Throughout history, there have been individuals who have fearlessly embraced nudity to challenge societal norms or promote their causes. Think of Lady Godiva’s legendary ride, Josephine Baker’s captivating performances, or the “Naked Guy” Andrew Martinez advocating for personal freedom. Who inspires you as a “naked hero”? Perhaps it’s a historical figure, or maybe it’s someone you personally know… it could even be a fictional or biblical figure. Maybe they embrace nudity, or maybe they aren’t nude at all but naked in their actions or authenticity. In this week's #UndressedThread, we explore the concept of having a naked hero.
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The more I learn about Lee Baxandall, the more heroic he seems, and the more I wish we had someone like him in the movement today.
I have many naked heroes, but one that may be obvious to most who have heard my naturist story is my (2x) great grandfather Rudolph Johnson, a renowned American nudist who once served as the president of the American Sunbathing Association. His gumption and authenticity always struck me as a kid hearing stories about him, and when I grew older and researched him and found his writings and learned more about his nudist legacy, I came to admire him even more for his commitment to freedom and fairness.
A lovely painting that could have appeared in this book. (I voted for answer 1)
I believe we should be free to go clothesfree almost everywhere. Numerous activists have tried to advance this idea, but I have three personal heroes among them. I've had the privilege of experiencing public nudity with each of them.
First, I'd like to mention the late Andrew Martinez, the "naked guy" who attended university classes in the nude. I met him once in a park in Berkeley and we spent some naked time together. Andrew has been profiled in an excellent piece by Camp here on Planet Nude: https://www.planetnude.co/p/andrew-martinez-and-the-nude-microclimate?utm_source=%2Fsearch%2F%2522Andrew%2520Martinez%2522&utm_medium=reader2
Both of the two others are (or were) personal friends of mine, and each has been interviewed in an episode of the Naked Age podcast. First up is Jerome Jolibois, organizer of the Brussels World Naked Bike Ride. He is also a local politician and nude man-about-town in that city.
Last but not least, a shout out to the late Woody Miller, a San Francisco based nudist and activist. He was among my dearest friends,. His fearless example inspired and influenced my own involvement with public nudity.
As a side note, one of my proudest moments was when Evan Nicks told me I was one of his naked heroes. I suspect it was mere flattery (he was in the mode of podcast host and interviewer at the moment), but it gave me goosebumps!
I don't know if I would call them heroes, but there are a couple people I admire and highly respect. Andy Tabbat and Guy Purcella are two people that show a lot of heart and commitment to advocating for a clothing optional lifestyle.
Joseph Campbell encouraged people to write their own Hero’s Journey Story. So I did. I wrote a small book, (actually a play) under two different titles. PAZZI WAN and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE NAKED KIND. (Amazon) Pazzi Wan, is the main character (me) who is actually a star seed who came to earth to help humanity raise its consciousness. He teaches that humanity “Only in their nakedness will they shed their aggression.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Lee in 1994. Brilliant and humble person.
Lee Baxandall, for sure. Today, I have to admire Helen Mirren for articulating the experience so well: "... the communal vulnerability eliminates the pressures of typical beauty standards. 'The whole construct of what it means to be a human being in terms of your earrings, your lipstick, your shirt, your age... everything falls away!' she said. 'And you become a different kind of human being, a human being that’s not related to anything physical. It’s a very lovely thing.'
... Mirren, of course, had previously opened up about baring it all in public. 'It becomes very, very sweet—very human in a rather beautiful way,' she said of visiting nude beaches in a 2019 radio interview. 'I’m proudly a naturist.'
Mirren also once reportedly commented on how the experience brings people together: 'Ugly people, beautiful people, old people, whatever,' she said, per Radio Times. 'It’s so unisexual and so liberating.'
My earliest “hero” in the cause of promoting body acceptance and social nudity was a heroine, Diane Webber, in late 50s-early 60s nudist publications and even mainstream media. She always seemed fearless and confident in all her images portraying healthy, joyous and unafraid nude living.
Even though in the modern sense much of her work might be deemed sexploitation or self promotion, in my young mind at the time, she seemed genuinely committed to the cause and joy of nude living. She and those others who were unafraid of open, public nudism inspired me and gave me confidence that I was not alone in my desire to live my life as nude and free as possible. I owe a lot to her and those other pioneers of my early years.
I've always enjoyed being naked, but I learned the word nudist when Alois Knapp appeared on What's my line, circa 1960. I read about Morley Schloss in a New Yorker around 1990. My real naturist hero, though, is a nude impresario, Stephane Deschenes.
In the modern era, I'd have to say Andrew Martinez. I loved how he began with such a simple thought of why we're wearing clothing and acting on it.
Before the modern era (WAY before), I would say the Celts. Other than nudity within their indigenous culture, they made a heroic statement when Polybius wrote that the Celtic tribe, the Gaesatae, discarded their clothing in the Battle of Telamon against the Romans (225 BCE), "wearing nothing but their arms". As Diodorus Siculus (1st century BCE) later put it, they "trusted only in the protection which nature gives."
I can't say for sure my naked hero is even a real person. I've never met her, but the stories on her simple blog back in the early 2000s had a deep influence on my thinking regarding nudism. For that I remain thankful to this day. Her stories are the reason I gave social nakedness a try in the first place.
