The Weekly Nudesletter
Vol. 2, No. 5
May 29, 1999


Article: Tell Your Friends

Nudity in the News

Nudity in the Media

Nudity and Politics

Tell Your Friends

If you're a naturist or have naturist tendencies, there are various good reasons you should tell your friends -- and family, associates, neighbors, and casual acquaintances too. For one thing, you're bound to discover a few people who have a secret interest in that direction themselves. So you'll find more people to enjoy nudity with. For another thing, you'll be doing your little bit to help educate the public at large that nudity is natural rather than weird, and that it can add a lot to one's life. This education will eventually make things easier for everyone who wants to enjoy nudity.

Naturally, the thing many are afraid of is the chance of a bad reaction, and all the unpleasant consequences that could follow. I can't guarantee that will never happen, of course. But it's less likely than you probably think. And if you just use common sense in whom you talk to about it -- which some of the suggestions below will address -- you can probably figure out the people you can open up to and those you can't.

In any case, perhaps the best thing about telling others is that you don't have to suffer the guilt of having to be secretive about what you enjoy. It isn't anything to be ashamed of, so don't invite guilty feelings by acting as if it were.

A lot of the trick to telling others is just some forethought and planning. Plus practice. Think about one or two people who would be the best to start with -- and go for it. The suggestions here will, hopefully, get your thinking started.

  1. Understand your own reasons for enjoying nudity. The first question most people have is "WHY do you do it?" Be able to offer two or three good reasons off the top of your head. There are many possibilities - comfort, relaxation, stress reduction, no tan lines, feeling of sun and breeze on bare skin, body acceptance, improved self-confidence, honesty, benefits to friendships and relationships, more open feeling when socializing with others. Just speak for yourself, and don't try initially to list reasons others may have. For more possibilities, check here.
  2. Think about natural ways to bring up the subject in normal conversation, such as discussions related to:
    • Forms of recreation naturists often enjoy (swimming, volleyball, backcountry hiking).
    • Getting a perfect all-over tan.
    • Places naturists like to go (beaches, hot springs, naturist clubs and resorts).
    • Naturist activities enjoyed on special vacations.
    • Health and psychological benefits of naturism.
    • News stories, advertising, or TV shows including some sort of non-sexual nudity. (Lots of examples in this newsletter.)
    • Using your pool, spa, or sauna nude.
    • Being nude while working at home.
    • How odd it is that some people seem to have become so easily embarrassed about changing their clothes and showering at gyms and public swimming pools.
    • Something interesting you recently did while happening to be naked.
  3. Incorporate being a naturist/nudist in your self-image. One of the biggest steps is to be completely OK with saying "I am a nudist." Don't waffle. Tell the person you're talking to that you DO consider yourself a nudist or naturist. Let it be one of the aspects that make you YOU, along with exercising and working out, reading science fiction, or enjoying camping. This lets you be ready at any time to mention matter-of-factly something interesting that happened the last time you were at the nude beach, club, or campground.
  4. Keep a few conversation starters around, such as nudist/naturist books or magazines, tasteful nude art, discreet photos of yourself and family nude in normal activities. If you're a little bolder, wear or display buttons, T-shirts, bumper stickers that convey the message.
  5. Talk about how you got started. This is especially good if nudity is something you first enjoyed as a child, because it's "innocent" and perhaps "cute". But in any case, let your own story illustrate how simple and natural and easy it was once you got into it. Emphasize any humorous aspects. Don't be afraid to mention embarrassing incidents, and how you got through them just fine. First person stories and experiences are always more convincing than abstract philosophizing.
  6. Don't be defensive and don't start by trying to correct all the misconceptions people have about naturism. Don't start off by saying, "Of course, naturists don't have orgies all the time." You will seem to be protesting too much. Answer such objections only when they're raised by the other person. Adopt the attitude that there's nothing that needs to be defended, because nudity isn't "wrong" or "harmful" or "immoral" etc. Emphasize the positives.
  7. Here are some of the common objections and misconceptions. Be ready with truthful responses.
    • It's immoral/sinful. Response: Ask for specific citations from a relevant authority that says this. It isn't in the Bible, for example. Many devout religious believers, including ministers, practice nudism/naturism.
    • It's weird/crazy. Response: Most people who actually try it find quickly that it feels perfectly normal, and you don't act any differently when not wearing clothes. It's casually accepted without any fuss many places in Europe.
    • It's disgusting/offensive. Response: It's ridiculous and unhealthy for human beings to be disgusted or offended by the sight of others just like themselves.
    • It's bound to make people horny all the time. Response: Just not so. You quickly learn not to associate nudity with sex outside of the proper time and place.
    • It's unsanitary. Response: Naturists bathe frequently and keep towels handy for sitting on.
    • It's harmful for children. Response: Studies show no evidence of this. Millions of children have been raised in nudist families in the last 80 years, with no evidence of more harm than in non-nudist families. Surely the evidence of harm would be widely publicized if it existed.
    • It's illegal. Response: Definitely not in the privacy of your own home or a nudist club/resort. And it's usually not illegal in most places when the nudity is discreet, not lewd, and not intended to affront or alarm. Public nudity is accepted and traditional in a number of places around the country. (But check carefully on your own local laws to be sure you don't live in one of the "wrong" places.)
  8. Read a selection of naturist/nudist writings from books and magazines. This will help you organize your thoughts about the benefits that others have discovered in naturism, in addition to those you've found yourself. It will also help you answer the common objections. Finally, you'll learn some of the history of nudism and naturism, which goes back much farther than most people realize. You'll easily convice people that you know what you're talking about -- because you do. You'll have anecdotes available from history and other people's experience that help illustrate points you want to make.
  9. Different approaches work with different people -- understand where they're coming from first. When talking with people you know, use common sense about who you should or should not tell. Don't waste time with people who may be well-meaning but still clearly prudish or closed-minded. Look for people with interests shared by many naturists, such as enjoyment of travel, outdoor recreation, physical and mental health. Stress the aspects of naturism that are most likely to appeal to their interest.
  10. Explain about naturism, but don't proselytize. Be casual about it -- you don't want to seem like a fanatic. Don't expect to convert anyone, or even try to. At first just aim to get them to understand why you enjoy nudity and nude activities. Be satisfied if they say, "It's OK for you, but I could never do that." At least then you'll be able to keep discussing it with them, just like you would any other subject. Quite possibly they'll eventually change their minds. Drop hints that they'd be welcome to join you sometime, but let them actually be the first to suggest it.
  11. If you do detect any evidence of interest, offer to lend them a few magazine or books on naturism. (Keep extras on hand so you don't "lose" anything you don't want to.) Show them how to find places on the Web (like this site) where they can learn more on their own.
  12. If someone does persist in expressing doubts or disapproval, shrug it off and agree to disagree. But stress the value of lifestyle diversity Remind them that harmless differences among people are what makes life more varied and more interesting.

