Editorial: Orgy Night at Commune Utopia

There are some blogs with a focus on representations of sex within Second Life. I respect their desire to report on what is a huge part of Second Life activity and grasp the logic of bloggers doing so. For many, the whole cybersex culture is fascinating, baffling, disturbing and interesting in equal measure. There is a guaranteed readership there. But it’s not for me and, by extension, not for SL Naturist.

It has never been our remit for a couple of reasons. One, a blog on the SL naturist community was something new, different and niche. It’s a popular lifestyle within the SL game (for probably obvious reasons) and I saw it as an opportunity to promote the naturist values I hold: which are to positively promote a family orientated, friendly, a healthy lifestyle where nudity does not equal sex. We created our own community by blogging on that topic. Two, I don’t regard cyber as accurately reflecting proper naturist values. That’s not to be in denial that sex does take place within RL  naturist communities. I would imagine that most naturists in RL, over the course of a two week vacation, will have indulged as part of a healthy relationship. And if that’s true of RL naturism, then it can equally be true of the SL variant. There must be some avatars, genuine RL naturists, who will equally have participated in cyber when logged into SL. But it’s not an aspect of virtual naturism we’d promote. Others can pick up that baton.

For three years I’ve repeated what has sometimes perhaps sounded like a tired old mantra: that we promote those family orientated genuine naturist values. We’ve not blogged on certain sims because of an over-emphasis of sex pose balls in the context of SL naturism. My view was, and remains, that our remit is not to do a hatchet-job on such sims. We simply don’t report from them, and allow adults playing SL to make their own choices regarding these. There’s enough sims of this genuine type to keep us going in topics to write about. Look through the back pages. Some well established, exceptionally popular ‘naturist’ sims are missing, precisely because they don’t fit in with our (i.e. my) definition of naturism’s family orientated, healthy, clean living and friendly lifestyle.

For what has seemed like a couple of years now, we’ve had a page called Venus and Mars, which bills itself as Coming soon…the complete story of Cap D’Agde, Club Orient and Hedonism vacationers ‘Venus’ and ‘Mars’, a British 30s-something couple who pursue the more erotic side of naturism…. The page remains empty. Why? It was Harry’s idea to cover what is a branch of naturism, I don’t think that can be denied, but not within my understanding of -yet again, that word- genuine naturism. I was open to the idea of avatars reflecting their own adventures in a voyeuristic, exhibitionist and swinging lifestyle until I read the first part, at which I determined that SLN would not be publishing it. Plans were advanced for Harry to then publish their tale on a separate website, but it didn’t materialise (on a different website) due to Harry’s illness.3graces4_001b

Yet again, it wasn’t (for me) genuine naturism. That’s why it never appeared here, on SLN, even though it may be a sort of ‘naturism’ that people like, enjoy and participate in.

I like to think we’ve held a steady course regarding genuine naturism. To ensure we did hold that line, all submitted posts were once moderated by me prior to publication. Maybe a year or so back, due to the level of trust I had in those who enjoy contributing, I eased up on the pre-moderation and allowed others to post away without me pre-moderating the articles you read here. It worked well, the regularity of posts increased, and there was more of a steady stream of posts rather than, as used to be the case, me reading a bunch of them and hitting the publish button resulting in ‘binge post weekends’. It has been a policy that has worked well.3graces5_001b


I was a little bit surprised to log in and read Diane’s contribution on ‘Orgy Night at the Commune’ as an orgy definitely doesn’t reflect SLN’s core values. I love the Commune. It has a relaxed, easy-going feeling, an extremely sociable conversationalist element to it missing from many locations, and there’s also a refreshing clothes-optional vibe that means my Friday nights are, increasingly, times when I can get online, shake my booty to some great world music, and converse with others. DJ Sunshine, a lady with terrific taste in music, is one of the stars at the Commune. We will continue to report from it, promote it and enjoy what it offers as events take place but from a personal perspective, a perspective that is reflected in SLN editorial policy, orgies would be out. From a personal perspective sex pose balls would always generally be out, but I’m enough of a realist to know that strictly adhering to this policy reduces us down to about 2-3 sims we could realistically report from. As a result it’s a juggling act, to make a judgement on whether it’s a genuine naturist sim, or whether the pose balls are discreet enough not to impinge on an otherwise lovely looking sim inhabited by avatars who’d, in the main, share my definition of ‘genuine’. I’ll be the first to hold my hand up and say I’ve made mistakes in the past regarding this, and will do again, as some sims’ bona fides may not be immediately apparent (or change due to a need to maximise footfall).

If I leave aside my ‘genuine’, though, there will be those who may say events such as an orgy are a part of a wider ‘naturist’ lifestyle even though I, and others, wouldn’t agree with that.

I need only think of foam parties at Cap D’Agde, or toga parties at Hedonism, as events that are sometimes closely associated with ‘naturism’, despite our best endeavours to separate them. Should we reflect that wider ‘naturist’ lifestyle, regardless of personal opinion? Should we report these events and inject personal opinion on how sordid we find them? Sordid in real life and kind of ‘yucky’, in terms of the cybersex, in a Second Life perspective?3graces2_001b

Where should we draw the line in terms of ‘genuine’ naturism? I don’t particularly like tattoos. Thousands of naturists have them. Do I exclude that from ‘genuine’ naturism (or my definition of what constitutes ‘genuine’ naturism)? I can cite medical opinion that pubic hair is there for a reason, and how removing it can result in increased infection risks. Should we insist that all real life photography on the site includes only the hirsute? Should all SL avatars photographed have hair own there? Or do we reflect wider trends in naturism?

