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Naked history

Exposing Whistler’s unclothed past and present

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Later, looking at the photos, Speedy decided they should make a poster. Toulouse and someone else contributed $1,000 each and he supplied the negative. Together, the three men printed off thousands of posters and started The Naked Truth Poster Company.

"We used to take them down to Dusty's on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and sell as many as the market would allow for $2 each," recounts Toulouse. "We then used all the money we made to buy our drinks."

The Naked Truth Poster Company also went on the road, travelling through B.C. and even Europe to sell the photo of naked people holding skis. Some people didn't like it, but in general, it was a popular item. And 36 years later, it remains a landmark of Whistler.

"Mark Twain said, 'You'll regret the things you don't do more than the things you did do,' but I don't regret doing that. At the time, it was fun, and it continues to be a talking point for Whistler," says Toulouse.

"It is tweaking its nose at society a little bit because the people in the photo are saying it is alright to be nude. Because it was done in Whistler, it caught the Whistler mood."

POSTCARD FLASHES

Whistler's naked history reached another level of professionalism when photographer Gary McFarlane started the Barely Whistler postcard series.

The idea came about during a series of backpacking trips in the mid-'80s. Gary and his friend started stripping down and taking naked photographs while traveling, and they would include the shots in their slide shows back in Whistler.

"At one of those slideshows one of my drunk friends said, 'Wow, you should make postcards!'" Gary recalls. "I woke up the next morning and remembered his comment and decided it sounded like fun."

Gary started Barely Whistler in 1992 and spent the next seven years capturing naked men and women frolicking in 50 black and white shots. The postcards, sold in a few Whistler shops including Rick Clare's photography store, were cleverly crafted with most private bits concealed.

Gary recounts with gusto one postcard in particular. It was at the end of a ski day and he got five naked skiers with long hair to line up in front of Monk's Grill at the base of Blackcomb Mountain. He was going to take their picture when a bunch of men enjoying an après session nearby started cheering them on. One of the skiers turned around to see what was going on, and as soon as he did, the après men exclaimed with shock: "Hey! Those aren't girls!"