Still need more tips and ideas? Here are some links that addres this:

Nudity in the News

The Katharine Hepburn Memorial Skinnydip at Bryn Mawr
It wasn't really called that, but that's what it was. As legend had it, and Ms. Hepburn confirmed in a 1985 commencement speech, during her undergraduate years at Bryn Mawr she had streaked and skinny-dipped at a particular campus fountain. And it has turned into a campus tradition that every undergraduate must jump naked into the fountain before her senior year.

Now, according to this May 12 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, BBC producer Jenny Dames decided that some footage of such merriment was essential to a documentary of Hepburn's life she's preparing. So it came about that Ms. Dames "stood in front of a group of mellow Bryn Mawr College women yesterday and gently asked them if she could film them getting naked and jumping in a fountain. They laughed. And then they said, 'OK. Sure.'"

Some of the students who volunteered to be filmed said that they were on the rugby team and were "used to getting naked." In any case, they got into the production with enthusiasm: "After crashing into the water together, the women held hands and danced a fast ring-around-a-rosy, splashing water maniacally and, in the resulting whirlpool, being swept around in a big blur of naked girl." And "After getting out, a few girls were feeling so excited that they decided nude cartwheeling was in order."

Evidently, the students discovered that nudity was sort of fun. Perhaps the Princeton "Nude Olympics" would turn out better if it were held in broad daylight and at a warmer time of the year than the night of the first snowfall.

