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Naked history

Exposing Whistler’s unclothed past and present

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The last postcard of the series - and the only colour postcard - was taken at a special party at Merlin's. The theory was at midnight everyone at the party would strip and Gary would take their picture. At first, Gary wasn't so sure it was going to be a hit but the eager Whistler crowd proved him wrong. By 10 o'clock people were already stripping down and at the stroke of midnight 100 people in various stage of undress happily lined up for the camera and said "cheese."

THE LEGEND OF JOHNNY THRASH

Any serious discussion about nakedness in Whistler, of course, ultimately winds up on the subject of Johnny Thrash. The legendary wild-man could often be found naked around town throughout the '90s.

In fact, there is an old saying amongst long-time Whistlerites that it wasn't a party until Johnny showed up naked.

"He'd just always showed up, and he loved to party. And he'd love to get naked and party," recounts Mike Varrin, current manager of the GLC. "You could often catch him swinging from the rafters of the bar, just totally naked."

Johnny moved to Whistler in 1988 and spent the next decade rocking the resort town with his unsuppressed, uncensored moves. Throughout his stay, he worked as a liftie, commercial fisher, guitarist and Rim Rock employee. In fact, it was at Rim Rock that Johnny said his mind first really opened up to streaking.

"I was working with these old ski bums," says Johnny today from his new southern home in Squamish, B.C. "They were all ex-hippies and all from that generation where nudity was okay."

Johnny's first nudity incident happened one winter when he was dating a girl with a birthday right after his. For their birthday celebration, they decided to rip off their ski gear and see how many runs they could get in on 7th Heaven before they got caught. They did three runs, clean, before ski patrol showed up.

Johnny's most legendary naked stunt, though, was the gyro sphere scene, forever preserved on film for the 2001 National Film Board of Canada flick Ski Bums - although the footage was shot before the film was conceived. 

It was 1988, and Johnny had met a guy called Sal Paradise, also known as the youngest stunt man in Hollywood. Sal was up in Whistler for the season and had brought with him a circus-like collection of skidoos, mono boards, big foot skis... and a pink, green and yellow gyro sphere.