Ami Amore helps me with my Downward Facing Dog
I didn’t schedule this month’s Clothing Optional Yoga to coincide with 10 Naked Days, or vice versa. The way my life is arranged has reached a point where clothing optional events overlap by happenstance.
Although I don’t do it often enough, yoga has a special place in my life. It alters my mood to the point where I can often feel the moment in my day when my yoga wears off and the sense of calm that protects me from all of life’s annoyances disappears.
When my father died, it threw me into a depression that lasted the last few months of 2006. I was determined not to carry my melancholy into a new year, so when I looked for things to do New Year’s Eve, I settled on a hot tub party at White Flag Gallery and 24 Hours of Yoga at Marbles Yoga Studio. I soaked in a hot tub for the last thee hours of 2006, then did yoga all night with my severely relaxed muscles. It was a great way to ring in a new year and leave my woes in the past one.
Fun Fact: The first class I attended at 24 Hours of Yoga was taught by and attended by members of the Bench Press Burlesque troupe, who came straight from their New Year’s Eve celebrations, some still in costume. It was definitely one of the three strangest yoga classes I’ve ever attended, the other two being Bendy Yoga Girl’s Yoga for Kinksters and, of course, Ami Amore’s Clothing Optional Yoga.
Painting by Elaine Swanger - 5-26-12
After several days of being naked or almost naked in public places, I decided I wanted to spend a quiet evening alone with my girlfriend. Since she’s an artist who does a lot of figure work, it seemed fitting for me to pose nude for her. It was the third time I’d posed for her, but the first time privately.
Painting by Elaine Swanger 10-21-11
It was the fact that Elaine painted nude models that brought us together in the first place. Long before we’d ever met, I’d seen pictures of her that had been taken at figure drawing events. Normally, in these photos, I’m looking at the nude models, but Elaine (fully clothed, sitting on the floor, working intently on her painting) pulled my focus. I thought she was gorgeous and wondered how and when I could get to meet her.
It was probably six months or so before I ever saw her in person (May 7th, 2010). It was at a burlesque show at the Way Out Club where artists from her drawing group were sketching the performers. I was on a date, so I didn’t approach her that night.
It was over year later, when SEX+STL started having live models and artists at our happy hours that I actually walked up and introduced myself to Elaine (June 29th, 2011). Again, it was her art that had brought us together. I saw her again, not long after that, at Literary Nudes, yet another drawing event. It was there that I asked her out for our first date (July 17th, 2011).
If you made a romantic comedy about us, it would play out over a series of nude modeling events. Even the least explicit version of our story couldn’t be rated PG-13.
I hope that Elaine and I grow old together. I hope that as long as we are both able, I will pose and she will paint me. Even if that means that her artistic skills increase as my body deteriorates and she just gets better and better at capturing my decline.
Nude modeling gig, 3-2-12
I’ve loved Cheap Trx since they first opened back in the mid 90s. To give you an idea how long ago that was, what is now their tattoo and piercing shop was once a cafe and smart bar. Remember smart bars? If not, ask someone between the ages of 35 and 45.
When I was looking for public places that I could be naked in, my friend Teri (pictured) invited me to come to Cheap Trx, where she works. Teri was the childhood best friend of one of my sisters and we all went to the same Catholic grade school together. The fact that she now works in the sex toy and fetish gear shop wear I’m being photographed naked, proves that we both came out okay in spite of the nun’s best efforts.
This photo was taken by Molly Algernon. Molly and I have been talking about working together for a while. I think her “Nude in the Lou” series, where she photographs nude people in public places, is amazing. So far it’s only featured women, for fear that shooting a naked man in public might get the model and the photographer arrested, so when I got the go-ahead from Cheap Trx, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
I love the patrons, casually standing around in the background and the fact that Teri’s shirt says “I <3 White Babies.”
Here are two perspectives on my being naked at the same event. The first is from my good friend, Kendra Holliday and the second comes from a mother whose son saw me naked.
So I knew David was doing the 10 Days Naked Project, but it was still shocking to discover him standing there naked in [the host’s] beautiful backyard. It was a typical summer cocktail party gathering - except there was a naked man there. Initial shock aside, I thought, “That’s cool, we’re all friends here.”
But then, a 5-year-old boy showed up. Immediately David asked his mom if she wanted him to put clothes on, and her reaction was to give that choice to her son. She said to her kid, “Would you like David to put clothes on?”
The kid was out of his element even without this unexpected twist. Uncomfortable, he mumbled something like he didn’t care, avoided eye contact and made a beeline to a secluded area of the garden away from the crowd to play his electronic game.
I thought WOW that was awkward, and was glad it wasn’t me in that situation, on either side. I’m totally into challenging adults. Nudity is no big deal to me and one of my causes; I’m all about promoting and demystifying the human body, but a kid wandered onto the scene and was asked for his consent. Should kids be put in that situation?
I’m also all about sex-positive parenting, but I can’t help but think that kid is going to have a weird memory someday and I hope it doesn’t affect him in a subtle and negative way.
Totally unplanned and unintended, shit happens.
OK moving on, we all sat down in a circle to do introductions. I sat next to David and have to admit I felt pretty damn cool to be sitting next to the naked guy, my good friend.
I half expected others in the group to shed their clothes because they saw him nude (I was tempted, it was perfect naked weather!) but they did not. Why didn’t anyone else disrobe?
Since David’s my good friend, I felt entitled to look at him more than I would some other random naked person. I noticed his penis had what looked like pre-cum oozing out of the urethra. I wondered, “Did he just pee?” So I kept checking it from time to time, and it kept sporting this little clear drippy fluid.
At one point, gnats started checking it out, and I caught myself waving my hand to shoo them away. “Get away from my friend’s penis!” I thought protectively.
Later, I commented to my partner Matthew, “I know that I have vaginal secretions, but I didn’t know men secrete, too.”
“I don’t,” he said.
“You don’t? Are you sure? Maybe you dribble a little after you pee?”
“My dick does NOT weep,” he said flatly.
Did David just pee? Or cum? Does he have a prostate issue? Is it normal for some guys to have wet dicks, and others to have dry ones? Now I want to go around and ask men about their urethra function, and I have David to thank for that.
The Mother’s Response:
I must admit that I am a little mystified that Kendra feels this way. Small corrections too, [my son] is 8, which is to me old enough for him to express his feelings to me honestly which I feel he did. I pulled him around the corner and gave him another chance to express any uncomfortable feelings he might have had. One of the big reasons why I felt like I could empower him to make that choice was that I knew that you would respect his choice, no doubt.
I initially sat him up in the gazebo away from the rest of us adults, but that didn’t last long. I’m sure you noticed him sitting by me, mingling etc.
I am confident that my son will not carry any negative emotions through his life though, I can’t even imagine what they would be of: seeing a naked man in public (not his first time) or being listened to and having his opinion count….
Finally I’d argue that contrary to the author who expresses “initial shock” of seeing you naked, David, my child was just shy. You’ve met my child multiple times and the first time he was shy and hiding behind his mom as well. You were fully clothed. Kids are fickle like that.
Held a small, clothing optional gathering at my apartment specifically for people who hadn’t seen me naked before. Then got talked into going to the Ice Cream and Porn Social at The Crack Fox. Apparently, a few people didn’t recognize me when I walked into the bar with clothes on, but realized who I was after I stripped down to a jockstrap.
I started to get dressed before leaving the bar, but figured I was street legal and just said “fuck it.” Me and a couple friends stood outside and talked for awhile with me only wearing a jockstrap. Couple of cops drove by, but didn’t say anything.
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.”