Princeton students aren't giving up on the Nude Olympics
Despite a heavy-handed edict against the event from Princeton's high mucky-mucks, some students aren't ready to give up easily, according to this April 14 article in the Bergen County Record. (For history, see Vol. 2, No. 4.)

Some students surveyed for the article "say it's likely some will again run naked through the snow next winter, despite the threat of a one-year suspension for anyone caught." Well, enjoying nudity we can understand, but they'd enjoy it a lot more if they could find a better time -- and probably a better place -- than a campus courtyard in the dead of winter. Any time there would be less need to tank up on antifreeze. Aren't there any nice fountains on campus? Perhaps they should just transfer en masse to Bryn Mawr or the University of Michigan, where the students know how to do these things right.

Michigan naked mile: college nude running done right
In the first place, it's traditionally held at the end of the spring semester, which places it in April instead of December or January. In the second place, students at U. of M. obviously care about not making asses of themselves. Not only did run participants avoid drinking themselves into a stupor before or after the run (at least publicly), but many non-runners turned out as volunteers (with distinctive yellow shirts) to keep things orderly, clear the a path for the runners, etc. Even the local police cooperated by closing a public street so the runners wouldn't have to fight automobile traffic.

For previous reports on the Naked Mile here, start with Vol. 1, No. 13.

By various accounts, this year's running (which took place April 22), also improved on last year's. Participation was up from 600 last year to about 800 this year (roughly 2% of University enrollment). Many students sported body paint or (revealing) costumes, making everything more festive. Local and civic officials wasted less time beforehand issuing dire warnings that the whole thing was likely to lead to some sort of nastiness.

The event has become so popular that the local paper, Michigan Live, has obtained a domain name and a Web site titled The Naked Mile: An Ann Arbor Tradition just for the occasion. It's a good site, not particularly tacky. There isn't much actual reporting there, mind you, but there is a history of the event, a discussion forum, chat room, and -- naturally -- photos (inanely altered so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of anyone who would visit a Web site called "The Naked Mile".) Unfortunately, the paper also managed to make hypocrites of themselves by editorializing against the event. A whiff of commercial exploitation here?

There are many other Naked Mile Web sites which, regrettably, are just tacky commercial exploitation, or worse. (You know, videos for sale, and such.) Links to these will not be offered here, of course. For further details, here is one report from the Usenet.

Bare to Breakers
Another nude running event that's done right is the "Bare to Breakers", an unofficial subset of the very popular San Francisco Bay to Breakers race. (Background on the event is in our article on nude running in Vol. 1, No. 10.)

Billed as "the world's largest footrace", with about 73,000 participants this year, the 88-year-old event held on May 16 lived up to its reputation. Even though unofficial estimates put the number of nude participants at "only" 112, this is a new high for the event -- about twice as many as ever before. If the number were to continue doubling every year, the 98th running of the event would be all nude. In any case, there were more nudes this year than any other category except runners in hula skirts (of which there were about 150).

Where else can you run or walk 7.46 miles through a major U. S. city wearing nothing at all? The best part of it is -- the nudity is now an accepted part of what is, admittedly, as much a self-consciously offbeat community celebration as a running competition. As this article (also here) from the Examiner (the official sponsor of the event) says, "it was the naked people who prevailed: Naked nymphs, hula nudes, wizened nudes, nudes in every shade the sun could produce." And again, re-emphasizing the diversity of ways people chose to celebrate nudity: "A large contingent of nudes wore lime green caps and met to do the hokey-pokey at the top of the hill. But most Breakers nakedness passed in fits and starts: a young couple holding hands, a group of aging men, a man naked from the waist down running with a woman naked from the waist up, a single naked man holding high a tree branch like an Olympic torch."

Accompanying the article as posted on the official Web site were a small selection of uncensored pictures, some of which such as this one are rather less inhibited than one is used to seeing in a U. S. newspaper. A competing paper, the San Francisco Chronicle, also had an article on the race. Their reporter managed to bungle that fact of much higher nude participation (which most everone else agreed on), but still sounded a positive note in quoting one nude runner, who gave as his reason for baring all the fact that he "could and it feels better. It's more exciting."

