It's warming up here in Ontario, and while COVID has kept us more or less shut in at home, I'm still alive and safe and half-vaccinated. I hope everyone who's reading this is doing well!

It's been a long time since I've posted on here, and that's because there is actually a lot going on - unfortunately leaving me very little time for writing. But I'm working on what I feel is a very important series of blog posts; I am also working on some changes to this website, and a new book on nudism. More on those things soon.

In the meantime, I'm also changing the look of my existing book, How to Take Your Clothes Off. The fantastic art that Cleo from ToplessTopics did for me is now featured on the cover, and I am hoping to get more great work from her to help fill out the site's look and feel. Keep an eye out for that! And check out the cover design, which is coming soon to fine bookstores everywhere:

How to Take Your Clothes Off cover

If you don't have a copy, here's your chance! Search for it at any e-bookstore you like, or check it out at Amazon here.

As I’ve been quite active on Twitter in the last couple of years, specifically within the naturist community there, a few patterns have emerged for me.

Twitter has become one of the best social media spaces where nudists can gather. The administrators or algorithms (or both) have overreacted to nudists on Twitter in some cases, but by and large we are allowed to be - and to be ourselves. The community is large and thriving. (Taylor Lorenz published an article on the subject in the Atlantic Online in 2017, and surprisingly, not much has changed since.)

Nudists on Twitter

The nudist Twitter community is also vibrant, and vocal. There are a number of nudists who have plenty to say about social justice, inclusion, and diversity in the nudist community. Some are locked accounts (which is a shame, but understandable) but you would do well to start with someone like @AlmostWildBlog to see the kinds of fruitful discussions that are emerging on the platform these days.

One of the primary interests of nudists on Twitter, though, is promoting nudism itself. Campaigns like #NormalizeNudity and #NakedInNature are designed to capture non-nudists’ attention (and bare skin always seems to grab people’s attention) and then hit them with positive messages about non-sexual social nudity.

Others try to promote nudism by putting themselves out there, unashamedly nude. The thinking is that showing real people enjoying themselves nude - not models, just regular people with regular bodies - will send the message that nudity truly is for everyone.

Another Kind of “Promotion”

But there is another kind of “promotion” for nudity, one that the nudist community has to reject fully and completely.

A number of accounts post a steady stream of photos of nude people, often with similar hashtags about promoting nudity and nudism. The photos are all pretty much the same: slim young people, almost always women, almost always white. No two photos show the same person: they come from a variety of sources, including porn sites, voyeur photo collections, and - infuriatingly - legitimate nudist Twitter accounts.

There are a couple more significant characteristics for these accounts as well.

That last point is really the problem. They’re not promoting nudism, they’re promoting a business. And they’re exploiting nudists to do it.

And nudists not only let them get away with it - they help them out.

Like and Follow with Care

The reason I know so many of these exploitative spam accounts exist is because other nudists - real, legitimate nudists, as far as I can tell - help them out. They follow these accounts, like their posts, and sometimes even retweet them.

Maybe these legitimate users think they’re helping to promote nudism when they help promote these accounts. Or maybe they notice that their retweets of nude women get them more likes and follows than they usually get.

In the long run, though, every like, retweet, and follow is damaging to the nudist movement.

These accounts play into the same narratives we know are barriers to our society’s acceptance of nudism: nudism is about seeing attractive nude people. Nudism is about sexualizing bodies (especially younger, slimmer, female ones). Nudism is about looking at naked people, not being naked oneself. Nudism is reserved for people who are young, slim, and conventionally good-looking.

And by following, liking, and retweeting their posts, nudists are complicit in spreading these damaging myths.

Every interaction with these accounts is a step backwards for naturism.

So please, nudists, be careful about your activities on Twitter. Avoid these transparently problematic accounts. Don’t give them any more attention than they deserve. And most of all, stop helping to exploit and commodify your fellow naturists.

Share your thoughts...

What do you think of these accounts - are they helping or hindering nudism? Are there any problematic accounts you’ve seen other nudists promoting? What can we do about it? Tell me in the comments!

I’ve been writing some nudist fiction lately, and the experience has given me reason to think about nudist fiction in general. I know of a number of nudist authors out there right now, actively self-publishing their fiction. Some are extremely prolific, publishing several or even dozens of short fiction works every year. Others are more in the traditional author mode, writing and publishing a full-length novel every year or two, and doing plenty of promotional work in between.

