Disney’s Pro-Nudity

Here’s what this post is about, in a nutshell: Disney seems to support getting you out of your clothes. No, I don’t mean that now you can go naked at Disney parks (Imagine!) or on Disney cruises. Not yet, anyway. But, way beyond Donald Duck-ing (also known as Winnie the Pooh-ing – when you wear a shirt but no pants), Disney seems to be sending out pop culture messages about the benefits of nudity.

Yes, I know – this is the company that insists on loincloths for Mowgli and Tarzan, and a shell-bra contraption for the Little Mermaid. And yet… especially in the past few years, they seem to be suggesting that, well, we should all be more at home with nudity.

Proof #1: Frozen. I’ve already written about how Frozen, the film, has a strong body-positive message. There’s a very brief sauna scene, and then at a different point the trolls say and sing some supporting messages about body acceptance. I wrote that five years ago. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to see Frozen on Broadway. Same story, same characters, BUT a big difference is that the sauna scene becomes an entire production number, with a chorus line of some twelve or fifteen cast members, male and female, dancing in a row all the way across the stage. They appear to be naked, but it was evident enough that they were wearing body suits. Even so, their dance is one of those peek-a-boo choreographies where each dancer blocks the groin of the dancer to the left with a branch (they’re holding aromatic branches from the sauna, I guess) and then switches to the other side, etc., all while singing about the joys of the sauna and other wintertime comforts. I thought it was great, but of course, some media outlets generated controversy:

“Some are questioning whether or not Disney went too far when it comes to the opening of the second act. Set in Oaken’s famous sauna the audience was surprised by a rather “risque number” that had the cast members appearing naked.”

“It ‘was a little risque,’ as one of the audience members, Adam Kaufman, 43, described the scene. His friend Jean Mante, 36, said: ‘There was more nudity than expected from Disney.’ CET News reports that the kids attending the show found the scene funny, but some adults were a little taken back by this.”

No surprise that children thought it was fun while some of the uptight adults were concerned. Sigh.

Kevin del Aguila as Oaken

The song is called “Hygge,” a word that the character Oaken translates with examples such as “Hygge means you’re friendly / You stop wanting to be rude / Join us for some super duper hygge / In the sauna in the nude!” Oaken also delivers lines like, “Don’t worry about your body / it’s nothing I haven’t seen” and “Go get in the sauna / Come on, you know you wanna!” The only perhaps slightly problematic reference in the song is to alcohol: “We always have each other / The gloog is brewed / We’re here, we’re nude / And so let’s have another!” Maybe nudists, here in the US anyway, don’t associate saunas with alcoholic beverages, but plenty do associate such beverages with hot tubs or pools. My verdict: It’s an entertaining song with a strong message about the cozy comfort of nudity with friends and loved ones.

Proof #2: Mary Poppins Returns. This film, even though it features an elaborate underwater sequence in which everybody’s wearing ridiculous bathing costumes of the era, nonetheless includes a production-number pro-nudity message. In the song “A Cover is Not the Book,” performed by Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, there are examples of how appearances can deceive, how things are not always as they seem. One such example is a verse about “the wealthy widow”:

[JACK:]
Lady Hyacinth Macaw
Brought all her treasures to a reef
[MARY POPPINS:]
Where she only wore a smile
[JACK:]
Plus two feathers, and a leaf
[MARY POPPINS:]
So no one tried to rob her
‘Cause she barely wore a stitch
[JACK:]
For when you’re in your birthday suit
[MARY POPPINS & JACK:]
There ain’t much there to show you’re rich!

In the video (the verse starts at 2’19”), you can see the slapstick use of their hats to cover the body on the line “two feathers, and a leaf” – this is followed by a cut to the children laughing. Obviously, the kids get it, and think it’s great fun. And the message is one we nudists often proclaim: When you’re naked, your social status is invisible. The song even functions as a metaphor for its own message: here we are dancing around, elaborately costumed, in a Disney film, but we are singing about what you might not expect. The cover is not the book, indeed. My verdict: Another fun song with a quick wink at the egalitarian nature of being nude.