Nudity still popular in Berkeley too
Across the Bay and a few weeks earlier (April 25, to be exact), the X-Plicit Players continued their performances on behalf of nudity and the First Amendment at a celebration of the 30th anniversity of the People's Park.

As reported in the Oakland Tribune in this April 26 article (also here), a half dozen of the X-plicits were on hand to provide "the requisite nudity". In sharp contrast to the events of May 1969, where at one time 2000 armed National Guardsman were deployed to defend the 2.8 acre plot against unarmed students, only about 10 local law enforcement personnel were on hand for the anniversary. They did request the Players to put some clothes on, but the request was refused, and the officers just shrugged it off, saying they didn't really plan to prevent the nude performance. "Technically, we're supposed to join in, in the spirit of community policing," a police sergeant quipped. They did, however, promise to submit a report to the DA on the incident, which was a violation of Berkeley's (infamous) anti-nudity ordinance.

Even better than the Players' actual performance, after it was over they settled, still nude, in the audience -- and were joined in nudity by about a dozen of the audience itself. And the police still paid no official attention to any of them. (Some speculate that the 10 or so officers felt rather outnumbered by the naked folk, to say nothing of the 1000 or so nude-friendly others enjoying a pleasant Sunday in the park.

Here's another article on the anniversary party.

Unfortunately, this doesn't mean nudity is again completely OK in Berkeley. The anti-nudity ordinance is technically still very much in force. And on May 5, to be exact, a local judge decided it was perfectly proper to proceed with a prosecution of X-plicit Players Marty Kent and Debbie Moore for violating the ordinance -- without a trial by jury. (See this May 6 article in the Daily Californian student newspaper.) The "trial" is scheduled for June 21. (We last wrote about Berkeley and the Players in Vol. 1, No. 14.)

But nudity is not so popular in Minneapolis
So who is surprised? It's the repressed, backwards midwest, after all. Yet even in the midwest there are spring festivals: May Day, and all that. (And in Minne-snow-ta, they really are happy to welcome spring.) In particular, there's an annual event -- the Mayday Parade and Festival sponsored by a local outfit known as the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. Well, it seems some folks like to walk in the parade wearing kale leaves. (This is farming country, after all.) And according to some observers, they didn't wear a whole lot more -- considerable amounts of bare skin were visible in the side view, apparently. But in Minneapolis, wearing only kale can get you cited for a violation of the city's "Proper Clothing" ordinance, especially if you have to change out of your vegetables after the parade. Do read this article from the City Pages for a droll account of officialdom's vendetta against kale.

By the way, one observer reports that later in the day a group of Minnesota Naturists were manning an exhibit booth, dressed in barrels. Evidently the barrels were sufficiently "proper" so as not to violate the ordinance.

Or in La Crosse, Wisconsin, either
Determined to attest to the validity of H. L. Mencken's definition of Puritanism ("The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy"), police in another midwest town cited a touring stunt bicyclist for "lewd and lascivious conduct". According to an April 27 Associated Press article, the cyclist was performing a stunt in a local fund-raising show, called the "Big-Air Sports Jam and Concert". The cyclist even happened to have his clothes with him -- only he was carrying them in his arms instead of wearing them.

Or even in New York City
Wait, isn't NYC more enlightened than a midwest hick town? Apparently not. They did, after all, elect a grandstanding, ambitious right-leaning Republican mayor on a platform pledge to clean up smut and make the city streets safe for... prudes. And so, on a chilly morning late in April, police arrested noted photographer Spencer Tunick on charges of "unlawful assembly". What might that mean -- making bombs? Nope, just persuading 150 people to assemble peacefully in Times Square and take off their clothes for his camera. As he has done without incident a number of times before in New York and across the country in his "Naked States Tour". (For more on which, see his Web site.)

Tunick had his camera confiscated too. But what exactly is the crime of "unlawful assembly"? Just a failure to have "proper" permits for a parade or demonstration. Neither of which accurately describes Tunick's project. Tunick himself, incidentally, didn't get naked. Yet none of his models, who were naked, were arrested. That's one small positive, at least.