She wrote (sometimes still writes?) under the pen name "SunnyDay." For all I know, she is actually an aging man named Gary somewhere in the recesses of the faceless internet. But taking her at her word, Sunny was (at the time) a college-aged woman who would enjoy early morning naked runs in empty housing subdivisions that were under construction and, more commonly, in a secluded pasture out on the edge of her town. She also wrote of the epiphany of the first time she visited a public nude beach. Over the years she ended up inviting friends of hers to join her in her clothes-free pastimes and eventually met a like-minded local family who became close friends and later invited her and friends to join up at the nearest nudist resort.
Sunny's stories were long, detailed, Christian-leaning (which was important to me at the time), and full of an ethical, philosophical view of sharing nakedness in community.
Via her writing, Sunny inspired me to likewise begin to visit my nearest clothing optional resort (which I have been doing since 2005), visit nude beaches, hot springs, and other clothes-free activities when traveling, and also to join up with the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, OR several years in a row when I had the chance to do so. I've also invited many of my friends to join me in these pursuits, as well as, in simple things like clothing optional breakfast at the house and such. All these things have been some of the greatest joys of my life and for that I consider SunnyDay a hero, whether real or fictional.
You can check out her stories, and those of others, at her little website: http://sunnydaynew.atwebpages.com/index.html
It's only a fictional character, but as a kid I very taken by the scene in Jungle Book where teenage Mowgli enters his mother's house in exile and she falls to her knees because he looks like a god.
Natalie Shapiro et al:
Walt Whitman who has been quoted by the likes of Edward Carpenter in the UK, as the pioneer in expressing and practicing being nude in nature in the mid-19th century. John Russell Coryell who was sited by a number of nudist pioneers as the first American nudist, and most people have never heard of him. William Calhoun Walker who was meeting with others along the Hudson River in 1905 and in 1919 established the Common Sense Club as the first national nudist organization, as well as publishing the "Common Sense" newsletter. These folks were breaking trail for everyone else.
Hmmm. Thanks for the question. I will start to consider. My first thought is that I don't have one, but your list of possible qualifiers is helpful. Maybe more later. Namaste, Wes
I have long been a fan of Gwen Jacob, even long before I discovered social nudity. Young women can change the world.
I have many nudist heroes, and I'm very fortunate that three of them are playing leading roles in the Western Nudist Research Library, of which I am president. Those three are Evan (WNRL Director and founder of Naked Age and Planet Nude), Rolf Holbach (WNRL Director and President of SCNA), and Carl Hild (nudist historian focusing on the pre-1905 history of nudism in the US and most recently, on China). All three have helped, in different ways, to turn WNRL into an indispensable force in gathering, preserving and celebrating nudist history.
Edward Carpenter was an Englishman way ahead of his time. born in 1844, died 1929. among many things he worked towards acceptance was nudism. he enjoyed being naked at his home in England and made no bones about it. He was an early advocate for gay rights, women's rights, humane treatment for animals. A socialist. He brought sandals to the west from India. He is my hero. a nudist, a nice guy who really cared for others.
Lee Baxandall for modern times. In the nudist legend tradition: El Dorado! El Dorado wasn’t a city but rather the leader of indigenous tribes in what is now Colombia. I’ve got an article forthcoming in N (May issue) on how the El Dorado leaders embodied skinnydipping and bodypainting...
There's the story about the philosopher Diogenes who was sunbathing naked when visited Alexander the Great. Instead of jumping up and wrapping a towel around himself in the presence of his distinguished guest he complained that Alexander was standing in the way of the Sun. Unfortunately Diogenes also no qualms about masturbating in public which seems a step too far to me.
For a naturist who lives his whole life in Southeast Asia, I really admire passionate naturists who educate people about naturism. Now, there are active naturist associations in both in Thailand and Malayia. Aside from them, I'd say Tim Chizmar is also my naturist hero. He promotes naturism through his shows.
I'd have to go with Michelangelo for his creation of David. Yes, it is only a statue, and Michelangelo was far from the first sculptor to carved nudes. There's a long line that preceded him. But David was not only at an ambitious scale, it was an effort to personify and exalt the human form as never before. It was a masterpiece https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_(Michelangelo) A few years back I was prompted during the angry public tirades about a "woke" culture complaining that the Michelangelo statue was offensive. I was moved to add to my poetry writing with the following:
Ode to Michelangelo’s David
Naked and nude
can’t call you rude
You’re just one
big muscular dude.
Standing there so free
and easy posed.
Figure of strength
tower of courage.
What was his name?
that giant, Goliath?
What's that sling
in your hand?
You hurled the stone?
You brought him down?
Despite his blades and armor
what did you have?
Next to nothing
But look at you.
of male masculinity.
Are you erotic?
Or merely exotic?
You’re simply freed
of the entanglements
of clothing indeed?
Is it really necessary?
Lee Baxandall is the model of a naturist that I follow, and will follow to the end. He was passionate about naturism and saw it as an antidote to civilization. Not in the sense that civilization should be torn down, far from it. He understood what the early founders of naturism were trying to do when they saw the worst of what modern civilization had to offer as a result of industrialized society. However, he went one step further than them and expanded the philosophy that naturism was for everyone. He made a ton of enemies because he did that, and his bravery to be disliked is truly heroic.