Naked or Nude as a Come-on

It’s tempting for publicity shlockmeisters to toss in “naked” or nude” at any time possible to promote their goods (or bads). In the 21st century nudity, or even the mention of it, still seems to shock. Here are a couple of examples in which a hint of nudity is applied to a famous diamond, and to a type of violin, in an effort to drum up business. Surprisingly, the “forbidden” terms are applied to high-class occasions: the opening of an exhibit of the Hope Diamond at the National Gem Collection of the Smithsonian, and a classical recital at London’s Cadogan Hall. The perpetrators of these shameless attention grabbers are the Associated Press and Bloomberg respectively, though perhaps “respect” is what they don’t deserve. In their favor, a “naked diamond” is an accepted term, and so is the “nude violin.” We regret missing both these occasions, on which perhaps the AP and Bloomie might have enjoyed seeing a couple of “naked authors”–that is, not covered by a contract.

Famed and Feared Hope Diamond Goes Naked 

By Randolph E. Schmid (Associated Press) September 23, 2009 10:33 AM EST

WASHINGTON – For the first time, the famed and feared Hope Diamond is on display au naturel.

The doors were locked. Tense looking security guards took their positions. In rolled a cart, a white cloth covering its contents.

Smithsonian Institution officials lifted the cloth. “The Hope Diamond naked,” proclaimed Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection. The world’s largest blue diamond went on public display Wednesday, for the first time without its ornate setting.

Perched atop a light gray display post, the Hope Diamond will be on view by itself for several months while a new setting is prepared. Called “Embracing Hope,” the new setting will surround the star gem in a ribbon of white diamonds. It was chosen from three proposals in an online vote, winning 45,000 out of a total 110,000 votes cast, said Cristian Samper, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. The new display is part of a celebration of the Hope Diamond’s half-century at the museum. It was donated in 1958 by jeweler Harry Winston, whose firm is preparing the new setting.

Long rumored to carry a curse, the diamond has brought the museum “nothing but good luck,” said Post, noting that it inspired many other gifts and forms the basis of the National Gem Collection. That was Winston’s plan, he added, noting that the jeweler once commented that even though the United States doesn’t have a king or queen, it should have crown jewels.


Tai Murray violin Murray Plays ‘Nude’ Violin, Debuts at Carnegie Hall


Interview by Warwick Thompson

Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) When the classical violinist Tai Murray says she once played her instrument in the nude, our conversation hits something of a buffer. Really, I ask?

She looks surprised, then hastens to explain. “Nude is the term for an unfinished and unvarnished violin,” she says with a grin. The acclaimed American luthier Mario Miralles, who heard her play, decided to create an instrument for her, which she played in its raw state — making her one of the few violinists in the world ever to have had that opportunity.

Small wonder. Chicago-born Murray, 27, is a passionate, communicative performer, with a sound big and rich enough to inspire any number of luthiers. She has already debuted with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and at Carnegie Hall, and is currently a member of the BBC’s gold-standard New Generation Artists program. She plays in a series of concerts this weekend as part of the BBC Proms at London’s Cadogan Hall.

I meet Murray in an elegant London private club. Wearing a gray silk dress, she discusses her passion for music, and the dearth of fellow African-American instrumentalists. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she smiles cheerily as she speaks.

Tai Murray appears in three concerts with other BBC New Generation Artists at London’s Cadogan Hall over Aug. 29-3.

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