Question: I have a strange question. I was thinking about coming by HandleBar tonight and wanted to know, what’s the least amount of clothing I can wear as a patron of your bar and not be asked to leave? Is it “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” or is it “Street Legal?” Like, could I be in a jock-strap or underwear, or would I have to be more or less fully clothed? Thanks.
Answer: Not a weird question at all. Actually, something we’ve handled before. We generally operate under the rule of “Each to their own, as long as it doesn’t disturb others.” Largely, I leave these decisions to the bartenders on duty, as well as empowering them to handle compromise between yourself and any patrons that may object to your state of dress. A couple hard and fast rules: Shoes must be worn at all times due to risk of broken glass. I usually ask that after dark behavior be reserved for after dark (think 9-10 pm, after our main dinner service is complete) and you work cooperatively with my staff to maintain the comfort of patrons who may be of a different mindset. That said, we respect your desire for self expression, and want to allow for that as well. Sorry to be vague, but each night varies greatly, making it hard to determine what will be ok. Bottom line, I’d show up dressed and work with the staff. I’ll give them a heads up.
I had an urgent need to see my therapist. Urgent enough to put on clothes, but in the spirit of this experiment I asked if I could be naked during the therapy session and my therapist agreed. So, we spent an hour working on my anger issues while I was naked. It makes sense, since the last time I lost control of my anger, I was naked.
So, the last time I went to a PODGE (Polyamory Open Discussion Group for Everyone) meeting, it was held indoors, there were less than twenty people there, only four of whom had never seen me naked. So when a PODGE meeting fell at the begging of my 10 Naked Days, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I messaged the host and asked if my being naked was cool, to which she responded, “Now, I’ll be disappointed if you aren’t naked.”
I showed up just in shorts and she greeted me at the door with, “You’re not very naked.” It was like I had let her down by keeping it street legal between the car and the front porch. So, as soon as I crossed the threshold into her house, I dropped trou.
The meeting was taking place in her back yard. It was 6:30 p.m., so we still had more than an hour of daylight. I was heading to the back door and our host started to sound nervous. She asked, “So just how naked were you planning on being?” which seemed like an odd question given what she’d said at the door. She started talking about her neighbors and what we would do if they called the police. I offered to cover myself with a towel or just put my clothes back on if it would make her more comfortable, but she just kept going on about what to do if the police showed up, so I just walked out into the backyard naked.
It just so happened that his was the largest PODGE meeting that anyone could remember. There were about 35 people there, half of them new. The coolest thing about it for me was how, even under these circumstances (larger group, more new people, outdoors in the light of day) me being naked was a non issue. People mentioned it, but no more than they might have mentioned someone showing up with a new haircut or a new tattoo.
The fact that this is the reaction I want is what people outside my group of friends don’t understand. I like that fact that I can be naked and it’s just another detail, not the focus. I show up naked not to shock people, but because I want to be naked and it not be a big deal.
I’ve often said that I would be comfortable at a clothing optional event where I was the only person naked. I finally got a chance to call my own bluff.
So, I’m at FLOG and I get a text message from a good friend who I haven’t seen in a while. She was having people over and asked if I would stop by. I said sure, and then it occurred to me that I should ask if it’s okay for me to be naked. I really didn’t feel like trying to explain the whole “10 Naked Days” thing in a text message, but we have a really good relationship, so with no further explanation, I just texted “Would your guests be offended if I was naked?” She texted back, “You can come over wearing or not wearing whatever you want. If they don’t like it, fuck them, they can leave.” Love her.
So my girlfriend and I went over. I was wearing only shorts and sandals. When I got there, I took off my shorts. It was almost 1 a.m. when we arrived so it was just my friend and the guys she’s dating. She had warned him about me and he got to meet me when I was at least partially dressed, so he was totally over it.
After hanging out for a while, we had a real laid back, chill, friendly vibe going. Then another guy showed up. He had no idea there’d be a naked guy there, so I guess my presence took him by surprise. He was an okay guy, but he came off a little smug. He started asking me why I was naked, and did I just show up at someone’s party unexpectedly with no clothes on. I explained that I cleared it with the host first and explained the 10 Naked Days thing. He seemed a little offended and said, “So you’re challenging other people and forcing them to deal you being naked.” And I tried to say, no, I’m not doing that, but he cut me off, “Oh, yes you are.”
Once again, someone was taking their reaction to something I was doing and projecting it onto my motivation for doing it.
