Nudity. A pretty sounding word, rolls trippingly  off the tongue. Brings to mind beautiful bodies, male and female, nude babes and babies on tiger skin rugs.  We have magazines, calendars, paintings, photographs, movies, all dedicated to showing off the naked body. We have boob and butt and porn mags and films and other less classy exposures. But they make some folks happy and many professionals think they’re harmless. Maybe, even, serve a healthy purpose. Better to look at pictures than rip clothes off or commit  sexual offenses.

We are reminded of that delightful Marilyn Monroe photo, the darling full length picture of John and Yoko, the gorgeous Playboy cover girls and even the beautiful butt and leg shot of a Muslim sweetie in red stiletto heels and burqa on the cover of a recent Humanist magazine.  Compared to Marilyn’s day and her  cutsie pose on a plush red background, many of today’s teen age fashion magazines are beyond the pale.

I’m at the moment perusing the thirty full length nude pages in the Century of Sex, Playboy’s history of the sexual revolution 1900-1999 by James R. Petersen with a foreword by Hugh Hefner editor in chief . The section begins with some really rather funny ads from the 1900’s. A picture of Anna Held’s over clothed  ‘perfect figure’ and ends with a 1999 ad for Viagra, a 1992 cover of Future Sex magazine, lead article CYBERSEX, and a priceless PETA ad  featuring supermodels Emma Sjoberg, Tatjana Patitz, Heather Stewart-Whyte, Fabienne Terwinghe and Naomi Campbell with the caption “We’d rather go naked than wear fur.”  We’ve come a long way, baby. Goody for us.

A stroll down this memory lane- towards the end, anyway- ends up with Elvis and William Masters and Virginia Johnson and Hair and the Graduate and Lolita and Betty Grable and Jane Russell, in no chronological order, with Timothy Leary, Mickey Spillane and Petty girls and Ziegfeld girls and even fruit crate art and, in World War Two, pin up girls as bomber art.

We had Tropic of Cancer, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Memories of a Woman of Pleasure (Fanny Hill). That’s Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, John Cleland, if you recall. We had Ida Craddock, Alfred Kinsey, Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer.

Back up a bit and we had the New York Society for the Suppression  of Vice and Anthony Comstock, Secretary of the Society from 1872 until 1915. He wrote the Comstock Act, declaring it illegal to send through the mails anything about abortion, birth control or sex. That was a hoot.

Fast forward. Today we have the religious right anti-abortion bunch. Wade-Roe must go. The down with Planned Parenthood lunatics. The sexually corrupt Catholic church elbowing its noisy way into the fray. In Hawaii we had the ed silvoso  crowd and on Kauai we have  an uproar about nudes on beaches.  What is it with religious folks and sex and the naked body? Do you think maybe all of them are really ugly with their clothes off? Some of”em ain’t so hot with their clothes on. That’s a bad bad but methinks we’re going backwards full speed ahead.


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