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Thursday, November 20, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Northwest lite

Why stop at naked sushi?

Special to The Seattle Times

"It's dehumanizing, the manner in which people are buying and selling sushi to be eaten off a woman's body. It's dehumanizing to be treated as a plate," says activist Cherry Cayabyab, regarding naked sushi night at Seattle's Bonzai restaurant.

But, Cherry, naked sushi might be dehumanizing, but it's also just the beginning. Why stop at treating naked women as serving platters? Surely, there are plenty of other uses for them.

After all, this isn't about disrespect, it's about performance art — at least that's what Bonzai's naked sushi promoter, Cheresa Nemitz, has to say about the matter. Don't be provincial. Think of the possibilities!

You could put naked women inside ice sculptures and use them as a centerpiece for your next big event. Just give them a little straw to breathe through — artistically concealed with a few sprigs of parsley, of course — and they'll be fine. That blue tint to their skin will only serve to set off the lovely orange of the shrimp cocktails in your keepsake photos. Truly, can you think of a better way to liven up your son's bar mitzvah or your daughter's wedding?

Naked women also would make ideal coat racks or umbrella stands. Park them by the front entrance of your restaurant or bar, arms outstretched like a saguaro cactus. They'll make a natural repository for your fine winter wear.

Sure, it might get a little nippy standing next to an open door all night — it being nearly winter and all — but think of the artistic merit. Fur and flesh. Goosebumps and goose down. We're talking Guggenheim here.

There are 1,001 uses for naked women when you think about it. Naked men, too. And you don't necessarily have to keep it to the restaurant trade. Naked people can make the perfect accessory for your home or office.

Hire a couple of big brawny guys, put them down on all fours, plop a sheet of glass onto their backs and you've got a great set of end tables — not to mention a fabulous conversation piece — for your company's reception room.

And speaking of work, can you think of a better way to relax after a long day at the office than to put your feet up onto a nice, soft (and 100 percent genuine) naked otto-man? As long as you respect the fellows and don't treat them as a piece of furniture (in a metaphorical sense), there's really no harm in it, is there? I'm sure these naked gents will find the experience relaxing, sensual and meditative, just like the naked sushi models down at Bonzai restaurant claim they do.

After all, these are tough times. It's comforting to know that if people can't get a job, they can always get naked and the Seattle community will be right there to support them.

Sure, the poor naked folks might have to balance a hot fondue pot on their bellies or strap a pot roast to their heads, but if it pays the rent and, more important, helps bring national attention to a sensual food such as sushi (and in my book, nothing says sensuality like raw fish), why quibble over incidentals like basic human dignity and respect?

Call it performance art, call it exploitation. We might as well throw a few more shrimp on the Barbie, folks. Naked sushi's just the start.

Diane Mapes (dimapes@nwlink.com) is a free-lance writer living in Seattle.

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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