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The Golden Age of Nudity: A Look Back At The Nude Scenes of My Youth

Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer


ImageRemember Julie Warner emerging from the water in Doc Hollywood? So does CC2K’s Rob Van Winkle, who guides us through the seminal nude scenes of the 80s and 90s.

One of the biggest remaining mysteries in biology is the phenomenon of puberty. In a few short months, our chief opinion about the opposite sex flips from “disgusting” to “delicious” – but why? Or how? At what quantifiable point does middle-school stardom shift from the kid with the coolest bike to the kid with the biggest stash of Playboys? Paradoxically, this shift strikes me as simultaneously instant and gradual – one day you wake up, and it feels like you’ve always felt that way.

We may never fully explain it, but I’ll tell you one thing: those first few nude scenes you see in the movies sure do speed that process up.

The 80s and 90s were a golden age for onscreen nudity. For a while there, any film worth its salt had to feature a bare-chested woman, lest the filmmakers risk a no-show by the vaunted young male demographic. Best of all, they became so ubiquitous that an enterprising just-pubescent boy could always find a way to trick his parents into letting him catch a glimpse of that which he’ll be seeking for the remainder of his adult life.

(And before I get accused of writing a wholly sexist article here, I know for a FACT that this phenomenon is true in reverse as well. My wife has told me repeatedly and without shame how she and her friends would attempt to pause Dirty Dancing at JUST the right frame to see Patrick Swayze’s butt. Ladies, don’t blame me because the images that you craved to see could only be found in porn or Harvey Keitel movies.)

But just because topless women were everywhere does NOT mean that all nude scenes were created equal. Most of them were like junk food: coveted and exciting, yet quickly digested and easily forgotten. However, a few of them, from the moment they unspooled on the screen, were seared into our memories forever. These are the scenes that propelled us toward puberty, and our own passion-fueled downfalls.

Here are the three most memorable nude scenes from my youth.

Trading Places

I actually remember very little about this movie, overall. I recall that Eddie Murphy pretends to have no legs, and that Dan Ackroyd uses a bad accent for much of it. I am pretty sure that Jamie Lee Curtis spends most of the movie thrusting her cleavage at the cameras, and there is even a chance that we see her topless at some point (I can’t remember, which is telling in and of itself).

However, all of this is irrelevant, as I will remember one scene in crystal clarity for as long as I live.

About halfway through the movie, the now-affluent Eddie Murphy has people over at his house, and he starts searching for someone. When he opens the door to his bedroom, a beautiful, busty and topless woman emerges from under the covers, and invites him to join her. Murphy (BAFFLINGLY, INCOMPREHENSIBLY!) tells her to put her clothes on and get out of his bed. End scene.

There are two facets of this scene that caused it to become seared into my memory forever. Firstly this woman was not only naked, but she was IN A BED! ASKING FOR COMPANY! Again, remember that I saw this as a ten-year-old, and perhaps this will make sense. I was only barely beginning to understand the allure of the finer sex at that time. I was, by then, aware of what sex was, but since it was so far away from becoming my reality, it was still beyond imagination. So try to understand the effect it would have on that same boy to watch a gorgeous naked woman emerge from bed – where SEX HAPPENS! – willingly and eagerly asking a man to join her there – probably for SEX! It still gives me chills.

The second thing that makes this scene immortal is that it comes from a movie called Trading Places. Let me explain.

In sixth grade, I had a sleepover party to which I invited about a dozen of my closest friends. The plan was to stay up all night, play Nintendo, gorge ourselves on junk food, and (if at all possible) to see some naked breasts. I remember going to the video store with my mother, trying to figure out how to accomplish this feat. The best bet, so I concluded, was the movie Casual Sex?, since it had the WORD sex in it, but not surprisingly, my mother turned that down out of hand. When all hope was lost, I suddenly remembered a rumor that a fantastic nude scene could be found in a movie with a title that would certainly pass the “Mom Test.” Sure enough, the movie came home, and a good time was had by all.

I couldn’t find a clip of this exact scene online, but for you enthusiasts, it comes at about the 42-minute mark. As recompense, though, I tracked down this collection of Jamie Lee Curtis’ legendary topless scenes in this movie.

