Social Nudity in the Age of Isolation: Naked on ZOOM!

We did it! We had our first naturist cocktail party on ZOOM last night. Met up – online – with good friends that we typically get together with several times a year for naturist-at-home evenings. We’ve probably all been naked together well over 100 times. But naked together on the internet? Is that the same thing? Isn’t that simply being voyeuristic?

As the World Wide Web has grown up over the years, live nudity on the net has always been tricky to navigate. As far back as the late 90s, when computer-based video conferencing was still in its infancy, I have vivid memories of a single naked guy popping onto my screen, uninvited and announced, literally scaring the hell out of me! I’m not offended by nudity. I’m not offended by guys. But dude… you were not invited into my living room, naked or otherwise.

Then there are groups like TrueNudists that have muddied the waters even more. It was quite a long time ago, but as I recall, my only attempt to join this organization was as a provisional member. To become a “verified member,” you were required to post a picture of yourself (along with your partner if joining as a couple), naked and holding a sign with your name on it. Supposedly, this was intended to tease out the nefarious perverts, while creating a meet-up place for people who are, well… true nudists! I can only go by heresay, but rumor has it that once admitted to this verified kingdom of genuine naturists, you’re more likely to meet a lonely guy or get hit up by an “adventurous couple” than find other people who are simply seeking naturist friends. I just checked their current splash page today, where their poster child is a young woman identified as “Wonderhussy.” Thinking this, along with the button below that says “I want to view nudist photos,” is not so helpful in diverting the pervs and adventurous couples.

*Turns out Wonderhussy is actually Sarah Jane, an accomplished naturist travel blogger, though her screen name complicates things a bit, especially in this context.

But alas, I digress! We didn’t go looking for random strangers on the internet for our naturist soirée. We were connecting through a private channel with specific friends. Luckily, I’ve become quite the ZOOM expert in recent weeks as my day job has transitioned to a fully virtual environment where all daily transactions beyond the three people I live with, is conducted in virtual reality.

But this was the first time on ZOOM for our naturist friends. They were certainly familiar with Facetime and Skype, but as first time ZOOMers, they were still finding their way around the mute button and virtual backgrounds. We actually started our Happy Hour in our hot tub, then later moved inside near the wood-burning stove so that we could link up to the TV where our friends became almost bigger than life in front of a wonky background of crashing waves and wind-blown palm trees. Success!

As is the case in the workplace, it occurs to me that the “sheltering at home” thing is likely to change the way we live our lives long after COVID-19 is contained and eradicated. (Please tell me that day is coming soon!) Despite the fact that the internet can be glitchy, we found our Cyber Happy-Hour to be a lot of fun, and nobody had to assume the role of designated driver. And, in fact, I think it occurred to all of us that perhaps we’ve been missing out on an opportunity to connect with other naturist friends from the far-flung corners of the planet, of which we’ve made quite a few during our visits to naturist resorts in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Suddenly, the possibilities seem limitless. We even imagined a party with a dozen naturist friends where we could have breakout rooms: a breakout room near the bar  and another one in the hot tub! Suddenly feeling bored? Pop yourself out of the breakout room and blame it on an internet glitch!

In the meantime, there are others out there who are hard at work trying to address the addiction to social naturism in a meaningful way before the days grow long and warm and those of us diehards grow increasingly impatient with the afflictions of clothing. Naturist leaders are reinventing some of the more traditional portals of information in an effort to create virtual communities for avid naturists.

British Naturism, for example, has been particularly proactive with their constituency (which I joined today, by the way), offering nude yoga sessions, discussion groups (presumably on a platform similar to ZOOM), and even Easter Tea. What could be more celebratory on Easter Sunday than high tea with your new British Naturist friends? Sounds intriguing, right?

Turns out that Clothes Free Life is offering similar sessions for their members, though I couldn’t discern if that’s simply a chat room, some sort of video platform, or simply an interactive message board of some sort. Turns out that it didn’t matter, since their meeting was scheduled to take place at 3:00 pm today, but the moderator didn’t happen to mention the time zone where the meeting was taking place. California? London? Sydney? Details matter. (Figured out at 5:00 pm today that is was at 3:00 pm EDT. Oh well!)

Leading naturist advocate Gregers has been hard at work creating regular ZOOM meetings for the members of the Naturist Association of Thailand, but I think you have to be a paid member to participate there as well, and for many of us, the nine to twelve-hour time difference may simply be a deal breaker. But regardless of all that, how does that work out in reality? Do you show up naked to the meet-up? Is it a clothed discussion about naturism? Suddenly you have a whole new set of norms consisting of where and when to get naked-none of which provide much of a safeguard against the naked dude that popped into my living room twenty years ago!

In any event, I thought I would offer a few pointers for those of you who have been thinking about hosting or attending a naturist Happy Hour, but haven’t quite summoned up the courage.

