Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Another Entertainer Wants to Live the Naturist Dream.

Barely one day after I posted the story of the two Taiwanese entertainers who were into nude sunbathing, here comes another one. Actress Lin Xilei, a major name in the Asian entertainment world and a beautiful woman at that, has told the Chinese-language edition of GQ that “her future wish is to participate in a naturist resort!” I haven’t read GQ yet, but the Taiwanese newspapers all report that bit. When Lin doesn’t feel too well and wants to get a break, she thinks of floating nude in the sea, the papers write. She says she feels like spending several days naked on the beach with people who don’t know her. I wonder if Lin has ever traveled to Europe and experienced the naturist lifestyle there. I wish I could introduce her to the naturist beaches and resorts of Europe, and enlist her to become the spokeswoman for naturism in Asia. There’s nothing like a celebrity to endorse a product – and a lifestyle – to spread the good word with the average man and woman in the street. Lin Xilei, Asia’s Voice of Naturism. I wish I could contact her right now, convert her to the cause! Who’s the next prominent Asian to speak out in favor of naturism? I can’t wait.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Here's One For The Birds.

Earlier this month, the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers to win the United States National Basketball Association finals game. Hold on, I hear you say. Is this blog about naturism in Asia turning into a sports web site? Have no fear. A student at Taiwan’s Chang Gung University put down a bet: if his favorite Lakers lost the game, he would streak across the medical school’s campus. And you know what happened with the game. So, being the good sport that he is, the student stayed true to his promise and streaked across the campus, by night. So far, so good, were it not for the fact that the whole escapade was filmed and posted on the Internet. And that piece of footage caught the attention of Taiwan’s sensationalist media. The next step was the university learning about the streaking event, with the result that the student received several demerits. I won’t go into what that implied, but the near-unanimous reaction was: this punishment is too severe. Even Taipei’s popular mayor and the education minister made their contributions to the debate, agreeing with the streaker’s fellow students. The latest episode: a dozen students – though none from the streaker’s Chang Gung, out of fear for reprisals from the university – showed up this morning in front of the headquarters of the school’s owner, Formosa Plastics, one of Taiwan’s most powerful multinational businesses. They carried cages with birds – a reference to the Chinese slang for streaking, “letting the bird out.”
While far from equalling streaking with naturism, this whole affair was just a good-natured prank, a bet gone wrong – from the student’s viewpoint anyway. The event shouldn’t have given rise to sanctions, and probably would’ve lost all media attention if it hadn’t.
Nude on the 13th Floor.

Taiwanese entertainers are not my strong suit, but when one – or two – say they like the sun and don’t mind getting naked for a tan, then that’s too good a stone for a naturist like me to be left unturned. Today’s press mentioned female entertainers Hsiao Hsien and Anya Wu as the potential naturist role models. Mind you, both of them mentioned solitude as the perfect environment for their naturist escapades – and in practice, that means there wasn’t any naturism, because that would required social nudity. But I don’t want to be too strict about this definition, so even sunbathing naked alone is good enough for me.
Hsiao Hsien told reporters that African-American singer Beyonce was her idol, and that she wanted to have the same skin color as the sultry Texan. In order to achieve that ideal, she often went up to the top floor, the 13th floor of her apartment building, and stripped down to get a perfect tan.
The other entertainer, Anya Wu, said she picked out a deserted island during a holiday in Thailand to remove all her clothes and do some sunbathing. “It felt really good,” Anya said. She added however, that later on she gave up on frequent sunbathing because it made many foreign women look old.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Is the 21st Century the Century of Naturism?

