Hey Maude, look I'm naked - Bob Paslay

I was prepared to blast Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin for the silliness to prove Atlanta is a big little city in the recent closing down of a vaudeville play in town. But then earlier this week she blinked and did the right thing, sending a letter telling city police to essentially leave the production alone.

Anyone who hates censorship should applaud this decision.

It all involves a play known as "Naked Boys Singing." It is a play that is years old from New York City and which has been touring the country for years without anyone getting too worked up.

Reports from those who have seen it say it is a little musical in which funny little songs are sung by guys who are either naked or get naked during the play. The play apparently is aimed at the gay audience and thus is playing in a gay bar's theater in midtown. I can only assume that anyone, man or woman, who enjoys seeing men naked would be attracted to the play. The point is that there apparently is no sexual activity or lewd acts in the play. It is pure vaudeville.

The point also is that no one in midtown Atlanta is going out with handcuffs and dragging people into this play. People are plopping down a portion of their own money to see it.

It should also be noted that this play or musical or series of skits has been playing in Atlanta since August. Then suddenly in December someone in bureaucratic land determines this is adult entertainment and the operators need an adult license. So like good bureaucrats in which whatever they want done can't wait a second, they basically raid the theater, shutting down the production in mid-stream.

Atlanta, which has already shortened its hours of operation for bars, doesn't need a rep that it is returning to the days of the past.

I guess several things amaze me. Foremost is that in this time of America's history, people are so upset about nudity or as the late Lewis Grizzard would say, naaaaakidness.

From my point of view, the God I worship only invented two kinds of people -- men and women. And in this creation he endowed each with certain things that makes it easy to distinguish them apart. Some people are taller, shorter, blonde or brunette, left-handed or right-handed. But essentially all people made by the Creator look just fine naked. I look at naked people and say: Wow, God was pretty good in creating them. Others, like the late Michaelangelo, also were pretty impressed with the Big Guy's creation because he took a big slab of marble and started chipping away and found warm and appealing human bodies in it.

To take sheets and cover works of art in the lobby of the U.S. Department of Justice because they are in the state in which all people are born, naked, is the height of stupidity. Someone gave me a T-shirt to wear to Mardi Gras that said: "Underneath these clothes I am naked."

It is because of the theory that there is something essentially nasty or wrong about people who have no clothes on that keeps people paying money to slip around and see people naked. I guess since I see nothing wrong with people being naked that I see nothing wrong with people plopping down $30 or $40 to see some naked guys singing on stage although I am amused by the concept and the controversy.

Apart from your view on whether nakedness is nasty or OK is the more esoteric discussion of what is lewd or not. Even in the Bible Belt, reasonable district attorneys have used a standard of whether the nudity is lewd or lascivious versus just being part of the play. Under this standard, there appears to be nothing wrong with the play that Atlanta shut down since it is just more of a spoof on the obsession about nakedness.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor for the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com .