Malcontent correspondent Markie Post, that is. For those new to the site, "Markie" is an old friend and colleague who was given the moniker in honor of the female mullet she wore when we first met. She's also a helluva writer, as evidenced by the following essay, reprinted from "Brightleaf: A Journal of Southern Writing."
The Naked and the Nekkid
SOMEWHERE IN GEORGIA MOUNTAINS – Persuading a nudist to accessorize can be like putting pantyhose on a cat, but certain occasions demand an article or two of clothing. Hoedowns, for example, just sound better in boots than in bare feet. So members of Serendipity nudist park don clodhoppers and Stetsons – and bolo ties on a few otherwise bare chests – for country-western night. There is much hat-tipping, and the dance floor becomes a demonstration of high-energy, synchronized jiggling as the nudists line-dance. An occasional Rebel yell punctuates the fiddle music.
You won’t find such events at sedate resorts up North or on the West Coast; this is nudism in the South, where the men boldly eschew aprons at the barbecue grill. These revelers are just so down-home and hospitable, that I and most other first-time visitors disrobe simply out of politeness.
City folk might be incredulous that Baptist deacons and hillbilly lawmen permit four nudist communities to thrive in the north Georgia mountains, but don’t underestimate Appalachian laissez-faire. Here, everyone subscribes to the Highlander ethic, which dictates that you can do whatever you dang-well please on your own land without the interference of zoning boards and aestheticism enforcers who might object to nude line-dancing.
Besides, a lifestyle labeled “naturist” seems redundant in the rural South, where most of us grew up skinny-dipping under a brimstone sun. We don’t need to go “back to the land,” in a phrase favored by eco-warriors; we’re already there. Coming of age on a farm also takes much of the embarrassment out of biology. “Parts is parts,” as my granny says.
Another cultural quirk of this place, I am reminded, is a tendency toward evangelism. Nudists, like preachers, grow zealous when they discuss their conversion experiences. In body acceptance, they found redemption and, consequently, a mission. Many quote the Bible and proselytize for both causes at the same time: “I’m a born-again Christian believer and love the Savior with all my heart, and there is nothing about this lifestyle that contradicts the Scripture,” one naked man earnestly testifies to me.
However, in a region where traditional sex roles often approach caricature, nudism adds another wrinkle, so to speak, to male-female relations. At this camp, a strange courtliness prevails, despite all the talk about liberation from convention. Cavaliers understand the importance of good manners: no ogling or lewd remarks (at least not audible ones). More interesting, though, is that much-prized virility becomes inverted into an issue of hydraulic “self-control” instead of tumescent showing off. An erection is a telltale sign of a “textile,” a slur for the clothing-dependent. “Poor bastard can’t get it down,” other male nudists will say, with a snort. Yet, because the South so esteems pulchritude, gents still feel obligated to acknowledge the sight of it with some sort of compliment. Indeed, they should. We gals aren’t worried that men might stare; we worry that they might not.
And, as always, there is that old semantic issue unique to this region. The word “naked” is taboo in nudist circles because it connotes vulnerability, but no Southerner can resist the word “nekkid.” One fellow explains that he is teaching a nude wood-working class for women. “Yep,” he drawls, “A redneck’s dream come true: nekkid wimmin with power tools!”
Praise the Lord, and pass the sunscreen.