(For another look at the relationships between books, covers, and nudity, as well as a review of a fabulous animated film in which there is a lot of natural nudity, see this post.)

Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda
in a scene from “A Cover is Not the Book”
in Mary Poppins Returns

In the end, while these might be only a few examples (there are probably more), they are enough to show that the Mouse House is conflicted. Disney films and shows seem to work like this: They will not show nudity visibly (although they might tease it, as with the body-suited branch-covered chorus line), but they will include messages about nudity being social, comfortable, and egalitarian. It’s like they’re trying to be pro-nudist but have to censor themselves. I think they should just “Let It Go” and use their massive power to show the world nonchalant nudity in appropriate scenes, helping everybody become more acclimated to nudity. Do it, Disney!

Get Naked

I have a wall hanging, a sign that says “get NAKED.” It’s a gift from a loved one who is very special to me, and when I was challenged by her recently to be more open, I remembered this sign. So I used its message to help me reflect on some key points I learned from my conversation with her.

Get naked. Drop the wet blanket of acquired and long-practiced habits. Be vulnerable, be exposed to the big picture. You can extend opportunities to others to do the same – to drop that blanket and show awareness of others’ needs, to act in ways that are generous and caring and that recognize your own needs, or that you have needs that they can help you meet. When they do that, they are not only helping you, but also helping themselves to be their best selves. Don’t foreclose on someone’s ability to respond with their best self. Keep giving opportunities.”

This reflection has to do with metaphorical nudity more than actual nudity, yet the two are related, and the imagery is what helps me remember to be more open. We naturists and nudists often claim that when the clothes are dropped, so are the prejudices and the closed-mindedness, the vulnerabilities and the fears. While that’s not always exactly true, or completely true, it certainly does happen frequently and powerfully. It’s something like that catchy Funkadelic album title, Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow, except backwards… Maybe it’s more of a feedback loop – one end helps free the other, no matter which gets “free” first!

Funkadelic

Whether literally or figuratively, the message to “get NAKED is a vital one. Spending more time unclothed, especially outdoors and in a group, is terrific for all aspects of health – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. And getting naked in the sense of opening up to others, allowing yourself and others to be their best selves, is just as important on all levels. 

G – E – T – – N – A – K – E – D!



That Nude Scene in Roma

The Oscars are just a few days away, and if you haven’t had a chance to see Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white Mexico City opus Roma, you can still watch it on Netflix or at your local theater. It’s been nominated in ten categories, including best picture, foreign language film, director, cinematography, lead actress and supporting actress. The film is so popular that you can read many different reviews of it, covering very interesting aspects that I won’t go into here. What I want to write about is the film’s nude scene. Most reviewers don’t mention that scene, or do so only in passing. One reviewer called the scene a gratuitous mistake that would limit the film to the art house circuit.

Screenshot, Roma, Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín

A brief description of the scene, including the lead-up: We see the main character, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio), and her date, Fermín (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), decide to skip the double date movie and go to a park, although not without Fermín palming something suspicious – a condom? – from his friend in the background. But instead of the park, in the scene immediately following, we see Fermín standing nude in a bathroom. He contemplates the shower rod, removes it from the wall, and then performs about a minute of nude martial arts in which his body is completely visible except his feet and lower legs. He is athletic, his moves are aggressive. It becomes evident that we are seeing this from the perspective of Cleo, who is sitting in the bed of a hotel room – clothed, as much as we can see of her – watching this display with delight and surprise, holding the blanket up to cover her mouth and have something to bite. When Fermín sits down, his back to Cleo and the camera, he tells her about his hard-knock upbringing, and proclaims that martial arts saved his life. Then he turns partly toward Cleo, and we see him move in close to kiss her as the scene ends. Later in the film, we confirm that his display was something like a courtship dance or mating ritual, and their liaison has left Cleo pregnant.