I’m impressed with how vibrant and industrious the nudist fiction world is. I read as much nudist fiction as I can, and I like and respect the authors. I even count some of them as friends, if only online friends.

But writing good naturist fiction is difficult.

The problem isn’t about the writing or the stories themselves. Instead, it’s the essential problem with nudism and fiction. As I have written more fiction, I’ve found that there are a number of traps that are far too easy to fall into.

The problem is that there is nothing amazing, nothing even remarkable, about nudity once you’re a nudist. You’re naked? Well, sure, whenever you can be. It’s nice to be naked? Yes, that’s true. Others around you are naked? Sure, nothing crazy there. It’s barely worth commenting on. You’ve seen it all before.

That means that, as an author, I find that my stories tend to go in one of two ways: the “nudism is great” direction, or the “nudism is unremarkable” direction. Neither results in good storytelling.

The “Nudism Is Great” Story

One of the easiest traps I fell into when I started writing nudist fiction, whether I imagined my audience to be nudists or not, was to have characters who tell each other how great nudism is. Any character who is even halfway curious about nudism - say, a protagonist who wants to be romantically involved with a nudist, but is reluctant to shed his or her own hangups about nudity - becomes a reason to talk about how wonderful nudism is. And by the end of a story, I find all my characters agree: nudism is great, and we should all be naturists.

Any story needs a good antagonist, and the obvious choice is a character in a position of legal or moral authority who is against nudism. They’ll want to make a nudist beach clothing-required, or arrest nudists, or make them lose their job - the typical fears that most nudists live with every day. This is one of the few sources of conflict for a group of nudists, and the story quickly becomes focused on neutralizing the antagonist’s threat. But when I head down this road, the antagonist starts to sound like a cliche. I think this is because I’m not thinking about the antagonist as a real person, but trying to fit one into the nudist world.

Yet another trap is to keep adding characters who are nudists, wannabe nudists, prior nudists, and free spirits who really think nudism is something they want to try. You need multiple nudists just to have a useful range of points of view to examine the nudist ideas in the story. The problem is that it’s highly unrealistic to find so many nudists in one place, unless you set the story in a well-populated nudist resort.

It’s also far too easy to find oneself, as an author, lecturing the reader. Of course, I want my fiction to represent my values as an ethical naturist. But that just leads to long-winded lectures, from one character to another, about the positives of naturism. The health benefits. The improvements to mind and soul. The philosophical reasons for shared nudity. Their own personal inspirational story.

Of course, because I do believe what the characters are saying, they deliver the lectures to an eagerly listening audience, without any substantive objection. Just for variety, I’ll throw in a comment - “Yes, I agree, and...” or “Well what about [easily countered protest]?” But what I’m really doing is creating a backdrop for the speaking character to expound on his or her personal philosophy. But I know that this is unrealistic, because in real life, people tend to avoid maniacs who talk like this. (People often think that nudism is a kind of cult, and it doesn’t help to write about it as if it is!)

I realize that what I’m really doing is telling nudists that nudism is great. It seems extremely unlikely that anyone would be more interested in trying nudism after reading this kind of writing.

When I step back from my work and discover it’s gone in this direction, I realize it’s unlikely that someone unsympathetic to nudism would even get through the story. I think I’m really writing these stories for myself, not for the reader. The plot is a thin veil that covers the real reason for the book: to talk about my own interest in nudism.

There’s nothing wrong with a happily-ever-after ending, or writing about the positive aspects of nudism. But fiction also needs to be interesting and engaging. If I don’t sincerely tackle difficult ideas, it won’t attract a reader - and that’s not a success for a writer.

The “Nothing Remarkable” Story

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Too often I’ve started out a story where the main character is a nudist, possibly with a spouse or family, who are also nudists. They live in a nudist-friendly area, like the south of France or a nudist community in Florida. They have some nudist friends, but for the most part they don’t find anything remarkable in being nudists - it’s just a normal part of their lives.

Usually I’ll find some kind of minor conflict to bring in - say, something with the board of their local nudist resort, maybe a project that they are undertaking, maybe someone unfriendly that they have to contend with. So they deal with whatever issues they have, at least mostly successfully. Often I’ll bring in other nudists, or include a nudist gathering along the way.

