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Interview with Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki (Part Two)

In the second half of our interview with Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson – which took place shortly after our photoshoot on Brighton beach – we’re turning our attention to the duo’s views on body image and the body positivity movement, the reasons why their social nudity experiences are often fuelled by a desire to shock or surprise others, their reactions to taking part in Britain Uncovered’s latest photoshoot, and more!


Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, posing naked on a rock in the sea on Brighton beach

Trigger Warning: Please be aware that our conversation with Charlie and Viki contains references to eating disorders.

 

Britain Uncovered: Our website often explores the positive impact social nudity experiences can have in relation to body image and helping people to accept their bodies – but for many, this can often feel like a daunting proposition. What are some of your views in this regard, and having dabbled in social nudity from time to time, do you feel it tends to get easier with time and repetition? Or was it simply not a big deal for you in the first place?

 

Viki: The first one. It became easier as it went. I think we have these irrational, in-built rules where we think, “I don’t mind if this person sees me naked, but probably not this person.” And it’s kind of strange to think about. Where have those boundaries come from? Charlie’s sister has always walked from the bathroom to her bedroom naked, and I’ll think to myself, “That’s great”! And that then starts building on me, and that’s become more of where I am today.

 

Planning our wood parties can often be stressful, and we were setting up one Friday night and we had a couple of friends coming, and I thought, “I need to switch my mind”. I realised that I needed to change my top, and then I just took it off and danced topless around the woods for a while. And it actually made me feel better, and I felt ready to be seen.

 

Charlie: There’s a semi-tradition that happens after the wood party where there’s a specific song – a really cool flute song, with a Dubstep remix – and everyone starts dancing around the fire, and everyone starts taking clothes off until we're in various states of undress. We’re just running around the fire, and there’s something so freeing in that, and being in the middle of the woods. It’s a hundred people around the fire connecting with nature, and it feels fun!

 

It’s weird, because for me there’s this extra comfort in the fact that because it’s a weird, fun story, it enhances the sense of the kind of person I feel like I am. That’s an element I want to make sure I never let go of.


Viki Jackson with the cast of Kerfuffle during their performance at the Brighton Fringe Festival in May 2024
Viki and the ensemble cast of Kerfuffle at the end of their improv show in Brighton this past May

BU: Would you say that the decision to partake in social nudity experiences is rather contextual, and that it’s primarily tied in with performances and specific purposes like the World Naked Gardening Day? Do you feel that the experience is something you’d enjoy in more casual, everyday situations – such as on a nudist beach, for instance – or is it only for these specific events and purposes where you feel there’s a need for it?

 

Viki: Yes, I’d definitely go to a naked beach! I hadn’t been bottomless on a naked beach before today, but that feels more accessible now that we’ve done the shoot. It made me realise that this was something I was totally fine with.

 

Charlie: For me, I feel like there are two parts to it, in terms of making the world a nicer place. One, where there’s no stigma to being naked, and if people feel like they want to be, that’s entirely great and normal. And then there’s the other side when you’re specifically getting naked because it’s an experience that feels freeing and eventful, or is shocking and interesting and helps to serve a few purposes, like dancing around the fire or doing the Naked Cabaret – some kind of naked performance – or the naked bike rides and events like that.

 

Whereas there are some things that, to me, don’t feel as interesting – such as going to a naked beach to be naked when you wouldn’t have gone to the beach anyway. To me, that feels less interesting. I can see how for a lot of people that’s one of the things that feels freeing and positive; but for me, the thing that feels freeing and positive are these weird naked things. The things that are more unusual and more of an event, and a big celebration.


Playface Founders, Viki and Charlie Jackson, laying naked on the beach during a body positivity photoshoot in Brighton
Charlie explains that for him, social nudity is most enjoyable when it's something unusual or tied in with an event

For me, the normalising part – which I really want to be more of a thing – is when people just don’t care about being naked, but you’re not forcing yourself to be naked in an environment you wouldn’t be otherwise. So yes, things like walking around the house to get things after being in the bath, or if you’re on the beach and you just want to be naked, that’s fine – but specifically going out of your way to have a casual naked experience is just less interesting for me.

 

I find a lot of pleasure and enjoyment from being naked if it’s a bit shocking or weird; or if there’s a really interesting reason to do it.

 

BU: I guess it can still feel like an artificial environment to an extent otherwise?