According to New York Times columnist William Safire, the authorities intended to go after the photographer also for the crimes of "tumultuous and violent conduct" and "promoting the exposure of a person". And in this May 7 editorial, Safire (a noted conservative/libertarian) reflects on the irony of the fate of Tunick and his band of naked models -- practically in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty -- in comparison with that of 15,000 peaceful demonstrators in Beijing (which the government nervously tolerated).

Our last previous report on Spencer Tunick was in Vol. 1, Nol. 15.

But a famous statue is no longer banned in Boston
The capital of the presently liberal state of Massachusetts didn't inspire the phrase "banned in Boston" without cause. The state was, after all, the fountainhead of virulent American puritanism in the 1600s -- a sickness so robust it still grips U. S. culture today. So it's hardly surprising that Frederic Macmonnies' statue of the "Bacchante and Infant Faun" was an unwelcome guest in 1895 at the (then) new Boston Public Library, for which it was commissioned.

However, puritianism, though still strong, is finally loosening its grip a little. As part of a current rennovation of the Library, a replica of the statue commissioned in 1993 and currently installed inside the building is scheduled to be moved to a public outdoor courtyard next year.

Now the floodgates of indecency have been opened. What next? Perhaps Rodin's "Thinker" (who is, of course, nude, as befits a thinking man), or even (gasp) Michelangelo's "David"?

Religious intolerance thwarts pagans' rites
Regretfully we have to report that the pagan gathering in Kentucky mentioned in Vol. 2, No. 4 was forced by local religious bigots to proceed without the usual skyclad rituals. According to this April 23 article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, pagan leaders capitulated to threats from local Christians. The appeasement attempt was only marginally successful, as the pagans still faced threats such as those of one minister advocating a bonfire of pagan books. They should be thankful that the law now takes a jaundiced view of Christians making bonfires of pagans themselves, as was customary in earlier times. However, the preacher in question did exhort his flock to destroy not only books but also tarot cards, ouija boards, and "Satanic rock and roll music".

It's no wonder naturism faces tough sledding in some parts of the U. S.

Topfree skaters protest bare breast double standard
...And almost get arrested. According to a May 12 Associated Press article, a dozen women calling themselves the Lesbian Avengers skated topfree from near the Corvalis campus of Oregon State University towards the riverfront. First Amendment rights of political expression to the contrary (and be damned!), local police threatened to arrest the women for "appearing in a state of nudity". But the protesters avoided citations by covering their breasts with stickers.

Nudity in the Media

Salon: more nudity needed in movies
You read that right. Contrary to what conservative religious culture-warriors and the grandstanding politicians who pander to them would have you believe, there's not as much nudity in contemporary Hollywood products as there was 20 or 30 years ago.

That, at any rate, is the contention of this April 26 article in Salon -- it's titled "Live Nude Girls: There aren't as many in Hollywood as you think -- and there should be." The fact of the matter is that the U. S. is still a prudish, puritanical society with respect to both sex and nudity, and the policies of the de facto censors at the MPAA reflect this. In the words of the author, Stephanie Zacharek, "the moviegoing climate in America today smacks a little too much of prudery, prissiness and, above all, fear. Nudity is handled much more gracefully and naturally in European movies, and is accepted much more casually by audiences. For an actor or actress, it's simply part of what goes with playing a role."

Zacharek goes on to point out that this attempt to achieve the feminist goal of eliminating the objectification of women's bodies backfires: "If female moviegoers are the ones who are made to feel uncomfortable at the sight of a naked actress on-screen, they should also consider that cultivating a climate in which women's bodies are kept under wraps, revealed chastely and tastefully or not at all, isn't the answer to making them feel better -- if anything, it's only likely to make them feel more objectified."

Indeed. As long as prudes make a big deal of nudity, women (and men) will be evaluated on superficial appearances. When -- and if -- nudity becomes no big deal, then we can get on to considering all the other aspects of a person -- on screen or in real life.

Salon Magazine has often run pro-nudity articles. See recent examples in Vol. 2, No. 4 and Vol. 2, No. 1 just for a start. On March 8, they did an article on Roger Davis' fight for the right to wear a thong swimsuit at the Miami University pool. (See our report on this in Vol. 2, No. 3.)

