Spencer Tunick and mass public nudity in Mexico
Let me take a break from porn and talk about nudity instead 🙂 There’s been quite a lot of media coverage recently of Spencer Tunick’s latest mass-nudity art installation in Mexico City. I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences taking part in the 2001 Montreal affair. For background, I was brought up in a somewhat naturist family and don’t really have any issue with being seen naked myself. I’m an ugly bastard, you understand, but that only bothers other people who’re not me. So I didn’t think it would be a big deal to take part in something like this. I certainly wasn’t concerned about public erections or anything of that type. The Tunick pictures I had seen just didn’t look terribly sexy.
So there I was along with 2500 other idiots in downtown Montreal at 5am on a cold morning, standing nervously waiting to be told to take my clothes off. For someone who was able to stay relatively detached from it, it was an interesting opportunity to observe human sexual behaviour in an unusual context. Wait a minute – did I just say sexual behaviour? Surely every one of those men and women was there purely in the interests of creating art? Well, some of them might have been. Many more were there, like me, to be part of some big unusual event. But honestly I think the majority just wanted to see naked members of the opposite sex.
I think there is a big part of our sexual psyche that wants an excuse to do sexy things. There is a movie which featured a group of strangers being forced to strip and being tied together (man to woman) by terrorists. I don’t remember anything about that movie at all except for the idea of being forced to strip and be tied up to a naked attractive female. That’s kinky. The Spencer Tunick installations are similar, I think. Secretly many of us would love nothing more than to get naked in front of similarly-uncovered strangers. Taking part in one of these events provides a socially acceptable excuse for us to do so. And a great many of the people on Rue St Catherine on that morning were there because they were listening to their inner voyeur.
So we’re all there. We’re still clothed. There are a heck of a lot of people, and there’s not a lot of space. There’s kind of an unspoken awareness that the people who are adjacent to you now are the ones you’re going to be exposing yourself to, and seeing naked, and that has an effect on people’s behaviour. Gradually, subtly, clusters of men are forming around attractive unaccompanied young women. Consciously or otherwise, those women are themselves clustering together as if for protection. Except for people who obviously arrived together, there’s no talking. I’m delighted to find myself between twentyish student type with brown frizzy hair and a slightly older blonde. Not that I’m looking, but they’re both pretty nicely shaped. Despite myself, I feel a stirring in my pants. I focus on an old man, and it’s not a problem any more. Then suddenly, it’s happening, and we’re getting naked. A moment of craziness. One of my neighbours, the blonde, is a little hesitant. She catches my eye for a brief second, and glances down at my crotch as I’m stripping. Then she turns away, and she’s naked too. She’s a little fatter than she looked in her clothes.
What way do you face when you’re stripping in a crowd? I’m seeing flashes of genitals and breasts. Everyone is moving so quickly that it’s less than real. Then everyone – everyone – is nude and shivering and a little red, and no one knows where to look. You can only see the people next to you, and they are naked. This is the reality. Unless you crane your neck and look only at the sky, you will be looking at someone’s private body parts, and probably they at yours too. The mood changes. This is now funny. We let ourselves look at each other.
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The brown-haired girl has the most stunning breasts, round and plump. She knows I’m looking, and smiles at me. I smile back; it’s OK for me to be looking; this is what she came here for. It’s a bizarrely non-sexual moment. The mood is such that I’m able to appreciate the shape and design of her body without thinking about what it would be like to fuck her. We’re posed lying curled up on our sides. The brown-haired girl’s butt is close to me and right in my field of view; I can see her pussy lips. I wonder who is looking at my genitals right now. I hope someone is. The blonde would be my first choice, but just as likely its some guy. We’re naked for what feels like an hour. We get moved and re-posed, but I stay close to the brown-haired girl, or maybe she’s staying close to me. We are developing a little relationship of half-glances and smiles. God knows, she’s a stunning woman, and very naked indeed, and yet I’m not getting aroused. It’s a calm, accepting feeling. When it’s all over, we’re quickly dressed, and with one last smile, we’re gone our separate ways, platonic lovers who never shared a single word of conversation.
Spencer Tunick’s images are very boring. Thousands of anonymous pink dots. But every single one of those dots had to expose themself to the judgement of strangers. Every single one of those dots built a functioning intimate relationship with the others around them. Yes, at the end, I must say, art happened that day – not in spite of our sexual urges, but rather because of them.
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