In writing this kind of story, I take pains not to even reference people’s bodies or nudity, because the characters are so used to nudity, it wouldn’t occur to them to mention it. They might note some nude activities, like practicing nude yoga. Instead of the characters talking about being nudists - which, again, once you’re a nudist, you rarely do - I might have them note, in passing, nudist magazines sitting around the house, maybe some nude art on the walls. And they will cover themselves when a non-nudist stops by. But for the most part, nudism is there, in the background, just a regular part of their reality.

This approach accurately reflects, for me, how many nudists live their lives. When you’ve been nude around the house a few times, you stop thinking about it. When you’re nude all the time with your spouse, you don’t notice their breasts or penis any more than you would notice their t-shirt or boxer shorts. It’s nothing crazy, nothing to get excited over. It just is.

But when I realize that this is where one of my stories is going, my reaction is… why?

It might be a realistic depiction of nudism, and that’s a good thing. It’s an approving and sympathetic view of nudism, which I definitely want to promote.

But it’s always so dull. So very, very dull. If I were the reader, I doubt I’d make it past the third or fourth page.

The Titillation Story

Although I haven’t set out specifically to write this kind of story, it’s a common nudist trope, and one that I’ve found some story outlines straying towards as I plan out my work. The setup usually involves one person discovering that another person is a nudist, then reluctantly trying it out. (For the sake of tension, it’s typical to make them of opposite sexes.)

These stories inevitably drive towards a scene where the non-nudist first undresses in front of the nudist. Maybe it’s because for those of us who became nudists later in life, the memory of this moment remains so vivid. As an author, I’m tempted to describe every sensation, physical and mental. This almost guarantees a sexual undertone at the very least. Even if I keep the story from becoming overtly sexual, its interest and drive is from the sexual tension that the nudity generates between the characters.

I’ve played with a variety of situations when I’ve attempted to outline a story like this. One character discovers that another is, unexpectedly, a nudist. One character convinces another that nudity isn’t so bad in one specific case (art, swimming, painting a house) and gradually convinces them to try it. But whatever the situation, the dynamic is the same, and the same well-worn tropes always seem to accompany it.

Despite having ideas for stories like this, in the end I am not comfortable with this kind of nudist fiction. This approach could exploit nudism, and reinforce the damaging narratives that we nudists are only too familiar with (You’re perverts! You just want to see nude women! It’s really about sex!). No matter how I approach it, I think I’d be writing erotica, not nudism, with stories like these - and probably not very good erotica, at that.

What’s Wrong with Naturist Fiction?

In the end, naturism is… pretty boring.

Narrative is driven by character and conflict. All three of these story types lack one or both of these. In the “Nudism is Great” story, there are no characters, there are only empty vessels that are used to spill forth nudist philosophizing. The “Nothing remarkable” story can have characters, but the conflict is absent. And titillation stories have characters and drive, but the conflict is inevitably cliche, and probably damaging to nudism.

So what should I do, as an author?

I have started to think more about the nudist fiction issue, and I have a few ideas about where to go.

First, much of the problem for naturist fiction goes back to the old writing advice of showing, not telling. If a character simply talks about nudism, its advantages, its philosophical grounding - that’s showing, and it does little to connect with a reader. Instead, as authors, we must find compelling situations in (fictionalized) real life where those theories are actually played out. That doesn’t mean a professor at the front of a room lecturing, nor does it mean a person among a circle of friends talking. It means nudists, living their lives, and experiencing the conflicts that inevitably arise with being nude in a clothed world.

Second, one of the problems is characters. People are complex. People have deep-seated conflicts and insecurities, they have values that are at odds with the ways they live their lives. Even the most committed naturist must run into situations where they confront a difficult decision or judgement, or an issue where they need to reexamine their preconceptions - and where they have to consider the consequences of one choice or another.

(This goes for antagonists as well. Yes, there are those people in the world whose view of nudism is simplistic; they don’t make for compelling fiction. Antagonists should have legitimate and interesting reasons to oppose the protagonists. Remember, the villain is actually the hero of his or her own story!)

Finally, there is a core issue at stake here, one that is not just a problem for naturist fiction, but for naturism in general: naturists are too often unwilling to grapple with deeper issues around naturism.

