Stobblehouse: Sure, it is a necessary part of it. Of course, it also needs a lot of education and communication, as with anything.
Question: Since you believe nudity is natural, I'm assuming you feel a compatibility with nudism. Do you ever feel like an evangelist for their cause -- undoubtedly some of your visitors, like some nude beach goers, come to gawk, but through your pictures and writings, they stand a good chance of coming away with a better understanding of beauty and a greater respect for the human body.
Stobblehouse: I am not an active nudist myself, but I support their cause, and I feel a strong need to support the rights of pretty women to be nude whenever they want! :)
More seriously, I do think there is a powerful parallel between people hiding their body/not liking to look at other's bodies, and more profound variations of Hiding and Not Looking. Which is unhealthy. Needless to say, such issues are not solved overnight, but given time and work, they can be.
Question: Many of the most favorable letters on your site are from women. Do you find that surprising? Encouraging?
Stobblehouse: I have stopped being surprised, but I still find it very encouraging. After all, one of the silliest, but oldest, arguments against nude art is that it is somehow "degrading to women". And when women themselves reject this idea (we even have articles by a woman who is a scholar and a feminist), that signals the end of it. It is clear to me that fewer and fewer are clinging to that idea.
Question: What do you say to people who claim looking at naked photos -- even photos like yours -- leads to the objectification of women and other degrading things?
Stobblehouse: I would say that if you are not able to look at a beautiful person and enjoy her beauty, and at the same time see her as a full person with intelligence and personality, then you have greater problems than I can help you with.
Question: How has your appreciation of women effected your relationships with women. I don't know if you're familiar with the story, but Irwin Shaw's "The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" comes to mind.
Stobblehouse: Good question indeed. Some women are uncomfortable with me admiring them, and I find that difficult to deal with. I don't like to make them uncomfortable, but neither do I want to reel in my honest admiration and affinity for them. Even though it is a widespread affliction, I still think that the inability to handle admiration in a relaxed and graceful way is a symptom of some very non-optimal mental conditions in society. We are not allowed to think of ourself as admirable. It is basically just low self-esteem.
Conversely, some people crave admiration, and this just the reverse side of the same coin. I think the healthy people are those who can enjoy admiration when they get it, but it is not a big deal to them.
"The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" is a rather bitter story, I think. And I think it is based on the faulty premise that when a man (or woman) gets enjoyment from watching a pretty girl, it necessarily means he wants have sex with her. That is sometimes true, but far from always. And I think it is a sign of maturity to realize that it need not be that way. I look at all kinds of women, with great enjoyment, but it is very few of them I really desire to bed. And even when it is so, there is such a thing as basic self disciplin and ethics. Humans have all kinds of urges, but we don't act upon them, it is what separates us from animals.
Fortunately I know of many couples where the woman is not threatened at all by the man looking at other women. Some of them even point out really pretty ones themselves. It is a matter of trust, and self-confidence.
Question: You are obviously a champion of beauty and freedom of expression. How do you feel about your power to influence public perceptions and your ability to mold beliefs?
Stobblehouse: Well, one does the best one can, and hope it works. I do get letters occasionally from people who tell me that it has changed things for them in a very positive way, and that of course is very gratifying. I think society is already on a course towards more healthy attitudes, and has progressing for a long time. And if I can help this along, that is wonderful. I do find that a busy web site is a very powerful medium. Like Apple founder Steve Jobs I want to make a ding in the Universe, I think that is a high aspiration.
Question: Americans in particular have a very uptight attitude when it comes to nudity, yet sexual titillation can be seen everywhere. Do you think letting go of the reins a bit in regards to nudity would calm down our collective, market-driven libido?
Stobblehouse: Not at all unlikely. It is psychology for beginners that the thing you make forbidden you also make more interesting. More open, relaxed attitudes are always the healtiest.
A big, frantic, and emotional campaign to make, say, pistachio ice cream immoral and forbidden would accomplish nothing but make people frantic and nervous about pistachio ice cream. And probable create an underground market and hugely inflated prices of the stuff.
Question: I'm a big fan of Steve Hanks nudes, yet I'd have a hard time displaying one in my home. Too many raised eyebrows and embarrassed guests. If you could draw up a 5 Year Plan for greater acceptance, what would it be?
Stobblehouse: I am already in the middle of a ten year plan! :)
Even though it is doubtful ten years will be enough, these issues go deep. But all you can do it simply spread the word, as far and wide as you can.
Question: Obviously, besides supporting nudity you're also running a business in which beauty counts. While nobody would doubt your business acumen, some might say it's a little hypocritical to espouse natural beauty and include only the young and beautiful. Do you believe there is beauty in all of us, even if most of us can't "make the grade?" More to the point, do you foresee a time when the emphasis on a person's looks might diminish? (I'm not trying to blindside you here -- I'm just wondering to what degree you separate yourself from the "we're all beautiful in God's eyes" crowd).
Stobblehouse: Well, I also think all art is wonderful and should be supported, but I still prefer van Gogh over Picasso.
Question: Do you have a large staff at DOMAI.com?
Stobblehouse: No, I have found it to be beneficial for the integrity of the site to do as much as possible myself, so I am continually working to make everything as effective as it can be.
Question: DOMAI stands for "Dirty Old Men's Association International" -- any regrets about the name now that you're so respected and popular?
Stobblehouse: Not really. I find that most people get the joke right away. Only it has become less central to the site as the commercial part of it has grown in stature. John Cleese said it: "humor is a very fragile thing. One evening we would be dying on stage, and the next evening we were a huge hit, with the same show." Even from the beginning I predicted that "Domai" would one day become a generic word, like "kleenex" and "refrigerator" and "IBM".
Question: Roughly how many members do you have? How many visitors?
Stobblehouse: We have a few thousand members. The site is in the top 3,000 of the most popular on the web, out of tens of millions.
Question: If Al Gore hadn't invented the internet (American joke), how would your life be different? What would you be doing now?
Stobblehouse: I have actually written a personal letter thanking Al Gore (OK, actually Tim Berners-Lee) for inventing the web, and change my life. I am not sure what I'd be doing if he hadn't, but I am sure I would be far less successful, and have far less fun than I do.