“Take your clothes off! Just put ‘em in your backpack, I’ll help you!” A guy and girl stand on the corner of Belmont and Halsted next to their bikes as Donna Wilkens of Lakeview accosts them from a few feet away. “I better go have a talk with them,” she continues, “I’ve had enough wine.” She pushes through a group of people toward the two bikers, stationary for now, that stand amongst a crowd of spectators, gathered here on this corner to watch the World Naked Bike Ride. The ride is an event organized in cities across the globe to promote freedom from oil dependency and encourage a positive attitude towards body image.
Before the mass shows up, the crowd cheers on every biker that speeds by. Confused faces look back, not understanding why this mass has formed, and why they are the subject at the moment. “What’s going on?” asks a confused biker as he stops at a red light and faces the group. His question is answered by a woman screaming at him “Take it off!” A sheepish smile and a raised brow, the light turns green and he continues down Halsted. Amanda Barta stands at the edge of the street outside of nightclub Spin with her digital camera. “I just want to take pictures,” she says, happening upon the event spontaneously. “I was just in Taboo Taboo and someone mentioned it. I have the most random luck.”
Finally, cheers begin to erupt south of the intersection, the crowds of spectators push forward into the street and the bikers begin to pass through. An older man, fully clothed in a suit with a mammoth smile bikes slowly amongst four or five other younger guys, completely naked and cheering. A large man, painted entirely in blue, entirely free of clothing, passes. Messages in the theme of the ride are painted on chests, on signs taped on handlebars hollering “Burning calories, not oil!” and “Boobs not bombs!”
“I’m naked and you’re not!” screams a girl as she pumps her fist in the air. “Does any one have a lighter?” asks one of the bikers, walking next to his ride because of the slow pace. He scans the crowd of spectators, “I’m naked. This means I have no pockets.” (Stephanie Ratanas)