Matthew Alice

Straight from the Hip

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How did the bare busted statues get in Balboa Park?
[Published: October 22, 1998]

Dear Matthew Alice:

Am I the only person in Balboa Park who ever looks up? Otherwise, how is it that we have dozens of statues of bare-breasted, buxom ladies overhead and no one ever mentions them? How did they get up there in the first place? Don't get me wrong, I think they're attractive. I just can't figure out who dared to put them there and how they ever got approved.

-- Jean, Kensington

Where were you when we did our big exposé on the bra sizes of various concrete maidens around town? It was one of our great moments. Anyway, women of stone, chests unleashed, are perfectly acceptable in the world of art/architecture. They're classical references. Caryatids, if you will. Naked ladies who hold up things like roofs and pillars. I mean, where would the arts be today without naked ladies? Famous New York guy Bertram Goodhue, an expert in Spanish Colonial architecture, had overall responsibility for the original 1915 buildings in the park, many of which were based on historical structures. And I'm sure, at the time, the parks board figured a few historical naked ladies were just what San Diego needed to put it on the map. Undoubtedly decades of schoolkids on field trips have giggled and pointed at our chicks with boobs akimbo. But we'll let L.A. put fig leaves on the Michelangelo reproductions in Forest Lawn while our looming ladies of the Casa de Balboa fly free. If it eases your mind, at the 1935 expo in the park, the chief of police made sure the live "naked" ladies performing in the Zorro Gardens peep show were wearing flesh-colored bras, G-strings, or body stockings so everything was zipped up tight.


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