  • Starting in the hot tub turned out to be a great idea. That took the guesswork out of the equation as to when to get naked. Of course, that does require that you have a hot tub.
  • If you’re meeting inside, think ahead and make sure the space is warm and comfortable for nudity. Seems like a no-brainer, but again, you have to plan ahead.
  • We used my MacBook, then simply flipped over to Apple TV so the screen and the sound was coming through our 46” monitor. But you have to be creative about where you place the actual computer, as that’s where the camera is, and it’s a bit disconcerting when you feel people are not actually talking to you, but to someone over your shoulder. I suppose that could be ameliorated if you had an external camera mounted to the top of your TV.
  • If you’re using ZOOM, read up a bit on privacy settings to keep from getting ZOOM bombed. (As I understand it, this is similar to that situation I had years ago when the dude patched into what I thought was a private conversation.) We went to the extra trouble of setting a password, easily done, simply adding one more layer of security.
  • Make sure the record function is off. ZOOM has the capacity to record either to your own computer or to the Cloud. Since I use my account primarily for business meetings, I’m not fond of the idea of stumbling into my link of naked happy hour while in a meeting with colleagues next week.
  • While the virtual backgrounds are fun, know that they tend to distort, if not simply absorb the images of the humans in the meeting, depending in part on your real background. The more your backdrop is similar to a green-screen, the more success you’ll have with clear images that don’t result in cropping off your ears and appendages.
  • And finally… Don’t lurk in the shadows. If you have a bright light source behind you (say, a window perhaps) and not much light in front of you, your image will simply be a dark silhouette and your facial features and expressions will be all but indiscernible. We had to move away from the window, then reposition a lamp to cast natural light before our friends felt they could actually tell who we were. You don’t want to look like you’re in the Witness Protection Program.

In the end, is it as  good as actually being there? Well, pretty close, I think (especially the no designated driver part!) But I’m eager to keep experimenting with this format to see if we can get a few more of our naturist friends together. Maybe I’ll even try one of these online focus groups, knowing that if the party feels creepy when I “walk in,” it’s not that difficult to simply blip my way right back out.

And who knows? We’ve spent a lot of time and money over the years making our house and backyard naturist friendly. Hanging out on our back deck with our naturist friends this summer may turn out to be about as good as it gets this year. Better to hope for the best, while planning for the worst. If the worst is a virtual naturist resort on my back porch, that might not be so bad!

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Nakation Chronicles VIII: Dominican Republic, La Jenny, and Ile du Levant

At the writing, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 Social Distancing Crisis. Somehow, it’s seemed a bit glib to continue the typical trajectory of my blog, which is usually focused on nakation destinations around the globe – here at a time when going to the grocery store is considered an adventure. To that end, I thought it might be a good time to add to my Nakation Chronicle installments, intended to sequentially document our naturist journey over a period of thirty years of meandering about six continents. At very least, this feels cathartic to me, a devoted naturist consumed with wanderlust, as I sit here wondering when the world will, again, be open for naked meandering.

2010 was a particularly busy year between family events, business travel, and keeping tabs on our son who had an internship in China. So much time going places where we had to wear clothes.

That said, from the perspective of documenting our naturist journey, we have interesting tales to tell from that year, beginning with our one and only visit to Eden Bay Resort in the Dominican Republic. We were among the last (and only) visitors to this beautiful resort before it became Caliente Caribe – a subsidiary of Caliente Resort in Florida, another beautiful resort that threw their naturist mission under the bus to cater to the “adult playground scene.” My impression was that Caribe followed suit, only opening for selected periods to facilitate “parties of like-minded folks.” Last I knew, even that had ceased, as the place had fallen into disrepair. Bummer! It was a gorgeous venue.

We also traveled to France that summer with our young adult daughters, revisiting their childhood naturist fav, Domaine Naturiste La Jenny, located west of Bordeaux on the Cote d’Argent. From there, we made our way to Provence and took the ferry to Ile du Levant, staying in a modest hotel that shared that special Caliente vibe! (Guffaw!) Shame on us for not scouring the TripAdvisor reviews before we booked. Suffice it to say, that trip ended abruptly and early.

So there you are. Nakation Chronicles VIII. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page if you want to trace our story back to its humble, naked beginnings.

You may want to check out the previous Nakation Chronicles installments:

Nakation Chronicles I: The Pre-Digital Age

Nakation Chronicles II: France and Corsica

Nakation Chronicles III: St. Martin, Croatia, Corsica and France

Nakation Chronicles IV: Living Waters, St. Martin, Cap d’Agde, Ile du Levant, and France

Nakation Chronicles V: SXM, Spain, and La Jenny

Nakation Chronicles VI: Mexico, SXM, and Greece

Nakation Chronicles VII: SXM and Croatia

OUR NATURIST STORY: Rebels with a Cause

NAKED in the NETHERLANDS: Bussloo Spa near Amsterdam

So here’s the thing…

Some things in life are intended to evoke pleasure and relaxation. Vacation for example! Or maybe a day trip to the spa. Or as naturists love to preach, “What’s more amazing than shedding your clothes and all the stress that goes with them by taking a nakation?”