In my last post, I mentioned briefly how we should be thinking about what the aims of the naturist movement should be. I’ll have a unique opportunity to learn and discuss more about this topic when I attend the worldwide conference of the International Naturist Federation in Croatia in late August. The future of the naturist movement will not only be high on the convention’s agenda, it will be the main theme. And I have been doing some thinking of my own about what the naturist future should be.
Of course, the short-term aims are different when you’re talking about the West and Asia. In Europe and North America, what is wanted is a consolidation of the present situation, with organizations finding new ways to recruit more newer and younger members. Here in Asia we must find a way to make naturism acceptable to the authorities and the public at large, achieving the right to have naturist beaches, resorts and hotels. In the West, naturism is a membership issue, here in Asia it’s a legal issue, a space issue, and a cultural issue.
With the world’s major naturist congress only two months away, and with me going there as one of the few voices for Asia, it is time to think about what we naturists want. That’s why I have been thinking about the need for a high-profile document outlining our movement’s aims and beliefs, let’s call it a Manifesto for Naturism in the 21st Century. Such a document would also give naturists a unique opportunity to raise the movement’s profile.
The key question is what do we want for naturism? Naturism is social nudity, the right to be naked when one wants it and where it’s suitable.
Naturism started from nature, being naked in a natural environment, in the woods, in close touch with nature, which gave the movement its name. When Europeans began traveling en masse, naturism went on to become a form of leisure, naturism happened at the beach, in the sunshine, on holiday. Naturists spent the summer holiday at the naturist resort, before returning to the routine of work and winter.
The next step, in my humble opinion, is to take naturism from nature and the holiday scene into daily life. And that’s where recent mass-action events can play a role. I’ve commented on them in this blog, we’ve seen mass nude bike rides, naked shopping days, models holding nude protests. While those activities are not really true naturism, they can increase what we call “body acceptance,” i.e. the understanding by non-naturists of not wearing clothes in a non-sexual context. As naturists, we must make other people understand that nudity and naturism are not linked to sex, and what better way than to perform normal daily tasks – like shopping and cycling – in the nude.
So the ideal naturist society would tolerate anyone going anywhere in the nude if he or she feels like it. On the other hand, naturists would not force people to go naked at all cost. If the weather is too cold, if you’re afraid of sunburn or have other health problems, of course you don’t have to be completely naked. But otherwise, wouldn’t it be a real naturist society if you could go shopping without clothes, go to the hairdresser, sit down – with a towel – at the local coffee shop to read for an hour, go cycling or play basketball, all in the nude. Without fear of harassment, without other people staring at you or complaining. That would be a true naturist society.
Shouldn’t that be listed as one of the key aims of the naturist movement in the 21st century? Shouldn’t a manifesto strive for a total naturist society? A society where naturists are no longer hiding on certain limited beaches, in swimming pools during certain hours reserved for naturists, in certain remote resorts isolated from society.
That should be the ideal of a true naturist society, but like any ideal, I know that is far off. The main problems are respect and privacy. In a way, it is comforting to know that as a naturist, you can go to separate areas where you will not be stared at or approached by outsiders who are not serious naturists. Especially for women, this can be a more comfortable way of joining naturism, and I understand that completely. But if we want the 21st century to be the century of naturism, we will have to go one step further and set a plan to realize a society where naturism is acceptable by non-naturists as a common part of daily life, and not just as a marginal phenomenon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Naked Mall: Shopping in a Naturist World

Asian media reported about a major department store on London’s Oxford Street opening its doors to nude shoppers yesterday. For those of you who don’t know, Oxford Street is comparable to Singapore’s Orchard Street, or Taipei’s Chunghsiao East Road Section 4, it’s the top shopping street in the nation. But can you imagine top department stores in Singapore or Taipei holding such an event? No, and if they did, it probably wouldn’t be successful either, especially with all those cameramen hanging around to publish your picture in the local paper or show it on national television. Even in London, the event was apparently less than successful, with only 15 volunteers showing up.
Isn’t it crazy, shopping naked in a department store, I hear you say? In the middle of a huge city like London, probably. But what if you could go shopping naked in a supermarket on the coast, near the beach, near your hotel or resort? You spend your day without swimming suit on the beach, swimming, sunbathing and playing volleyball, and then, before you return to your hotel room, you go and buy necessary things, more suntan lotion, drinks and fruit, a new towel, postcards to write to your friends, an ice cream. Doesn’t that sound practical?
That’s because those stores already exist. Friends in Asia may have only heard about naturist beaches and resorts, but there are also naturist supermarkets and stores, in Europe and the United States. The French resort of Cap d’Agde, on the Mediterranean coast, is an independent town, with the one difference from other towns that it is completely naturist. Including the shops, restaurants and supermarkets. So the London idea is not wrong, only it’s location is wrong. Let’s have more nude shopping days in beach resorts, like Barcelona, Malaga, Nice, Rimini, Sydney, Los Angeles, Miami.
This naked department store has also set me thinking about what the aims of the naturist movement should be. Is nude shopping at Lane Crawford, Three on the Bund, the Mitsukoshi and Taipei 101 high on the naturist movement’s agenda? That’s for a future posting.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Models, Nudity, and Peace: Don't Go Nude for Me, Argentina

You probably saw or read the reports too about those models in Argentina braving the cold of their country’s autumn to go topless for peace. How much their action will contribute to peace in the world is highly debatable, but they say their action is destined to show the purity of humanity.
I fully agree that nudity is pure, because it is the form each man and woman was brought onto this earth in. Nudity is beautiful because it is simplicity, purity, the original state of humankind.
The question in my mind then is: why have anti-war protesters over the past year gone naked to express their anger and their protest? Is it because they think their nudity will offend governments that supported the war in Iraq? Or is it to show how pure they are? Somehow, I can’t help to feel it’s the first option. The protesters use their nudity as a weapon to offend their opponents, to shock the world and to attract media attention. Those would be the aims of any serious protest action, but still, does it promote nudity, or continue the image of nudity as something bad, something offensive, something extreme?
As a naturist, I think nudity should not be used as a weapon of protest – unless it is a protest to defend the right to social nudity, and to achieve aims that are compatible with naturism and social nudity.
Whatever you may think about the models’ action, it did bring nudity in the media, at least here in Taiwan. The television stations paid attention to it, again, as in previous cases mentioned in this blog, with the necessary “mosaics” to protect the innocent viewers. The United Evening News had a picture of white models covering up their breasts, with one black model not bothering to do so. Despite having mosaics cover breasts in previous editions of the paper, this time, it didn’t bother to do so. But that leads us to another issue, which touches on racism: why is a naked black woman apparently more acceptable than a naked white woman?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Cruising for Naturism

