Thursday, August 30, 2007

Naturism the Wrong Way (2)

If anything good has come out of the ruckus over the naturist weekend, then Thursday's editorial in Taiwan's China Times newspaper is it.

The paper - which devotes all of its page 3 to the issue, as you can see in my picture - writes that the police should not really keep itself busy with prosecuting naturists. If you can already see full frontal nudity on stage in Taipei, why bother with prosecuting nudity among consenting adults at a private location hidden from full view, the paper argues.

Other reports in the same paper emphasize the necessary distinction between naturism and sexual activity at naturist resorts the world over. Local prosecutors in Taitung County, the region where last week's event was held, also seem to indicate they're only interested in investigating whether any sexual activity took place, not whether there was simple nudity.

Nevertheless, it will be hard to put right the grave mistake the organizers made by apparently staging a course with video materials about sexual topics. All the media hoopla will scare away potentially sympathetic hostel and resort owners from hosting naturist events in the future, and will link the healthy pursuit of naturism with the less savoury elements of free sex.

Despite the fact that all 21 participants in the Taitung event might face prosecution, the main organizer says he is still determined to go on with a Taiwan Naturist Day the last Sunday of August 2008. Let's just hope he gets it right next time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Naturism the Wrong Way

The last Sunday of each August will be known as Taiwan Naturist Day. Great news, at first sight at least. But when I continued reading reports in Taiwan's media today, the smile on my face vanished. Why?
Last weekend, 12 men and 9 women spent a naturist weekend at a resort in southeast Taiwan's Taitung County. During their stay, they did what most naturists do: play golf, relax, enjoy a barbecue, all in the nude.
The problem is that a journalist infiltrated the weekend meet and reported on less savoury events. According to the newspaper, the vacationers also attended a course on sexuality with video materials, and had to hug eachother naked.
Anyone who's a real naturist knows that overt activity of any sexual nature is strictly taboo at naturist resorts and events. You don't touch anyone and you're more careful about that than at a non-naturist 'textile' resort. Showing sexually explicit materials and giving lectures about sexuality are a strict no-no. In that way, the organizers of the weekend veered away from what real naturism should be about, and might have done the cause of naturism in Taiwan a great disservice.
Public non-sexual nudity is banned in Taiwan, and the linkage of this recent naturist weekend with sexual issues is not going to improve this situation. On the contrary, the public is now again more likely to see a connection between over-the-top sex and naturism.
To be fair, the organizers have denied that they had any intentions to promote sexual activities. They are also mad at the female reporter from Apple Daily - a newspaper notorious for putting pictures of accident victims' bodies on its frontpage - for not revealing her identity to them during the event. To be fair, other media did give an honest and balanced report, mentioning that naturism and sexuality don't mix, something the organizers should've known.
My fear is that all the ruckus in today's Taiwanese media is going to scare off more people from staging bona-fide naturist events, and could delay a breakthrough for the cause of naturism in Taiwan by several years.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Naturist Bible

The summer of 2007 may almost be over in many parts of the world, but I thought I still wanted to come back and give details of the must-have publication for many naturists: the International Naturist Federation's Naturist World Handbook.
As you can see in my picture, the current edition - in the middle - is the first one to be published on a yearly basis, instead of once every two years.
What do you find inside that book?
For a start, 336 pages of basic information about naturist resorts and beaches around the world. The guide is drawn up in four languages - English, French, German and Dutch - but thorough language knowledge is really not necessary, because the descriptions of the resorts work mostly with symbols.
On each page, you'll find the basic information about three to four resorts: the address, e-mail and web site if any, the list of facilities, and a handy little map, which is especially useful for those resorts that are rather isolated in the countryside, away from the big cities.
Apart from the resorts, there are also lists with the names of free beaches. Those are beaches which do not have any facilities, but where nude bathing is either legal or at least tolerated by the local authorities. Sometimes, these beaches will be hard to find, or local rules will have changed, forcing their closures or leading to the opening of a new naturist beach elsewhere. For Spain for example, the book lists eight pages with names of free beaches.
As to countries, the INF guide deals with all countries in the world that have naturist resorts, from giants like France, Germany and the United States, to Hungary, Portugal, Brazil, the Caribbean, and - quite useful for us residents of Asia - also Australia and New Zealand.
The book is a true travelers' guide, full of practical information to find naturist locations, and with the web sites so you can contact the resorts beforehand and look up even more information apart from what the book has. I guess I'll have to take pictures from the inside pages for my next posting on this blog.
While virtually impossible to find in Asia, the book is quite common in Europe. Major bookstore chains in Belgium and the Netherlands had it stocked when I visited there last June.
For more about the INF's Naturist World Handbook 2007, please visit the organization's web site at or the web site of the book's German publisher at

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Naked against Global Warming

Spencer Tunick did it again. The American photographer specializing in mass tableaux of nude people again succeeded in bringing hundreds of strangers together, and persuade them to take their clothes off and pose for his pictures which he then sells as art.
You can have discussions about whether those pictures are really art or not, or just a brazen commercial venture destined to finance Mr. Tunick's travels and photography career.
But what you can't deny is that his ventures promote harmless public nudity and a positive body image. You don't have to be a supermodel to join in, as far as I know everyone is welcome regardless of body size or general look, so the photographer is really doing a service to the naturist cause, even if his events are not naturism.
His latest stunt, located on a Swiss glacier last weekend, was cloaked - if you pardon the pun - in the fashionable theme of global warming. I don't know whether having hundreds of people trampling around the ice is going to stop it from melting, but Greenpeace seems to think so, since they worked out a deal with Mr. Tunick.
Thanks to the photographer, having lots of naked people around in a public place, whether the streets of Barcelona or the Swiss Alps, is getting more exposure and more acceptance, and that's ultimately good for the naturist cause, whatever his motives.
If you would like to join in with one of his next projects, you can apply at his web site, Asia has not been on his list as far as I know, probably because of the restrictive laws in this part of the world. But if enough people from the Asia Pacific region apply, maybe Mr. Tunick will turn his attention here, and force a breakthrough in local authorities' thinking on non-sexual social nudity.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Streaking and Naturism

I'm a very 'conservative' and lowdown type of naturist. That means I only go naked when I feel comfortable with it. I go naked when I can assume no 'textiles' - as we call people who never go naked - are watching. Yes, I go naked in public on nude beaches and at naturist resorts, and at home, when the weather and the inclination cooperate. But that also means I would never indulge in the 'sport' of streaking.
A British court recently ruled that a frequent streaker was not offending anybody by appearing naked at a sports event. The British newspaper The Independent took the opportunity to look back at the exploits of streakers, which it calls typically British. The streaks or nude runs in front of clothed people usually take place at mass sporting events, usually in summer, but sometimes in uncomfortable circumstances such as ice hockey games.
Despite what you might think, streaking is not a recent invention, witness the huge worldwide pop hit "The Streak" by Ray Stevens, which went to number one in the United States and Great Britain as far back as ... 1974.
In Asia, the practice is virtually unheard of, even though there is a university in the Philippines where students hold an annual streak in front of their peers.
As you can judge from my writings above, I am not about to go streaking myself, and I am worried that any streakers in Asia will only damage the cause of naturism, by linking it to pure exhibitionism and provocation for provocation's sake.
Still, as I said many times before, if a certain form of nudity can lead to wider acceptance of the naked human body, then maybe it's not so bad after all.
You can find a recent AFP report about the British court case on the web site of Taiwan's English-language Taipei Times, which is where I first read about it ( ).
The original article in The Independent from London can be read at and is followed by a list of all past famous streakers and what happened to them after their 15 minutes of fame expired.