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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Government & Elections | Police State and Prisons
Body Freedom Interview
An interview about the nudity ban in San Francisco and thoughts about body acceptance and body freedom
--Why is it important to you to be able to be nude in public places?
I feel that it is important to understand that no one but you has the right to decide what you should or should not wear. Just as no one but you has the right to decide whom you should marry, what kind of sex you should practice with your lover, what you should eat, drink, smoke, or what you should believe.
For me legalizing public nudity is an issue of freedom of choice. As long as you don’t cause anyone damage you should be free to do whatever you choose. And when I say “causing damage” I am not talking about pissing off an intolerant individual who wants to be able to control every move everyone makes around them. I am talking about real, not imagined, harm.
I want to be comfortable wherever I go. I hate sweating and boiling in clothes on a hot day. I hate the fact that men can go top free and I have to wear that wet cold sticky rag around my chest when I get out of the water at a public beach. I appreciate clothes when they protect me from cold but I surely hate them when someone else dictates that I have to wear them when it’s hot.
It’s not about being nude, it’s about being free. If I ask you why it is so important for you to wear the piece of clothing that you like so much, or why it is so important for you, say, to drink orange juice every morning, or read the newspaper while drinking coffee, what are you going to say? Why can’t you just wear only color brown, drink only water, and only read books but not newspapers? What’s wrong with a law that prohibits orange juice in the morning? Why do you have to have your orange juice in the morning? Is there something wrong with you? Are you addicted to orange juice? Why does it bother you that if you drink orange juice in the morning you will get a fine and after the third time go to jail for a year? Why can’t you just switch to grapefruit juice? What is wrong with you? What are you so upset about? Aren’t there more important issues to talk about? Like the homeless and the war?
People don’t realize that all these issues are connected. People don’t realize that war is about disregarding your free will, taking away your freedom of choice. War is about domination, tyranny. Homeless people are often homeless because they weren’t given a choice to have a home. Many of them have psychological problems and therefore need our support so they can have a choice of living indoors or outdoors. If they did have that choice most of them would choose to have a home.
Likewise, banning nudity is a form or tyranny. It’s about depriving you of your freedom of choice, of your free will.
It blows me away that in America guns are legal and most people seem to be fine with it despite all the innocent people who get murdered. But nudity is somehow a problem because it “offends” some prudes. I can’t digest this contradiction, my head just gives up every time I try. I can only explain it as the result of very intense and consistent propaganda that is drilled into people’s heads 24/7 from the time they are infants.
--Say a little about your crusade in San Francisco.
I have been a political activist for at least 10 years. I got serious about activism when 911 happened. I joined the 911 truth movement that believes that 911 was an inside job. Our job was to expose that to the American people. At one point I realized that I could expand my audience by getting naked. So I started my TV series “My Naked Truth” where I interview people naked. It was a form of political expression. I interviewed anti-war activists and 911 truth activists as well as nudists and other people. That’s how I first connected with nudists. “My Naked Truth” airs in San Francisco (channel 29 at 10 PM on Saturdays), in Berkeley and in a number of other surrounding towns. It can be found on the web at http://www.MyNakedTruth.TV
I believe it was in early October of 2012 when Scott Wiener, Supervisor from the Castro district, introduced the legislation that would criminalize public nudity in San Francisco. The first offense is a $100 fine, while the third offense is a $500 fine and possibly a year in jail. Exceptions would be made for very few city permitted parades.
When Scott Wiener declared war on nudity in San Francisco I was outraged. I wasn’t aware of any strong nudist activists who I thought could effectively defeat the nudity ban. I felt compelled to get involved and to give it my very best. I did have experience in political activism. I was also aware of the fascist tendency that had been happening in Europe and different parts of the US, California specifically. As a backlash against growing liberties in the areas of body and sexual acceptance, the tyrants have been waging war on body freedom.
I organized 8 protests so far, 5 in front of the City Hall and 3 inside the City Hall. I filmed and aired all the protests on my show “My Naked Truth”. We also lobbied the Supervisors, sent emails and letters, and came to the hearing on November 5th to make public comment. Most people at the hearing spoke out against the nudity ban.
At that hearing I made my speech calling body freedom an inalienable right guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, and took my clothes off. I was escorted out to the hallway and continued my speech in front of news reporters. I had invited the media in advance, by the way, making a promise to get naked. I had that protest filmed and it went viral on the internet. It got 200,000 hits on http://www.worldstarhiphop.com within less than 36 hours of being posted. Among many other places, the video clip ended up on the biggest Norwegian TV website and got noticed by Jan Dalchow, an award winning documentary film maker who flew to San Francisco and spent about 10 days documenting our activism for his new documentary called “The Naked Dream”.
