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Naked men in the streets of Thessaloniki

13 August 2013 / 15:08:47  GRReporter
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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, doesn’t it?"

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 important thing.

"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."

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."

Tags: SocietyNudismWalking naked in the streetsThessalonikiNaked bodyActivism
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