Cutty Sark, Greenwich, 2001

by Matthew

"As dawn breaks it gets lighter, revealing a bright , crisp blue sky. A mixed crowd of 400 people aged between 25-50 are now amassed with men outnumbering women 60/40. 400 people politely conversing with each other whilst waiting for instructions. 400 people who are very shortly going to see each other in the buff. 400 people foolish enough to strip off publicly and not get paid for it. ... the artist's assistant bidding us all "a very good morning" ..introduced the photographic artist, Spencer Tunick.

A quiet unassuming man with a gentle nature .. [who] said if he started shouting at us to get in the right position he wasn't shouting - only yelling. He explained we would perform in three different locations - firstly by the old Tea Clipper, ..The Naval College Road and .. by the dock. .. commanded us four hundred people to remove all our clothes. Which we did; a mass strip tease without the corn porn music. As I stood still to take stock of the unusual situation (thinking my hands were cold already, what would happen downstairs). .. It's difficult to know where to look: my instincts say look at every naked female you can, but your conscience says 'please don't gawp and try acting like a professional performing artist'.

 "To the first position" .. we were all screaming & waving our hands and running around the famous Greenwich landmark. It was like the London Marathon, apart from the wobbling [reader to guess the missing printed text]. Once all there, we were told to face towards the Thames and lie down, this brought shrieks and yelps of pain as bodies touched the icy pavement slabs for the first time. .. We nudes either bellowed in pain, laughed nervously or swore audibly. Tunick aligned his camera ..yelled "Stop talking .. OK, great, got it ". 

We all ran fast to the next scene, (not an erotic sight ). Into the alley strode the four hundred. .. After an eternity, they finally called a wrap. The nudes began sprinting back to their piles of clothes. By now the atmosphere was light-hearted and fun. Everyone was enjoying the 'performance art' .. moans and groans turned into good humour. 

After 5 minutes of reheating the body, Tunick called us for the last shot. We stripped again and strolled confidently to the next position .. a pretty French girl standing next to me said "It is an amazing sight, no ?" .. once again jerkily lowered our naked bodies onto the cold stone. I was happily looking to my right when he further instructed "turn your heads to face the ship please." This became my worst memory of the performance. My eyes left the awesome sight of a beautiful nude French woman and focused not three inches from my nose on an ugly red-haired, lumpy, shrivelled penis. I shut my eyes .. it was over. We were all immortalised in a to-be famous photograph.
Walking back to our clothes gave one last memorable experience and viewpoint. 400 nude, lard-arsed, potbellied, varicose veined , hairy, flabby and wobbling people were laughing and chatting excitedly as they got dressed - in the middle of Greenwich public gardens. 

One girl said "It was the best day of my life," another said "I felt freer than ever before," a man said "I want to walk around like this all day." Another woman summed up .. "I felt so sorry for all you blokes with your knobs gone tiny". The people one and all were beautiful all right, shame you couldn't say the same for their bodies."

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