A quick search on the site turned up other nudity-related articles we've missed. For instance this one from last September titled From nudism to Buddhism, about a young woman's encounters with nudism in the process of fleeing from a failed relationship.

If you aren't familiar with Salon, pay a visit to their search page and have a look around.

Dear Abby: Nude beach can be good therapy...
You don't normally expect advice columnists, particularly one who's been at it as long as Abigail Van Buren, to be great fans of nude beaches. Abby's sister Ann Landers, for example, has repeatedly demonstrated she's a certifiable prude. But Abby's a different matter.

Recently she printed a letter in her column from a woman ("Survivor in San Francisco") who had undergone a mastectomy. The woman was concerned because her husband had suggested visiting nude beaches while on vacation in France as a means to improve her self-acceptance. She was somewhat dubious of this idea, and wanted Abby's advice. Abby passed the buck to readers.

The respondents in the first batch of replies in her May 13 column were horrified at the idea. For example, "Fan in Cincinnati" "just about flipped at the insensitivity of the husband who suggested that he and his wife -- a breast cancer survivor -- go to the nude beaches on the Riviera." (Yeah, Cincinnati is prude heaven, so who's surprised at this.)

But the next column, from May 14, was right on. It leads off with a reply from an avowed nudist travel agent from the Tampa area who advises the original writer that "She should enjoy the freedom and the appreciation of her husband, who sounds like a real gem." To which Abby says: "I'm pleased that by far the majority of the comments have been positive."

Sounds like progress.

Worcester Area Naked Guys
Don't let the acronym throw you off. Here's a good, well-researched article from the April 30 Worcester, MA Phoenix about the local gay male naturist group -- written by a woman, interestingly enough. Though the writer is an outsider to gay male naturism, and perhaps naturism itself, it has a sympathetic point of view. Kristen Lombardi writes, for example, "naturists believe clothing is not essential to moral living; nudity is actually seen as a way to break down social barriers of class, race, and religion." One suspects she's not quite up to speed on naturism, though, when she refers to it as a "23-year-old movement centered in states like California, Florida, and New Jersey."

Even so, she's sympathetic not only to naturism but to gay male naturism and the benefits it offers people in the way of the ability to socialize on a more authentic level and without the sexual pressures found in "normal" clothed society.

UK charity fund-raising calendar features nudity
The models are nude females. The objective, however, was not to make another fast buck off naked women, as profits from calendar sales will benefit the Leukaemia Research Fund. Oh, yes, and the models themselves aren't cute teens and twenties but members in the 45-65 age range of the Yorkshire-area Women's Institute, which sponsored the project.

Evidently, the project has been a great success. According to this (illustrated) article, one of the models expressed her own feelings as follows: "While we were doing it, we were a bit nervous at first. But it ended up being good fun thanks to quite a lot of red wine."

Pitt News: Students should try local nudist resorts
The University of Pittsburgh's student paper ran a friendly article on April 9 that basically endorsed camping vacations at local nudist resorts as alternatives to the urban rat race.

The article spends a lot of time dispelling common misconceptions about nudism/naturism which the general public tends to harbor -- though most readers of this newsletter easily recognize as silly. But the final conclusion is certainly one we can only applaud: "For those who want to enjoy nature as God intended, in an atmosphere of like-minded, mature individuals, several Pennsylvania nudist resorts are just two hours east of Pittsburgh."

Self Magazine: "Feel Great Naked"
In the March issue there's another one of the customary spring/summer women's magazine articles on how to look your best without any clothes on -- whether or not you have any intention at all of actually needing such advice. Outside the bedroom that is (or maybe that's the point). In any case, every little reinforcement of the idea that being naked could be a positive experience probably helps. "Naked Man" chosen an Adweek "Best Spot"
There don't seem to have been a large crop of new advertising campaigns using a nudity theme since our last report in Vol. 2, No. 4, but one of those we noted there -- for -- was chosen by the adversing trade magazine Adweek as one of the twenty best new spot ads in March.

