The Naked Handstander explains...
Well-travelled, principled, and none-too-shy about dropping trou, the anonymous maverick known only as The Naked Handstander has bared his goods around the globe, from Preikestolen to Amsterdam, London, New York City and The Great Wall of China. Since starting his topsy-turvy exploits in Vík, Iceland, in 2009, The Naked Handstander has returned to our shores twice, most recently this year when he put on his best (birthday) suit and inaugurated the New Year with a handstand on the Reykjavík Pond.
Although The Naked Handstander does admit to enjoying “the world in all its glory and wonder in the raw,” his handstands are not simply the denuded demonstrations of a worldly exhibitionist. Rather, with each handstand, he intends to raise awareness about Planned Obsolescence, “the deliberate shortening of a products useful life in order to force the consumer to buy or ‘upgrade’ over and over and over again.”
We had a quick e-chat with The Naked Handstander to learn more about his passion for turning around our throw-away culture, the best conditions under which to handstand, and the pleasures of life lived in the buff.
What is the connection between naked handstands and the concept of planned obsolescence?
It’s a realisation I came to about our current consumerist ways. If we continue this way, we will one day end up in an exhausted world. As a result we will be left naked, wondering what happened and where we went wrong.
Why is this cause particularly important to you?
I think the current throw away culture we live in needs to be highlighted and given a shake up. We consume things too often on a use and discard basis, rather than a use/re-use, re-cycle, or better still, up-cycle basis. Planned obsolescence is one of the main culprits in this use / discard paradigm. If people were more aware of its damaging effect on the planet, and as a result, ourselves, I think Earth and its inhabitants would be far better off. Making things so that they have a fixed lifespan, so they break and need to be bought again for the sake of profit, is simply ridiculous. We are sacrificing this magnificent world we live in for a paper profit. What would we prefer, a world littered with waste and useless crap or a world where we created things in harmony with the environment?
People don’t consider that the way they treat the planet will affect them. Rather, they think they are totally separate from it. We are all here on this tiny speck of dust together and the sooner we realise that, the sooner our consumerist habits will change positively. I hope I can raise awareness, get people thinking and help change this throw away culture we currently live in.
Why naked handstands? Why not naked cartwheels, for instance?
Well, I have to be honest and say I haven’t tried a naked cartwheel or any other fancy naked acrobatics…yet. I’m not as bendy as I’d like!
According to your website, your project started in Vík in 2009. What about a cold black beach in Iceland made you want to strip down for a cause?
I can’t really say, it just happened! It was summer 2009, I was with a particularly cool girl and felt the urge to get nude…Vík is a spectacular place and I think it’s best experienced naked, as some of life’s many pleasures are!
We see you’ve been back to our country several times since 2009. Is there a reason for the repeat visits? Do you feel Iceland is a particularly good place to make your case for more responsible consumption and material production?
Iceland has to be one of the most beautiful countries on Earth! The people are grand and the nature is sublime, so those are the main reasons I keep returning. The natural beauty there is a fitting showcase of the amazing world we live in, so I feel it is a good place to highlight the need for responsible consumption and production. When you visit Iceland you feel this sense of responsibility to ensure we take good care of nature there and for that matter everywhere.
Do you travel specifically for the purpose of naked handstanding, or do you simply incorporate these into your normal travels?
I travel to experience the world and toss in as many naked handstands as possible. It makes sense to incorporate these into travels rather than travelling specifically for handstanding. Usually the locations I visit lend themselves naturally to handstands. I’m planning the naked handstanders world tour next year, though.
Who is your photographer?
That depends—usually a good friend or travelling amigo. Occasionally the camera, tripod and timer, which takes a few goes!
What are the ideal conditions for a naked handstand?
A scenic background, little or no people around, blue skies, sunshine and good company.
Are there any [weather, social…] conditions under which you will not naked handstand?
Yes, I prefer not to do it in the presence of large groups of people, the police or people who are likely to be offended or upset. Weather-wise, blue skies and sunshine are always preferable, but as long as it’s not too slippery, I’ll have a craic!
You must have gotten some mixed reactions from people when you do these in public—care to share any of these, particularly any reactions from Icelanders? (We noticed that there were people on the pond when you did your handstand on the pond…)
Well, there have been two occasions where some officials have not entirely enjoyed the idea. The first occasion was in Amsterdam, which resulted in me having a stern talking-to by the friendly local policeman and sent on my way. The second occasion was somewhere in Italy. They didn’t find it as humorous, so we had a ride in the back of a blue and white striped car. I don’t think I should say much more than that at the moment…
Surprisingly, in Iceland on New Year’s Day, few people actually noticed me. I think that was due to the fact they were probably as hungover as I! Those who did notice had either a smirk or a chuckle, so it was good to see they took it in the way it was intended. Icelandic people are awesome.