When I was seven or eight we'd play some soccer games shirts versus skins. I would skip practice sometimes because I was terrified of being put on the skins. I was always kind of a chubbier guy and so uncomfortable being shirtless, even in swimming pools.
That only began to change when I was 25. I was helping on a MuchMusic shoot in Vancouver, and one of the camerawomen wanted to show me the famous clothing-optional Wreck Beach. So I went with her and got shirtless, and I was comfortable, surrounded by all these people who looked so free and happy and just completely at peace with themselves. It was inspiring.
I didn't get naked that first time, but when I moved to Vancouver at 29, having come out a couple of years earlier, some gay friends took me back there, and I finally bit the bullet. After that first moment, there was no turning back. I embraced the culture that revolves around naturism – and the confidence of being okay with my body.
I began to seek out those spaces whenever I had a chance to travel, and that drive has been very strong ever since.
There have been times when my voice-over work has had me sitting in a closet recording audiobooks of erotic novels, and I didn't feel comfortable taking on those jobs until after my experiences with nude beaches and naturism. It definitely connected to feeling confident enough to sit in a closet and read lurid passages about various body parts without laughing or giggling. Those books would have taken forever to record if that happened.
The Point Tent & Trailer Resort, an all-male clothing-optional campground south of Hamilton, has been the biggest motivator. The idea of walking around a camp naked is very liberating. I feel much more at peace with myself. Once being naked isn't a big deal to you, it brings down the level of other anxieties.
You assume that people might gossip about you or go behind your back the second they see you naked, but in the end, nobody has time to care about that. No one really cares that much about how you look.
And when you go to a nude beach for the first time, once you get over that fact, you look around and then it becomes – I'm going to use the term very loosely – wallpaper. It's like we're all in this together and now we're just wallpaper. You're as exciting as if I'm in a room with busy wallpaper.
Find Paul Lancaric on Twitter.
- Prince Amponsah, actor, social work student at Ryerson University
- Monique Mojica, actor, playwright, artistic director of Chocolate Woman Collective
- Heidi Hawkins, mother and voice-over actor
- Paul Lancaric, voice-over artist
- Catherine Hernandez, author of the novel Scarborough, out soon, and mother
- Acacia Christensen, also known as Doughnut Messaround, wrestler, League Of lady Wrestlers
- Jasbina Justice, activist, yoga teacher, coordinator and performer with feminist porn company Spit
- Ted Hallett, improviser/writer, Date Me, Next Stage Festival
- Jewelz Mazzei, body activist and model
See last year's Body Issue here.