are a lot of naturists who have nice homes with hot-tubs, and are willing to have friends over for the evening. As long as you have friends, you'll be able to find something to do.

Then there are some naturists who are driven mad by the winter months. Steve (from AllNudist), my girlfriend, and I have all made naked snow angels. (The people in Minnesota are a bit more creative.) In the past, I've heard of a person who went nude cross-country skiing in February at Mazo Beach. If you can do it, go for it!

Of course, most nudists stay naked at home during the winter months. I don't recommend it because cranking up the thermostat all winter is bad for the wallet. However, it's nice to dedicate a few days each month as "naked days", especially if you're expecting friends over. It's a good time to bake stuff for them as well.

If all else fails and you have money and vacation time, go south. I know several naturists who migrate south each winter. I'm even considering a trip to the TNS Mid-Winter Festival in Florida this time. How else am I going to keep my tan?

If you have a full-time job, like I do, you'll often find yourself daydreaming of the warm naked summer months. As Wisconsin naturists, we need to make the most of those months! All through the winter I spend a lot of time researching where I want to go and planning out summer-time trips. Not just vacation trips, but weekend trips as well.

See, just because winter hits doesn't mean that naturists go into textile hibernation. If you've got connections, then you'll be invited to parties at hotels and small gatherings of friends. Feel free to invite friends over if nothing else is going on. Go naked at home on occasion, and maybe travel south for a bit. Summer will come eventually, so make sure you're prepared.

Mazo Manor - S2E06 - Found

It's been a really long time since my last trip to Mazo (1.5 months). I wouldn't have gone since my girlfriend couldn't go (and I don't like to go alone), but the road cleanup makes the lonely trip worthwhile. I'll talk about that later...

Kingpin doesn't have a computer. Since my last visit, someone printed out this season (S2, E1-5) of Mazo Manor and gave it to him. Note that I write this blog in such a way that I know everyone can see it, so I try to be fair in protecting privacy and choosing what details to share. I knew Kingpin would see it eventually, along with everyone else I talk about. Soon after Labor Day weekend, I got a letter in the mail from Kingpin and he was angry. (Actually, he's still angry from last winter.)

Why was he angry? It wasn't because I had insulted him in any way. Nowhere in his letter did he indicate that he was offended by anything I've said about him. In fact, he even liked that I called his camera use "trustworthy and responsible". He seemed to like his nickname as well.

His reason for writing was to "correct" some of my "facts" that I say in my dramatized posts. He did correct a few of the things I said, simply because he knows more than me on some subjects, but all were fairly unimportant. My interpretation of Bambi and friend was quite wrong. Will I correct it? No. Will I correct the other stuff? Probably not, since it's not important. I'm sure the story writers for Meerkat Manor get the stories incorrect on occasion too. A majority of the letter was about things I really don't care about, or of things where I know he has no clue what he's talking about, or just plain slander. He loves including meaningless slander, and has admitted that he says a lot to just get people riled up. This completely matches his writing style from last winter. I didn't bring it up before, but since he's at it again I think it's fair. I'll be honest in saying that my response most likely upset him. Tit-for-two-tats is my typical strategy, let's see if it works. (Kingpin's is typically Grim Trigger, so it probably won't.)

Speaking of trash talk, let's get back to the road cleanup! We didn't have the biggest crew this time (9), but we were very efficient. After the doughnut breakfast from the back of Captain Planet's truck, we paired off and stated landmarks that we would work between. The day was shaping up to be beautiful, and the walk down the sides of the road wasn't bad at all.

We found a lot of strange stuff, but the best was an item that my partner found. He picked up a CD and read the label. "Sex Pistols". I pointed out that it's a band. Once I saw it, I realized that it certainly wasn't the band! It was an "interactive DVD" with a lot of adult imagery on the front! There were a couple of CD-R's that were found as well, but it's unknown what they contain. One I looked at had about 100 MB of something burned to it, based on the width of the ring.

We were done picking up trash in a couple of hours. We piled the trash in one spot, took a picture, and were off to Culvers for our free scoops of ice cream. We shared some of the odd things that were found. The DVD took the prize. We also found a medical bracelet from someone's hospital stay, with all the info on it. There were a few unopened bottles of beer, and an unopened bottle of salad dressing. Captain Planet found a YMCA club card with the name and photo of a person who used to frequent the beach many years ago. He plans to return it to him in person and catch up on old times.

Since it ended up a beautiful day, we headed for the beach. The first thing that I noticed was only one of the Elders was there -- EagleEye. (Note to those who are easily offended: "Elders" isn't meant to be derogatory. I chose the name since the group has more "beach-days" than any other group, therefore making them wise and all-knowing in regard to the day-to-day activities. The members aren't all that old.)

Since the forecast had been shaky, there weren't many people at the beach and they were all guys until our group showed up. I sat in a group with Captain Planet, Holler and Screech, and the couple that helped us the most previously. (I understand that Holler and Screech could be considered offensive. But seriously, can you think of a more fitting nickname for each of them?) After hearing the report that the water was clean and not too cold, I wanted to head down and enjoy it for a bit. Stories were being told, however, and I didn't want to miss those. Ask Captain Planet sometime about how a group went bar-hopping naked in a hot tub in the middle of winter.

I eventually made it to the water with two of the guys.While we were standing there, Holler felt something strange under his foot and dug through the sand under the water to pull it out. A wallet! Complete with credit cards and a license, but no cash. (Others in the group are working to get it back to the owner. I'll check up on that during the Halloween party.) When a muskrat swam directly toward us from the island and dove under the water about 15 feet away, we decided to not be in its way. The water was a little cold and we needed to warm up for a while anyway.

As the sun got low and the clouds rolled in, we decided that it was time to go. Back in the parking lot, yet another thing was found -- a ring of keys. (It was on the DNR board, so someone else found it.) Two keys (with clickers) looked like they went to nice cars, and a lot of the other keys looked important. They didn't unlock any of the cars in the parking lot. The only thing we could really do is put them back and hope that the owner turns up.

Do I anticipate another trip to the beach this year? It's hard to say... We're at the mercy of Mother Nature. Usually she provides a few Indian Summers before Christmas, and one might get up to the 70's. If it happens, we'll be there to make the most of it! If not, then this post is the conclusion of the season, and possibly the series.