June 1, 2001
Spring must be in the air - everyone in
Canada is getting naked. Or so it seems.
For one of the shyest countries in the
world, Canadians appear to be removing their clothes in record
Take for example a group of women from
Newfoundland. They decided the best way to raise money for the
palliative care unit of the Western Memorial Regional Hospital was
to take it all off and publish their photos in a charity calendar.
The media has been quick to point out that
the Newfoundland pin-ups are all over 40, bless them. As a plus 40
myself I'm happy to hear there's a market for more mature flesh.
Give Brittany Spears another 25 years and she'll really be
Anyway, I hope they raise a million bucks
and nothing froze off during the Canadian photo session.
Early spring is not a time to be caught
outside in Canada without your essentials covered. Some would ague
that it's iffy even in summer. Add to that our basic embarrassment
about the human body, the result no doubt of it being covered in
thick woolens and mitts nine months of the year.
For some reason, Canada is also home to The
Naked News - a web newscast of the day's top news stories, except
it's presented by naked people. To be more precise, it's presented
by news anchor Victoria Sinclair, three other women and a man. They
begin the broadcast fully clothed and end up - well, naked.
You can see the immediate appeal, although
I'm surprised it's a Canadian invention. For one thing, the heating
costs for the studio alone must set them back a fortune, even if
they do save a bundle on wardrobe.
Even though The Naked News is a genuine news
broadcast, I'm not sure it's something I'd want to see Lloyd
Robertson trying to compete with. I myself may occasionally write my
column in pyjamas and bathrobe, but I don't want anyone looking for
me to provide them with the full monty. At least my editors only
expect me to fill a small space.
Finally, last weekend over two thousand
people got naked in Montreal to be photographed lying in front of
the Museum of Contemporary Art. They only expected five hundred
volunteers, but got nearly five times that many. I've always said
Montreal is a friendly place.
American photographer Spencer Tunick has
been going from city to city trying to get bunches of people naked
in public for pictures to show how "vulnerable the body is in a
hostile world". Well, you can't get too much more hostile than
Canada. And if you're and artist trying to snap pictures of naked
bodies in Canada, I hope you're in your blue period. If goosebumps
are your thing, you've come to the right country.
Strangely enough, photographer Tunick was
chased out of the City of New York and charged with public lewdness
for taking pictures of naked models in public. The City of Montreal
actually co-sponsored his naked photo shoot.
All I could think after looking at the
pictures was how chilly the cobblestones looked in May. And what
kind of small talk to you make with a total stranger lying naked on
the pavement next to you for an hour or so?
Probably that typically Canadian greeting:
"Cold enough for you?"