On November 14 we had a big protest outside the City Hall and then marched naked to the Federal Building to file a class action lawsuit with our amazing attorney Christina DiEdoardo. Our lawsuit is based on the fact that the nudity ban violates the 1st Amendment (freedom of speech) and the 14th Amendment (equal protection rights) of the Constitution. The lawsuit attracted a lot of media and was covered worldwide.
On November 20 the first vote took place at the Board of Supervisors. All the 5 progressive Supervisors voted against the nudity ban and 4 of them (John Avalos, Christina Olague, David Campos, Eric Marr) put up a fight for us and made excellent comments against the ban. They really made it look ridiculous, talking about violent crime that is not being adequately addressed because of lack police force, and how the nudity ban would take away some of that police force and waste it on harassing nude people. Other comments were made about freedom of expression. Despite the fact that the progressive Supervisors made it very clear how wrong that legislation was, despite the fact that many protests were held against the ban, despite the fact that most people in San Francisco are OK with public nudity (63% according to a Zogby poll), despite the fact that both Federal law and California State law allow non-sexual public nudity, the ban was still approved by a vote of 6 to 5. It was very clear to us that there were some very undemocratic forces at play. The crowd started booing. I wasn’t planning to get naked that day, but wait till the second and final vote. But I was so outraged that I ripped my clothes off, ran over to towards the Supervisors and started yelling at them. I accused them of voting against the people. I called the Supervisors who approved the ban “gutless puppets”. I said: “If you have no guts then stay home!” I yelled: “This is not a government, this is whore house!” The sheriff’s deputies threw a blue blanket on me and dragged me out of the chambers. They gave me my clothes back and let me out of the building as they had done the first time I got naked. Once outside the City Hall I found out that at least a half of a dozen people got naked with me, which was so unexpected and so amazing! A body freedom revolution began!
The story really broke at that point. I did 2 interviews with BBC radio that day, it was the top story on Yahoo news, The Guardian in England asked me to write an article for them, and many other local and international media outlets covered the story.
On December 4th the nudity ban was finally passed by a 6 to 5 vote. The crowd started booing the Board of Supervisors, I got naked and yelled at the Supervisors: “Body freedom is a birth right! Down with the corporate Wiener suckers! You voted against the people of San Francisco, you violated the Constitution, the Federal law and the California State law. This government is illegitimate! It’s time for a revolution!” The sheriff’s deputies were quick with their blue blankets. As they were dragging me out the chambers, I kept throwing my blanket off and yelling: “ You are a bunch of corporate puppets! Who is your puppet master? I want to know who your puppet master is!” 6 other people got naked too. Geroge Davis was yelling: “Body Freedom!” as they were dragging him out the door. CKiara Rose proudly paraded herself naked in front of everyone and yelled at the Board of Sups. One of the protesters, Dany Devero from Norway, pulled out s sign that said: “Our bodies are God’s gifts” and made a said: “What does it mean to teach people to be ashamed of their bodies? It is terrible. This is a shame for America!” He got escorted out as well. Stardust who is not a nudist (but who got naked at the November 20th hearing) walked passed the Supervisors talking about how destructive it is to teach our children to be ashamed of their bodies, how it causes anorexia, cutting, sexual intimacy issues. A few other people shouted at the Supervisors while the rest of the room silently cleared out in disgust. The meeting room was left practically empty. The commotion continued in the hallway with crowds of reporters trying to interview whoever they could catch.
Out of 7 people only one got arrested, Ckiara Rose (Ercell Fleurima). Even though she did the exact same thing we did she was singled out. She later reported hearing the sheriff’s deputies talking about waiting for a phone call from Wiener before they hauled her off to jail. Apparently it was Wiener’s personal vendetta. A couple weeks prior to that Ckiara had made a speech at one of our protests saying: “So Wiener went to Harvard, is that right? Wiener, did you go to Harvard so that you could attack nude people? Is that the best you can do? “ It’s hard to argue with Ckiara’s words. I guess it was more than Wiener could handle. Ckiara was given an $8,000 bail and who knows what would have happened if Sheriff Mirkarimi didn’t step in and set things right. At our request he investigated the case and had Ckiara released without bail within an hour of receiving our email. Her charges were dropped a few days later.
