Actually, I’ve been imagining this for quite a long time! But maybe… just maybe… the naturist cyber-community is starting to take shape. How strangely ironic it will be if this turns out to be a serendipitous bi-product of a global pandemic!
Long-time followers have probably already read our story in various iterations on this blog. My most recent (and extensive) attempts at documenting our naturist meanderings and musings can be found in two long-winded essays on Medium, along with a more recent post from this blog. (SEE: Searching for the Threads of a Family Naturist Network) What’s not so well documented, however, are all the things that have transpired since we had a very long ZOOM Happy Hour with Nick and Lins while they were stranded in Zipolite about this time last year. We had had several close encounters and near misses during our mutual summer travels in Europe over the past few years, but now they were stranded on their veranda in Mexico, and we were trapped in our family room in the freezing Northeast.
If you have ever encountered the founders of Naked Wanderings through any of their various social media channels, you know that their enthusiasm is infectious, and their passion for promoting naturist is boundless. Our banter that evening kept returning to the idea that we – those who seek to promote social nudity – can accomplish more working together than any of us can get done on our own.
In the meantime, I had been emailing back and forth with Sam from Our Natural Blog, at first, simply to express my admiration for the beautiful layout of their webpage – such beautiful photography in such stunning locations! We discovered Sam and I had corresponded over ten years ago while I was consumed with a previous blogging project and he was busy getting the Florida Young Naturists up and running. Since then, he had met and married Aleah, a life-long naturist, who brought along with her the experience of growing up in a naturist family.
Not surprisingly, all of us knew Nick and Lins. Additionally, Sam and Aleah had recently traveled to Australia where they had the good fortune of hanging out with Brendan, the founder of Get Naked Australia, which ultimately led all of us to join forces in production of the first two episodes of Simply Naked, a VLOG dedicated to creating a live and spontaneous dialogue between naturist bloggers to get the message out that nakation is way better than vacation.
It was about this time that I had grown quite intrigued with a new guy on the scene: Scott Cline and his New Nudist Podcast. Not only was the podcast fresh and brand new, but so was his involvement in nudism. I reached out to tell him how much I was enjoying his show, and especially his collaboration with one of his guests named Evan. We immediately became good friends, having since met up twice since then at Glen Eden Sun Club in Southern California. And you’ve undoubtedly discovered Evan by now as well as the voice behind the Twitter feed @naturistvintage, where he’s been working diligently to document the evolution of nudism in America, along with his great grandfather’s role in all that. It turns out that Evan has also worked closely with a guy named Tim who has a very smart blog called Almost Wild, which is fresh and inspiring as well. Tim and I later found each other on Twitter and have had a good time chatting there as well.
I never had a chance to meet Felicity while she was running Young Naturists of America, and I’ve yet to make a successful connection with Adam with his grassroots Just Naked NYC meet-ups. But I did take the leap in reaching out to Mandy (Twitter: @MandyZelinka) with the Skinny Dippers Club which, you guessed it, seeks to connect people who are serious about social nudity in a non-threatening environment. The group definitely has a different vibe, in large part, because Mandy, “imagineer in chief” has a different vibe. She only came to social nudity in the last couple years as well, after stubbornly digging in while visiting a clothing-optional resort with her husband Jeremy. Then, like all the rest of us nudies, she jumped in the pool without her swimsuit and had the predictable epiphany, “What on EARTH have I been WAITING for???!!!”
At this writing, it seems I am entering into something of a collaborative partnership with Mandy, as here again, we share the same core values of demystifying the whole clothing-optional “thing.” Skinny Dippers Club is on a slow and deliberate growth curve as Mandy seeks only to bring people into their community who are open-minded, tolerant, and kind, and thus the paywall and approval process for admission. (Though if you contact her, I think you can get in for free for a finite period of time.)
Back in California, I know Scott of New Nudist Podcast fame has developed something of an obsession with the Get Naked Australia concept after hosting one of the sessions of Simply Naked, so don’t be surprised if another initiative pops up in that corner of the continent in the coming months. And oh! I had a great time in my Naked Convo with Hector Martinez a couple weeks ago. That interview was pretty “meandery” as we both like to digress, but if he was able to salvage enough of that footage off the cutting room floor that should be airing soon. He’s another amazing advocate working for the naturist cause in Mexico.
We are all deeply indebted to organizations like AANR and TNSF for staying in for the long game with targeted lobbying efforts and ceaseless advocacy for naked places throughout North America, whether that be the free beaches of Florida and California, or the legacy nudist clubs tucked away in New Jersey and the Pacific Northwest. Many of us remember when the only way you could find reliable information about any of those venues was by subscribing to their respective journals. I still have vivid memories of making a long-distance phone call to a nudist club 100 miles away to see if I could schedule a visit for the upcoming weekend, only to be given instructions to call back from a payphone a few miles outside the gate. (I hope those days are gone forever.)
Now it’s 2021, and as my millennial friend likes to remind me, “If I can’t find out what I need to know and make a reservation on my iPhone browser, it ain’t gonna happen!” And so it goes. If we want to know about the best nude beach in Spain, or the newest clothing-optional resort in the Caribbean, or a place to stop and get naked for a few hours while driving across the Midwest, we turn to the 4G mobile internet to see if we can find a place that we like, or at least steer away from those we know that we won’t.
This is where the potential of the Clothing-Optional Global Cyber-Village really comes into play. While it’s taken a few years, I’ve finally culled a Twitter feed that really is a community, as people share places, ideas, and other insider trader info that you would never find in a printed publication. What’s more, after a year of sequester, I’ve ended up meeting many of my new cyberfriends, first over video chat, and now with the pandemic easing, face-to-face.
Back to what Nick and Lins like to preach – “It’s not this blog or that blog, this podcast or that VLOG, this Twitter feed or that naturist forum, IT’S THE WHOLE NAKED VILLAGE!” We all have different perspectives to bring to the idea of promoting the widespread acceptance of social nudity. And even if we fall short of that lofty dream, it’s great to see a palpable community of people who are all determined to help veteran and newbie naturists find one another. Will the legacy nudist parks make it? Some will, some won’t, many are already long gone. But with so many people hell-bent on building community in cyberspace, it seems the future looks bright for those willing to meet-up, drop trou, and take to the mountains in search of a secluded skinny-dipping destination.
And just one more plug for our new collaboration with Mandy from Skinny Dippers Club. They occasionally run promotions for free memberships, and provide excellent resources and regular newsletters without a full membership. In fact, you can click through below to download their Field Guide to Naturism.
There are so many people doing so much great stuff that, at this point, it takes almost no imagination at all!