Greg Friedler is a fine art photographer. Translated, he has a passion for capturing unique still photo scenes. But his other finely honed artsy ability is taking photographs of willing people posed clothed and naked in front of a studio canvas.
Las Vegas, undisputed City of Sin, was squarely in his camera’s viewfinder years ago and is now part of a documentary film, “Stripped: Greg Friedler’s Naked Las Vegas,” by David Palmer, which will premier in March 2010 and is planned to be on Showtime for two years.
Their creative effort started in 1973, working from scratch and with no confirmed photo subjects nor even a confirmed location to shoot, Denver, Colorado-based avant-garde photographer Friedler and Los Angeles-based filmmaker David Palmer embarked on a multi-dimensional and highly emotional 30-day Las Vegas roller coaster ride, that would eventually bring together 173 naked human beings of every shape, size, and walk of life.
Participants in the project entered a small white room with a red curtain and opened themselves up, literally, for what eventually became “Stripped: Gred Friedler’s Naked: Las Vegas,” baring not only their naked bodies, but, equally important, a bit of their inner souls.
In 2008, with a pre-release copy of Greg Friedler’s book “Naked Las Vegas” in hand, David Palmer would journey back to Las Vegas and follow up interpersonally with 40 of the book’s true-life characters whom he had documented during Friedler’s initial Las Vegas shoot. What would become apparent was that not only had the city of Las Vegas gone through very drastic changes, so too, on multiple levels, did the people whom Friedler and Palmer had photographed.
Through Palmer’s discerning lens, which at times becomes so humanizing that even clothed, the film’s characters feel more naked than ever; viewers are privileged to see what happens when everyday human beings stripped of clothing, comforts and society’s judgments discover an even playing field of beauty, humanity and ultimately self love.
The variety of visual candy is amazing. From a homeless man who strips himself of his past regrets to find employment, a home of his own, and along with it his dignity; to a hermaphrodite couple exposing the truth that beauty and love can be shared beyond social stigmas; to an Elvis impersonator nakedly confronting his own lack of trust in society and finding faith in others by keeping his own commitments, “Stripped” prevails by sharing an honest, true story of ultimate triumph over what may seem like insurmountable social and personal odds.
In our society that is overwrought with an obsession for money, fame and beauty, this collective of unique and sometimes bizarre individuals, living in one of the world’s most infamous cities, shows all of us it is possible to grow from crisis, to find the betterment of humanity through vulnerability, and ultimately be uplifted and inspired by the triumphs of coming to terms with who we all really are.