 

Charlie: Yes. I like the idea of what it’s trying to do, but it didn’t feel like the most comfortable way of doing it, for me. But all of these bits we’ve been talking about, all the naked experiences I still think are positive things in the body positivity movement – definitely. It’s just less interesting to me when it’s about normalising nudity. I like to be fun and playful.


Viki Jackson posing for World Naked Gardening Day 2022
Viki posing for World Naked Gardening Day in 2022

BU: In addition to Viki’s photos from the World Naked Gardening Day, you too have participated in this initiative over the years Charlie – and we even included an image of yours in part one of our write-up. How do you feel about taking part in the event, and what were some of your main takeaways from being involved?

 

Charlie: Yes, it was fun. I love the idea, and for me it was all about what the funniest way is of playing with it. So in the photo I posted, I was bent down and there were tiny little flowers hiding my crack – that kind of thing. I’ve got a really hairy arse, which to me makes it feel even funnier in some ways. For me it was all about being playful.

 

This year was the first year I didn’t take part in World Naked Gardening Day myself, but only because on that day – and I can’t remember the specific reasons – but I just wasn’t playful and I just wanted to be by myself listening to my audiobook. But it’s really important for Viki, so I really wanted to make sure she was in a comfortable environment and that we got the photos Viki wanted. But I just didn’t feel it myself.

 

Part of me felt that it was a fun tradition, and I love cultivating this appearance – especially as a comedian, where my persona is part of the branding of what we’re doing. Being seen as this person who is doing the naked gardening day and all these interesting things; it’s important for me to maintain that, but I need first and foremost to do what I’m comfortable with, and I just wasn’t feeling it that day.


Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, posing naked on Brighton beach during a photoshoot in May 2024
Despite society's harmful views towards body image in the 1990s, the duo believe the tide is turning

BU: You mentioned the body positivity movement in passing just now, but what are your thoughts on the movement overall? How would you describe it, and do you think it’s helping to move views and attitudes around body image in the right direction?

 

Viki: So I don’t know too much about it, and it’s not something I’ve researched, but it’s definitely something that I’m more aware of. I like how things are changing and I like how people are pushing back when people are suggesting, “Oh, you need to be a centimetre wide”.

 

I think I was lucky in that I didn’t grow up thinking I needed to wear make-up. I think I used to straighten my hair for school and things like that, but I was never someone who was piling on make-up.

 

Charlie: Which, when you’re growing up in Brentwood in Essex – where The Only Way Is Essex is filmed – these people who cake on make-up really do exist, and it is very, very common. It’s not a weird stereotype that only a few people do it. I know so many of these people, and they’re lovely people, but they do feel compelled to wear an incredible amount of make-up and tiny skirts and things, and there are people going to the gym all the time.

 

BU: It’s very image focused still by the sounds of it.

 

Charlie: Yes, it’s very image focused in Essex.

 

Viki: It’s just strange. I’ve seen friends relax about their body image and I’ve seen them not have to cake on make-up, not have to put extensions in the whole time, and not have to do all these things. But it’s interesting, because there are so many ingrained beliefs about what you should and shouldn’t do, so a lot of it is about breaking those beliefs, and it’s definitely developing.

 

In the last couple of years, you see people walking around in crop tops that aren’t flat-stomached or the way you might see people in magazines, and you get the sense their attitude is essentially, “Yeah, this is how I am, deal with it.” I love that – crack on!

 

Because back in the 90s when we were growing up, you’d hear people asking “Is that woman bigger than me”, and comments along those lines. And we really shouldn’t have been growing up hearing things like that. It was awful.


Playface Founders, Charlie and Viki Jackson, posing naked in the sea on Brighton beach during a photoshoot for Britain Uncovered
Despite never having been naked on a beach before, Viki tells us it now feels more accessible as a result of our shoot

Charlie: To me it seems like a lot of really positive change is happening, and happening at a reasonable rate. As always, it would be lovely for things to progress quicker. Things like this obviously do take a while to change, even when people are willing. Older generations like our parents and grandparents are changing some of their subconscious actions, but not necessarily their beliefs (despite a lot of their beliefs being well-intentioned). But their actions are just not necessarily helpful.

 

Various people come to mind where they would say or do things that would make you think, “That’s not really okay”. They really don’t intend to offend people, but they just don’t realise, and then next week they’re back at it again, because these patterns of behaviour are so difficult to change. And if you’re not surrounded in an environment, or listening to media that really helps enforce this change of language or ways of perceiving and acting with each other, it’s just going to take a long time to change.