Too often, we naturists believe our own press - we don’t question the assumptions we make about their lifestyle and community. Naturism is inclusive - but what about black, LGBTQ+, and single male nudists, all of whom are often turned away from resorts? Naturism is non-sexual - but what about the resorts that purport to be nudist but cater to the swinger community? Naturism is accepting - but what about the many naturists who body-shame and sexualize other naturists, often in subtle and pervasive ways?

These are the problems that really need confronting in the nudist community. So our naturist fiction has to address them, rather than the more simple issues - moral scolds who want to shut down a nudist beach, or people’s nervousness or unwillingness to be naked with others.

Non-exploitative nudist fiction is a relatively new idea, and there is plenty of room to grow. It also seems to have a long and positive future ahead of it, and I want to be part of that future. As an author who wants to help advance the naturist cause, I’m trying to figure out how to bring out the issues that matter, with characters who live and deal with the issues associated with naturism, rather than talk about those issues.

But have high hopes for nudist fiction. Our community is full of smart, diverse individuals, including many writers. Together, we can work to build a body of work that can reach a wider, intelligent, thinking public - and above all, tell some darn good stories.

Share Your Thoughts...

Who are your favourite naturist authors and which books would you recommend? What were the positives and negatives about their work? What would you like to see in nudist fiction? Tell me in the comments!

I have been writing about the upcoming Disrobed virtual event for over a week now, and wow, it’s been quite a ride!

It all started when Tim Chizmar, of Naturist Living Show fame, offered me a sneak peek at the production. This was a review version - not the final cut, missing some small elements (like the opening theme and credits), and with some potential reshoots yet to be inserted. But it was essentially a finished version of the movie. I could have access if I’d consider writing a review.

I watched the show late on Christmas Day. I knew the source material already; I had listened to a full audio production of the original play on a Naturist Living Show podcast some years ago. But this was something new, and something exciting. Putting any work in a modern - which means distanced, online, webcam-enabled - setting is weird and difficult, but this director had pulled it off. Even if I hadn’t liked the play, I would have been impressed by the way it was brought to life for the COVID age.

But I had an idea: maybe a few of the cast members would be willing to do a brief interview. I could send them the questions and have them send back their answers at their convenience. The originator of the play would get a few extra questions, too. The cast has been busy promoting the event, with appearances on Clothes Free International ] and the Our Naked Story Podcast.

I hoped to get two or three responses at best - it was short notice, after all.

Instead, almost every cast member enthusiastically and generously gave of their time, and had some fascinating background and perspective to share. Karen Lasater and Dave McClain, who play Sierra and George, the parents, both gave me lots of background about themselves and their part in the play.

Eloise Gordon revealed an affinity for non-sexual social nudity that had long been a part of her life, even though she had never labelled herself a nudist. And Ian Hayes is known to some friends as “Nakie Boi” for his own preference for being nude - though he had never been in a nudist setting. Clearly, though, the entire cast was ideal for this production, not only because of their acting capabilities, but also because of their attitudes, backgrounds, and fresh, positive takes on nudity.

Troy Peterson, the driving force for the whole production, is himself a naturist and definitely sees the film as a way to promote the naturist philosophy. He and everyone involved, both cast and crew, deserve much credit for making this show a reality.

It’s been a highly rewarding and interesting couple of weeks for everyone involved with Disrobed - the Online Event, and for me as well, even though I’ve been on the sidelines. I’m really excited to see it in its final form myself. For anyone who is a naturist or nudist, or even who just agrees that non-sexual nudity is a positive and appropriate choice for everyone, this is essential viewing.

We need more naturist media, more naturist voices, more stories, more art. We don’t need any more works that exploit nudists for a cheap laugh or naughty thrill. We don’t need any more works that stridently declaring the benefits of naturism. We need works like this, that take on different sides to the naturist question, that show naturists as they really are, and - most of all - that reach out and try to make connections between people.

Whether naturist or not, that’s where art, and life, truly lie.

 

Disrobed: the Virtual Event will stream for three shows only, on January 15, 16, and 17. The performance will stream live, and disappear immediately thereafter. For information, and to purchase tickets, see https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6996.

 

Dave is both a naturist and a very experienced actor, and he brings aspects of both to his role as George in Disrobed. He lives in Katy, Texas, not far from fellow castmate Karen Lasater, and the two have performed as husband and wife in other stage productions - though this is their first time appearing nude together.

You can find out more about Dave’s career at https://www.davepro.info/.