I happen to be someone who doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. I didn’t point out the fact that he was doing all three of those things as we were having this conversation. I simply said, “People do things in front of me all the time that I don’t do, don’t agree with or might be offended by. I don’t assume that they’re doing it to challenge me. If I have an issue with something someone else is doing, it’s my responsibility to accept it, say something about it, or remove myself from the situation. Why is nudity any different? Why is it in a special category?”
I didn’t expect that to shut him down on the subject but, surprisingly, it did.
So, for the first official day of my 10 Naked Days, I was going to FLOG, the local monthly BDSM play party, for the first time in 2012. Normally when I go to FLOG, I’m fully clothed. Full nudity is not allowed there and I’m personally opposed to the wearing of thongs, so I figured I’d rock a jockstrap. I was running late and couldn’t find my leather jockstrap that gives proper coverage to the crotch area. I had to go with a small cotton jockstrap that I almost never wear. I was practically walking out the door when I looked down and saw my pubic hair sprouting from both sides of the jockstrap. The laws that govern public nudity in St. Louis are so strange, that I suspect, as they are written, thongs are street legal and jockstraps aren’t. With that in mind, I thought maybe exposed pubes might be pushing the legal envelope. I don’t shave my pubic hair. I don’t like how it looks, it itches like hell growing back and rightly or wrongly, shaved pubes scream “gay porn star” to me. I figured I’d shave just enough so that they wouldn’t show past my jockstrap. But, like I said I was in a hurry, and I shaved too far. Now I had a big bald spot on my crotch. It wouldn’t have been a big deal most weeks, but since this was 10 Naked Days, potentially, a lot more people would be seeing my crotch than usual. So I had to go all the way and shave my pubes completely.
The thing that sucks the most is that I have a photo shoot next week that I’ve been planning for months, and really didn’t want to go into it with shaved pubes, but oh well.
One quick aside: You never fully appreciate how often people spit when they talk until you have a bunch of close-quarters conversations while almost naked.
I used to be an abuser of the phrase “pictures or it didn’t happen,” whenever someone on the innanet mentioned some activity they were engaged in that sparked my inner voyeur. Over time, it’s fallen out of my favor. I don’t know why, maybe due to over use.
Anyway, before I officially launched 10 Naked Days, I joked on Twitter that I wouldn’t be wearing clothes much for the next ten days. A couple of my Fetlife friends chimed in with “pictures or it didn’t happen.” Challenged accepted. I took a picture of myself in my living room wearing only headphones, sunglasses and an album cover. I yoinked a picture of the first commenter from her Fetlife profile and superimposed it over the album cover that was in front of my crotch (I have blurred her face here, out of respect for her privacy). It’s hard to see with my fingers in the way, but I re-titled the album, “Pics or It Didn’t Happen.”
So, my roommate is out of town for ten days. Since I work from home, it occurred to me that I had little use for clothes for a while. I made a joke about it on Twitter. But once I thought about, being naked alone in my apartment is kind of a non-event. So, somewhere during an intense bout of sleep deprivation (I was up for almost three days) I came up with the idea of seeing how naked I could be in general for a ten day period.
Logistics: I have no desire to get arrested, so I will not be walking down the street naked. I will remain street legal, so I’ll be wearing shorts and sandals on the street. I’ll be carrying a t-shirt with me for when I enter public buildings. With regard to events, meetings and hanging out with friends, I’ll be checking my schedule ahead of time and checking in advance if it’s okay for me to be naked. This has already led to some rather humorous email exchanges.
Why do this? A personal challenge? A social experiment? Mostly because doing it seemed more interesting than not doing it. It’s one thing to always be naked at traditionally clothing optional events; it’s different in more mundane situations. Also, as strange as it sounds, I have serious body image issues that I’m trying to get over, and my usual tactic is “immersion therapy” (I believe the layman’s term for this is, “over compensation”).
So ten days. We’ll see what happens.
A lovely family portrait of me and my sister, Kendra, by Ariana Bauer.
Kendra insisted on posting a low-res nude photo of the two of us in this post on her blog. As soon as I got a chance to redo it with a pro, I took it. Ariana Bauer is one of my favorite photographers. She took the head-shot that I use everywhere. She graciously donated her services to SEX+STL because she supports our mission.
I made another version of this picture where I Photoshopped out the scars on my forehead and cropped out my love-handles, but then I said , “Fuck it. This is how I look,” and posted the original version.