According to this April 26 Business Wire story,'s Marketing VP explained: "We were attempting to portray the Internet as a transformational phenomenon allowing people to return to more innocent times when corporate politics, job status, and -- yes -- even clothes didn't matter."

In addition to that pretty fundamental naturist theme, the idea of a connection between freedom and nudity is reinforced -- with the latter symbolizing the former. And best of all, the ad makes the point that "Reed *******", its work-at-home entrepreneur hero, actually happens to like being naked.

Nudity and Politics

Nude beach victory, for a change, in Toronto
Before we get around to the usual bad news, let's start off with a substantial bit of very good news. Naturists have actually asked for, and received, official government blessings for a "new" clothing-optional beach in a major North American metro area -- Toronto!. Break out the champaigne.

It's a long story, which you can read about through the various links below. But the essential facts are these: Hanlan's Point Beach is located on an island in Lake Ontario, just off shore from Toronto. Because of its relative remoteness, it has hosted skinny-dippers for many decades. In fact, it was officially designated as a nude beach from 1894 to 1930.

After a great deal of preparatory work a local naturist club known as the TNT!MEN under the leadership of one of their members, lawyer Peter Simm, persuaded the city's Commission of Economic Development, Culture, and Tourism to present a report to the City Council recommending an official clothing-optional designation for the beach. On April 23, this report was heard by a Council subcommittee -- and unanimously accepted. On May 12, the full Council formally approved the proposal by a vote of 41 to 9, despite vocal opposition. And on May 24, Hanlan's Point Beach was officially opened as a nude beach.

It's probably hard to overstate the importance of this development to North American naturists. True, it has occurred in Canada, which in various ways has demonstrated a more intelligent and mature attitude towards nudity than most areas of the U. S. However, as far as acceptance of recreational nudity is concerned, the U. S. and Canada are probably more similar to each other than either is to northern European countries. The calm, rational approach which has proven successful in this instance may well be applicable in some of the less conservative areas in the U. S. and elsewhere in Canada.

Press coverage of this has been extensive, and mostly positive. Here are some of the many recent articles about Hanlan's Beach:

April 23: Nude beach called a bare essential
Discussing the report to be presented to the city council's economic development committee, this article asks, "Does the city need a beach where one can let it all hang out?" It goes on to offer the opinion that "support is skimpy among committee members."
April 24: Committee supports clothing-optional beach
To the surprise of many, the committee unanimously approved the recommendation, sending it to the full council for final action. And this in spite of comments from some opponents such as: "If you give a little freedom, some people will take advantage of it." Duh. We should have freedoms that no one uses?
May 13: Here's the skinny: Nude beach approved
And the council by a vote of 41 to 9 accepted the proposal to officially approve a year-long trial of nude use of the beach. One opponent, Councillor George Mammoliti, had the brilliant idea of demonstrating what a bad idea this was by stripping to the waist. Evidently this did not manage to get his point across to his colleagues in the way he intended.
May 18: George, keep your clothes on
Columnist Valerie Gibson is somewhat taken aback by Councillor Mammoliti's antics to realize that even "in these very aware and sexually advanced days there are still people who find nudity offensive and embarrassing." Even though "nudity on the beach [is] something that is commonplace in Europe and other parts of the world and has been for decades." Gibson continues on in a rather pro-nudity vein, and concludes that North American aversion to nudity is "Too bad, because an unexpected glimpse of everyday male or female flesh can lighten up someone's day."
May 25: Nude beach opens on Island
"Queen Victoria" was on hand to open the beach officially to nude use. "We are amused," she stated for the record. David Basford, president of the Federation of Canadian Naturists, said the nude beach was "a sign of a civilized society."

And here is additional related information:

Restore Clothing-Optional Status to Hanlan's Point Beach
This is the long, detailed "brief" prepared by TNT!MEN in support of the proposal for official designation of the beach as clothing-optional. Though long and lawyerly, it's worthwhile to read at least the Executive Summary of this document. The brief as a whole should be a model for efforts elsewhere to establish other CO beaches.
Pilot Project - Clothing Optional Beach at Hanlan's Point
This is the report of the Commissioner of Economic Development, Culture and Tourism to the city council which recommended CO status for the beach.
Hanlan's Beach Naturists
A Web site providing information on the beach itself.
FCN Media information
A page of general information created by the Federation of Canadian Naturists for the media on naturism, including Hanlan's Beach specifically.
FCN Press release
The press release issued by the FCN on May 12 regarding City Council approval for clothing-optional use of Hanlan's Beach.

