By Joshua Stein
The real story of Hot Nude Yoga, perhaps, isn't very epic or
poetic, but it is universal. It's the story of the hustle. When Aaron Star came to New York City, he had two huge suitcases and no job. He wanted to teach yoga, but 'the market was tough.' By this time, he had been practicing yoga for eight years and had even taught on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. He landed a job teaching at the Reebok Sports Club but was soon fired. ('It was very political,' he explained.) He wanted to teach at a studio, but most required extensive and expensive training programs. Aaron Star didn't know exactly what to do. He knew he needed an angle. 'I knew I wanted to teach gay men, but at first I didn't know how I was going to do it,' he told me. Then the answer, like a burst of satori under a bodhi tree, came to him: 'What's going to get gay men in the door? Well, nudity! And what kind of men do I want? They've got to be hot.' He placed two ads in the cruisy sex ad section of Next magazine. He set up a Hotmail account. Soon he had his first class at a rented space on the 10th floor of an office building. Men came in droves to stretch and to hook up. 'It was a beautiful group of men,' Star recalled fondly. Were they there to reach Nirvana or to hook up with each other? 'Look,' Star said, 'men meet on the street, in bars'why not meet at yoga? At least the sex will be better.' Star's second class, two weeks later, had 36 students.
That was nearly seven years ago. Today, Star seems to be a happy guru as he sits atop his Hot Nude Yoga empire. He has his own studio. He employs six certified yoga teachers. He stars in his own line of DVDs'including the Hot Nude Yoga: Hawaii series; Hot Nude Yoga: Virgin; and several other titles'and is building a permanent retreat in Costa Rica. He has plans to franchise his brand worldwide. The day might come soon when gay men across the world can pay $20 per class to strip naked and enter Aaron Star's dream.
I walked out of Hot Nude Yoga trembling and smelling of Thierry V. I was a body in pain. Without my own nudity to distract me, my muscles launched into a chorus of complaint. My hamstrings and shoulder girdle seemed to take it personally that I had stretched them so. My penis, however, despite having been hung upside down and pressed against other men, had remained quiet and obediently limp. I wasn't sure if what I had done was hot or even yoga, but it was nude'and it was even kind of nice. Later, in the shower, I picked one of Thierry's wiry black hairs from my skin and held it in my fingers for a moment before letting it disappear down the drain. And as it went I whispered, 'Namast'.'