DINE OUT IN NOTHING BUT YOUR BIRTHDAY SUIT.
GOOD NEWS: there are now places where we can eat in our birthday suits that’s not our kitchen at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon hovered over the sink with pizza crumbs between fingers while nursing a hangover.
These places are actual, legal restaurants in Central London, Tokyo, Melbourne and, eventually, Paris. Starting with Bunyadi in London – now closed with plans to move to the French capital – the trend of naked restaurants has swept around the globe in the forms of both pop-up events and permanent residences. With the recent #FreetheNipple movement (where women – and among them, celebrities – advocate for legalising toplessness) in the spotlight, an increased awareness for public breastfeeding, and a general need to go “back to basics” in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, naked dining seemed a very likely next move after nude beaches and resorts.
Carolyn Hawkins, public relations coordinator of the American Association for Nude Recreation, says nudism has become increasingly mainstream among people from all walks of life.
“We have bankers, bus drivers, attorneys and judges. The best thing is you don’t need to judge anyone. You do not know if they are blue collar or white collar if they’re not wearing one. You know the person from who they are inside out and not the designer clothes they may be wearing,” she says, adding that practising public nudity is akin to the freedom we feel when shedding off our clothes after a long day of work. “All nudism is very relaxing and very stress-free. You are not restricted to clothes, you can just relax.”
And who doesn’t like to relax when enjoying a meal? While variations apply, diners at naked restaurants are required to strip down and place their garments – underwear, phones, wallets and accessories included – into lockers before stepping out to a communal dining area; sometimes they are handed a gown and slippers in case they get shy.
Some restaurants compartmentalise tables with low fences; less formal ones – like the naked rooftop bar in London – let guests flaunt all their goodies atop inflatable pineapples, trampolines and equally langhable furniture. In Japan’s Amrita – which has branches in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya and Osaka – on the other hand, patrons need to be tattoo-less, between the age of 20 to 60 and less than 15 kilos above the average weight for their height to be allowed in. Moreover, all reservations and payments are done online and no refunds will be issued if you show up looking well, less than what you’ve promised online, though exceptions will be made if the guest is “overweight but beautiful”, according to its website’s guidelines.
“In London, they allow overweight patrons in and some guests complained they had a terrible experience,” Amrita spokeswoman Miki Komatsu told AFP, denying that the establishment was guilty of discrimination.
“If fat people are allowed in, it could be miserable for some guests,” she added. “Guests can see the guidelines clearly on our homepage. We are aiming for a sort of Roman aesthetic, like the beautiful paintings you see in museums.”
Unlike museums, however, photography is strictly prohibited, and Amrita also discourages visitors from touching or talking to other diners.
The naked concept trickles down to their menus that usually feature organic and local ingredients: Bunyadi offers both vegan and nonvegan options in raw as they don’t use electricity, gas or fire (meaning you also won’t drop food and fall into the nightmare of burning your privates); even the dining area is only candle-lit. Food came in three to five courses, ranging from £38.99 for three and £58.99 for the latter. The more adventurous Amrita, meanwhile, serves what they call “natural regression food” such as insects, leaves and soil to reconnect man with nature. For ¥14,000 to ¥28,000 (depending on the package and chosen time slot), the meal of creepy crawlies is served by burly men in G-string complemented by an optional dance show.
Whether just a fad for adventurous gourmands or an underlying statement for body empowerment, don’t be alarmed when naked restaurants are thrown into the list of options after Thai or Chinese the next time your friends decide on a rendezvous.