ST. JOHNSBURY, VT–Looking at Warren Geary, you'd never suspect. A respected business owner and devoted family man, the 41-year-old Geary, by all outward indications, would appear to be just like anyone else in this sleepy New England hamlet of 4,700.
But looks can be deceiving.
Dig a little deeper, beyond the many years of PTA involvement and Kiwanis Club membership, and you'll discover a very different Warren Geary, one who derives sexual stimulation and pleasure from the sight of unclothed women. This seemingly normal husband and father of three has a naked-lady fetish.
"I really enjoy looking at naked ladies," Geary said. "I don't know what it is, but seeing women without clothes gets me excited."
So consuming is Geary's fetish, he said he will sometimes pass a woman on the street and catch himself imagining what she would look like undressed.
"I'll often think about naked women, even when none are around," said Geary, who has a collection of magazines and videotapes devoted to naked-lady fetishism, including the 1998 film Boogie Nights. "It's just this fixation of mine."
Geary said he doesn't recall when or how he first developed his strange compulsion for seeing women in a state of rant undress.
"I have no idea how I came to develop these urges. As a child, I found the naked female form gross or humorous, just like any healthy boy," Geary said. "But at some point, I found myself not only enjoying the sight of disrobed women, but actually seeking it out."
Geary said hardly a day goes by when he doesn't imagine women in states of undress. There are no boundaries to when and where it may occur–at church, the post office, the health club, the beach. He even admits to watching TV for hours on end, solely in the hopes of catching a glimpse of bare breasts.
"Sometimes, I'll turn on HBO, and if a movie is listed as containing nudity, I'll watch the entire film–even though I have no interest in the plot or subject matter–just to see the breasts," Geary said. "I know it's wrong, but I can't help myself."
News of Geary's lurid fixation has caused considerable controversy throughout St. Johnsbury.
"It's twisted and obscene, that's for sure," said Janice Alvaro, whose home is just a block away from Geary's. "It makes me very uncomfortable knowing that I live so close to someone like that."
"A man who harbors a secret lust for women without any clothes on is not the kind of man we want coaching one of our teams," said local Little League president Stephen Claussen, who has asked Geary not to return next season after 14 years of involvement. "I don't feel comfortable entrusting our town's children to that kind of a person. What if his presence somehow influences these kids, perverting their normal sexual growth and causing them to develop that same kind of aberrant interest in naked women later in life?"
For decades, psychologists believed naked-lady fetishism to be the domain of a tiny handful of sexual deviants. A growing number of experts, however, now believe the condition to be much more common, with some estimates putting the number of men consumed by the sight of the naked female form as high as 1 in 50,000.
According to noted psychotherapist Dr. Eli Wasserbaum, clear distinctions exist between normal men and those with naked-lady fetishes.
"When a normal man sees an attractive woman, he is drawn to her stylish hairdo, nicely applied make-up and flattering dress, and he reacts with an intense desire to marry her," Wasserbaum said. "The naked-lady fetishist, however, is unmoved by such features as hairstyle and clothing, regarding them as distractions and impediments to the one thing that truly interests him–her naked body."
"In a way, it's very sad," Wasserbaum said. "Instead of being able to enjoy the conversation of a woman over dinner and drinks, the naked-lady fetishist, gripped by his uncontrollable impulses, will only be able to think about whether he'll get to see her naked body later in the evening."
Scientists theorize that naked-lady fetishism may represent a long-obsolete evolutionary remnant, a vestigial instinct that once served some reproductive purpose among early hominids.
"About 70 million years ago, the female form may have served as a visual cue, triggering male arousal for the purpose of procreation," Brown University anthropologist Isaac Gage said. "But the human species evolved beyond that point long ago. Why a small handful of individuals would still exhibit traces of this ancestral evolutionary past is curious, to say the least. But one thing is certain: We should not permit our feelings of shame and ignorance to cloud our perceptions. Geary should be seen for what he is–a deeply disturbed individual in desperate need of medical help."