Every year, Ol' Man Winter cruelly turns Bostonians' bodies into shriveled, cracked sacks of atrophied muscle and lumpy goo — not exactly fodder for Playmate of the Month. Come spring, our psyches are so thoroughly beaten down by Beantown's frosty temperatures and even frostier Puritan roots that, at the first hint of sunshine, some of us are ready to turn Newbury Street into a Nelly video.
Whereas this was certainly not the case in Goody Proctor's day, there are signs now that nudity is flourishing in the Bay State. Sure, you've got your regular sartorial shredders, like the two female PETA activists who earlier this month skated in nothing but leopard body paint on the Boston Common Frog Pond. But today, nakedness might in fact be the greatest social equalizer we have.
If the January special election taught us anything, it's that even the commonwealth's more buttoned-down types like some things completely unbuttoned. After all, were it not for the hint of naughty bits concealed behind a conveniently dangling arm in 1982's Cosmopolitan spread, Scott Brown might never have claimed his new title as Prince of the Known Universe.
The American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) estimates that its membership in the New England region stands at 2000 people. And the Pilgrim Naturists of New England, at its peak five years ago, had 300 registered members in the Boston area.
Comparing frigid New England to considerably more temperate regions can be misleading, notes AANR Executive Director Erich Shutauff. "It's easier in New England to get people to give skinny-dipping a try," he says, "because there's a sense that you might miss your chance." Last year, for instance, says Shutauff, New England turned out in full force on July 11 to help the AANR achieve a skinny-dipping world record, as more than 13,000 people simultaneously plunged into bodies of water across the country at 3 pm EST. (Alas, intrigued by some of disgraced ex-congressman Eric Massa's activities, there was no "snorkeling," as far as we can tell.)
So now, with a famously naked senator representing Massachusetts in Washington and a hopeful twinkle in our eye toward the official start of spring (this weekend!), here's a guide to Boston's birthday-suit bonanza.
Nude and Rude: Naked Comedy Showcase
Judging the tiny "undressing room" edging past a row of fold-out chairs propped up against the janitor's closet at ImprovBoston in Cambridge, naked comic Karen Glover frowns. "You know," she says, "when you've got naked people, this is not a lot of space."
The eight comedians who will shortly disrobe before their turn to rush onstage for the Naked Comedy Showcase (NCS) are making due with awkward conditions tonight. They have been relegated to the left side of the theater entrance, behind a flimsy barrier, after getting kicked out of their usual, far-more-spacious green room for another company's tech rehearsal.
This summer, the NCS — brainchild of 41-year-old software engineer Andy Ofiesh — celebrates its fifth anniversary.