Naked Art: Thousands Flaunt It Down Under

Ian Woods in Sydney, Australia 

More than 5,000 people have posed naked on the steps of the Sydney Opera House - in the name of art.

It was the latest project by American photograper Spencer Tunick  who has organised similar displays of naked humanity all over the world.

The volunteers turned up before dawn and found the cloudy conditions were a little cooler than they would have liked, especially as many of them had to stand around naked for two hours.

They were instructed to wave, lie down, and embrace someone standing next to them, in a display to mark the annual Sidney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival.

One participant, Steven Anglier, said: "I thought it could be a bit awkward at first to dress down and have people looking at you.

"But it's funny because, when you're naked but everybody else is naked, you feel like you're dressed up because everybody looks the same, so no one is looking at no one else.

"It's really a weird experience because you think there could be something sexual behind, but there's not."

But Mr Tunick admitted that some found it embarrassing when he asked them to embrace and kiss someone next to them.

Huge numbers outside Sydney Opera House

"It was difficult to get the straight participants to embrace the gay participants and vice versa, so, I was very happy that that last set up finally got done and everyone came together, united, friendly kiss, a loving kiss in front of this great structure."

Grant Denyer, a weather presenter from Channel 7 who was broadcasting live from the Opera House, was persuaded to shed his clothes and join in.

Exotic dancers at the photoshoot

One of those intending to take part was Amanda Burke, who is pregnant with twins and was due to give birth several hours after the nude photoshoot.

Many were shy to begin with, including two exotic dancers who are used to taking off their clothes for a living.

They told Sky News: "It was more nerve-wracking getting naked with everybody else than what we normally do.

"Normally we have no problem, but we were all excited and nervous and giggly."

Even after the shoot was completed, many people kept their clothes off, wandering naked around the Opera House and posing for their own pictures. 

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