Saturday, March 27, 2010

Naturism at Travel Fairs and the INF World Congress

While we're on the subject of Italy, let's continue with a look at edition 45 of the Italian Naturist Association FENAIT's Info Naturista magazine.

Featuring prominently of course is the fact that for the first time ever, Italy will be the host of the International Naturist Federation INF-FNI's once-every-two-years World Congress. The magazine also reports on Italian naturists' participation in travel fairs, mostly in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The 32nd INF World Congress takes place from September 8 thru 12 at Pizzo Greco, a naturist camping resort near the town of Isola di Capo Rizzuto, in Calabria. For those of you who see Italy as a boot, then Calabria is the tip pointing toward Sicily in the far Southwest. Each Congress sees representatives from dozens of countries traveling to the destination to meet and discuss the promotion of international naturism. In 2004, Taiwan was represented at Valalta in Croatia. Info Naturista also hopes this year's event will receive a lot of attention in the Italian media. Theme of the congress is Ethical Naturism and Commercial Naturism, in other words the ever-present tension between large-scale resort ventures and small-scale, ecologically friendly campsites in forests and other remote tourism.

Talking about the ethical side, this issue of the magazine also features a report on a ecology-friendly naturist campsite in Montenegro across the Adriatic from Italy, and has a letter from a reader claiming a carnivorous nudist cannot be regarded as a true naturist, in other words, naturists should be vegetarians.

Turning to tourism fairs, in most European countries it is completely natural to have naturist resorts or associations holding a stand for their business. The magazine of course mentions Naturisme Totaal in the Dutch town of Utrecht last year, which was a travel fair completely devoted to naturism. 9,000 visitors in two days last December, the magazine reports, making sure that there will be a sequel in December 2010. The Italians were represented by four stands, each for a separate naturist resort. They were also present at the main travel fair - where most visitors might never have heard of naturism - in January this year, while Belgian naturist resorts helped distribute Italian promotion material at the travel fairs in Antwerp and Brussels.

Info Naturista again mentions the great fact that young Italians have formed a naturist association of their own, the GIN, with its own blog at In addition, there are comments about the piece "Diary of a Smoker" by U.S. author David Sedaris about a first encounter with naturism. Local associations complete the magazine with reports about their winter activities, which even in Mediterranean Italy mean mostly sauna meetings safely indoors.

For a change, next time, we'll go back to Asia for a post about new associations promoting naturism in countries until now off the naturist world map. Hopefully, in the near future, they too can join the INF and be present at its World Congress.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Legal Progress in Italy

Italy seems to be making progress with legislation allowing naturism, but first let's turn to other topics in the latest edition of Info Naturista, the magazine of the Italian Naturist Federation Fenait which I receive on a regular basis. From the travails of our Italian friends, we can learn a lot about how naturism in Asia might evolve.
In his foreword, chairman Gianfranco Ribolzi mentions the year 2009 as the year of 'keeping afloat' because there was only a slight increase in membership.
However, in another article we read that worldwide, about 25 million people practice naturism, i.e. non-sexual public nudity such as swimming and sunbathing naked. So if you are in a naturism-unfriendly country in Asia, don't think you are just part of a small minority. 25 million people are already with you.
The International Naturist Federation has awarded its first world quality certificate for a naturist resort, and it went to Valalta in Rovinj, a picturesque town in the far north of Croatia, close to Slovenia and Italy. I had the pleasure of staying there back in 2004. The certificate system will be expanded to include all of Europe within the next three years.
Back in Italy, the biggest event concerning naturists has been the formation of a youth group, the Giovani Italiani Naturisti or GIN, putting to rest the often American perception that naturists are all elderly people. The group addresses naturists between the ages of 16 and 30 and will take part in a European naturist youth meet in Hamburg this year.
On the topic of legal progress, Gino Palumbo writes a report in the magazine about the different legislative proposals to allow naturism in Italy. One version wants to hide naturism too much in places "where non-naturists and children cannot see them." In fact, despite this formulation, many naturists I saw on beaches in Western Europe and at Valalta and Croatia are in fact young couples with children, and like parents everywhere, they should have the right to spend their holidays with their children, naked or not. Other problems with the new legislation include a possible bias in favor of large commercial resort operations, versus the free beaches without amenities and the small campings often run by grassroots naturists.
Palumbo also emphasizes the economic benefits of naturism. Each summer, Italian naturists hold an "exodus" to Croatia in the East and Corsica in the West to find naturist beaches and resorts, he says, and many North-European naturists just avoid Italy altogether and spend their Euros in other countries. The author points out rightly that Italy would be foolish to turn those tourists away, just like it would catastrophical if it didn't want tourists visit its churches and castles. Italy will make a fool of itself if it sends the police on to the beaches to persecute innocent naturists, he says.
One of Palumbo's suggestions is that each municipality with beaches should set aside a minimum of 5 or 10 percent of its coastline - along seas, lakes or rivers - to naturism. The measure should not only apply to beaches, but also to parks or other areas suitable for naturism, with naturist associations involved in the management of those areas.
The magazine further also mentions that a new naturist association for the Venice area saw an increase in membership of 56 percent - though it does not mention how many people that actually means - and that the group has been active in organizing sauna and dinner meetings.
As usual, the magazine concludes with a non-naturist tourism report - a visit to the ornate Stupinigi hunting lodge near Turin.
Over the next few weeks, I hope to be reporting on this blog about the next edition of Info Naturista, and more importantly, about new naturist associations in Asian countries.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Naturism in Popular Film and Literature

