Well the day finally arrived where I was to get my kit off and stand on the opera house steps for that crazy festival event: Spencer Tunick’s nude installation, The Base.
When I first signed up for Spencer, I can admit to absolute fear. I have never been happy with my body, even to the point where I had carefully developed a distaste for the beach so I didn’t have to wear a swimsuit. So signing up for something like this was a huge milestone in my own evolution. Spencer’s work is all about taking on negative ideas of nudity and changing that to a notion that the naked human body is inherently beautiful and we are all just the same.
The event seemed so far away back in December, but on Monday morning at sunrise, after going the full distance I watched 5200 people start shedding their clothes with the official call. I can say all this now, but then I completely froze. I couldn’t go through with it.
It has been quite a journey to get to this point. Lisa Bilton took me on from Vision Personal Training as her personal pet project in preparing for this and I’d lost ten kilos in the lead up. And I was feeling fitter and stronger than ever, but was it enough?
I had four of my closest friends there with me, and the rest of the Mardi Gras board about 4 steps away (what was I thinking there) on the Opera House steps all naked around me. I could barely get the “I can’t do this” words out of my mouth. But then I realized something. All around me, people who were once so different were all suddenly the same. So I did it. A pile of my clothes left on the ground and I was walking up the steps in the morning cold air butt naked. Chatting to my friends, other directors, and just being a part of a mass of nakedness that felt more comfortable than any crowd I have ever known.
Some of the Board and I, as well as our friends, all made our way up to the top east corner of the installation. The corner piece. And we watched over the thousands of people all jumping around together, slapping their butts at the same time to try and keep warm.
After about an hour on the steps it was time to move into the concert hall where our group were shown to the stage. Center and middle. All these eyes on us on the stage was once again confronting for me, and although I stayed till the end, I found this installation the hardest of the two. But after seeing the results of that shoot, the whole philosophy of Spencer’s work came thundering home for me.
It was the most empowering, liberating and exciting thing I have ever done in my life. For the first time I was completely comfortable in myself, the way I looked, the way I just am.
And I feel that I know my friends and directors a little better now too, not because we all got naked together, but because we all shared in this amazing experience and without question, we just accept each other the way we are.
The lessons this little event have taught me will change my life. In particular the way I look at myself. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are fat or slim, tall or short, black or white, old or young, straight or gay – when you take away the layers, we are all just the same.