X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Food

Is that waiter fat-shaming us? Tanya Gold dines naked at the Bunyadi

I summon an expression of wifely tolerance and try not to wish that I were in Wiltons with my clothes on

23 July 2016

9:00 AM

23 July 2016

9:00 AM

Bunyadi caters to folk for whom public nudity is somehow thrilling; I am here because A begged to go and bashed the steering wheel of the Honda Civic with his fist. I am not only nude, which is odd, because being sexually exciting is not my journalistic identity, but, worse, I have accepted a freebie. There was no other way to get in. I asked Rod Liddle, who fashioned an anti-Bunyadi polemic a few weeks ago, to accompany me. He muttered ‘skidmarks’. Then he said no.

It is a glowering ex-nightclub in Elephant and Castle, south London; a black building on a corner with the windows taped up. It looks like a pub trapped in a bondage situation. There is an unnecessary velvet rope. (There is no queue.) A man asks for our names and checks them off a fraying list, and we are in a gloomy bar in which a series of quite attractive couples, including a man who looks like a right-wing stereotype of a Trotskyite, loiter with the preening self-importance of 13-year-olds who have just stolen a Silk Cut from their mum.

We drink mojitos and read a list of rules, which say: do not stare, do not photograph, do not approach. It is an orgy without sex. It reminds me of the ‘Killing Kittens’ orgy I covered for the Sunday Times magazine. No one met your eye. Well, no one met my eye.


We change into bathrobes (prim, absurd) and enter a second gloomy room, with curved bamboo partitions. You do not have to look at other parties — again, so prim; it makes me yearn faintly to ride a glittering pound sign in Piccadilly Circus nude, while screaming ‘Mummy has taken control!’

The chairs are small tree stumps (this is not a restaurant for fat people); the table is a lump of tree balanced on a lump of tree (this is not a restaurant for women with large breasts, but I will not dwell on the personal discomfort of folding myself into a tree in the service of world-class restaurant criticism). In the near-darkness I can see a lump of bread and some butter, a jug of water and mugs, and A, who is already nude; he couldn’t wait. I shrug off my robe. If that sounds like the beginning of an interesting story, it isn’t. I summon an expression of wifely tolerance and try not to wish that I were in Wiltons eating potatoes dauphinoise with my clothes on.

The waiter is wearing small pants. They have plastic leaves sewn on them. A’s face falls into the vegan butter; he wanted a nymph but this is a man with tattoos. He is quite talkative. ‘I see you have found the bread already,’ he says — is he fat-shaming us? As the meal, which is dispatched from a mysterious flap of light, goes on, he gets more talkative. First he stands. Then he sits. Then he crouches. He is a nudist, he says, he is from Belgium. I mumble apologies for Brexit, my arms fixed from nipple to chin. I am the same person naked. I once covered a nudist weekend for the Daily Mail. I walked around with my tape recorder, naked, until I found pubic hair on my foot and went home.

He brings raw asparagus with melon; raw beef with berries (we had to remind him we were non-vegan, but this is a quibble); then a coconut crème. It is all fine. It would work better in a Lord of the Rings re-enactment bistro, or the 12th century, or your shed, but we are in Elephant and Castle, where it all feels vaguely pointless; what is the point of nudity without sex if you are not German? When, later, I successfully parallel park in Morrison’s, it is the biggest thrill of the night.

The Bunyadi, Harper Road, London SE1 6AD. www.thebunyadi.com.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close