About 20 body freedom activists including myself released an eBook called “Free Your Body, Free Your Mind!” It is available on Amazon Kindle for $5. All proceeds go to our legal defense and future nudist events/actions. The eBook contains over 200 photos:
Our class action law suit against the nudity ban will be heard by Judge Chen on January 17th. We have a lot of faith in the lawsuit.
Whether the Judge rules in our favor or not we are not going to give up until the nudity ban is gone.
--How did you become interested in nudity?
I grew up in Russia (I was born in 1969). At that time Russian was very oppressive towards nudity and sex. It is different now, but that’s how it was back then. I hated the oppression and really wanted to break free from body shame. I was exposed to Hungarian culture as a young teen. I fell in love with the body and sexual freedom in Hungary. That was the first liberating influence in my life. Later in the US I became a strip dancer and then a nude model. About a decade later I started filming sex scenes of real couples. Here is my site: http://www.LustfulGoddess.com
--Has the number of people interested in public nudity or body freedom gone up in recent years?
We are in the midst of a worldwide sexual revolution. Being a producer of adult films I can tell you that the level of acceptance of the human body is growing exponentially all over the world. Porn and internet play a huge role in this revolution. Even though I am not a big fan of commercial porn, never-the-less it has played a very positive role in the growing acceptance of sexuality and of nudity.
More and more people are breaking free of body shame. More and more people are waking up to their connection to nature – look at all the environmental movements. Nudity is our nature, that’s how we are born and that’s how we are underneath the pretense of clothes. More and more people are seeking a spiritual connection with nature, and that means embracing ourselves au natural. There is no doubt in my mind that the quest for body freedom (organized or not) is exploding exponentially on our planet.
--Do you think society has gotten more open, or more restrictive, with regard to nudity?
People have definitely grown more open to nudity. On the other hand, there is a major backlash coming from oppressive governments. Sexual oppression has always been a big tool in dominating the masses in every totalitarian society known to humankind.
--What do you say to those whose sensibilities are offended by your body freedom, like families with children?
First of all, there is no “sensibility” in body shame, it’s nothing but a knee-jerk response created by years of brainwashing and propaganda against the human body.
Nudity does not harm children. If it did human race would have been extinct from the very beginning, because obviously, there were no clothes back then.
The idea that nudity harms children is a nonsensical myth. It has no grounds whatsoever in any kind of science nor research. It is nothing but an old wife’s tale that is reinforced by the oppressive religious authorities because it goes along with their agenda of domination of the human spirit.
Legitimate research in that area shows that children actually benefit from being raised in an environment free of body shame. Children raised in nudist families have less anxiety, have higher levels of self-acceptance and are more emotionally free and balanced than children who are raised with body shame.
My children are a great example of that. My sons are almost 8 and almost 10 years old, my daughter is 12. I raised them in a clothing optional environment. They are very free. Many people approach me and tell me how free and happy my kids are.
--What do you think about nudity in art? Have you watched the TV show "Girls"? What do you think of Lena Dunham's decision to go nude on-air?
I can’t imagine art without nudity. I can’t imagine life without nudity. True artists have always been free from body shame. Freedom of self-expression is impossible for a person who is imprisoned by body shame because body shame is a form of self-hate, and self-hating people don’t feel free to express themselves.
I don’t watch TV so, unfortunately, I am not familiar with that show. I support anyone who wants to go nude on the air, I do it myself all the time.
--Why are people, especially women, afraid to display their forms?
I have also noticed that there are fewer women than men among public nudists.
I think there are 3 big factors.
1) Women are a lot more vulnerable to assault than men.
2) Nudity in our society is associated with sex, and a nude woman is automatically considered a “slut” and someone who is asking to be disrespected or raped.
3) Women in our so-called “civilized” society are viewed as sex objects because of the widespread sexual taboos and deprivation. There is a lot of pressure put on women to be a “perfect” sex object with a perfect body. A perfect body is not a body that’s healthy and pain free, but a body that is perceived to be sexually stimulating to the majority of men. I hate to say this, but a woman’s value is determined above all by how much she makes a dick hard. If she is young and has big boobs and a shapely figure she is admired and pampered. If she is older or heavier or doesn’t have the “right” curves, she better be useful in some other way, or else she is a nobody, a nothing, has no value. I hate to say this but this is how I feel about the attitude of our society. And I bet you I am not alone. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that every woman in the Western World feels this way. Because no matter how conventionally beautiful a woman may be she knows that her sex appeal is not forever. A woman who is considered attractive knows very well what it is like to be approached merely as a sex object by the majority of men. A woman who is considered unattractive knows what it’s like to be treated like a “nobody” with hostility and hate because she did not deliver the sexual arousal that was expected of her.
