Kelly Stevens, director and producer of Nude Nite 2017 isn’t making a political statement for the sake of publicizing her personal view. She says that Nude Nite has always been about expression and the human body. However, “when politics mix body image and gender issues, the show will have a voice," Stephen says. “Nude Nite has a responsibility to exhibit art that relates to us as well as challenges us.” This year’s show titled Revolution did just that.
Stevens commissioned artist Derek Gores to create a work titled “Pussy Power," a collage backdrop to The Locker Room exhibit which countered Donald Trump’s idea of “just locker room talk”. During the 2016 election Trump excused his inappropriate statements in a discussion with television host Billy Bush using that phrase.
The display features several lockers with athletic-type jerseys emblazoned with names like Boss Lady, Bitch, Ambitious, and Bad Ass. According to Stevens, these are contrasting names that women are called behind closed doors. Central to the exhibit along with Gore’s creation is body paint artist Mandi Ilene working with model Leahbeth, painting inappropriate phrases that women have heard. She takes suggestions from passersby and also has a few of her own. Most prominently are things like “Grab ‘em by the pussy”, and “My eyes are up here” (painted with an arrow on the models chest). Ilene tells stories not only of her own experience, but also some of the most profound things that she has heard from others including a group of male coworkers telling the only female in the group that she has a bad attitude and just needs to get laid more.
The Transgender Project includes eight images with short expositions by photographer John Burke and was also commissioned by Nude Nite. Norman Rockwell's 1950s American Struggles images were used for inspiration and contrast today's struggles of the LGBTQ community and minorities. Images such as Rosie the Riveter and Distorting Mirror show the struggles experienced by those communities and are hung aside small prints of the original Rockwell work and explanation of the intent behind the new image.
Stevens expressed concerns about anti-transgender bathroom laws making their way through 14 state legislative processes, and that some states could soon require a birth certificates or a bathroom monitor for transgender individuals to be able use the bathroom for the gender they identify with. As an expression of that was the exhibit with four glittered gold toilets. Four gilded toilets sat on an elevated a platform to draw attention to the fact that the right to use the bathroom may seem ordinary and mundane to some, but to others it is precious and valuable right.
Another exhibit was The Confession Booth. Contrasting the idea that in the past confessions were shameful, in today’s social media culture, confessions get shared openly and frequently. A perennial theme of Nude Nite is that guests are encouraged to drop inhibitions and express themselves. In this display participants are asked to enter the confession booth behind a red silk curtain, fill out a confession card and slide it anonymously through the slot in the rear of the booth. The confessions are then exhibited on a board for all to see by a nude female Pope.
Burlesque shows happened three times each evening.