Guess who's coming to dinner naked?
The diners arrived at a nice Manhattan restaurant on a cold February night and stripped off coats, hats, gloves and scarves. They didn't stop there.
"It's exciting to be in a restaurant nude," said George Keyes, 65, a retired junior high school English teacher.
Nude yes, but not unadorned.
Keyes, a lifelong nudist, wore a necklace, earrings and a black leather "genital bracelet" with red studs. And white sneakers.
The dinner was started by a group of New York nudists who wanted something a bit more elegant than the wilderness getaways and beach resorts they generally frequent.
"When you go away on holiday it's more you're roughing it in the woods, whereas this is a really nice restaurant," said Keyes, a member of gay nudist group Males Au Naturel, or MAN.
John Ordover set up the dining club about a year ago, recruiting members through word of mouth and the Internet.
"Next month is our Easter bonnet event, where everybody has to come wearing an Easter bonnet," said Ordover, a heavyset man with a jovial smile and glasses.
SOMETHING TO SIT ON ...
Around 30 people arrived for the buffet dinner -- organizers specified no hot soup on the menu -- most of them middle-aged, several married couples, some singles, the youngest perhaps in their 30s.
"They're a good class of people, they're no different to you or I," said John Bussi, owner of the midtown restaurant. "They're not hurting anybody, it's not a wild Roman orgy."
Health regulations mean staff must remain clothed even if they wanted to join in. And diners must bring something to sit on -- a towel or, for discerning women, an elegant silk scarf.
Ordover's wife, Carol, said they first went on a naturist holiday five years ago and she found the experience empowering. But, she explained, it's "the least sexual thing you can possibly imagine."
"Men in nudist resorts are striking a bargain. They get to see as many naked women as they like as long as they are polite and look them straight in the eye," she said.
Sherry Stafford, a petite and elegant 51-year-old with blond hair and high heels, brought brochures and videos advertising her travel business, Internaturally Travel.
One of the flyers was for a resort called "Hedonism II" whose slogan is "Be wicked for a week." But she said nudists should not be confused with swingers.
"Wearing clothes and going to church does not protect you from moral evil," Stafford said, lamenting what she saw as a tendency to demonize people just because they like to be naked.
Sandy, a slim woman in her 40s, said she never felt self-conscious about her body and was comfortable dining in the nude. But she did admit to being a bit more nervous before a recent naked yoga class attended by around 25 people.
"Everyone was a little concerned there would be people looking around but the good thing is nobody really was," she said, standing at the restaurant's bar before dinner.
"If you try to maintain a yoga position you're going to fall if you start looking around -- and that's more embarrassing than anything else."