Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 20, 2013

Nudes check out nudes at Austrian museum

(Continued)

On Monday, interest was definitely skewed along gender lines. Irina Wolf smiled as she looked around at the mostly male crowd lining up for tickets.

"I'm at a big advantage here," she said. "Only men around."

While Wolf said she is not someone who regularly strips in public places, the 40-something computer engineer and occasional theater critic, said "I want to see how I relate to such a group."

For others, Monday's event fulfilled a long-cherished wish — even though they had a hard time explaining why.

Florian Kahlenberg from Munich said he found it "interesting to stroll through a museum naked," adding. "I've always wanted to do that."

Few visitors, naked or dressed, have complained about the show, despite some explicit material showing sexual acts. Described as among the most successful ever staged by the Leopold, it has drawn well over 100,000 people.

That fits with Vienna's relaxed attitude. Its turn-of-the-century decadence allowed Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt to flourish, and the Leopold itself has a world-class collection of those and other artists known for their explicit depiction of the flesh.

But the Austrian capital's acceptance of nudity goes beyond museum exhibits. Thousands of men, women and children skinny dip daily in the Danube along stretches reserved for them during the summer, while racy lingerie ads dot huge billboards across the city all year round and a mass-circulation daily regularly prints photos of half-naked women.

Still, there are limits to Viennese tolerance. The Leopold was forced into cover-up mode last year after complaints over promotional posters plastered city-wide that showed three young and athletic men of different races wearing nothing but blue, white and red socks and soccer boots.

Swaths of red tape were subsequently placed over their sensitive parts.

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Associated Press video journalist Philipp Jenne contributed.GEORGE JAHN,Associated Press

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