Screenshot, Roma, Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín

An analysis: There is a winking foreshadowing of the nudity to come that speaks to the viewer, ironically, from a piece of clothing. When Fermín meets Cleo at the torta (sandwich) shop before walking to the cinema, he is wearing a t-shirt with one of the original “Love Is…” designs by Kim Casali that had become immensely popular at the time (the film takes place in 1970-71). The “Love Is…” designs always a show a nude couple – a man and woman, as evident only from their hair since no genitals are shown – with a phrase that completes the ellipsis. Fermín’s shirt reads “amor es…” on the top and “recordar tu primer beso” (remembering your first kiss) below. It’s what he wears immediately before wearing nothing. But as far as love, or “amor” (palindrome of Roma), well… he does not love Cleo, and abandons her when she tells him she is carrying his child.

Screenshot, Roma, Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín

I argue that the scene is not gratuitous, because as the movie unfolds, Fermín’s later scenes, progressively more violent, connect back to it. The martial arts practice scene, set in an open field, accurately captures the enthusiasm for martial arts in Mexico at that time. Featuring over a hundred men, the scene also shows the accumulated aggression that foreshadows Fermín’s next appearance: In the scene that recreates the halconazo or Corpus Christi massacre on 10 June 1971, Fermín shows up among the paramilitary aggressors, and ends up threatening Cleo, pistol drawn. Ironically again, he is wearing the same “amor es” shirt while wielding his weapon. When he leaves, Cleo’s water breaks from the stress of the encounter, initiating a chaotic hospital sequence.

Screenshot, Roma, Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín

We never see Fermín unarmed – even when he first appears, he has nunchuks sticking out of his back pocket. Given this aspect of his character, I think the nude scene serves to highlight and foreshadow his aggressive, even toxic, masculinity. Always armed with some sort of phallic symbol, Fermín penetrates Cleo, causing her pregnancy, and then draws a gun on her, effectively terminating her pregnancy. In both cases, he neither knows nor cares about the consequences of his actions. His behavior highlights the constant display of masculinity that Cleo, and her employer Sofía (Marina de Tavira), are forced to navigate and survive as both are progressively used and abandoned by the men in their lives.

It is interesting to note that Guerrero was asked directly by Cuarón if he was comfortable with a nude scene. He replied in the affirmative, but found the scene very difficult to do, even though Aparicio was not present during the takes. Their scenes were spliced together afterwards. Tellingly, in the scene after the hotel de paso rendezvous, Cleo wakes up in the small servant’s room that she shares with another criada and takes a shower, but, in contrast to Guerrero’s full frontal, Aparicio’s nudity is limited to her bare shoulders only.

Screenshot, Roma, Jorge Antonio Guerrero as Fermín

In spite of the foreshadowing of the character’s violent machismo, I still like the nude scene. The nudity is dignified, not demeaning nor overly titillating. When I think about the massive number of viewers of this film, I am pleased that so many have experienced, or will experience, what might be an introduction to what a flaccid and uncircumcised penis looks like, and how it moves. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, and it really shouldn’t be. But given the continued oppressive censorship of what bodies look like, in the name of political, religious, and corporate interests, Guerrero’s nude scene is a triumph in helping normalize nudity.

A Naked Assessment

2018 was another great year for me personally as a naturist.

Travel: I was able to visit new naturist locales in Spain and in Canada, accompanied by loved ones.

Communities: I again ran in the 5K at Oaklake Trails and broke my previous record for book sales at their Fall Arts Festival, also accompanied by loved ones at these events. I joined MeWe, which has several promising naturist communities.

“Warrior Will,” a pose inspired and named
by Jorge Z, a life model on MeWe

Writing: The naturist fiction site that Paul, Robert and I run has continued to grow, with active posting and commenting throughout the year. I had another article published in The Naturist Society‘s N magazine – this one on nudity and the body in ancient Mexico. My novels Aglow and Co-ed Naked Philosophy continue to sell and get great reviews, and I have made strong progress on my next novel, a “Naturists of the Caribbean” buccaneer adventure!

