Now Doug wants to start a Wetlook revolution in Kansas City. Wetlook is as simple as it sounds: Get dressed up and dive in, preferably in public. It's fun, it's liberating, and the sloppy wet cloth feels groovy against your skin, says Doug (who wouldn't let PitchWeekly print his last name because he fears that his co-workers might think badly of him). Innocent as it sounds, Doug faces challenges. There isn't a single public pool in the Kansas City area that allows Wetlook. And it's hard to find others who share his passion.
After the Dodge campaign came the carefree days of the '70s and all those Nestea ads: dressed-up models taking a sip and falling spread-eagle into a pool. By the time the '80s rolled around, Doug was ready to join the fun. He started slowly, venturing into the backyard pool fully clothed. Then, on a trip to Oregon, he took his own big plunge. He waltzed into the ocean wearing a shirt and trousers from a three-piece suit. Since then, Wetlook has been his ongoing avocation. Almost every summer weekend he ventures into a public lake, fountain, or park, such as Oceans of Fun, wearing one of three secondhand outfits: a three-piece plaid number ("Not a loud plaid -- sort of greenish-brown, subtle plaid"); a two-piece seersucker; and a custom job with a sailor-style collar and stripes ("When I wore that at Oceans of Fun, some women started singing the Popeye song"). Now he can't walk past a tuxedo shop without thinking, "Hey, look at all the swimwear!"
Doug thought he was unique until he hopped on the Internet one day and found dozens of sites devoted to Wetlook. "I found out I wasn't alone," he says. "I figured if I put up my own site, where only people interested in Wetlook will go, it would be cool because there would be a connection where people in Kansas City who like Wetlook can get together." The results are at communities.msn.com/Dressy DippingDressingUpToGoSwimming. There, visitors find photos of Doug on his various ventures, a message board, and a little song Doug composed, sung to "Winter Wonderland":
Come, enjoy the feeling of wet clothing!
Feel your wet clothes clinging to your skin!
In the water, clothes give me a tingle!
It makes me fall dancing and singing!
So far, only one person has posted a response, an older guy with the e-moniker BillH who posted a detailed description of his clothed showers. "I step into the shower and direct the spray downward," BillH writes, "so only my shoes and pants cuffs get wet. I like to prolong the wetting of the shirt for last. I slowly move forward and can feel the water soaking through my pants until I am wet up to my waist. I extend my arms, getting the sleeves and cuffs wet. I enjoy seeing the water dripping from the stiffly starched cuffs. Then I get just the bottom portion of the shirt wet, up to about my chest. I like to look in the mirror, where I can observe the wet, transparent portion of the shirt plastered against my body, and the upper portion is still neat, dry, smooth, and stiff with starch. I love to see the contrast between wet and dry." As proof, BillH included a picture of himself post-dousing, sporting a slick blue tie and his nipples shining through his wet, white shirt.
Doug insists his site isn't pornographic, nor is it a haven for gay fetishes: "All this is about is getting wet with clothes on. Period." It's just good, clean fun, he says, and he ought to be able to do it anywhere he wants to. He's definitely tried. Doug has shown up in a suit at just about every municipal pool in Johnson County and even a few on the Missouri side. But everywhere he's gone he's been shunned.
Area parks officials say it's a hygiene issue. "It's hard enough keeping the pools' chemical and filtration systems clean," says Bill Nicks, director of parks and recreation for Lenexa. "You just don't need to cause yourself more hair loss worrying about problems caused by clothes that you don't know where they've been."
Doug scoffs at this. "If I managed a pool, I wouldn't want somebody in greasy coveralls in the water," he says. "However, the cleanliness of the clothing should, it seems to me, be very apparent." But there's not much he can do. He once sent an e-mail to officials in Olathe who were drafting plans for a revamped water park -- "If you make improvements to the pool, then let people have some fun and swim in something other than bathing suits" -- but got no response.
So Doug must haunt such places as the fountain at Crown Center, where he appeared on a recent 100-degree Saturday in sandals and his seersucker suit. He strolled proudly through the mist and columns of dancing water and spread his arms as if in resurrection.
"What's up with that guy?" asked a woman standing nearby.
He likes to get wet with his clothes on.
"Oh," she said. "Doesn't everybody?"