Two naked men have been walking around some
popular establishments in Thessaloniki in the late hours of the day for several
months now, surprisingly appearing and disappearing and certainly attracting
the curious stares of the other participants in the city's nightlife.
What are they in fact – activists, just
exhibitionists or two narcissists who want to become famous at any cost?
Journalist Alkisti Georgiou of the Greek magazine Lifo is talking with Michalis
and Yiannis (John Mask) about what they are actually trying to demonstrate with
their naked appearances.
"Urban nudism is more of a concept. For us
it may mean the decision of a person to spend his or her daily round without
clothes. Internationally, the examples of urban nudism include an international
cycling parade, artistic events involving the exposure of a naked body in a
public place and activist actions such as those of the organization
FEMEN", they say.
They themselves are doing nothing more than
taking off their clothes, walking around naked and then putting their clothes
on again. "We usually give our clothes to someone who is dressed to keep
them. Ideally, we would like to go out and go back home naked."
Yiannis is 24 years old; he has recently
graduated in architecture and is not yet working. Michalis is 31 years old, he
has a masters degree in economics and he is working in a private company at
present. Neither of them can state when exactly the idea of practicing urban
nudism first occurred to them. "It is an endless process of understanding
our body and its limitations. Through it, we obtain an insightful picture of
ourselves and we can see the attitude of society towards the different,
although we are still only experimenting. Personally, I have been going around
naked at home since the age of 17. I was feeling very good and I decided to try
to do so in a public place. I was not involved in other activities except in
the naked cycling parade and walking. Anyway, not many events to promote
nakedness have been organized in Greece," says Yiannis.
Michalis states that he had stayed naked at home
from the very early age of 12, when he was alone. "I first showed up naked
at the beach when I was 15 years old. The idea of walking naked in the streets
had occurred to me from the foreign videos I watched. Moreover, in the majority
of cases, people react quite normally and they are friendly. What we want to
show is that a half-dressed or naked body cannot be considered as perverse in one
place and not perverse in another. It is not the garment but the posture of the
body that is provocative."
They prefer to go out on Friday nights because there are more people in the
streets which gives them a sense of security. "The probability of us being
provoked among many people is very small. However, the presence of the audience
is an important component of the event. The main idea is that nakedness should
not necessarily be associated with the examination of the body as a sexual
object. It is not dressing which is a condition associated with society and
which we could accept even as a choice of dressing. It can “emit” sexuality
just like a garment does if the subjects, namely the viewer and the naked
person, have this intention. However, this happens when we are dressed too,
They deny that they are exhibitionists in the
sense defined by psychiatrists. "Exhibitionism does not necessarily mean
that a person must show his or her naked body. We all demonstrate a variety of
things that are related to our social and financial status, such as parking our
luxury cars on the sidewalk. Of course, there is exhibitionism associated with
sexual activity but we must bear in mind the fact that the naked body is not
just biology. It is also a social construction and we should perceive it as a combination
of these two things."
Michalis and Yiannis are defining their walks
naked in the streets as experimental activities. "The truth is that they
have no direct result. Their indirect contribution is that the comments were
mostly negative the first time we went out whereas during our last stroll there
were people who wished us a nice vacation."
The media interest in them is great. They
believe that if the people stop dealing with them because they are accustomed
to them, it will mean that nakedness has become something normal at least for
the media. "It is a matter of tolerance to nakedness in order for it to be
accepted," says Yiannis, adding that he has put an end to just walking
naked in the streets. "Perhaps the next step will be more organized and
mass events in which to participate."
When asked how they would comment on the fact
that the first video of them walking naked in the streets had appeared on sites
with adult content Yiannis replies that this may have been associated with the
personal choice of one of them in the past, stating that this is not the
"The truth is that I have uploaded the
videos. However, that does not change anything. This is just a naked walk in
the streets. The fact that various websites are showing the video does not turn
it into porn. I used these sites because they are tolerant to nakedness."
The photos are provided by Mcihalis and Yiannis to
Lifo magazine They do not exclude the possibility of them having become a sort
of attraction or just funny in the eyes of their viewers. "So, we walked
with a woman the last time and future actions will not be just walking in the
streets. The "funny" thing is in the repetition of the action. But on
the other hand we are doing this because we want to show that being naked can
be part of our daily round."
Balcony is in-between public and private, a quasi-public space, where you can check the boundaries of your body. Urban nudism in not only public but private also. It is the distictions of those spaces that form spatial bodily identities, according to heteropatriarchy, and those distictions have to examine...