|The Greek hero, Perseus|
The idea of nude heroes is nothing new. In Ancient Greece, nearly every hero went without a loin cloth, whether depicted on canvas, pottery or marble. Among these were Heracles, Perseus, Theseus and Achilles. After the Renaissance, some Biblical heroes also went nude, as portrayed by Michelangelo’s David. By the 19th century, exposing the genitals fell out of fashion, likely due to religious pressure, with its emphasis on the “heavenly kingdom.” And yet, even to this day, we see remnants of the heroic nude in the way artists draw their superheroes. Superman and Batman are sketched as if naked, before their skin is colored in to resemble tights. But you could never see such muscle definition through a fabric, no matter how tight, which is why Hollywood struggles to bring these costumed characters to the big screen. The closest any director can get to mirroring the comic page is through use of body paint, and in the X-Men series, Byran Singer does just that, painting Rebecca Romijn blue, with strategically added fragments glued to her body, to portray Mystique. The beautiful and talented Jennifer Lawrence did the same for her role as Mystique in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
In the literary field, naked heroes are commonly found in works by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Both Tarzan and John Carter, despite decades of inaccurate film and TV adaptations, go without a stitch in the books. Rudyard Kipling’s Mowgli, from Jungle Book, doesn’t bother with a loin cloth, since he is raised by wolves. Disney, of course, would never dare show him as he was meant to be. In France, Philippe Sternis’ writes of a young female Mowgli named Pyrenee, who lives without the hassle of clothing, and is befriended by a bear. The nudity in the comic is tasteful and innocent, but don’t expect to find an English translation. People in America would likely consider it child pornography.
Other naked heroes are coming to light in the non-fiction arena, like the Muslim women in the Louvre in Paris, who protested for women’s rights, and Laura Zerra, three time survivor of Discovery’s hit show Naked and Afraid.
I have been thinking about naked heroes for half of my life. As a teenager, I created the Greek demigod, Dynotus, for whom I have four ring-binders’ full of adventures. Only rarely does he wear any clothing. As I became more involved in nudism, the nude hero evolved in my mind. With a greater, more philosophical understanding of the movement, I was better able to bring Xandr and Thelana to life. Even still, when the characters made their debut in 2004 in The Dark Age of Enya, I remained apprehensive. I could not imagine a time when they might find acceptance, or an audience. But this was before Naked and Afraid, before Muslim women went nude in the streets, before the sex/bondage inspired novel Fifty Shades of Grey. So many naturist blogs, Twitter feeds, and organizations are popping up, I can no longer keep track of them. The real world seems ready for Xandr and Thelana, and so I have reflected this in their story, and in the fictional world in which they live. In Ages of Aenya, nude heroes save the world! How can the people of Aenya not accept them? If I cannot imagine a world where body taboos become a thing of the past, what good is fantasy?
Since my youth, I have wanted to embrace nudism in my fiction, and Xandr and Thelana are it, the first heroic nudes in modern times. Like Superman with his cape and tights, their skin is their costume. Already, I am planning the sequel to Ages of Aenya, where they will find acceptance, going without clothing entirely, in the cities, before kings and queens, for the entirety of the novel. Their time has arrived.
But Xandr and Thelana can’t do it alone! Even the toughest heroes need their fans! So, if you’re a nudist or naturist, or if you just love a good story about people who are a little different, please check out my Kickstarter page below:
How do the people of Aenya come to accept the naked heroes in their midst? Take a sneak peek below: