Updated Friday, February 14th at 5:18 p.m. EST

Here are the photos from the Naked News party, which was an absolute blast!

I’m bust doing all kinds of things today, so I haven’t had a chance to do a complete writeup. I’ll be updating this entry throughout the day, so check back here once in a while.

The Naked News Launch

It’s possible that you’ve never heard of Naked News (“the news show with nothing to hide”). I’ll summarize quickly: it’s a news show read by good-looking (or at least well-endowed) anchors who either start off naked or strip as they read their stories. It’s been on the Web since late 1999, moved to specialty channel TV afterwards, and is now making its debut on local and national TV channels in North America this weekend.

You’d think that they’d skimp on the actual newswriting in favour of the smut, but it’s actually pretty good. If you “watch” the Webcast and minimize the window so that you only hear the audio (although why you’d do that is beyond me), you’ll note that the writing’s pretty good. It’s clear, conscise and sometimes the writers throw in a little smart-assed editorial commentary at the end. The Naked News has got great international coverage — they seem to understand much better than a lot of news shows that the world consists of more than just the US and Iraq. As the Online Journalism Review puts it: “The naked truth is… it’s not bad. Four minutes of international headlines is more than you’re likely to find on most U.S. local stations — or even the major networks on many nights.” I believe I saw more coverage of former Philippine President Joseph “Erap” Estrada’s scandal on Naked News than on ABC, CBS and NBC combined.

They’re also Toronto’s gift to the world. The Naked News is produced and shot right here in Toronto, presumably in an area not far from my place and falling distance from fellow weblogger (not to mention friend and former boss) Cory Doctorow’s former warehouse loft. I say “presumably” because Naked News places a premium on their privacy; they don’t disclose the location for may reasons, not the leats of which is to keep drooling fanboys away. I suspect that it’s somewhere in the King/Dufferin area as it’s an area with enough warehouse space, many film and TV companies are based around there and a large chunk of Toronto’s significant contribution to the online porn industry comes from warehouse offices in that zone.


The party took place at a new club called Lotus. The place is so new that its “grand opening” night doesn’t take place until tomorrow. It’s also located in an unusual place for a club in Toronto — on Lombard street, just a little bit east of Yonge, in the area where they shot the miserable opening scenes of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The area is occupied mostly by office buildings and it’s a dead zone at night (read Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities for an explanation of this phenomenon).

Paul and I arrived at around ten and took our place in line. It was one of those “artificial” queues that isn’t formed because the club is full but because the club management wants you to know that theirs is the most happening club around. It’s rather reminiscent of the apocryphal stories you used to hear during the Cold War: an old Russian woman is walking about Moscow with her grandson one day when she sees an incredibly long line in the market. Seeing it, she quickly takes her place in line. Her grandson asks “Baba [Grandma], why are we joining this line? We don’t even know what it is they’re selling,” to which she replies “Well, if the line’s this long, it must be good!”

The bouncers wore the official uniform of bouncers from Manhattan to Manila: black from top to bottom, and one of those earpiece/microphone combinations that hooks up to a walkie-talkie. It was a cold night, and the club had provided them with those big furry hats that you always see on the heads of members of the Russian Politburo. They herded the clubgoers into two lines. Ours was the one for regular invitees: people who worked in the bar/club industry and their friends, regular club-goers, hipsters, a number of blinged out guys who like as if they just walked off the set of a Puff Daddy video and a disprotionately large number of women with their hair dyed blonde and in barrel-curls, just like Shakira. The other one was the media line, which was occupied by mostly by guys with videocameras with a sticker denoting which media organization they were with. It was occupied by only a handful of people.

A woman walked up to the bouncers minding the door with a sour-looking man in tow. The bouncer inspected her pass.

“Media?” he said. “Please line up over here, ma’am.” He gestured towards the media line.

The sour man took one look at the media line — there couldn’t have been more than half a dozen people there — threw his hands in the air, said “I don’t need this shit,” and stormed off in a huff.

“Er…,” said the woman nervously, “we’ll be back in a little bit.”

“Take your time,” said the bouncer.

Sour Guy shouldn’t have been such a prima donna. Even we non-media folk in the much longer line were inside in about five minutes.

We walked into what looked like “the club scene” of any recent movie with a hip-hop soundtrack. Intellibeam lights and video displays everywhere, women in crop tops, guys wearing more gold than most Aztec kings, and OONTZ OONTZ OONTZ OONTZ coming out of brand new Mackie speakers that seemed to be located everywhere. The only difference between this place and the movies was that this was a Toronto hip-hop/house club, so it wasn’t all-white, all-black or all-Asian, but a pretty even mix of all three (you don’t feel the racial divides as sharply here as in the Excited States). Everyone was looking pretty sharp.

“Glad I dressed up,” said Paul. “This place is…amazing! It’s like Heaven.”

“Proof positive of the existence of a kind and loving God,” I replied.

We checked out coats and went upstairs, passing by the bizzare statue that sprang upwards for three storeys from the floor of the restaurant atrium. We also walked through a mirrored hallway lit by rotating halogen lights casting beams of light the way the flashlights do in just about every episode of The X-Files. I counted half a dozen bars, dozens of intellibeam lights and video monitors, a handful of balcony areas and a giant but not-yet-functioning hot tub capable of seating two dozen people.

I expect that someday this place will be used as the location for “the club scene” of a movie.

Armed and dangerous. Lotus nightclub has a restaurant section dominated by this bizzare three-storey tall statue — a mass of men’s and women’s arms extending skyward. This was taken from the balcony on the second floor overlooking the restaurant. I hear that the restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine.

Instead of reaching for the brass ring, just reach for the disco ball. This is the top of the bizarre arm statue. This was also taken from the balcony of the second floor.

Catching up with friends

I spotted Char very shortly after we hit the upstairs lounge’s dance floor. She was invited there by Nathan, a witty fella with a sardonic Dennis Miller-esque sense of humour, is one of the writers for Naked News.

“Did you bring the you-know-what?” Char asked, making accordion motions with her arms.

I was wearing it like a backpack, as I usually do when I hit the dancefloor or walk about town. Normally you can tell from the straps, but they were camouflaged by my black “salaryman”-style club-going suit. I spun around to reveal it.

“I feel — ahem — naked without it,” I said. A groaner of Doctorowesque proportions. Nathan rolled his eyes.

We then posed for pictures:

I can’t resist making the “Leisure Suit Larry” pose. We found Char within five minutes of entering the place.

This is why I take the accordion everywhere I go. So, Mr., do women come up to you and lick your name tag? Well do they…punk?

Paul and I went to the bar for some decidedly Atkins-unfriendly Tequila Sunrises (Gotta break the rules sometimes). As I got my drink, I got a tap on the shoulder from some new girl I’d seen at the Bovine the night before.

“Do you always carry that thing with you?” she asked.

“Hey, I know you! Yeah. Neat things happen whenever I take it out with me. It also makes me easy to find in a crowded club.”

Her name turned out to be Tara, and she’s new in town, having moved here from Calgary only a couple of months ago. She’s got her very own marketing company and moved here to where the greener pastures are. She was there alone, so I invited her to join us and did the introductions. Now we were a posse.

Not the newscasters, but an incredible simulation!

Shortly after we all met up, the music was interrupted by an announcement. An older grey-haired gentleman in a Brooks Brothers suit and tie, with a couple of Cuban cigars sticking out of his jacket pocket took the microphone. He welcomed us all to the Naked News launch party, and then announced “the moment we’ve all been waiting for”…

…dancer representatives of the Naked News newscasters.

“Representatives?” asked Tara.

“I think that’s what he said. What the hell does ‘representatives’ mean?” I said.

Char just shouted “Bring out the titties!” You’ve gotta love that girl.

Rather gothy electronica started coming out the speakers.

“Now this is more like it,” said Tara.

Out came dancers who bore a passing resemblance to the Naked Newscasters. So that’s what they meant by “representatives”. They started off wearing “journalistic” blazers and skirts and stripped down to nothing.

Paul managed to snap these three photos from the strip show. I needn’t tell you that they are not safe for work.

Hangin’ out in the hall of mirrors

Tara! Here she is, posing under the rotating light in the hall of mirrors.

Heaven shows its approval. Well, that’s just the rotating halogen light in the hall of mirrors. But I look almost angelic, don’t I?

The deleted accordion scene from the movie Jacob’s Ladder. The cool blur effect comes from not using the flash.

I’m not sure where this expression came from. I look as though I’ve just sat on a bicycle with no seat.

“I’m lookin’ at you two fine ladies, and I’m thinkin’ “Paul Sandwich”! Tara, Paul and Char.

Clearing up any gender confusion. User interface specialists will love this club since it has very clearly marked washrooms. They also observe the Japanese convention of labelling the men’s washroom in blue and the women’s washroom in red. That’s Char with the accordion, Marina (the Naked News Webmistress and Yours Truly.

Coming soon to a Naked News broadcast near you! I play while one of the Naked News cameramen preserves the moment for posterity.

I’m only too glad to do my bit for promoting responsible journalism, and maybe just a little shameless self-promotion.

The dancers from the strip show. They did some photo-ops in the hall of mirrors.

Have I mentioned how much I love this instrument?

Here’s a deleted scene from the Austin Powers movie. Between the pink walls, mirrors and Char’s go-go boots, it does look like a scene from a James Bond movie, doesn’t it?

Always let the ladies try the accordion on.

I will never tire of answering the question “Can you actually play that thing?” — especially when asked by a charming woman. Michelle is a big fan of metal, so I played some AC/DC for her.

Me and Victoria Sinclair. Victoria is probably Naked News’ nest-known anchor. She’s quite beautiful, and incredibly sweet in person.

I’m so money. Just before the shot was taken, the guy to my right stuck a $100 bill to my sweaty forehead. Too bad rememeber to get it back after Paul took the picture. The drinks at Lotus are expensive.

Nathan and Victoria. Nathan’s a writer for Naked News and someone whom I met through Char. He’s sardonic and sharp as a tack.

Happy housemates. Ladies, these two gentlemen are available. Operators are standing by.

Buddies. Char and Nathan.

Char at the bar.

Me and Nathan.

Always make the coat check clerk’s day. “Play me something,” she asked, and I played some Fatboy Slim for her.

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