When you ask a non-naturist about having seen naturists in film or TV, the older generation will probably mention Inspector Clouseau aka Peter Sellers bumbling his way through a naturist 'camp' - as resorts were known then - in 'A Shot in the Dark.' Younger TV viewers in the United States might think of an episode of sleuth show 'Monk' in which actor Tony Shalhoub is embraced by a nude man on a nude beach.
On the whole, when you encounter naturists on TV, in ads, in movies, in books, there is always that connotation of 'aren't naturists silly, funny and weird.'
What needs to change?
Naturists should be featured as normal people with normal pastimes, and just as other characters in novels, TV series or movies. You can have a detective series where one of the investigators or one of the suspects or one of the victims is a naturist. Think 'CSI: Miami' with a naturist victim. A hostage taking at a naturist camp. A police series where one of the main characters is a naturist regular.
What we don't need is a preachy approach to naturism. Books purely about naturism are necessary and informative and will always be needed. But the average reader with no specific interest in naturism is not going to read them, and probably not even look for them. One common mistake authors with a cause make is that they preach to their audience or readership, which could work as a boomerang. The recent movie 'Formosa Betrayed' about past repression in Taiwan has been described as a case in point, a movie where the author keeps talking about his favorite cause but forgets to give the viewer an exciting story first.
What we need is to 'infiltrate' naturism into popular literature and popular arts. I'm writing about this topic because I recently found such an example. C.S. Challinor writes detective stories in the vein of Agatha Christie. In her most recent book, Murder in the Raw, her main character, Detective Rex Graves, is sent on a mission to the Caribbean to solve a murder. He faces one huge surprise: the French actress was murdered at a naturist resort, so he will have to spend his time investigating and questioning ... naked.
Since I haven't read the book, I can't comment on its literary qualities, but I see it as precisely the kind of book that could improve the image of naturism and acquaint more people from outside naturism with the practice of non-sexual nudity.
Having naturists and a naturist environment in an exciting story.
For a long time, I have been planning such a story myself. With several months ahead of me during which I will have more free time than usual, now is the time for me to take action. I have written one thriller before, and several movie scripts, and a TV pilot script, so even though I haven't been published yet, writing is my first mission in life. Since movies and TV series these days are hardly likely to feature lots of nudity as a story set in a naturist resort would necessitate, I have chosen the medium of the novel. The story, which has been in my ideas file for a couple of years now, will feature crime and suspicion at a naturist resort. In Hollywood terms, it could be described as 'LOST at a naturist resort,' though it will be less supernatural and more pure crime. I imagine it will also have a more contemporary feel than 'Murder in the Raw,' because I want readers to doubt the characters' motives and to feel suspicious about who the good and the bad are. I hope to let you know about the progress throughout the summer.
My working title for the story? The Naked Island.

You can find more about C.S. Challinor's book at the Clothes Free International forum and at her web site

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Taiwan's Glory in Sydney

Only yesterday, I wrote about the latest Spencer Tunick mass nude event in Sydney, hoping the same thing would be possible in Asia.
Just one day later, the omnipresent Taiwanese media found out that among the 5,200-strong crowd, there was one Taiwanese present.
In the front row in Sydney was a male Ph.D. student from the southern city of Kaohsiung, Lo Ching-yao. Not only did TV station TVBS identify him, it also tracked him down for a short interview.
Lo said the event was unique and a once-in-a-lifetime experience he just had to go for. At first, he was nervous, but as he saw the Australians around him take off their clothes without any hesitation, he already felt more comfortable. Lo said his sister approved of his decision to participate.
Even more interesting, Lo uttered the suggestion that the same kind of event could be staged in Taiwan itself. A proposal we fully support.
Lo's appearance in Sydney earned him the nickname of "Taiwan's Glory" or "Taiwan zhi Guang," an appellation used for all Taiwanese who become famous overseas, particularly in sports, but also a pun, since the Chinese word "guang" can also mean "naked."

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

5,200 People and One Tunick

5,200 Australians were nude and they had only one Tunick. But it was Spencer Tunick, the famous American who succeeds in persuading thousands of people worldwide to take off all of their clothes in some of the most famous public places. The event is never a secret, since apart from Tunick's own crew, the world's media also never pass up an opportunity to take pictures.
Tunick has done it everywhere, in New York, London, Bruges, and now outside the Sydney Opera House. He calls himself an artist and the mass nude events 'artistic installations,' but whatever you think, his 'art' has proved an immense success, and has made a contribution to the acceptability of non-sexual nudity. Standing around naked or lying naked on the steps of the Sydney Opera might not be naturism, and might or might not be art, but it certainly promotes the acceptance of nudity.
Asia has been conspicuously absent from his list of locations, and we all know that is because of the antiquated legislation on the books in most Asian countries. Why can't we have masses of naked people in front of the famous durian-shaped arts center in Singapore, on the massive place in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan, or - even more daring - on Tiananmen Square in Beijing? Tunick could start with the ostensibly most 'westernized' places in Asia, namely Hong Kong and Japan, and see where he can go from there.
Public response from the local population might be more timid then what we see in Europe or Australia, but with the help of foreign residents and an official permission from more enlightened authorities, his events could come a long way, and better understanding of naturism would follow in his footsteps.
For 12 pictures of the Sydney event, visit the website of the Italian newspaper La Stampa at
Spencer Tunick's website is

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