What I am most proud of this year is The Nude Adventures of Doff de Chonez pa su Mecha, a twelve-part naturist Don Quixote you can read on this site for free. One reviewer wrote:

“A laugh out loud story that is informative, poignant, and mostly just a lot of fun. We feel for Doff de Chonez and Sammy Panzov in their misguided attempts to make the world, or at least central California, a more naked place. Absolutely terrific writing, outstanding concept. More adventures, please!”

Following Cervantes, who wrote a second part of his original novel, I do indeed plan to return to the story at some point with a sequel, and publish them both in book & ebook form.

Here’s to a marvelously naked and natural 2019!

Naked Nativity

a nude annunciation
The angels arrived naked just like
they looked in the old paintings but
it was cold in the nave of West
Main Street Presbyterian on the
night of December 9, 1978 so
they borrowed some frocks from the
shepherd boys and found some fake
wings in a costume bag and then they
were at least warmer if not more comfortable
although everybody else at the rehearsal
was quite startled and unnaturally wise
men and Mary were crying because when the
angels started singing there came light bursting
from their mouths and not just that but from
everywhere and the robes they had put on
ignited and burned away instantly but the
angels were not harmed in fact they grew in
size and strength until the sounds of their nudity
filled the nave in perfect forms and fifths and
the choir director and the organist ran
weeping down West Main Street into the
snow because the children had risen out of their
robes and sandals and were floating like
cherubs from the stained glass and smiling in
that kind of way that shines like the Star of the
East as they drifted in a halo around the angels until
they got to that part about the amen and the goosebumps and
as the voices stopped ringing the angels faded away and the
children lay sleeping in the pews uncovered and
when the pastor opened the sanctuary door and stepped
into the still warm afterglow he did not recognize
crisis as danger plus opportunity until his shirt began
to steam on the instant and his pants sparked oddly but
fizzled and he understood his proximity to the divine and
that the cross over that last threshold to the holy
miracle any time he wanted from that moment ever
after would be a simple epiphany of removing his clothes.

La Anunciación by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, c. 1660

 

blue sister

they had already drained my bowels
and still their enema ejaculate
flushed me out all over the reservoir pan
with all that fracking probing they leave me scarred
fed up with plowing my breasts my belly they prod my deepest recesses
you know they poke me enough i will rumble and belch                                      
they don’t need a richter to register that truth
in the most delicate parts of their tiny bodies wrapped to excess
how the hell in hell they act surprised
when they raise my hell to the surface
they infect me give me a fever and then hope i won’t cry too much
i can take it better than they can but
i will take longer to heal than they can wait
it is what you can expect from an offspring invasion
they raise the gun over the garden
the motor above the muscle the future ahead of the present
and the tender of money over the tender of minds
in fear they trample one road to my spirit
it has become a ravine of bloody mud
when the pristine paths i offer them are more than they can learn to count
Black Light Bodyscape by John Poppleton. source
red brother i’m going to need your help sooner
get ready for a land run
they are dying to leave
and leaving me only death
well death yes and also trash
it’s all those broken shoes that really get me
in the dumps wires poking through busted bras
if they knew how much their industry for clothing revolts me
they could anticipate when I sob and retch
they gawp and exclaim what is the world coming to
the world is coming to you red brother
ps in the meantime i need a booster shot
with good aim please
send more asteroids

Celebrating 15 Years of Naturism in the Amazon

Naturism in Brazil may not yet be a widely held philosophy, but it does at least have a well-established national federation with clubs and parks that have been around for decades, and new groups still forming. Most of these parks and groups are located in southeastern Brazil, where the majority of the population lives, and in southern Brazil, an area with many people of European heritage. Even though northern Brazil has a strong indigenous presence, with its history of native populations wearing little to no clothing, there is not much recognition of naturism in that region. The shining exception, however, is GRAUNA, a naturist group founded by my friend Jorge Bandeira fifteen years ago in Manaus, capital of Brazil’s largest state, Amazonas.

