What do breasts and extraterrestrials have in common? For one, both contributed to the R-rating for the film Species. For another, local Raëlian guide Alaric Balibrera wants to give both more exposure in Santa Fe, figuratively and literally. In 2004, the Raëlian Movement, an "atheistic religion," made international news when it announced the cloning of the first baby, a claim never verified. Now, the Raëlian movement is promoting a woman's right to bear her chest in public. Balibrera organized a bare-breast demonstration on the Plaza in August. For more info: rael.org, gotopless.org or contact Balibrera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SFR: Whatcha got against shirts?
AB: Tsss…Ha ha ha ha. I love shirts! But I love what’s underneath shirts, too.
This is the concept of the Raëlian movement's founder [former sports-car journalist Claude Vorilhon], right?
His concept is to try and free people from the archaic taboos that we still live with that are completely obsolete. The taboo is breasts. This is basically a fight against the oppression of women. The freedom to expose your breasts is not, in concept, at all different from further oppressive behaviors that men have taken towards women, such as forcing them to cover their ankles or their entire bodies like they do in the Middle East. It is not different from taking someone’s clit from her. Forcing women to cover their breasts is only a difference in degree.
So, if you've got no shirt and no shoes, you should receive service?
No, because that’s a business. A business is free to do what they want with their business. If they want to serve only people wearing red polka dots, it’s their business.
How far back does the Go Topless movement go? What reaction have you gotten so far?
It’s new: one year. Everyone has been giving us really positive reactions.
I'm snickering inside because who would not have a positive reaction to it, except for some very prudish individuals?
But that would constitute half our country.
If somebody isn't comfortable with their breasts, how do you convince them to accept themselves?
I don’t try to convince anyone of anything. We have all been conditioned deeply, since we were born, to think about everything in certain kinds of ways. The way you think about money, immigration or sex is all part of the program that was installed in you without your permission. What we try and do is A) recognize what programs have been installed and B) decide which programs we want to uninstall and which programs we want to keep. Traditionally, Raëlians keep the programs like no guilt, freedom of expression, happiness, and we try and jettison the programs that instill fear or guilt or anger.
You spoke to [Santa Fe] City Attorney [Frank Katz] about the event on the Plaza, didn't you?
I spoke to him in person and he was more than helpful. He was all in favor of the whole concept and did everything he could to make sure it happened. I’m very grateful. Probably 80 people, all told, turned out. A lot of people came just to see breasts. There was only one topless person, one female, Serena Pullen, a fire dancer and belly dancer here in town. But that was because of my lack of organizing.
Can you tell me a little about the Raëlian movement? The only thing I'm familiar with is the woman who claimed she had cloned a baby.
[Brigit Boisselier] is my mother-in-law, actually. The Raëlian thing is a scientific, atheist religion that presents a third option to our creation, other than God and evolution. We believe we were created by human beings like us, from a scientifically advanced planet, who came here, terraformed the planet and created all the life on it, which is something that we are absolutely going to do as soon as we can. That idea strikes many people as strange, but to me it seems as natural as mother and child.
People have concerns about the ethical implications of cloning, playing God and whatnot. Is that similar to the taboo on women's breasts?
It’s a fabrication that is extremely unhealthy because it’s inverse; it’s inside out. You should have ethics committees who are in control of the military, not ethics committees in control of who can create a baby. Creating a baby is a beautiful thing. Creating a bomb to kill people is not.
What's the fundamental principle that links that and the Go Topless stuff?
The fundamental principle that relates Raëlians to Go Topless is freedom. Anytime you repress self-expression, you’re going to get emotional imbalance and psychological sickness. That’s one of the things Go Topless is here to bring: the idea we can be perfectly free to be who we are and it will make us healthier and happier. When I became a Raëlian I had to swear an oath to two things: I had to uphold human rights and I have to not impose my religion on my children. I was like, sign me up!
What's the next step? Are there more events for us to look forward to?
Next year we are going to have an enormous topless event. I’d like to get hundreds of topless women and topless men. It was illegal for men to be topless prior to 1936.
Maybe you have some insight into another great mystery: Why do men have nipples?
I know it’s a strike against evolution, but apart from that I couldn’t answer you. The Raëlians don’t have the answer to why men have nipples.