In a downtown park, two dozen people stripped naked. Fifty random onloookers circled,
gawking. And the police were nowhere in sight...
In fact, informed earlier of their disrobing intentions, a police officer simply left the
scene, pedalling away in his shorts, on a bike -- because this was Berkeley, California.
Which puts the whole thing in perspective. The nudes were part of the "breast visibility
movement" -- and the event was the 9th annual Nude and Breast Freedom Parade.
"Parade" is probably the wrong word, though. 6 women and 18 men stripped naked in a
secluded, shady corner of People's Park. A gangly man with bushy hair circled the
gathering crowd while ringing bells, nodding his head, and saying "howdy, howdy." And
then it began -- an eerie huddle that was part activism, part ritual. The naked people
formed a circle, facing in, and lifted their arms over their heads while one recited
polemic poetry. "We celebrate the beauty of the body, and the beauty of the liberation
of the body from boring fashion and repressive social standards..." A silent crowd
stared as he continued his blissed out rhetoric about loving the planet and gushing "live
air" from your lungs...
There were a variety of naked bodies -- women and men of different sizes and shapes, and
even two men in wheelchairs. One portly middle-aged man had a mohawk, glasses, and a
claw tattoo across his chest. But fans of nudity were probably disappointed. By
huddling in a circle, the participants had simply formed a giant ring of asses.
A handful of activists have been keeping this movement going for years. Berkeley
originally had no prohibition on nudity, and as the city council attempted to enact one,
Berkeley residents continued challenging it. Meanwhile, they went about their lives. One
of the nudists now also draws psychedelic
paintings of couples making love.
Today's demonstration of nudity raises the question: what fashions should be enforced in
a public space? Is it really an issue you want to devote a Sunday afternoon to