Yours truly with Jorge Bandeira at GRAUNA’s
frequent locale in Amazonas state, July 2011 

GRAUNA stands for Grupo Amazônico União Naturista, and they are a non-landed club with a regular locale for monthly gatherings a short way outside the city. Bandeira is a theater educator and activist who will occasionally plan cultural events promoting naturism in Manaus, one of Brazil’s largest cities. These events have included nude theater performances and happenings, the presentation of poetry and prose on naturism, as well as (clothed) street manifestations. Bandeira has also become a leader not just in Manaus but in Brazil in general in normalizing what naturism means, even while recognizing the irony of having to re-educate a public of considerable indigenous heritage about the benefits of being naked in nature.

Nature-Friendship-Tranquility-Union
-Respect-Equality-Simplicity-Mindfulness-Pride

In late July of this year, to celebrate the group’s fifteenth year going strong, Bandeira and other GRAUNA leaders organized events not only at their Amazon forest locale, but also in the center of Manaus, at the Casarão de Idéias cultural center not far from the city’s landmark Teatro Amazonas.

GRAUNA’s usual location for naturist gatherings,
with the INF definition of naturism in Portuguese
Casarão de Idéias, location for GRAUNA’s
15-Year Commemorative events in Manaus
Ribeiro, Bandeira and other naturists
in front of the iconic Teatro Amazonas

The broadsheet announcing the list of commemorative events, seen below, shows speakers such as Bandeira himself along with Pedro Ribeiro, who is the current president of the Brazilian Naturist Federation as well as a major defender of naturist use of Rio de Janeiro’s Abricó beach and the founder of an online source of naturist information in Portuguese, Jornal Olho Nu. Another speaker was Waldo Andrade, one of the founders of a relatively new naturist space, Ecovila da Mata in Bahia state, a community that functions with as much ecological responsibility and as little environmental impact, as possible. Other events in the impressive line-up included a photo gallery and book display, film viewings, nude theater, and the presentation of a naturist-themed cordel (popular poetry style) and naturist fanzine.

You can see in the photos below, all used by permission, some of the speakers and attendants, and several representations of the group’s logo of a nude couple with the graúna bird, a kind of blackbird native to the area whose name also forms the group’s acronym.

Current GRAUNA president Iva Santos,
founder Jorge Bandeira,
current federation president Pedro Ribeiro
In its fifteen years, GRAUNA has had many members and several presidents, and they have all helped Jorge Bandeira lead the way with his extraordinary energy and dedication to naturism. He is the inspiration for one of the characters, and some of the scenes, in my novel Aglow. I continue to look to Bandeira as a paragon of naturism, whose leadership shows clearly in the impressive organization of this commemorative programming. Congratulations, GRAUNA! Parabéns pelos quinze anos de representação naturista ativa! Here’s to many more years of naturist presence and advocacy!

Modeling the Naturist Park: Bare Oaks

A short time ago on a long road trip, my wife and younger daughter and I took an opportunity to pay a visit to Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park north of Toronto, Ontario. While enjoying Niagara Falls, we had the idea to visit Bare Oaks rather spontaneously. I’ve been a listener of The Naturist Living Show podcast for years now, and so of course I knew about the park and its outspoken owner, Stéphane Deschênes, a naturist leader of international stature. So we called the park and were able to reserve the last cabin available for that very evening. During the final stretch of the journey to our destination, we were surprised and delighted to see Bare Oaks listed right alongside other area attractions on the “next exit” highway signs.

We arrived just as the office was closing – thank you, patient and friendly office staff! As first-time visitors, we watched a video about the layout and history of the park, and about the basics of naturism, and we received a folder of written materials including policy statements and maps.