 

The other caveat is, to me it seems like there’s a lot of positive change happening at a reasonable rate, but we live in London in the arts scene and we are most definitely in a bubble of where the fastest and most positive change is going to be happening in the country. So it’s really hard to know what is happening outside of our bubble, and that’s obviously the same with so many important issues.

 

Viki: You’ve just got to be there for each other. People have made comments like, “Oh, you’ve really lost weight haven’t you? You need to be careful. Are you eating? You’re a bit too thin now, you used to be bigger and now you’re okay, and now you’re, ooh I’m not sure”. And I’d just think, “Can you fuck off”? I’m someone that can just be like, “Stop it.”

 

When I was growing up someone said, “Oh you’ve eaten a big meal haven’t you.” And I actually called them out. It was someone older, and I said, “Oh, great, I’m just going to go and be sick shall I?” And he stopped and paused, because he thought I was serious. So I said, “That is what you can do to people, so don’t mention that. I will eat what I want to eat.” It was weird, but just being supportive of our generation around us is bringing people back up.


Viki and Charlie Jackson, Founders of Playface, posing naked in the sea on Brighton beach
Viki says that the longer our photoshoot went, the more playful she and Charlie became

BU: And finally, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to collaborate with you both, and we’re so pleased to have had you involved with our website’s fifth annual beach photoshoot! What was it that prompted you to volunteer for a photoshoot with Britain Uncovered when we issued our call-out, and what did you make of the photoshoot experience down on the beach this morning?

 

Viki: It felt like an adventure, and something different! It felt like something surprising. And then yes, the shoot itself was fine. I find it interesting, because as soon as I’m in front of a camera, I find that I’ll just smile – but then the more playful side came out afterwards, where I was pulling stupid faces and stuff. That’s more me than the smiling, but it’s interesting that I automatically will smile in front of a camera. I was thinking to myself, “What are you doing”?

 

Charlie: You just need a warm-up. It’s like any of our performing in our workshops, to get people to feel comfortable and to feel playful, or to feel like they can pose or perform.

 

Viki: I did say on the way down that maybe we should all do an improv warm-up before we do the photoshoot! It was interesting too in asking myself, “How are you feeling around that”, but I wasn’t bothered about being naked. I was more just thinking, “Are these poses the right kind of poses”, or, “Am I showing too much.” That kind of thing.

 

Charlie: I can imagine this being similar for Viki, because we both have a similar ‘caretaker’ vibe, but a lot of my thoughts were along the lines of, “Are you getting the right shots you need”? I want to make sure this is a good experience for you”. So it’s just, “Are you having a good time and getting what you want”? I know I’m naked and I’m the one that should be feeling vulnerable, but it was more, “Are you okay”?

 

But I think it comes out too much. This is something I want to drop more, because it can be limiting, and it can make it harder to be playful if you’re in caretaker mode.


Playface Founders, Viki and Charlie Jackson, waving on the beach during a sunrise photoshoot in Brighton

* * *

 

- As we reach the conclusion of this special collaboration, we would once again like to extend a heartfelt thanks to both Charlie and Viki for not only being such willing participants in our website’s fifth annual body positivity beach shoot, but for providing an incredibly insightful interview that covered so much ground on topics very close to our heart.

 

Several hours after our collab drew to a close, we also had the pleasure of watching the duo perform as part of an ensemble cast at their original comedy improv show, Kerfuffle – which was taking place as part of this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival – and it proved the perfect finale to cap off our day of festivities, and a show you should absolutely go out of your way to see should the opportunity arise. We promise you won’t regret it!


The official logo for Playface, an organisation providing alt comedy and clowning courses

For more about Playface, London’s most playful comedy company which provides a unique blend of alternative comedy, clowning classes, mindfulness workshops and shows, please visit www.playface.fun or visit their Instagram, Facebook or X channels.

 

You can also learn more about Charlie and Viki’s other creative endeavours by heading over to their respective Linktree profiles – click here for Charlie’s, and here for Viki’s. We're also excited to hear that the duo will be hosting a series of workshops at this year’s Glastonbury festival, and would like to extend our congratulations on having scored such a prestigious gig! If you happen to find yourself at Worthy Farm towards the end of the month, be sure to stop by and join in the fun.

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