What made you want to be a part of this play? Was it daunting to play the part of a nudist on screen?

I'm a working actor and long-time naturist, so I was very excited for the opportunity to combine both of those passions with Disrobed. When I saw the casting call, I almost jumped out of my chair! I wrote a very enthusiastic cover letter for my submission, talking about how my personality and my professional background (former teacher) lined up very well with the character description for George, and about my experiences as a naturist. I guess it worked: I got cast.

Now, having completed the project, out of the 100+ screen acting jobs I've done since I became a professional actor in 2016, this is one of my favorites - for how much fun it was to do the film, for the wonderfully talented actors I got to work with, and for the pride I feel in how well it all came together. I really feel that people are going to like Disrobed a lot - both naturists, and people who know nothing about naturism. I can hardly wait for everyone to have the chance to see it!

Also, as a historian, I really appreciate how long this story has been around, and how it has evolved into what it is today. The story is appropriately described as "Meet the Parents with a twist", but it was great to learn that this play was written long before that movie came out. It's a timeless and very relatable story.

I have done nudity for two previous films, but this was the first time that my character would be nude 100% of the time that he's on screen. Still, it wasn't a problem for me. The director and the rest of the cast were all very open and easy to work with, and I've always been comfortable with social nudity.

It also helped that the story is completely non-sexual. It's just about a family being free, having fun, enjoying each other's company and loving each other. Everyone wants to be in that kind of family - and if people have half as much fun watching Disrobed as we had making it, they're really going to enjoy themselves.

What is your previous experience with public or social nudity, whether on stage or in your personal life?

I joined the ASA in the late 1980s as a young nudist, and I became a member of White Tail Park (now, White Tail Resort) in southeastern Virginia. Since settling in Texas in 2015 after retiring from the Army, I have visited Bluebonnet Nudist Park and Wildwood's Naturist Resort, both near Dallas and, near Austin, Star Ranch Nudist Club and Hippie Hollow, Texas' only official clothing-optional park, where I am a frequent visitor.

I also participated in Bare to Breakers in San Francisco and in the World Naked Bike Ride in Washington, D.C. and in Houston, and attended several social nudist events in the Houston area. I have worked as a life model for art students in college at Edinboro University in northwestern Pennsylvania and, much more recently, at the Art Institute of Houston.

I have always enjoyed the freedom of being nude outdoors and the camaraderie of social nudism. I have so much fun at the places I mentioned and I am so relaxed when I'm there that I always go into a minor depression when I have to put my clothes back on when it's time to leave. But all that just means that I'm going to be back again as soon as I can.

Do you feel that this experience has changed your attitude towards nudity?

No. I've always loved social nudity and will continue to practice the lifestyle as much as possible. The only difference now is that, if people enjoy this film as much as I think they will and enough people see it, someday I might get recognized at a nudist resort as the dad from Disrobed. That would be pretty cool.

What do you hope audience members will take away from this play? What message, if any, do you take from it?

The main reason we made the movie was to entertain people, especially during this pandemic, but I think there's a lot people can learn from this film as well.

I think that naturists will see the quality that is possible in naturist entertainment and will be inspired to seek out other naturist films - or to create naturist content of their own.

But I hope that a lot of people will see Disrobed who are unfamiliar with social nudism and will learn what it is really all about. I hope they can separate it from any inaccurate preconceived notions about the lifestyle and any assumptions that social nudity equals sex and learn to appreciate it as a valid, enjoyable and healthy lifestyle, and one they might even want to try themselves some day.

Disrobed: the Virtual Event will stream for three shows only, on January 15, 16, and 17. The performance will stream live, and disappears immediately thereafter. For information, and to purchase tickets, see https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6996.

Eloise is a highly experienced actress from Manhattan, NY. With multiple theatre and screen credits, she brings a fascinating perspective and background to the key role of Skye in Disrobed. You can check out Eloise’s YouTube channel or follow her on Instagram.

What made you want to be a part of this play? Was it daunting to play the part of a nudist on screen?

A little backstory: last summer I was in Berlin studying cabaret theater with my school. In addition to our classes we were going to see at least two shows a week sometimes even more. I kept noticing in the majority of the performances, there would be some form of nudity whether it was someone changing on stage or giving a long monologue fully nude and covered in paint. What struck me was how normal it was. In America if a man is completely naked on stage it's a big deal but in Berlin it seemed like the norm.