Then, with our wristbands and our passcard, we drove through the gate and along the path to our cabin. The cabin is a very nice space with front porch, recycling bin, table and chairs, ceiling fan, kitchenette (refrigerator and freezer, Keurig with a selection of pods, microwave, cooking utensils), and the back area with four bunk beds (including pillows and sheets, etc.) and a window fan. The cabins do not have running water or a bathroom – for these needs, the facilities are a short walk across the way to a building with indoor and outdoor showers, indoor toilets and sinks, and two outdoor sinks for dish washing. 

The grounds are rustic and lovely, with several ponds and streams, and walkways around and through the residential and camping areas. There is a children’s playground, a miniature golf course, and a beach area along one of the ponds. Something I greatly appreciated about the park’s many green spaces is how folks will just sunbathe out in the middle of a field, or claim some space near the pool but out in the sunlit green areas.

The clubhouse features a store selling a little bit of anything you might need, including – because, yes, they are a *need* – books! No naturist fiction, alas, but a nice selection of books on naturist history and also photography, and issues of N and Going Natural. We purchased Frank Cordelle’s Bodies and Souls: The Century Project and Harvey’s The Spirit of Lady Godiva, both of which are outstanding coffee-table photo essays whose publications were aided by Canadian naturist educator and activist Paul Rapoport. Highly recommended! Actually, there is indeed an example of naturist fiction for sale in the clubhouse store’s book section, and a very fine one at that: Stephen Crowley’s The Koala Bares, a pioneering and delightful naturist comic. Crowley’s work, in fact, pops up in signage all over the Bare Oaks grounds and on some of the park’s written materials as well. (See my 2012 interview with Crowley here; and you can hear his 2009 interview with Stéphane Deschênes on The Naturist Living Show podcast here.)

The clubhouse also includes guest rooms, an equipment rental area, an indoor shower, sauna and hot tub area, and a downstairs lounge area with TV, a kitchen, billiards, and a relatively large library. The saltwater pool is just off the side of the clubhouse, with showers and lounge chairs. The most stellar feature of the clubhouse is the Bare Bistro, which is an actual restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating areas. The staff is friendly and efficient, and the food is terrific! They have a selection of tasty sandwiches, burgers and salads, and vegetarian choices. Also on tap is a terrific selection of local beers.

I was hoping to meet Stéphane, the owner, and I did indeed have that opportunity. I introduced myself when I saw him in the store, stocking new books, and we had a quick conversation to be extended later in the afternoon when, as he explained, he would bring a TV out to to the bistro patio to watch that day’s World Cup semifinal. A few hours later, a group of about a dozen or so of us watched the exciting England-Croatia game on the patio while enjoying the Bare Bistro menu – others were watching in the indoor lounge. Amidst the shouts of fans – mostly England’s – Stéphane and I had a pleasant conversation about naturism in general, where the movement is headed, organizations such as the INF, AANR, and TNS, and the good work of our mutual friend Héctor Martínez, new president of the Mexican Naturist Federation (interview here). He told me a bit about business aspects of running the park, such as the decision to contract out the restaurant, which seems to have been a very successful move.

At some point during the match, when my wife and daughter had gone to the indoor lounge to use the computer, Stéphane had to call me aside, to let me know that one of his staff members had reported to him that my 14-year-old was not uncovering herself completely. This, he explained, is problematic especially regarding teens, because if one teen at a naturist park covers up, the rest will do so also. Now, Stéphane’s views on the importance of required nudity at naturist parks, and rejection of clothing-optional policies, are widely known (I even wrote them into a line of dialogue spoken by my naturist Don Quixote figure, Doff de Chonez, in this episode!), and my family and I had of course agreed to the park policy. So I was a tad embarrassed, even though according to me, my daughter had been doing just fine – maybe she had covered up for some reason and I wasn’t there and didn’t know. I apologized and insisted on going to investigate, even though Stéphane told me there was no need for an apology, that he himself, as a father, understood teenage reluctance, and that we should sit back down and continue our conversation. But I did go look for them, couldn’t find them, and when I returned to the patio they were there waiting for me. My daughter was partially covering herself with her wrap, but not completely, and so I let her know what had happened, and in the end it was not a big deal. I did return to conversation with Stéphane, who was happy to know that I would write a review. He suggested a photo to accompany the text, and that suggestion became the two photos with a new Bare Oaks sign that begin and end this post.

