Optional Nudity in Hair
Esquire - September 1968

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These are the girls from Hair, the tribal love-rock musical that made its way from modest beginnings in a Greenwich Village theatre, uptown to Cheetah and finally to Broadway where it came of age. Hair's loss of innocence is acted out eight times a week at the end of the first act when assorted members of the cast, male and female, stand completely nude facing the audience.  According to the producers, the nude bit is completely optional: it is up to each member of the cast to decide whether to strip or stay dressed.  An interviewer, curious to know why each girl in the cast did whatever she did and how it felt, came away with these explanations.

SUZANNAH NORSTRAND: I don't know why, I just don't do it.  Maybe it's because I want to save something for another time. Q: Does the audience intimidate you?  S.N.: Are you kidding? The front rows are always full of fags, and they just look at the boys.

MELBA MOORE: Despite my appearance here (Ed. note: Ms. Moore is nude in the accompanying photograph) I don't join the nude scene onstage.  For three reasons: a) I want to be a singer, and it might hurt my career, b) I'm too fat, c) My husband would object vehemently.

MARJORIE LIPARI: I'm not onstage during the nude scene.  But anyway, it's not my thing.

LYNN KELLOGG: Definitely not.  I don't feel the world is ready to approve.  And I very much want to be approved of.

EMMARETTA MARKS: I like to feel free, and believe me I've lost a few inhibitions in this show.  At first I just stripped to the waist, but people complained that I was copping out, because the boys took everything off.  It was all or nothing.

NATALIE MOSCO: I only missed it once, and that was because I couldn't get my clothes off in time.  I was dead set against the nude scene at first, but I remembered my acting teacher having said that part of acting is being private in public.  So I did it.  But I didn't tell my mother until recently, when I turned eighteen.

LORRI DAVIS: I did it the first time just to prove to myself I could.  There was nothing to it.  You see one body, you've seen them all.  The audience is important though;  if they're responsive and with it, I take my clothes off.  If they're deadheads, I don't bother.

DIANE KEATON: There isn't enough meaning in it for me.  And I don't have the nerve;  it's such a personal thing.

LEATA GALLOWAY: No. Even if I wanted to, my manager wouldn't let me.  Anyway, I have enough hassles with the stagehands as it is.

SHELLEY PLIMPTON: I didn't do it at first., but now i do it every performance.  You must admit it was a big step.  It took getting rid of a few hang-ups.  Q: Like what?  S.P.: Like taking your clothes off in front of an audience.

Copyright 1968 Esquire.

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