On only one occasion in my life have I, as a five-and-a-half-foot woman, thought: “Dear lord I’m glad I’m not a six-foot man right now.” That was when I was frying bacon in the buff. Allow yourself a second to imagine the logistics. (Fried bacon indeed.) One summer many years ago, I was living overseas and longing for classic American comfort food. I stayed in a small two-story apartment that only had air conditioning upstairs in the bedroom, and cooking downstairs in the stifling kitchen was a sweaty, exhausting ordeal. No breeze, only a small window high on the wall, and a door leading to a hallway that offered no hope of a draft.
So naturally, as a “professional naked person” who feels perfectly comfortable sans clothing, I did all of my cooking naked. Said professional undressing has run the gamut of genres. I’ve been a stripper, posed for life drawing classes, and been the nude female background character in mainstream films. I’m particularly known for my time in front of the camera performing a more “adult” variety of entertainment.
But then the day came when I wanted to make BLTs and being stark naked in front of a pan of frying bacon proved to be a less than stellar idea.
If I’d had an oven in my tiny kitchen I would have baked the bacon and been done with it, not dealing with the grease splatter at all. But without that option—and my outright refusal to cook most foods in a microwave—pan-frying was the only way to go.
I started out using a stand-up folding splatter guard for the stove top, but those only protected the back and side areas of the pan. Even standing back as far as I could and using tongs at arm’s length, I was still too close to avoid the splatter zone in areas of my body far more sensitive than my arms.
Then I had what I thought was a genius idea: to put the stand-up splatter guard on the stove top backwards, protecting the front side of the pan and therefore the front side of my body from grease. It was a brilliant plan up until I had to look over the top to check the bacon and realized that sticking my face over the pan was potentially even more hazardous.
So I tried making an open-front foil tent to put over the skillet, like I was protecting the cooking bacon from alien brain waves. That mostly worked, but it was really awkward to reach into and searing hot droplets of pain still spat out the front.
I recollect fruitlessly wishing for the kitchen gadget fairy to come by with one of those mesh screens that go on top of frying pans, but unsurprisingly she never answered my pleas to appear bearing gifts of salvation.
This would be when most reasonable people would admit defeat and simply put on clothes to protect their skin from little lava-hot pinpoints of bacon grease agony (or buy Naked Bacon Cooking Armor—which actually exists). But I didn’t put on clothes like a rational person, in no small part due to my intense dislike of doing laundry, which had to hang dry in my kitchen, taking up precious cooking space. I didn’t throw in the towel per se, but I did wear the towel. I tied a dishcloth around my neck like a long draped bib and was successfully protected for the rest of my cooking endeavors for the evening, and from any more comedic mishaps. I made a mental note that I needed to invest in an apron if I were to survive cooking anything else in that kitchen.
I bought my first apron soon after, in preparation for making fried chicken. I had learned a painful lesson with the bacon incident that frying food while nude is a task that is best left to a very particular brand of masochist or sensation seeker, of which I am neither. Unsurprisingly, stemming from that summer, I now have a rather extensive apron collection. To this day, when it’s hot in the kitchen, I still bring the sizzle—just with a pretty scrap of fabric to keep me safe while I’m in the raw.
Caroline Pierce is a professional naked person and an amateur apron enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter @Caroline_Pierce.