Before our visit, I had already known Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park to be exemplary in the naturist world. After having visited, I can affirm that it is a thriving paragon of naturist values maintained by the tireless efforts of its owner, staff, members, and other stakeholders. I hope to make a longer visit soon, and I strongly recommend the same for anyone interested in living a true naturist philosophy.

Owning Naturism: An Interview with Héctor Martínez

“I want to make naturism a normal topic of conversation in Mexico.”


Héctor Martínez, the dynamic young founder of NNG (Naturaleza y Nudismo Guadalajara), has recently been elected president of the Federación Nudista de México, that country’s national naturist organization. Héctor and I have enjoyed a steady dialogue over the past year or so, and we wanted to publish an interview on the heels of this election. This interview is in English, to help supplement the excellent content that Héctor and his team have been producing in Spanish.

The conversation you can read below has to do with Mexico, but Héctor’s excellent ideas pertain to naturism everywhere. Naturists all over the world can apply the successful tactics and strategies described here.

Note: The word “nudista” is used in Spanish, at least in Mexico, because “naturista” has a different connotation. There have been “tiendas naturistas” in Mexico for longer than anyone can remember – these are very common stores that sell natural remedies and organic products but have nothing to do with the social nudity aspect of naturism.

NS: How did you get started in naturism?

HM: It was by accident, in 2013 when I read newspaper coverage of the WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) in Guadalajara. I had to wait until the next year to participate, in 2014, and when I did, I realized that I had never felt so free, happy, and fulfilled. I had never felt such joy. I decided I couldn’t wait another year for another WNBR, so I started searching for other nudist opportunities. I found the Federación (Nudista de México), contacted them, and they put me in touch with someone who hosts a nudist temazcal [info on what is a temazcal, here and here]. Soon after that, pretty much organically, some close friends and I started organizing nude events in different locations, like a nude baby shower we did once, or birthday parties at people’s homes.

NS: Do you have a favorite naturist location or activity?

HM: No, anyplace is good and any reason is good – it’s more about the people involved. I’d say my favorite is to be with like-minded people where you can express your true self. People who are genuine and open. I’d also say my favorite NNG event so far was this year’s spring festival, because it was a terrific location, there were lots of people, and (laughs) those of us who were organizing weren’t as stressed out that time.

NS: You’ve had, by now, lots of experience getting people involved in naturism, and stellar success. What are good ways to interest people?

HM: Be open and genuine about it. Normally we judge people by their personality traits to assess whether they would be likely to participate in naturism or not, but the thing is, you never know. We have to just speak truth, we have to own it. Also, social media is key, and we have to get rid of anonymity. We have to show our faces, smile, and convey confidence through social media. People see the respect.

NS: Following along those lines, could you contextualize the success that you’ve had with NNG? What’s been the key to success?

HM: The consistent use of social media. When we started NNG, it was hard to find much online other than content written in English. So we created a lot of our own content, podcasts and videos in Spanish, which has been critical. Transparency and creating a real expectation – making the videos as close as possible to reality. People will come to an event and say, I wanted to believe the videos were real, and I’m so glad I did.

NS: I know you’ve had to deal with censorship regarding your videos. Would you add that to the list of keys to success? Social media, transparency, creating a real expectation, creating content, and fighting censorship?

HM: Definitely. The censorship guidelines are ambiguous and the acts of censorship are arbitrary. We had one video censored by YouTube that was not returned to us, and there was nothing for anyone to complain about, we had covered the body parts that some people get upset about. Yet other videos that might have been less carefully covered were returned.

NS: And you’re up to, what, 2000 YouTube subscribers now?

HM: (checks screen): 2143.

NS: That will definitely jump! What would you say has been the most successful event NNG has hosted so far?

