I’m indebted to SLN reader Tish, who pointed me at a tumblr blog dedicated to the Hippie & Naturiste, from whence these photographs came. I’d suggest these aren’t ‘hippies’ in the traditional sense, but more ‘new age people’, people who’ll be attracted to the rainbow Gatherings, to festivals, to Burning Man, to a love of and caring for nature, to Koktebel in the Crimea (where some of these photos, I’m fairly certain, have come from), and of course to a casual approach to nudity, without ever maybe calling themselves ‘naturist’. Being naked is just what they do, weather and circumstances permitting.
Tish also highlighted the possibility to indulge in a similar sort of lifestyle in SL.
‘I had a successful career in banking, made a lot of money and hated myself’, Tish told me, ‘so I gave it up, realising that with a little bit of care I could live quite happily in the sort of lifestyle and location I wanted to without ever needing to work again. I could simply indulge my inner creativity. So that’s what I did.’
Moving, initially, to a remote location on the west coast of Ireland, Tish sold up about two years ago to relocate to France ‘because the weather was better’.
Painting, sculpting, making pottery, knitting and sewing, growing vegetables, she said each day was full and fulfilling. ‘I don’t own a television’, she laughs, ‘but it is necessary to keep in touch, with friends, with what’s going on in the world. So the internet and my computer is my luxury each month. And if the weather’s bad and I’ve no real work to do, I play SL. I do tend to manage to fill days firing little pots, painting them, painting scenes from nature, selling my products in the local market and so on. That’s become my work. I maybe make 1/10th, 1/20th of what I used to earn, but it’s a much more fulfilling life. I don’t miss the world of finance.’
Is Tish a naturist? ‘I’m not naturist in real life. Or, let me re-phrase, I don’t classify myself as naturist. I do spend quite a bit of time naked. I own a small-holding, it has a river that runs through it and it’s private. So I can bathe in the river in summer. I can go topless or fully nude in my vegetable plot. I don’t really see myself as naturist but more as someone who will be naked when it seems logical to do so.’
Tish’s RL daughter, having just finished an Arts degree at university, has recently come to live with her and also has an equally infrequent SL profile. ‘It was something we discovered independently of each other. I was amused to learn of her presence in SL, as much as she was mine. Currently, she’s living with me here in France, and doing a lot of time painting. I’m a mere amateur dabbler, whereas she has proper talent and training.’
What of the experience of many talented real life artists using SL? ‘I think that there is a certain mind-set that is attracted to SL. For some it’s a kind of moving image replication of dressing up Barbie dolls with a bit of cybersex thrown in. For others, I think there’s a creative element. Look at the builds! Look at clothes, hair, accessories. People are creating this stuff. It’s just another creative outlet. Look at your thing, your blog. You’re expressing yourself in words. That whole creative element is sometimes very much overlooked when people think of SL’.
Tisha at the ‘Scribbled Hearts’ sim. ‘This is a place not unlike my real life home. Rural, wild, beautiful’.
‘And this is very much like me on a warm day’, Tisha laughs. ‘Not many clothes on, and working on the produce in my garden’.
And Tisha sends those who seek an alternative lifestyle a message from the Grateful Dead sim, ‘A favourite because they still represent a counter-culture’.
Coming next: Tisha’s RL daughter ‘Rainbow’ explains the appeal of SL to her, and her love for a RL alternative lifestyle