Even our editor dresses sometimes to hop around the sims…
Yeah, we all know her as our esteemed editor, and we all have some inkling of what makes her tick, due to her capacity to let little chinks of RL light shine on the blog, but how well do we really know Ella? I decided that it was time to profile, in a sense, Ella, and interview her.
The following was conducted over the last couple of months, via email and IM.
Pookes: Thanks for agreeing to this. I thought the readers might want an insight into who you really are. We gather new readers all the time, so I thought it might be interesting for you to give us a potted history of Ella, both the RL and the SL versions.
Ella: I’m married, have two children, have a career in RL, and I do this -the blog- for fun and relaxation. I’m also, hehehe, a naturist….
Pookes: Yeah, how did you get into naturism?
Ella: I’m sure I’ve told this story numerous times on the blog. I have Dutch cousins, on account of my Brit uncle marrying a Dutch woman. So my cousin got a job for the summer via an acquaintance of my uncle, in a cafe in Cap D’Agde. And I got an invite! I knew we were waitressing…that was it! And we waitressed, long hours under a hot sun. I knew it was naturist….but the extent of it…the whole essential ‘naked city’ aspect I had no idea about. I only agreed to go because we’d be dressed for work. The cafe owner decided it was more hygienic, he was probably right, that when dealing with food you were dressed….
Pookes: ….no pubes or sweat in the salads!
Ella: Trust you to nail it in that way, haha! But yes! That was the thinking. So we served food and sometimes helped prepare it. Long hours. 9 in the morning until 11 at night. We basically worked or slept, got paid, got free accommodation and one day a week off. So the first day off we got my cousin was heading down to the pool, bare as you like, and me in a bikini behind her. The bikini lasted a couple of hours until I reasoned that I was getting odd looks for being dressed, so off it came. And that was how I became a naturist…by accident, really.
Pookes: A nervous debut?
Ella: Of course! You felt every pair of eyes at the pool were turned towards you. In reality, no one probably looked at all. But I liked the sense of freedom without the bikini. I felt swimming nude was a wonderful experience. I was kind of converted immediately…well, after that first couple of appalling ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ hours.
Pookes: You were….what? 18? 19?
Ella: 18. This was in 1995. I’d just finished exams and was heading off to university the following September.
Pookes: Was your husband naturist when you met him?
Ella: No. He liked the idea, obviously. I met him after uni. By then I’d taken several naturist holidays and was a convert to the lifestyle. Despite liking the concept, he was more reluctant, shall we say, to strip off.
Pookes: So how did you convert him?
Ella: Oh, we went to the Vera Playa Club Hotel for a week. He’d never been publicly naked before. We’d been going out a while, and I’d taken a naturist holiday without him -booked before I knew him- and I think he had it in his head I’d be sleeping with every fit looking fella I’d meet! The reality was that myself and a pal went to France, to a naturist campsite, and pretty much had a really ordinary seaside holiday that you could have in England, but without clothes. Boys weren’t really part of the agenda at all. It was all swims and meals out and evening entertainment. Anyway, we went to Vera Playa because it was the most direct, easiest naturist place we could get to, and….he was converted in a couple of days.
Pookes: And you still go there?
Ella: Yeah. It’s ‘our’ place, and it suits us for flight convenience from England, and the fact that it’s family friendly suits our children. Some day we’ll get back to long drives and French campsites. For now, Vera Playa suits us best.
Pookes: Let’s turn our attention to SL. When did you get into that?
Ella: Seven years ago, I think. I read about it in a paper, thought it sounded interesting, and joined with the assumption that there might be a naturist community who’d be swapping stories about great naturist destinations and local cafes. And yes, that can be part of the deal, but generally it isn’t. There is, as we both know, a thriving virtual naturist community in SL.
Pookes: And when did blogging begin?
Ella: I’m of a view that you need some purpose to your Second Life. In essence, I wandered the nudist sims and it wasn’t quite how I expected. I’d got a bit bored with it, I have to say, and was thinking of quitting when my friend Emmanuelle offered me a writing position on her blog, which dealt not just with naturism but the more sexual side of SL. I did a couple of articles, they went down OK, and then another friend offered me the editorship of a new blogging venture he was starting up. Three years on, and we’re still here!
Pookes: Were you surprised by the success of SLN?
Ella: I’m constantly surprised by our outreach. Apart from China and a few bits of central Africa, I think we’ve been read in every nation on earth! So clearly there’s a global, naturist -even of the virtual variety- audience for it. By the way, Pooksie, SLN 12 is going to feature a ‘tables turned’ interview with you, hahaha!
Pookes: Bring it on! So where do you see the naturist community in SL right now?
Ella: At a relatively low ebb, oddly enough. Sure, we have some very vibrant and exceptionally strong performers in the field, but there’s less people willing to take a chance on a sim right now. It does cost money, real money, and the economic downturn we experienced a few years back in the real world means people don’t have the means to simply throw money at a pastime. That’s not just related to the naturist community. I’d say most areas of SL endeavour have seen the same. I know I’ve witnessed a lot of clothes shops shut up shop, places I’d visit on a monthly basis. Sure, some people decide they’ve outgrown SL, or got bored with it. Others simply can’t afford the outlay. I’d guess there are now only a few places who turn a profit. Some of the hair salons might. Some of the clothes places. But I’d imagine few are even breaking even for their owners. Fortunately there are die-hards who’ve been here longer than I have!
Pookes: You once said to me that SL had shrunk in terms of cultural breadth.
Ella: Yes. You used to wander African sims….space sims….alien world sims…there was a lot to explore. Nowadays if you build an African sim it’s clearly not for money, right from the start. You can sell a few ethnic clothes and that’s it. So you’re pouring money down the drain in a sense. Few people can sustain that. So yes, in terms of cultural breadth, SL is shrinking.
Pookes: Would you say you retain hope for the game?
Ella: If it doesn’t survive as SL, it will survive as something else. So in that respect, yes. But I think Linden Labs could be more pro-active in their approach. Pricing tiers for north America and Europe’s disposable income is one thing, but that’s not the entire world. Brazil…Russia…India…maybe not China….but three of the four BRIC economies, coming powerhouses, could be targeted according to a lower GDP disposable income. Make the tiers cheaper. Everyone can afford homes, afford to run shops…it would invigorate SL’s economy.
Pookes: And with it SL’s naturist community?
Ella: Almost certainly.
Pookes: What are the big changes you’ve seen in seven years?
Ella: In naturist terms, a more genuine naturist community in naturist sims. We used to suffer from newbies with permanently erect penises griefing all the time. That’s mostly gone now. In avatar terms, flex hair, mesh, better looking skins. It has changed out of recognition. I’m excited about what the next seven years will unfold for us.
Pookes: Will SLN be here?
Ella: Who knows? If there’s enough to write about, maybe. I’d like to see more niche blogs related to lifestyle other than clothes blogs. Maybe a new naturist blog will come along and steal our audience. If they do, great! But if SL’s here in seven years I guess I’ll still be in world.