Taiwan, United Evening News, Tuesday June 15, 2004, page 6. The world’s first nude cruise ship, the Flamenco, sets sail from Barcelona, Spain, on June 14, to visit several ports and naturist resorts around the Mediterranean. On board are 450 people from 17 countries.
Isn’t that a terrific advertisement for naturism? Hundreds of naturists from a wide variety of countries traveling together. That is the kind of event the kind of naturist travel agency I wrote about in previous posts would have promoted and sold to budding naturists in Asia. As we all know, Asia has no naturist resorts, so staging such a cruise around Asia would still be limited: no calls at naturist beaches or hotels, just a naturist cruise with “textile” excursions on land. Given the shy nature of many Asians and the unhealthy appetite of the region’s media for nudity, you would also have to have a crew you could count on.
Still, in its first stage, an Asian naturist travel agency would be limited to selling made-for-Westerners packages, such as this cruise, such as the naturist flight from the United States to the Mexican naturist resort I wrote about earlier.
By the way, the above report in the United Evening News is really just a caption with a picture. That picture shows a middle-aged couple coming down the stairs, wearing nothing but sandals and towels over their shoulders. In traditional Taiwanese media style, the body parts the paper deems offensive are blurred by a so-called “mosaic” effect. While a good promotion for naturism, the effect is undone somewhat by, you guessed it, another, sensationalist, report about a strip show. Let’s hope for the day when the Asian media can treat naturism for what it is: a non-sensational, non-sexual way of life.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

On your bike

Today I walked my bike out of my apartment and rode around Taipei with dozens of people … completely naked. Do you believe me? Of course not, and you are right. I didn’t, and neither did anybody else. Because I would have ended on national television and in court as well, and probably without a job to pay for my trips to naturist resorts.
In western countries though, hundreds of people did get on their bike naked. They were participating in the World Naked Bike Ride. If you don’t believe me, just check out the Internet, in particular and naturist news web sites.
What is the point of the nude bike ride? The organizers say they want to highlight environmental issues and protest oil dependency. Presumably, they want to ride their bikes as a protest against car driving and the waste of energy that involves. A “good cause,” but rather vague. And anyway, there’s nothing wrong with cars if you don’t overuse them and if you respect other road users. Personally, I can ride a bicycle for short distances, but I love cars for their design. And what if you’re caught 50 kilometers from the nearest naturist beach, like I was for a considerable part of my life? I’m glad I had a car to solve that problem.
So I’m not sure the naked bike riders were fighting for the right cause. But if it helps raise the acceptance for doing “normal” things naked, then that’s fine with me. If it wins more converts and raises understanding of naturism, then that’s fine with me. Watch out in Sunday’s newspapers around Asia for limited reports – and probably only vague pictures – about today’s naked bike rides. If in the future, on a hot and sunny day, I can take my bike out and pedal naked along the river without drawing stares, then I will feel grateful to today’s naked bike riders.
But until then, I think the priority in Asian countries should be changes in repressive laws, laws which see every form of nudity as sexual and wrong. Maybe we should get on our bikes to achieve that step first.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Business and Pleasure

