When art show organizer Kelly Stevens wanted inspiration for next week's Nude Nite, she looked to the past — the distant past, when women wore hoop skirts and men wore wigs.
She liked the idea of shedding seductive, new light on something old and stiff.
"That's the great challenge: making something prudish sexy,'' she said. "That subtlety can be an over-the-top experience.''
This year's theme is "Victorian steampunk," a style that incorporates elements of fantasy and innovation from a 19th-century perspective on fashion, culture and architecture. Expect feathered costumes, chicken wire gowns and skin-baring Victorian-style models.
The March 3-5 event will include 160 artists — double the participation of Tampa's first Nude Nite in 2009. Artwork by painters, photographers and sculptors will focus on the body beautiful in the buff. Stilt walkers, jugglers and other character artists will create a bazaar-like atmosphere. Artist Carlo Craig is bringing a huge Scrabble board (for actual playing).
Stevens started Nude Nite in Orlando in 1997 as an experience-driven art show where people could buy art and also live it. She expanded to Tampa to increase opportunities for local artists whose nude work is often misunderstood or under-appreciated.
Dubbed an "art happening'' rather than an art show, Nude Nite will have burlesque dancers performing on the hour, starting at 9 nightly. Artists will draw G- to X-rated caricatures. A Limoncello stand will hark back to the days when people played parlor games and sipped lemonade.
Anyone who buys a piece of art receives lifelong free admission to Nude Nite.