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Date Posted: 11:00:01 02/05/03 Wed
Author: Lark
Subject: OT -- Bridge of Thighs

Look Up!

Nudist bridge set to open
Wednesday, February 5, 2003 Posted: 9:49 AM EST (1449 GMT)

PALM SPRINGS, California (AP) -- Venice, Italy, has the Bridge of Sighs. Now Palm Springs has the "bridge of thighs."

A pedestrian bridge that will connect two parts of a nudist resort -- while crossing over a busy public street -- has drawn national attention since construction began last month.

"I've heard it all: bridge of thighs, naked bridge, nudist bridge, you name it. I'm sure I'm going to hear more of it before it's over," said Stephen Payne, co-owner of the Desert Shadows Inn Resort and Villas, considered one of the world's most upscale nudist resorts.

"I really don't understand all the attention. It's just a bridge, isn't it?"

The 110-foot span, set to open later this month, has become an instant landmark in a city known as a playground for the rich and famous, with its expansive resorts, high-end boutiques and laissez-faire attitude.

Jay Leno has made near-weekly jokes about it, and television shows, including "Access Hollywood," have featured the resort, its residents and the bridge.

Form and function Despite the jokes, city officials and residents say the bridge is a welcome attraction.

Although it is being built to shield those using it from prying eyes below, city officials are touting it as a work of art.

"We have always welcomed that which we think is interesting and unique," Mayor William Kleindienst said. "We think it will become much more that just a bridge to people."

Still, those who flock to the resort -- which opened in 1992 as an 11-room hotel and now includes 59 villas, 17 condominiums and 33 rooms and suites -- welcome its utilitarian aspect.

"It's important if we want to go to the resort. The gym is there. The spa is there. Now I won't have to get dressed to go there. I can just walk across," said Rosianne Kurtz, 66, of Beverly Hills.

Architect Christopher Mills said one issue in building the bridge was how to give nudists protection from scrutiny as they approached the span.

"The challenge was shielding the people going up and down the steps. How do you shield them and keep it an open structure?" Mills said.

The result: a $500,000 steel-and-canvas structure that features intersecting triangles and planes that restricts the view of those crossing the bridge from those passing underneath.

The bridge is officially named the Lee R. Baxandall Bridge, after the 68-year-old founder of the Naturist Society and 30-year advocate of nude recreation.

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