(USATODAY.com) - It's a brave nude world.
Rihanna and Miley push the limits on showing celebrity skin, but now real people are getting into the act, baring all Adam-and-Eve-style on television, with only blurry digital fig leaves preventing a full Monty.
When survivalist series Naked and Afraid debuted on Discovery Channel last year, the series raised eyebrows and intrigued viewers as the highest-rated series premiere in the network's history.
And you know what that means: Copycats and clones were quickly ordered up.
Sunday, Discovery is offering a sneak peek of a new Naked season (10 ET/PT ) that features a single man and woman who've never met in new, exotic locations. TLC'sBuying Naked, due June 28, focuses on a real-estate agent who works in Florida nudist communities. And on July 17, VH1 unveils Dating Naked, putting all the mystery that's usually saved for later and in the dark on display from the first moment these couples meet.
"Definitely, Naked and Afraid was groundbreaking and gave us more permission to try something like this on air," says Howard Lee, TLC's executive vice president of program and development.
And VH1's Susan Levison says Dating Naked was the first project she bought when she became programming chief last fall, and has since heard severalmore pitches for naked TV shows.
Put "naked" in the title, bare bodies on the screen and watch what happens. Those behind the cameras hope for big ratings. Those in front of the cameras seem to figure out the sum is worth more than the private parts.
"I forgot I was naked," says Alison Teal, a surfer, survivalist and filmmaker who participated on Season 1 of Naked and Afraid. The larger issues of food and shelter took over immediately. But that doesn't mean she took baring her body lightly.
"My nickname was 'the nun' growing up. I'm very old-fashioned in my morals." It took her about a year, she says, to decide to do the show. Teal wants to spread a message about sustainable living and thought the show could help with that. "If you have an incredible story and you're naked, awesome. If the naked is just naked to be naked? I'm not so sure how that is helping the world move forward. I feel like a lot of people are getting so desensitized."
But Jackie Youngblood says taking the mystique out of the uncovered human form is a good thing. The fun-loving real estate agent star of TLC's Buying Naked is a nudist, but wears clothes as she's showing houses to unclothed potential buyers.
Among topics to consider: Kitchen counter height, and how that might hit a male buyer right in the you-know-what. "One thing I like to do is educate people in the nudist lifestyle. I think this is a wonderful way to do that."
Levison insists the same about her dating show. "This isn't just a noisy title" or a cheap ratings ploy, she insists.Dating is a real quest for love — just an undressed one. So what exactly do you see? Bare bums abound on all the shows, while the front sides of men and women are blurred to comply with basic cable standards.
Levison says the show "needs to work even if they're not naked. It has to be about something that really matters." And if you watch for awhile, you will find the shows are more than skin-deep.
For example, on one preview episode of Dating Naked, a man and woman meet, do some naked kayaking, have some coconut drinks and talk. She's brassy; he's thoughtful. About 11 minutes later, he's confessing to the cameras that he's just not sure there's any emotional connection. Sounds like the opening night cocktail party on any season of The Bachelor.
Host Amy Paffrath, who went on location to Panama, admits the au naturelatmosphere is a little strange. "It does occur to me – I am standing with a bunch of naked people. You forget about it, and then you're right back in it. You'll hug someone and then it's like, 'Oh, that's your penis.'"
She noticed that participants approach the let-it-all-hang-out situation in different ways. "Some are a little more shy and giggly about it. It's like, 'Where do I put my hands?' Girls will cover their chests. It's that awkward playfulness."
The nudity, she says, tends to make people "get to more intimate conversation a lot quicker. They touch on things that in my experience would be on the third, fourth or fifth date: Their past, hurtful things. The baggage comes out a lot earlier."
It helps that there are few distractions: No smartphones to tap on, no jewelry, cars or clothes to judge your partner by. "I've noticed that by the end, it's a big Kumbaya fest. They're very honest with their feelings, but no one's nasty."
Christina Porcelli, a 36-year-old Nashville comedian/writer, figured she had tried speed dating and online dating and hadn't found her soulmate. So why not get naked?
It was "exhilarating. It definitely felt free and good. People, when they hear Dating Naked, like maybe they think it's sexual, but it's not at all. You're stripped of everything, so you want to get to know the person. You want to keep it real."