It’s only human, when you’re thinking of work, you also think about having as much fun as possible while doing it. A car mechanic would like to take a ride in a Ferrari sometime, and a bookstore sales assistant would like to play a role in the creation of a bestseller, or even better, write a bestseller herself.
That’s why I’ve been thinking about launching business projects of my own, and my love of naturism has naturally entered into it. A naturist travel agency is the obvious direction to go in. For those of you who regularly visit international naturist web sites, you’ve probably read about the couple that started up this naturist travel agency in Texas and became so successful at it they regularly make the “non-naturist” media.
That’s the kind of idea I have in mind, though I must say, they had at least two major advantages I don’t have, if I were to start up a naturist travel agency.
One of them is market, the other distance. What I mean, is that any naturist travel agency in a vast country like the United States would immediately have two advantages: a large potential customer base, because there are so many naturists in the country, and a wide array of destinations to chose from, including lots of naturist resorts and beaches inside the home country, at short distance from the candidate travelers.
Those are two things I wouldn’t have here in Taiwan if I were to set up such an agency. First of all, the number of naturists here in Taiwan is not known. Then of course, you would have the problem of whether wives and families would want to accompany the naturist in the family – often a man – on his holiday, which might be the only holiday he has the whole year.
The second problem is the one of distance. East Asia has no officially known naturist beaches or resorts. That means the closest destinations for such a travel agency would be Australia – still quite a flight down southward – or islands in the Pacific such as Hawaii or Tahiti, and I don’t know what their naturist infrastructure is like. That means that any tickets would be relatively expensive, more so than for average trips to Asian travelers’ most popular destinations.
Another problem is mentality: Taiwanese and Asian travelers are not the sunbathing kind. They are out there discovering the world, so for them, a short stay at a naturist resort in combination with a tour of the country in question would be more popular than say, just two weeks at a naturist resort. If the resort is located in a major city, such as Sydney, then it could serve as a base from which to discover the rest of the area, with only evenings and mornings spent in a naturist environment.
Another good travel idea could be a naturist cruise: taking a group on a tour by ship, but that would involve possible security risks, also need a non-naturist crew sufficiently respectful of naturism and of the participants’ privacy.
The idea of an Asian naturist travel agency is worth pursuing. The key problems are the experience the travel agent will need to have, the finding of a customer base, and the offering of suitable products at attractive prices.
I’m waiting to see how this idea develops. Surely, there must be some naturists out there, in Taiwan or Hong Kong, or South Korea, ready to tackle this idea and give this market a chance!

Friday, June 04, 2004

Naturism and Creativity

I’m reading the Taiwanese magazine Business Next right now. The latest edition contains profiles of 100 residents of Taiwan praised for their creativity. Many of them are involved in cultural and social projects, from organizing theater festivals to protecting the environment. The list also features a couple of foreign residents of Taiwan, including a German who organizes rock concerts, and a Frenchman who helps Taiwanese discover their adventurous side during treks through their own beautiful island.
Reading this magazine, I suddenly got a crazy idea: what should I do to make next year’s list myself? I’ve said it here before, my naturist itinerary went from an amateur in then-Yugoslavia to Asia’s would-be Mr. Nude. Well, this would be my chance to make the magazine. Even though I’m sure Taiwanese editors wouldn’t see naturism as a socially beneficial activity worth of promoting, but who knows, maybe it’s original and outlandish enough for them. But I would have to be known first. They wouldn’t profile someone who works completely off the map.
The first step to the list could be my trip to the International Naturist Federation’s world convention in Croatia this August. The event begins with a news conference, who knows, someone might be interested in one of the few delegates from Asia. The INF also has correspondents in Japan and India, but I don’t know if any of them will make the inconvenient trip to Croatia. If I’m the only one, maybe they’ll think it’s something special and interview me.
Next step is whatever I choose to do when I return to Taiwan in September. I could just lie low, rest on my laurels, and reminisce about my memories of my first-ever international naturist congress. Or I could do what I should do: start organizing, gather fellow travelers, believers in the cause, and get an organization started in Taiwan. I already know people here, their proposal is to have separate naturist groups for foreigners and locals. Why? Because foreigners are more open about naturism. We could start something together, hold meetings, make excursions, and even start up a likeness of a naturist travel agency. The problem there of course would be the choice of destinations: there are hardly any naturist resorts in our part of the world closer than Australia.
Anyway, the formation of such groups and the organization of such activities might get me some headlines in the local media, and spread the idea of naturism to more people. Which is what being a representative of the International Naturist Federation should be all about.
And from there, the next step would be to make the next creatives issue of Business Next magazine in Taiwan. And from Taiwan, it’s only a small step to the rest of Asia.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

When Nude Is Not Enough

Taiwan’s media have been all in a huff again about nude television news. That is, the Canadian outfit that has its anchors stripping while presenting the news. The company has now recruited men – in addition to the women they already had – in order to attract female and gay male viewers, Taiwan media report.
Guess what my verdict is on that? Naturism or not? Positive or not? My answer is: no!
First of all, naturism is not about undressing, it’s about the state of being undressed, it’s about not wearing clothes.
Second, naturism is not about showing off, it’s not about exhibitionism, but about feeling good without clothes. The type of “nude news” the TV station is promoting, is purely designed to titillate, to be sensational, to attract sexual interest. It’s soft porn pure and simple.
Do you really think people want to hear and see the real news anchored by men and women – most of them model types – in the process of taking their clothes off? Are they going to pay any attention to the news? You know the answer.
Do you want to know what real naturist or nudist news is like? Just visit That web site has the real thing: nude anchors, normal men and women, introducing news and interviews about the world of naturism. If only we could get this kind of news show in every country, including in Asia, the case of naturism would advance by huge steps, because the programs would educate viewers about what real naturism is.