The more I learned and explored the city I found this sense of openness and trust with the people there. There seemed to be this very human understanding that I still don't exactly know how to put into words but I told myself then that all the work I do moving forward should have that same freedom.

Then I stumbled upon Disrobed on backstage.com! It seemed to fit exactly what I was looking for and after (virtually) meeting Troy I knew he was on the same page which made the whole experience that much greater.

...nudism seemed like this very secretive thing that not many people could access but through this process I learned just how wrong I was. I have never seen a community that is so open and accepting of everyone that wants to be a part of it.

I was a little nervous at first to tell my parents I was even auditioning because I wasn't exactly sure how they would respond to me being naked on screen but my Dad was actually the one to read with me and helped film the audition! He thought the script was really funny and that it was a great idea. Once I had that approval there was no doubt in my mind this was the right project to be a part of.

What is your previous experience with public or social nudity, whether on stage or in your personal life?

This is my first time performing nude but I am no stranger to nudity in my life. In my family it is very normal to see someone walking around the house naked. My Dad is Hungarian and my Mom was a dancer so there never seemed to be any shyness when it came to our bodies. We traveled a lot when I was a kid too and were often at nude or topless beaches.

The first time I really remember being at a nude beach was in Spain when I was 8. We were on a family vacation with a couple of other families that had young children. I remember some of the adults making some jokes at first because they didn't realize we were going to a nude beach but no one seemed to mind and we stayed for the whole day.

Do you feel that this experience has changed your attitude towards nudity?

I don't feel my attitude has changed as much as been reaffirmed. I have always believed in the power of nonsexualized nudity but I will say I have a new perspective on the nudist community. Nudism has always been something that interested me but I knew so little about the culture.

In my mind nudism seemed like this very secretive thing that not many people could access but through this process I learned just how wrong I was. I have never seen a community that is so open and accepting of everyone that wants to be a part of it. I also had no idea how widespread it is! I always figured there were one or two nude resorts in America and that were very secluded but nudism is everywhere if you just look for it.

What do you hope audience members will take away from this play? What message, if any, do you take from it?

I hope people feel inspired to disrobe themselves! There is nothing more liberating and empowering than existing in one's own skin. I hope this piece gives anyone who is still a bit timid towards the idea the confidence to try it.

Disrobed: the Virtual Event will stream for three shows only, on January 15, 16, and 17. The performance will stream live, and disappears immediately thereafter. For information, and to purchase tickets, see https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6996.

Ian Hayes plays Axel, one of the siblings from the naturist family in Disrobed. He is an actor and musician from Massachusetts, and wrote and performed the music for the show in addition to playing a memorable role as the first character to appear nude on-screen. Ian was eager to discuss his perspective as part of the cast of the play.

What made you want to be a part of this play? Was it daunting to play the part of a nudist on screen?

Two things truly attracted me to Disrobed. One was that it was a story that brought light to the absurdity that nakedness and sexuality are synonymous with each other. It was exciting to possibly be a part of the conversation by being in a show that is explicitly nude and consciously not sexual in any way.

The second reason was that there was potential for me to write, produce, and record an original song. I have been a musician and songwriter since the early 2000s and am always eager to create music in collaboration with others. It wasn't daunting for me to be naked on screen, especially since Troy and the whole production team were 100% transparent and sensitive to everyone's comfort level from the original casting notice to even these interviews we are undergoing now. Troy, Bella, and Steven created a sincerely safe space for us to step into these characters confidently and with great ease.

What is your previous experience with public or social nudity, whether on stage or in your personal life?

In my family and friend circle, I am notorious for having my shirt off as often as possible. My roommate calls me "Nakie Boi", because I am always naked (or just in underwear) at home. Publicly though, besides a few times getting naked in exercises whilst training at the Maggie Flanigan Studio here in NY, I had no experience until this past August.

...the core message of this story is that when you reveal your true self, the risk is great, but the reward is always greater.

I was in Florida with my partner and had just been cast in this production, so as a part of my research I sought the nearest nude beach to us and we ended up going to one on Cape Canaveral. We had an incredible experience. The freedom and equality we felt was thrilling, and there's nothing better than to swim naked in the sun! I can't wait to do it again.

Do you feel that this experience has changed your attitude towards nudity?

