”How Far Can You Wear Your Underpants from the Beach?" asked Australian cinematography John Biggins in a tongue-in-cheek film shot at Bondi Beach, Sydney.
We have all been there. You forgot your bathing costume, so you swim or sunbathe in your underwear. After all, no one really notices – or at least that is what you tell yourself. But where is the line of social acceptability? Is it OK to beat them to the ice cream stall, or wander off the beach in bra and knickers in search of a coffee?
John’s film harks back to a time at Bondi when even swimming costumes were considered shocking. In the 1950s, a beach inspector escorted 20-year-old showgirl Bettine Baker off for wearing a bikini “with red and white glaring stripes” while “sunbaking”. He took her to a policeman who “just grinned and said he had noticed me some time before,” Baker told a local newspaper.
It is hard to imagine that today, when I look at the vast amount of bare flesh on show, sizzling in the sun. A 1950s bikini would seem positively modest compared to the ones barely clinging to many women, never mind the topless ones, while the men in skimpy “budgie smuggler” trunks also leave little to the imagination.
I wonder what the fully-dressed Chinese tour groups make of it as they paddle, shoes in hand, smiling for the camera in front of the constant backdrop of surfers bobbing beyond the break. Do they not feel the urge to strip down to their underwear and join in?
Bring me to Bondi!