For Maks Rozanovsky, the most difficult part about co-starring on a nude reality TV show wasn't the shyness and embarrassment that come with life in the buff.
It was the wind and cold.
"It was challenging even for me, and I'm a polar bear,'' said Rozanovsky, who was born in Ukraine and has swum in icy lakes and oceans.
Rozanovsky was among eight people chosen to appear in the Nak'd Truth, a show about living and working at the clothing-optional Caliente Resort & Spa in Land O'Lakes. The sizzle — or demo — reel was shot in December and producers are pitching the program to networks.
Rozanovsky lives in Tampa and works as a computer systems administrator for a Fortune 100 company in St. Pete, which he preferred not to identify. He applied to audition on a whim and, like most people, had no experience with nudism, aside from the shower.
"I grew up in a conservative environment in Ukraine. To undress in front of a stranger was a little bit of a shock to me,'' he said. "But I think that sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone and see what's out there. I gave it my best shot.''
Initially, living nude was tough, he said. Even scary. Would he be the same person without protective covering? How would he interact with others if they had no clothing to define them?
But stripped bare, he found a deeper acceptance of others and better insight to clothes as interchangeable masks. You wear one set for work, one for a party and another for the grocery store.
"It opens you up as a human being. All the prejudices and biases that you grew up with all seem to disappear,'' he said. "After awhile, I totally forgot about wearing clothes.''
The cast members lived in a three-bedroom house on the resort, where they worked various jobs, from bartender to pool attendant. Rozanovsky, who went by Maks the Russian, said it's one thing to sit on the couch naked but another to have to work, cook and interact with others sans clothes.
At 34, he was the oldest of the group. He wasn't allowed to reveal his job there but said it wasn't in the kitchen, which can prove treacherous with the hot grease.
Producers said filming for the five- to 10-minute demo went exceptionally well and demonstrated how the show could change people's attitudes toward nudists and clothing-optional resorts.
"It's everything we hoped it would be. The characters were really, really strong,'' said Harris Salomon, president of Atlantic Overseas Pictures LLC. "I think many of us working on it were more uncomfortable than those who weren't wearing any clothes.''
If a network commits to the show, taping would start in late April or early May, once the weather warms up, he said. The series would have 13 hourlong episodes, and all private parts would be blurred or shot from discreet positions.
Rozanovsky never aspired to be an actor but hopes the program moves forward. Regardless, he plans to return to the resort to teach naked yoga, something he did during the initial filming.
The twisting and stretching felt natural and comfortable on his bare skin and not the least bit cold.