Getting Naked Near You

Recently, there has been a heck of a lot of nudity in Boston. On the plus side, the Boston Pants-less Ride saw 25o riders on the T without pants, in the name of spontaneity and community. But the forays of other unclothed locals have been less than delightful. Those in the headlines last week include Rubenson Cherilus, 27, who, among other things, was arrested for indecent exposure; and an unnamed Suffolk University student who was hanging around with his bathrobe open in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental. Sadly, each of these semi-nude dudes were violent when held accountable. What a poor model for nakedness in Boston.

Instead, we need some folks who strip with pride, at the right place and the right time — like Rogue Burlesque.

While testing out burlesque is nothing new to Boston magazine — read about how associate editor Anne Vickman’s tried burlesque in the December issue — I decided to attend Rogue’s introductory burlesque class at Boston Center for Adult Education with a couple of friends. Some students wanted to add to their skills in the boudoir, while others, like myself, sought more physical confidence. I chose to sign up with Rogue because they encourage all women to learn burlesque with them, trans individuals included. They also run classes for men and male-identified folks. Plus, as photos of their troupe and their It Gets Better vid show, they delight in a richness of identity and physique.

You might ask, what’s the point of learning to strut like a slutty nurse or a voluptuous Mae West or a powerful domme? Why remove silk gloves with your teeth? Why twirl both your tassels in the same darn direction? (This, my friends, demands more skill than you’d think.) Sure, the ability to allure is most enjoyable, but this class was also about learning to love ourselves.

Before we got naked, our instructors Miss Sassypants and Polly Surely brought us into a close circle and asked us to mention any part of ourselves we were worried about revealing. They then told us how to draw attention away from such parts, if we so chose, so that our overall confidence could grow. And you know what, once I took their good advice, I forgot to be ashamed of the vulnerable part of myself and just rocked my hips and flung my boa around.

From a young age, we are often taught that there is shame in being naked. And sometimes, there really is (see descriptions in the first paragraph). After all, we live in a society and must be sensitive to others. But, under the right circumstances, I hope we’ll keep trying to get naked with pride, no matter what our weight, our wrinkles, or roundness might be.