The Lewisville City Council voted unanimously last night to redefine the city's official definition of nudity, thereby outlawing the body paint, gumballs and various other non-clothes occasionally used to cover the lady parts of servers at Redneck Heaven. We covered this way too extensively yesterday.
The whole episode was instructive, not so much for what it says about the sensibilities of suburban North Texas or the undeniable absurdity of the breastaurant concept but as a case study in how the local media outlets that were all over the story like a fresh coat of body paint cover nudity, in both the literal and figurative sense.
So, a quick survey.
Fox 4 had the most thorough report by far, reaching more than three minutes. Reporter Natalie Solis, donning a snazzy khaki Fox 4 baseball cap, narrated the piece from the steps of Lewisville City Hall while dozens of photos from Redneck Heaven's Facebook page flash on the screen. As you can see, the station opted for a simple rectangular bar -- always a classic -- to blur out any possible nipple glimpses. Flowers, it seems, are an acceptable form of coverage.
From anchor Steve Eager, we get an awkward reference to Sports Illustrated's use of body paint to cover some models -- "In the swimsuit issue, right?" -- and some solid indignation from Catherine Holliday, a Denton resident who complained to police of the body paint.
"These young ladies were in the parking lot, and I could have just as well have had children in the car with me and been going to Red Lobster for lunch and would have had to try to explain to these children why these ladies were dressed like that in the middle of the day," she said. (She also would have had to explain why she was taking innocent children to Red Lobster, but that's another matter.)
To provide balance, Solis travels to the breastaurant itself, where she finds this guy
who offers an eloquent defense of body paint. "They're not really showing anything that's gonna cross the line. Everything's covered up," he says. "You know, it's all in good fun."
It's raining by the time reporter Julie Fine goes on camera, so she holds an umbrella while she delivers a relatively brief report focused mainly on the testimony before the Lewisville City Council. Their token body-paint defender is Raymond Daniels, who delivers an impassioned plea for reason. "Something tells me that the vast majority of the people who are opposing this are people who would never go down there in the first place," he says.
NBC 5 is much more sparing in its use of photos and goes for the less elegant but much safer omni-blur to block offending body parts. It also seems to have been the only station to actually speak with Redneck Heaven owner William Tinker, though not on camera.
"This isn't an X-rated movie," Tinker explains. "It's an R-rated, possibly, maybe, you could go under that, I think, but you know what you're coming to. You don't bring little kids."
Not much new here, though we do get to watch longtime WFAA anchor/mom figure Gloria Campos talk about nudity, as well as a longer clip from body paint defender Raymond Daniels, who delivers the moderately unsettling line that "it's a lot more closer to a Hooters. If anything, the girls act a lot more like kids."
And WFAA makes the curious choice to blur out the server's faces, though they all appear to be of age and posing very willingly for the cameras. Reporter Monika Diaz also has a humorously prudish exchange with a would-be patron named Emy Embry, whom Diaz catches driving away from the restaurant. "The servers started coming up towards us before we were even seated, and my husband said, 'Let's not just stay here,'" Embry said.
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Here's how anchor Karen Borta introduces CBS 11's Redneck Heaven report: "How far is too far? How little is too little? Two questions before the City Council in Lewisville about a restaurant some say offers" -- wait for it -- "too much."
Despite the tease, the station is actually the most restrained in its coverage, flashing none of the semi-nude Facebook photos the other networks so gleefully paraded out. Instead, the station's cameras set up shop in an adjacent parking lot and, stalker-like, capture shots of waitresses from afar.
They also explain how Catherine Holliday, the outraged citizen, came to find herself at a place called Redneck Heaven (she wanted to take a picture of the sign, which she found funny) and feature the most high-minded defense imaginable of Redneck Heaven's Anything But Clothes days. "I do consider it a form of art -- I consider it a very beautiful form of art," Kristal White, a professional body painter, told the Lewisville council. "If you've seen X-Men, you've seen Mystique. That was a movie and that was body painting, and it was beautiful."