Do we neglect our desire to limit ourselves to ‘genuine’ naturism if we report on a real life Hedonism toga party, or its SL equivalent?

And…hang on a moment…a Commune is associating itself with part of the 1960s counter-culture. Wasn’t it a time of free love (i.e. people sleeping around)? Wasn’t that a time when public nudity, the concept of flinging off your bra and dancing topless in a field to the Grateful Dead emerged? Would we be in denial to suggest that this free-love, communal nudity (that wasn’t within the confines of a naturist club) impacted positively on a wider, naturist movement in the longer term? I think there’s a strong link to be made with that ‘free love’ era and the fact that, in Europe, damned near every beach in existence is now routinely ‘topless’, at the very least, due to a paradigm shift in thinking during the 1960s. Do we separate that off? Compartmentalise that? Hack off bits of history that don’t suit a wider, rounded, larger definition of where naturism is today?3graces3_001b

And didn’t Nazi Germany have some strong links with the freikorperkultur (FKK) movement? Were someone to build a WW2 era sim with an FKK beach, with lots of physical exercise pose balls, accurately reflecting the mood of the times, and the creation of strong, healthy Aryans, are we right or wrong to reflect on that?

You’re the readers. You tell me.

It’s not my job as editor to impose my will on everything. It’s my job as editor to reflect wider trends in the broad church of naturism, with different strands of what’s acceptable and what’s not, although yes, we try maintain our core values. It’s my job to steer the ship. And if something is deemed acceptable, or unacceptable, why are they acceptable or unacceptable? Just because someone agrees with tattoos, or objects to pubic hair, it’s not enough to say ‘and it’s because I don’t like them’. We need to debate the issues, whatever they are.

What we don’t need, though, is to forget our core values built over three years, core values that spill back and forth with my views on real life naturism.

An orgy isn’t one of them, for me, regardless of how many foam parties are held at Cap D’Agde or Hedonism. And why it isn’t one of them has been well rehearsed on these pages, by me, before.

I emailed Diane regarding the post and got the following reply:

Pookes and I went online earlier to discuss the matter ‘live’, in real time, ‘face to face’ and we did manage to speak to Diane, but as things stand it looks, devastatingly, as though we’re probably going to lose her. I’m also fully aware of the circumstances in which the post got posted. That remains confidential. We owe no one any further explanations.

Diane has been a stalwart of SLN for a long time now. I will continue to fight to keep her as part of the crew.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we go back to reporting the stories, rather than being the story. As English footballing legend Steven Gerrard would put it, ‘We go again’.


A publisher’s perspective: A response to that ‘orgy’ post

I financially back SLN. I provide the space where the team can rezz props. I provide the finance for the team to buy poses, items of clothing for that ‘naturist wardrobe’ that gets referenced from time to time. I’m the one who will bankroll the website when we make it our own .com site later this year. I’m the one looking long and hard at buying our very own ‘SL Naturist clubhouse’ sim where readers can meet in Second Life and socialise in  a sex-pose free arena in common with the values Ella, and Ella alone, framed. I’m the one who asked Ella to edit this blog when I set it up..

I’m not the only one who thinks she has done an amazing job over three years, and I’m not the only one who thinks her talents are probably wasted on an online game lifestyle blog, and that she should be writing for a more mainstream naturist media outlet, if not ‘professionally’ (in terms of it being a career), then certainly in terms of it being a paid, part-time job. Other than that, I’m ‘hands off’ because I don’t need to be ‘hands on’. If any recent  readers to the blog are asking themselves ‘who the hell is Howie?’, that works for me. That said, I felt I did need to comment on the ‘orgy’ post that seems to be vexing some folk.

The SLN team do a fantastic job and I have total faith in them to produce a wonderful blog that  currently manages an average of about 900 views a day. Pretty amazing for a blog about cartoon characters in an online game living a minority lifestyle.

Will someone, at some time, get something ‘wrong’ or go ‘off message’? Sure they will. It happens in government all the time. If the world survives when elected ministers of government are wasting millions of pounds/dollars/euros, or are caught with their faces down in a line of cocaine or a hooker’s cleavage, I imagine it will survive a marginal blog going ‘off message’ once in respect of an ‘orgy’ that wasn’t reported upon, nor photos taken at, nor even (in the end) attended.

I spoke to Diane on the grid this afternoon and she appears to be genuinely shocked at the response to her post and the potential damage to the reputation of SLN, and has decided to quit her position as a contributor to the blog. I find it shameful that responses to an off-message post should so discourage a valued member of the team that she should take this course of action. SL should be about fun, enjoyment, relaxation and the capacity, where blogging is concerned, to create a creative outlet for yourself and your avatar. None of us can be bothered with ‘drama’. I’ve assured her of my support in continuing as a valued and, yes indeed, trusted member of the SLN team. Equally, Ella maintains my full trust and support. SLN’s reputation grows by the day, both in respect of SL blogging and also in the context of RL naturist blogging. That has jack shit to do with me. That’s all down to Ella and the team. Diane’s an integral part of the blog’s success.

I’m also the one who is going to say, here and now, that it’s going to be Ella who will continue to dictate editorial policy now and in the future. Not me. Not any bloggers. Not any readers.

I’m sure Ella will respond in her own time on the matter.


Howie (SLN Publisher)