THE NAKED TRUTH
“Nudity is the state of wearing no clothing. It is related to the concept of modesty and is sometimes used to refer to wearing significantly less clothing than expected by the conventions of a particular culture and situation, and in particular exposing the bare skin or intimate parts.” Thus Wikipedia, in negative terms, defines the original and natural state of the human body. This obverse view of Nudity is that taken by our culture at large, as though it were unnatural to go naked except in the dark or the utmost privacy. Besides, the definition contradicts itself: first, Nudity is wearing no clothes, then it is wearing “less clothing than expected.” That’s logical nonsense. If a woman wore a bikini to a fancy dress ball, she would have on “less clothing than expected–she would be out of place, but not naked. As we shall see, Nudity is all in the mind.
Adah Menken, the Victorian era’s Naked Lady, understood that truth. She became the highest paid actress in the world by appearing in a flesh-colored body stocking, somewhat see-through, and a skimpy item at the groin that Mark Twain referred to as “a little dimity nothing.” Gypsy Rose Lee, the most successful strip-tease artist of all time, understood it was the tease, not the strip that did the trick with her mostly male, on the town, audience. To our mind, naked is nice, but to the admitted or clandestine voyeur, AKA moralistic pest, any degree of naked is naughty if not sinful. Take the interesting, and ongoing, case of Carrie Prejean, sometime Miss California and almost Miss USA, both being franchises owned by Donald Trump.
Thanks to Gregg Easterbrook for the following comment: “Carrie Prejean failed to become Miss USA because she declared her opposition to gay marriage. Judges found this view too controversial to be associated with the pageant winner, and named Prejean first runner-up. . . . Afterward Prejean said Satan planted the question about gay marriage, in order to tempt her. If Satan was running the Miss USA pageant, ratings would be a lot higher! Prejean was dethroned as Miss California, following a flap about her posing “partially nude.” Isn’t one either nude or not? Besides, Prejean was representing California, where taking your clothes off in public is practically mandatory. Though no longer so much as a state titlist, Prejean has become better known than Miss USA. This seems to confirm the adage, ‘There is no such thing as bad press.'”
At the box office, notoriety often beats fame. The combination of the two in one person, for example the late Michael Jackson, is best. Adah Menken drew overflow theater crowds in New York, London, Paris, and gold rush California every time she played the cross-dressing role of Prince Mazeppa, who in Act III becomes the undressed Mazeppa, in the drama by that name. Adapted from a lengthy poem by Lord Byron about a fighter against Tsarist tyranny, it is a heroic and dangerous role. The Prince is stripped bare by a gang of soldiers, tied to the back of an untamed stallion (actually a trained mare), and sent galloping up a four-story-high stage mountain. The ramp was narrow, the ride treacherous, and the chances of our hero(ine) getting maimed or killed excellent. Mazeppa was widely imitated, and at least one other actress did suffer fatal injuries. Sex, scandal (there was plenty in Adah’s life), and danger – that’s entertainment! The Naked Lady’s fans ranged from grimy miners in Nevada who threw packets of gold dust on the stage to elegant Emperor Napoleon III, who tried to seduce her.
In our day, though bikinis are breathtakingly brief and shorts worn on the street are crotch-high, Nudity remains an issue and a publicity monger’s trump card. Much more on the subject soon.
For now, courtesy of the New York Daily News, take a peek at Carrie Prejean’s allegedly scandalous photo taken when she was seventeen.
Back partially turned, Carrie is supposedly advertising those brief panties. She looks great and there is really only part of one breast showing. Now look at an officially approved photo of Carrie bikini-clad on stage at the Miss USA contest.
All in all, there is more flesh showing in this one, more of everything!
So when is a model partially nude and when is a contestant merely showing off her assets? Easy answer: When you are working for the Donald, take it off! You may not win the prize, but you won’t lose face.
TO BE CONTINUED