Have you heard the term speakeasy. I admit that I had not, but my good friend with whom I shared the platform at a speakeasy in Worthing sent me a link: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-prohibitionspeakeasy/. The name is derived from the fact that people had to whisper a password in order to gain access to the secret bar. This is quite reminiscent of the secrecy that sun clubs enforced in the 20th century.
The Cellar Arts Club is set in a basement close to the seafront in Worthing in Prospect Place and its worthy of the name "a dive" as curiously the word means a 'joint'. This word means a bar and also a co-operative and the Cellar Arts Club is a non-profit making co-operative and hosts the Speakeasy where a bar is a useful piece of interior decoration in an otherwise spartan and workmanlike refuge from the world above.
In what has become a series of talks along the south coast we have been embracing the BN campaign ‘Just One Person’ to encourage a change in the public attitude to nudity and naturism. The history of the bathing suit shows that changes in attitudes can be fast and dramatic.
The talks at these venues are loosely based on the TED talk method that you can find on the internet. The key is to be short, passionate and humorous. Chris Anderson is the curator of TED conferences. He said ‘The key part of the TED format is that we have humans connecting to humans in a direct and almost vulnerable way. You are on stage naked, so to speak.’ So we decided to take this literally and strip off for the evening.
When I have been to clothing optional evenings in London the audiences have been near 100% naked. I guess the word gets around and naturists quickly buy up the tickets. For these 'conversation clubs' the nature of the talks is a closely guarded secret until the audience is seated. Amazingly we have always been enthusiastically and respectfully welcomed by people who had no idea that we were naturists or that we would be naked. The downside is that only our friends join us in being nude.
So here we were - a two hour drive from home over the border in a strange West Sussex town - with modern communications devices (a microphone, a laptop an an overhead projector, speaking out on what naturism means to us and how you can join this wonderful world.
As a Speakeasy speaker you can almost touch the audience - you can see the sweat, smell the eau de cologne and feel the electricity. Its almost like being in a Lucien Freud painting with raw human nature before you. I wasn’t concerned, because since deciding to become a social naturist I have found that the nervousness I previously had speaking in my professional life has completely disappeared. Of course I know my current subject very well. You can look the audience in the eye and know they appreciate words from the heart.
The long journey home seem to speed past (not literally as my friend is a careful driver) and we analysed a successful evening in depth and determined to do another talk somewhere again. Of course its hard to measure the effect. We did have at least one person keen to join us on a naturist walk and offered to provide details of where to walk near Worthing as he is a keen runner. We cannot take credit for the rise in BN membership this year as reported in the Daily Telegraph - with a last paragraph referring to the task not yet complete as the Tate Gallery has still not answered my email!!