HM: It was the spring festival last March that I mentioned earlier. There were 75 people in attendance, which was our largest number yet, plus it was just such a great day.

NS: So now you’re getting started as president of the national federation, and I understand you were elected as the leader of a team of five people who presented a prospectus for what you want to accomplish. What are the main objectives?

Héctor Martínez (center) with (clockwise from top left),
Arturo Gutiérrez, Jacqueline Cuevas,
Candelario Banderas, and Jazmín Baltazar.

HM: We’ve summarized the points on a video, and the text is online too – the video and text are both in Spanish. The objectives are: (1) to consolidate and represent all nudist groups in Mexico; (2) to achieve greater recognition for the organization, and greater cooperation not only with institutes like the tourism office, universities and museums but also human rights organizations; (3) to be an inclusive organization working with groups or individuals not represented by the kinds of institutions above; (4) to publish the first edition, online, of the Atlas Nudista de México; (5) to create at least one more officially recognized nude recreation area similar to Zipolite’s official recognition as a nude beach in 2016; and (6) to have built, by the end of the two-year period, a federation with hundreds of members and many affiliated groups. I would add that I also want to push the federation to be a greater voice internationally, both within Latin America and in the greater world.

NS: It’s a strong platform, and I saw you guys won with a significant percentage of the vote.

HM: It was a margin of about 3 to 1.

NS: So here’s the big question we’ve been leading up to. In your opinion, what is the future of naturism, and how do we get there?

HM: What’s needed is people willing to ‘own’ the lifestyle, to come out of the closet, show faces and show ownership. We need to promote naturism as something powerful that can transform the world by promoting inclusivity, transparency, ownership, and communication. We need to get young people involved in active leadership – and here’s the thing, that’s not a criticism of current leadership. I am absolutely not saying that older people should step aside. It’s just that there needs to be continuity. We need all kinds of people involved, and we need to move forward with new media formats as they continue to be created. New people need to get on board and bring their knowledge.

NS: In the US it’s common to hear or read about older naturists asking where are all the young naturists, and wondering how to get younger naturists to their clubs.

HM: A major flaw I’m seeing is that naturism sometimes seems stuck in formats like magazines and emails that younger people simply don’t read. It’s not that younger people aren’t interested, it’s just that they don’t tend to read these forms of communication, and the result is that the continuity between generations risks being lost.

I’m young, relatively, and the way I see it is that there are pros and cons associated with youth today. The major advantage is that we (younger people) have inherited a more diverse and inclusive society. We have less shame and more ownership of things like saying, ‘I’m a vegetarian,’ or ‘I’m bisexual.’ The new generation not only is not ashamed but is proud to own statements like these. So those of us who are naturists are not ashamed to talk about it, to be up front about it. On the other hand, the disadvantage is that the young generation is at a life stage with little economic stability, very little income to be able to afford things like membership at a nudist club or going on a vacation to a nudist resort.

In fact, at least in the situation I’m looking at, leading naturism is a full-time job with no pay. Not only will I be president of the federation for a two-year term, but also, as it turns out, I’ll be heading a larger Latin American group at the same time, because it had been previously agreed that the president of the Mexican federation would lead the recently created CLANUD (Confederación Latinoamericana de Nudismo)* for two years as well. The only way to make progress in all this is through the support of people who can help, which is why I set up a Patreon account. I want to be able to treat this position with the seriousness it demands, as a full-time job, but the way the federation is set up, according to Mexican tax regulations, there is no budget for a salary.

NS: Smart. Do you have any concluding remarks?

HM: I’m very grateful for your help and the help of many other people who have reached out in dialogue and continue to do so. I’m not going to let people down. I want this to be about generating opportunities. I want to make naturism a normal topic of conversation in Mexico, at dinner tables, in schools, on the street.

NS: Gracias, hermano.

HM: Gracias a ti. Estamos en contacto.

* CLANUD was signed into existence in April 2018 in Brazil, at the ELAN meeting of Latin American naturists.