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Bike Naked

From a bike ride to a meat-industry protest, summer finds Denver in a state of undress.

It's hot, and people are taking off their clothes. Sounds fun, and in some cases, like the July 12 World Naked Bike Ride in Denver (see below), it is. But frankly, nudity isn't always a good thing. Take the most recent display by a Denver Water employee who wore a placard asking us to use only what we need. Sure, he was wearing skin-colored skivvies, but just a few minutes after an Off Limits operative saw him near the corner of Seventh Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, there was a car accident at the same spot. Coincidence?

And then there was the shirtless Denver Newspaper Agency vendor standing in the median of Colorado Boulevard at Eighth Avenue selling copies of the Denver Post a couple weeks ago. At least he was wearing shorts to go with his bright-orange apron, but for the love of God, man, we'd like some clothes with our quarter!

Of course, PETA (the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) learned long ago that nudity sells, and near nudity, um, makes people want to eat less meat? In 2001, PETA volunteer Cynthia Lieberman got into a cage outside the Denver Zoo dressed in painted tiger stripes and little else to protest the treatment of animals, and the organization has used nudity in numerous ads and other stunts.

On Tuesday, a PETA volunteer again undressed ("She was as naked as she could legally be," says PETA spokeswoman Ashley Byrne), but this time, she laid down on a large tray and covered herself in clear plastic — like a grocery-store package of meat — to promote vegetarianism and protest the Cattle Industry Summer Conference at the Sheraton Hotel downtown. We are all flesh and blood, was the message. But the thought doesn't make us want to eat veggies...or anything else, for that matter.

Later this summer, during the Democratic National Convention, political protestors are expected to get into the act, supposedly at a nude-in in Civic Center Park, where they plan to spell out the word "peace" with their sweaty bodies.

The World Naked Bike Ride, on the other hand, was a sight to see. Just ask Westword correspondent Kimberly Berkey, who covered every angle. Here's a sample of her report:

With camera 'round neck and notepad in hand, I stood on a welcoming porch before the entrance to the pre-ride meeting place; Tibetan peace flags fluttered, along with a handwritten Sharpie sign reading "World Naked Bike Ride." Then I rang the doorbell. A tall, shirtless man with kind eyes and silver shoulder-length hair greeted me. Beyond him, the opened door revealed five other smiling faces...

"My ass needs to be painted," said a friendly redheaded woman, handing me a brush. After I painted a bumpersticker of blue iridescent swirls on a stranger's buttock, I began to realize how up-close and personal I was about to become with the subjects of this article. "Now my front legs, please," she said and turned around. With a pause and a tight, drawn-in breath, I surrendered all reservations about keeping a respectable reporter's distance. There was no beating around the bush, for I was face to face with one...

The full story began to flesh out in front of the starting point at Benedict Fountain Park around 9 p.m., however, as riders met flashing police cars.

 
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