I’m not a stranger to getting my kit off. I once spent a day on the tube in a bikini, for a sun lotion brand’s publicity stunt. I also had a spell as a Playboy Bunny. But I was pretty nervous at the prospect of eating dinner naked in a restaurant. Apparently I’m in the minority when it comes to such qualms. If The Bunyadi’s website is to be believed, over 46,000 people are on the waiting list to eat dinner there, during the pop-up’s 30-day life span.
I suspect the figure may be fabricated. I put shout outs on social media for a plus one, and the number of takers would have fit in a phone box. Of course, this may be a reflection on me as a dinner date. I prefer to eat with a spoon, and I tend to finish up with food down my front. Anyway, I chose Tom, who I dated briefly in 2005. We’ve seen each other naked, so surely this would eliminate awkwardness? Actually, it did, to the extent that familiarity bred ennui. Sat in a bamboo booth for two, naked except for slippers, Tom told me he he’d never felt less sexy. What was the point of eating naked, if we couldn’t perv over other people?
As erotic experiences go, it was on a par with sitting at home in your pants, eating peanut butter, and thinking you really should shower at some point. It was less ‘sexual carnage,’ more ‘can’t be bothered to get dressed’. But then, in theory, this wasn’t about seduction. It was all about getting back to nature, hence the earthenware goblet that made drinking my wine feel like licking a wooden lolly stick. Not one of my favourite feelings, but I didn’t let it stop me. We went through three bottles of Chablis, and such a succession of cocktails, that I woke up the next morning wearing someone else’s knickers. This was the collateral damage incurred from drunk-dressing in a dark room.
Keeping it natural meant forgoing luxuries like ice-buckets, and keeping our wine on the floor. It was a very warm room and Tom would have liked some air conditioning. I was sweating between my breasts, and told Tom, who said, ‘stop talking dirty.’ I foraged in the water jug for slices of cucumber and slapped them on my nipples. It appeared I was morphing into Barbara Windsor, but there was no chance of hanky panky behind the bamboo, because the waiting staff stuck their heads in every three minutes.
After dinner, I had to get back to do an interview on Skype. However, I was delightfully drunk, and decided it was a far better plan to drain the bar dry. We sat next to a couple who Tom knows from school, because the woman was his head teacher. They’ve been naturists for decades, they said. This came as no surprise to Tom, who recalled a scandal from his schooldays, when a pupil saw Miss naked at the weekend in a country park.
We must have been bundled out at some point, as I can’t imagine I left of my own accord. On the tube home, I mugged a man for his chips, which could be construed as a slur on The Bunyadi’s food, but it’s probably more a reflection of how much I’d had to drink. People have asked me about the food, but it was too dark to see. All I recall is a radish, as Tom was perplexed by it, apparently never having eaten one before. However, I’m hardly in a position to judge, having failed to identify my own underwear.
Although we went on launch night, Tom and I were not the first to get naked at the venue, since it was previously a strip club. As we arrived, we both thought it looked like somewhere you’d put a pound coin in a pint glass – and then ask for change. The bouncer, standing by a red rope, and flanked by blacked out windows, confirmed our suspicions. Presumably he’d been kept on from the club’s former days, before green plastic leaves and a truckload of tree stumps were dotted about to entice the press. The guys behind The Bunyadi have form for hijacking headlines, with crystal meth themed cocktails and allegations of owl cruelty. They know nudity is media catnip and who can accuse them of being seedy, when it’s all about getting back to nature?
Samantha Rea is a freelance journalist living in London. She can be found tweeting here.