Higbee Beach: New Jersey's shorts knotted over nudity
While Toronto happily embraces the accouterments of civilized society, New Jersey rushes headlong into the past. We are not amused, but we are not surprised, either. As reported in Vol. 2, No. 4, the situation continues to look unpromising for this much-loved beach in the "Garden State". The State Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife has closed all four parking lots at the beach. This April 22 article from the Philadelphia Inquirer provides more background information.

An even more serious problem is that the anti-nudity bill introduced by right-wing Repbulican state senator James Cafiero is rushing towards legislative approval. The bill doesn't flatly criminalize simple nudity statewide, but it does allow local governments to ban nudity on state land in their jurisdiction. This will effectively eliminate nude use at Higbee. It doesn't directly affect the very popular clothing-optional Gunnison Beach in northern New Jersey, which is on Federal land -- but that could become the next target.

The text of the anti-nudity bill is here. As reported in this article, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 37-0 on May 24. (There's a shorter article here.) The bill is now before the state Assembly, where is appears to be receiving "fast-track" attention from the leadership, just as it did in the Senate.

Local officials in the Higbee area are hoping that the state will also give them $150,000 in new money to help them stop people from enjoying the beach au naturel. Senator Cafiero is promising to boost air and marine patrols to interdict any residual naturist resistance. Heck -- it's been a brilliant success in Kosovo. (See other stories here about additional fronts -- in Hawaii and Florida -- of the governmental war on naturists.)

The Naturist Action Committee has made a valiant attempt to defend the naturist position and has sent representatives to the legislature, but its limited resources made its firepower about as effective as squirt guns compared to the government's nuclear weapons, at least in this case.

There is a May 14 alert on NAC's Web site, but it is already out of date. A copy of the latest alert, issued May 28, may be found here. Even if you don't live in New Jersey or anywhere near Higbee, take a look at the latest alert and consider contacting legislators to demonstrate to them that naturists are willing to fight for what they believe in, despite the odds. (And think about sending NAC a contribution, too.)

Park Service fights dirty to evict naturists from Honokohau
It was just about a year ago when we last covered this issue - see Vol. 1, No. 12. At the time the National Park Service was well underway towards criminalizing nude use of Honokohau Beach on the big island of Hawaii - use that had been traditional for decades and (of course) by native Hawaiians for centuries before outsiders came. Due to procedural errors on the part of NPS officials, they were unable to proceed as hastily as they wanted. But even though forced to follow the rules, they have eventually gotten their way, and on April 21 they published "permanent" anti-nudity regulations for Honokohau, to take effect May 21, in the Federal Register.

This May 1 article from the Washington Post news service provides a good summary of the story. An interesting -- and critical -- point in the whole thing is that the Park Service has relied on distorted, revisionist history which contends that nudity is deeply offensive in native Hawaiian culture. This is largely a fabrication, as evidenced by eyewitness accounts of folks like Mark Twain, who visited the islands in 1866 and wrote about what he saw in Roughing It. (See Vol. 1, No. 8.)

Although the Naturist Action Committee is still considering its options to respond to the Park Service fiat, chances probably aren't very good. The fact is that, today, in most of the state of Hawaii naturism is as unpopular with locals as in a place like Mississippi or Alabama. The devastation to traditional Hawaiian culture wrought by Christian missionaries 150 years ago is still largely unhealed.

Officials fight dirty at Navarre too
The same sort of vengeful hostility on the part of U. S. and local public officials towards their own citizens is in progress on the eastern side of the country also. As reported in Vol. 2, No. 4, the Air Force and the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's department appear to be working together to drive naturists off a beach that has -- like Honokohau -- been used clothing-optionally for decades.

Evidently there's no serious crime in Santa Rosa County, since the Sheriff's Department has time to send out special "plain clothes" forces masquerading as sunbathers and fishermen to catch naturists unaware -- according to this April 30 article.

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