Public nudity is a test of a woman’s value as a human being – if you look at it from that perspective. That’s why it can be a big challenge especially for a woman who doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter. But breaking free from that tyranny is unbelievably liberating for every woman – that’s why I encourage everybody to practice public nudity, if not in a city, then at least on a beach.
As far as men are concerned, there may be less pressure about having perfect curves but there is that tyranny of having to have a big penis. Men are also viewed as sex objects, less so than women but non-the-less they still are. That is the challenge that men face. For them too public nudity can be viewed as a measure of their value as a man – how strong his muscles are and of course, how big his penis is. A man needs to love himself enough to be able to disregard that superficial judgment and pressure, to step beyond it and set himself free.
- Without going nude in public--which some might be afraid to--how can people get more comfortable with themselves?
I think it needs to begin with getting to love ourselves unconditionally. In the long run all our self-hate about our bodies boils down to our self-hate about ourselves as human beings. Forgiving ourselves for our past mistakes and for our imperfections is where it all begins. Once we start valuing ourselves as human beings our bodies become secondary. That’s how I got to accept myself physically. I realized that I needed to forgive myself for the anger that my face reflects, forgive myself for my laziness and lack of exercise, forgive myself for my eating habits, for my self-neglect, for my narcissism, for my big ego, for my fear of getting old, for my self-hate. I am far from being free from those feelings, but making a conscious effort to heal and to love myself just as I am, has made a world of difference.
I think it would be great to look in the mirror and study your body. Realize that your body has loved and served you all your life despite your ungrateful hateful attitude towards it. Look at your legs and think of how great it is to be able to walk and run. Tell your legs that you love them. Scan your whole body in that way and thank every body part for what it is doing for you every day. Tell it that you love it, and really mean it. Think especially of parts of your body that you don’t accept, and imagine how lonely and sad that body part feels, how desperately it needs your love.
I remember thinking about my vagina one day. I realized that all I feel towards it is hate and embarrassment. I started thinking about it in a more conscious way. I thought to myself: “My vagina gave birth to my 3 beautiful children. It gives me pleasure when I touch it, it brings me joy. It is made of unconditional love. It loves and serves me in spite of my hate and my total lack of compassion for the abuse that it was subjected to when I was an infant and a young child (my grandfather sexually abused me) as well as an adult when I was gang raped. Realizing this made me cry.
Self-love lies at the core of happiness. Until you accept your body fully just as it is, you don’t really love yourself, and therefore you can’t be happy.
Besides working with yourself on self-acceptance and self-forgiveness, it would be good to start spending time naked with a family member or a good friend or a lover in a non-sexual situation. Later you can start hanging out naked with a group of like-minded friends. Eventually you may want to go to a nude beach with your group of friends, and there you go – you are officially a nudist. Congratulations!
--Is there a political dimension to going nude in public... or in art? What does it mean?
If our society was free from body shame nudity would be considered natural and there wouldn’t even be a special word “nudist”. Because nudists are really just ordinary human beings who want to enjoy their bodies through direct contact with nature. We are not some occult group nor some secret society. Neither are we a gang of perverted demented freaks who can’t wait to undress and rape those who are still wearing clothes. There is really nothing special about nudity, there is really nothing to it.
But since we live in a sick society where war is glorified and human body is criminalized, nudity becomes a political statement. It is a direct threat to our world view of separation from nature and from one another. It shakes the very foundation of our social moral structure. It shows us how fake we have become and how separated from who we truly are.
In a truly indigenous society where people live in harmony with nature and with one another, where sex is considered a healthy part of life nudity is not a threat. Because in those types of societies people area accepting of themselves and one another, there is really no need to hide from each other. In that environment nudity is just a part of life, especially on a hot day.
I have never really thought of nudity in art as a political statement, but it would make a lot of sense to think that it was. Once again, in a society where nudity is considered natural a nude sculpture does not present the same challenge to social norms as it does in a puritan society. So in Western art nudity most likely was a form of rebellion against sexual oppression and body shame. I would go as far as to say that artists like Michelangelo and Rubens were true pioneers of body freedom.