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Plan for nude nuptials upsets Jamaicans

The Straits Times, 03 February 2001, 10:10PM -- Singapore Time

KINGSTON (Jamaica) -- A Jamaican holiday resort's plans for the 'world's largest nude wedding' has created a stir here.

On Valentine's Day, Hedonism III, a resort famous for its wild ways, is celebrating the wedding of eight couples who are exchanging vows in the buff.

'It runs against the culture of this nation,' said Ms Antoinette Horton, a lawyer and radio talk-show host. 'We are selling ourselves for money. How far are we prepared to go for money?'

During the past three decades, as tourism has boomed, Jamaicans have quietly endured visitors' stereotypes of their country as a place to frolic by the Caribbean Sea and leave 'civilisation' behind.

But the weddings -- which have been promoted abroad and advertised in Playboy magazine and on the Playboy television channel -- appear to have strayed too far across the boundary of good taste for old-fashioned, churchgoing Jamaicans.

Jamaica's government tourism agency has criticised the event as improper and offensive.

But executives at Superclubs, which owns Hedonism III and its predecessor Hedonism II (there was no Hedonism I), have declined to comment on the criticism and say the nude nuptials will go ahead as planned.

Since Hedonism II opened in 1976, it has remained a curiosity to the vast majority of Jamaicans; to them it is a place where foreigners go to cut loose.

But there has always been a certain degree of tension between the island's traditional West Indian society and a tourism industry marketed mainly on pleasure.

Although Jamaica has laws against public nudity, there is disagreement about whether the laws would apply in the private resort. -- AP