It hasn't changed it much other than further reinforce my love for being naked. It is a positive experience I can draw from as support in future conversations I may have about the subject of naturism.

What do you hope audience members will take away from this play? What message, if any, do you take from it?

I certainly hope that the audience walks away allowing themselves more nakie-time in their day-to-day lives outside of the shower and sex. That being said, my true hope is that the audience walks away asking themselves how they hide their true selves in their personal lives. Whether it has to do with their point of view on naturism and public nudity or not, the core message of this story is that when you reveal your true self, the risk is great, but the reward is always greater. We are all freaks in our own way, and owning your inner freak and showing it to the world is one of the most liberating experiences a human can have.

Disrobed: the Virtual Event will stream for three shows only, on January 15, 16, and 17. The performance will stream live, and disappears immediately thereafter. For information, and to purchase tickets, see https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6996.

Karen Lasater plays Sierra, the matriarch of the naturist family, in Disrobed. She is an experienced actress of stage and screen who hails from Katy, Texas. Karen has worked in the past with fellow cast member David McClain on multiple projects - in fact, David was the one who suggested that she audition for Disrobed. Karen graciously took some time to discuss her experience as part of the cast of this unique play.

What made you want to be a part of this play? Was it daunting to play the part of a nudist on screen?

My acting friend Dave McClain, who's been my on-screen husband many times before, asked me to audition with him. Of course, he was so nervous to ask me that he waited to call the night before his Zoom audition with writers Troy and Steve! After he told me about the nudity part, he said, “Well, you haven't hung up on me yet.”

I do work well under pressure and memorize quickly, and since I totally trust his judgement (he vetted the process intently and it seemed in his opinion to be real). We knew our chances were way better if we could read together in the same house. And we only live five minutes apart in Katy (outside of Houston) and had been quarantined from the outside world for the most part during that time.

After he told me about the project, the characters, story, and pay structure, it seemed like I would be perfect for the part too. I liked the idea of taking a bold plunge into acting nude on screen without it being sexualized or gratuitous as usually is the case. At first it was daunting and awkward; Dave and I had never seen each other nude before. His wife was on board for the project, which helped.

Prior to the nude audition, which came when we got a call-back request, he suggested I come over and we casually run lines both clothed and then naked, have lunch, and just "get in the nude zone" about an hour before. That really helped ease the both of us into it and I think made our audition seamless. But indeed my armpits were sweaty from nerves!

What is your previous experience with public or social nudity, whether on stage or in your personal life?

This is my first nude appearance on TV or stage. A long time ago, in my early career as an actor, I was asked to be in a nude scene as a prostitute for an indy film. I declined on advice from my acting coach, who said it would potentially typecast me for that kind of part. I was a mother of young children at the time and she didn't think it was worth the risk.

We judge ourselves plenty all the time. But when we come from a place of love, genuine interest and care in others, and the barriers of class come down when the clothes come off, we can really just “open up and accept our true nature.”

Fast forward to this film. Because the message is wholesome and we are naturists, it seemed only a problem perhaps for others in my family who may not want to see mom naked on the screen.

However, in real life my husband and I have been to nudist resorts in Jamaica and Cancun. So the experience of being nude in public wasn't totally foreign to me. In fact by the end of the trip we both got a bit depressed that we had to put clothes on again to go back to the “real world”!

Do you feel that this experience has changed your attitude towards nudity?

Not really. My attitude had been pretty okay with nudity in general. In the right setting I'm okay with it. And to each his own how you want to live your life. But I am not a nudist or naturist and no one in my family is either. I think they are some of the nicest, kindest, most genuine people I've ever met. I still have some body image hangups, especially as I get older. I’m still critical of my extra weight here or there on my belly or butt, but I feel pretty good about how I look at my age!

What do you hope audience members will take away from this play? What message, if any, do you take from it?

For me my character Sierra who came into nudism later through her husband George summed it up at the end of the show.

“This is all about acceptance, body positivity, and feeling liberated. And if we're all made in God's image, depending on what you believe, then who are we to judge?”

We judge ourselves plenty all the time. But when we come from a place of love, genuine interest and care in others, and the barriers of class come down when the clothes come off, we can really just “open up and accept our true nature.” I like that idea.

Disrobed: the Virtual Event will stream for three shows only, on January 15, 16, and 17. The performance will stream live, and disappears immediately thereafter. For information, and to purchase tickets, see https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/6996.