So what side of the debate do you take—are you offended by public nudity, or are you offended by people who are offended by it? (This article was first published in Uncle John’s Fast-Acting, Long-Lasting Bathroom Reader.)
Gentleman’s Club Art Nights
When the Boise, Idaho, City Council passed an ordinance outlawing total nudity in public except in cases of “serious artistic merit,” Erotic City Gentleman’s Club (a strip joint) responded with “Art Nights.” On Monday and Tuesday nights they passed out sketchpads and pencils so that patrons could draw the strippers as they danced. “We had a lot of people,” owner Chris Teague told reporters, “drawing some very good pictures.”
So did Art Night work? Nope: In April 2005, Boise police raided Erotic City on Art Night and cited three of the nude dancers. “The law clearly states that the exemption does not apply to adult businesses,” says Lynn Hightower, spokesperson for the Boise Police Department. “If it were an art studio and models were actually posing, that would be one thing. These women weren’t posing.” Erotic City says it will fight the charges in court…but the dancers will have to wear pasties and G-strings until further notice.
When Stu Smailes died in 2002 at the age of 69, he left the city of Seattle $1 million to buy a new fountain. There’s a catch—Smailes’s will stipulates that in order for Seattle to claim the money, the fountain must include “one or more unclothed, life-size male figure(s).” Furthermore, it must be designed in “the classical style”—in other words, no cheating by making it unrecognizably abstract. “Smailes was a very funny man,” said his attorney, Tim Bradbury. “He had a very strong sense of humor.”
Supreme Court in the Nude
Satirical news anchor Jon Stewart’s book America (The Book) spent more than 15 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was named Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly magazine… but that didn’t stop eight southern Mississippi libraries from banning it. Reason: the satirical book contains a phony photograph of all nine Supreme Court justices in the nude. “We’re not an adult bookstore,” says Robert Willits, director of the Jackson-George Regional Library System. “Our collection is open to the entire public.”
Propositioning a Cop
As of January 2005, the Houston Police Department is relaxing its requirement that undercover vice officers remain fully clothed while trying to bust brothels that masquerade as spas, massage parlors, and “stress relief clinics.” The no-nudity policy made it easy for the prostitutes to spot undercover cops: all they had to do was ask customers to disrobe before propositioning them—anyone who didn’t was obviously a cop. Now, says Harris County District Attorney Ted Wilson, disrobing “is something the officers can do, if necessary, to gather sufficient evidence.”
In March 2005, Texas State Representative Al Edwards introduced a bill in the state legislature to reduce funding to state schools that permit “sexually suggestive” cheerleading at athletic events. “It’s just too sexually oriented, you know, the way they’re shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down,” Edwards told a reporter. “And then we say to them, ‘Don’t get involved in sex unless it’s marriage or love, it’s dangerous out there.’ And yet the teachers and directors are helping them to go through those kinds of gyrations.”
Tired of watching CNN and Fox News? If you live in Europe and subscribe to satellite TV, now you can watch Naked News on the Get Lucky TV channel. On Naked News, strippers read the news as they strip. Caveat: if the news is really bad, you won’t get to see much nudity. “We are quite sensitive to certain issues, one, of course, being death,” says stripper/news anchor Samantha Page. “We try to be as respectful as we can, and what we tend to do is leave our clothes on.”
In 2003 the owner of the Station Cafe in Berlin, Connecticut, posted a gag sign outside his business advertising “Naked Karaoke.” The bar owner, Marty St. Pierre, was only joking, but when the town hall threatened to fine and even arrest him if he held the event, he decided to fight back. He filed suit against the town and won…and attracted more than 120 participants to his first Naked Karaoke night.