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Kentucky Fried Movie

This was a little-known movie when I discovered it, and to the best of my knowledge it still is. Kentucky Fried Movie is a sketch comedy film created by the Zucker Brothers. It is filled with dirty and vulgar scenes and snippets, and (at least to an eleven-year-old), it is fucking hilarious. I rented this movie as entertainment when I invited my friend Kyle to sleep over one Saturday night. I never could have imagined what we’d find.

There are several nude scenes in KFM, and of course I remember them all. Right toward the beginning of the movie, for example, there is an extended “preview” for a movie they call Catholic High School Girls in Trouble. This bit is essentially a collection of lame jokes packaged around a bunch of breasts. (Examples: VO guy announces “And Introducing … (some girl’s name),” while on screen, three topless girls shake hands with one another. Also, VO guy announces “(some girl’s name) recreates her famous role.” While topless girl rolls on and off camera on a grassy field.) This was great and all, but it was the final scene in the movie that changed Kyle and me … forever.

The scene is called “Eyewitness News.” A man and woman sit down on a couch, and the man attempts to get it on with her. She is uninterested, and demands that he turn on the TV to the evening news. He complies. The newscast begins, and all at once the woman is now much more receptive to the man’s advances. Before long, they are very hot and very heavy…and the newscasters can see everything. They are distracted and flustered, yet our conjugal pair will not be deterred. The newscast ends as the couple’s sex act ends. Fade to black.

So with all the various and sundry breasts found in Kentucky Fried Movie, what was it about this last scene that caused two pre-teen boys to play it over and over and over? I think it’s due to the fact that, rather than merely seeing this woman’s breasts – we saw them in action. This was perhaps the only time outside of porn (for our newer readers: porn in the pre-internet days was extremely difficult to get your hands on without a clueless father or a cool older brother) that we were allowed to see what sex might look like. While the filmmakers were careful never to let us see more than the R-rating would allow, we still received images of oral sex (both kinds), as well as several different positions of intercourse itself. It was nothing short of revelatory. Seriously – check this scene out.

As with Trading Places, I couldn’t find the “Eyewitness News” clip, but I did manage to find some troublesome Catholic high school girls.

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Doc Hollywood

If I honestly have to explain to you what scene I’m talking about, then you should be ashamed of yourself. In this inoffensive, largely disposable movie, Michael J. Fox plays a hotshot doctor who crashes his car in a small Podunk town, and is forced through several happenstances to remain in town serving as their doctor. Toward the start of the movie, Fox walks down to the local lake, and (I can’t remember much before or after the scene in question, so forgive me if the supporting details are a bit fuzzy) is taking in the scene. Suddenly, surprising Fox as well as the viewer, Julie Warner ascends fully submerged from the water like a modern-day Aphrodite, completely naked (we probably only saw her top half, but that scene is so good that imagination fills in the rest). While Fox is a stuttering fool, Warner remains cool and collected, walks unabashedly out of the water and to her towel, and ends the scene with the unforgettable line “You can blink now.” Damn. Let’s relive it again:

Now once more, there are two things that really stand out for me about this scene. Firstly, this was probably my first exposure to the unbeatable combination of nudity and water. Enough said. Secondly, this movie was rated PG-13! To this day, I have NO IDEA how a movie with a scene like that got away with such a tame rating. (Honestly, what other movie have you ever seen with nudity in it that wasn’t rated R, or higher?) Whatever the reason, I went to this movie with several friends, never imagining the gift we were about to receive. The lesson learned here was clear: nudity is always great – but there’s something especially gratifying about it when it’s unexpected, or unearned. If you doubt this, just take a peek at the bank account of Girls Gone Wild mogul-misogynist Joe Francis.

There have been many more nude scenes that have passed before me in the intervening years between then and now, but nothing nearly as indelible. Certainly this is all context however; no doubt every man would write this same article with different examples, and different stories to go with them. But even if the specifics change, the universal truth remains constant: sooner or later, everyone runs into on-screen nudity, and no one ever stays the same afterwards.

Author: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer

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