Right with you there, naked friends, but I gotta say… even for a seasoned naturist, baring it all for the first time in a new environment can be anything but relaxing. What if I walk into the wrong changing room? Am I allowed to be naked here… or there? And what do all those red signs in a foreign language say?… Take off your flip flops? Put on your flip flops? Flip flops will get you expelled from the premises?

Amidst random, but persuasive, bouts of total relaxation, this would pretty much summarize my first (but certainly not my last) visit to Thermen Bussloo on the outskirts of Amsterdam. I first learned about the place from our naturist friend Addie (See: Dating for Naturists or Naked in a Rainstorm) who put this on my “you gotta see this place” bucket list after her stay in Amsterdam last summer. Knowing that Addie has a deep affinity for the Therme Erding chain in Germany, I assumed that if she said this place was spectacular, it must be spectacular. And naked! It was both!

I should note, at least for the sake of those unfamiliar with the European spa culture, that there is quite a wide variance in the opinion as what defines a proper and refined spa experience. Some reviewers are appalled by the “mega-spa” places like Therme Erding (You can read my opinions about Erding and a few other places here.) and much prefer the historic edifices where architecture and calmness override amenities and entertainment. To that end, it seems Thermen Bussloo lies somewhere on the middle of the spectrum, as there is no swim-up bar or evening entertainment (that I know of), but the amenities are plentiful and interesting. And is it just me, or are spa-goers in Holland simply more comfortable with naked? But more about that later.

A QUICK GUIDE TO ENCOURAGE A NEWBIE TO GET NAKED AT THERMEN BUSSLOO

First of all, I speak a little German, a bit more French, a few words of Spanish, but absolutely NO Dutch whatsoever! I can’t figure out the vowels or the consonants, whether reading it in a menu or listening to people speak it. Which is generally OK as most everyone from the Netherlands speaks nearly perfect English, including most of the employees at Bussloo Therme. So riddle me this? They only have maps, facility guides, and dining menus printed in Dutch. (There is a German version of the map, which saved the day for me!) All signage is in Dutch. All schedules are in Dutch. Thankfully, the Dutch words for “burger” and “club sandwich” happen to be burger and club sandwich. And of course, I’ve grown accustomed to using that cool app on my iPhone where you hover over text you can’t understand and it translates it into English right there on your phone. That would work here, if you were allowed to use your phone anyplace outside of reception. That makes sense. Lots of naked people around. Put your phones away! From what I could tell, there was 100% compliance with the no device rule, quite unlike some other places we’ve visited, so I would say “don’t even think about it.”

All that said, my friend Addie remarked, “I liked Bussloo since there didn’t seem to be so many implicit rules, especially about where or where you could or could not be naked.” Totally agree on that point, which we have observed at other Dutch spas like Elysium near Rotterdam and Sauna von Egmond in Haarlem. As opposed to Vabali in Düsseldorf or Berlin where there is a (somewhat) clear (but implicit) expectation that once you step out of the water, you’re going to immediately wrap yourself in a towel or bathrobe, this seems not to be the case in Holland. Even in the dead of winter when the weather was near freezing outside, the locals at Bussloo seemed quite happy to wander about the grounds completely naked. Addie tells me that in the summer, the sweet spot is one of the numerous wooden lounge-chairs out in the gardens, where the wait staff will serve food and beverages right to your seat, and as many as not are completely naked. (Clients, not servers, that is.) That makes sense to me.

I might mention that it’s something of a complicated task to blog about Europe’s naked spa culture, as for obvious reasons, I can’t provide my own images from the experience, (And we all know – Images make the blog post!) but everything you can find on line is delightfully crafted to avoid censorship. On that point, I saw exactly ZERO humans wrapping themselves in towels while sweating in the saunas, and as mentioned above, not much concern about covering up while moving about the facility, except in the lounge and the restaurant where there was a clear expectation that you will wear a robe.

A few more tips for your first visit to Bussloo? Here you go…

  • They issued me a bracelet at check-in, along with a towel and bathrobe (upon my request) but didn’t even bother to swipe a credit card or take a deposit. “You pay on your way out!” Like most of these establishments, I was able to use the wristband to unlock my locker and pay for anything I needed during my stay. I wondered what would prevent me from just getting dressed and walking out the door at the end of my stay, until they handed me a very specific coin at check-out that would open the gate to the parking lot so I could get out with my car. Clever! Not sure what they do to keep public transportation people honest, but it must not be a problem.
  • On that topic, I was only in Amsterdam for a day on a long airport layover. When I worked out the navigation on buses and trains, it was going to be more than two hours from the airport to Bussloo in each direction, so I gave up on that and rented a car. Well worth it as I had little margin to deal with a missed connection. If you’re actually staying a few days in Amsterdam, you can purchase a system-wide transportation ticket for about twenty euros that will get you there and back on trains and buses.
  • Once you check in, the changing area is coed (with gender specific toilets). I arrived early, and it was essentially me and a few (partially naked) women. That made me a bit wary as I wasn’t sure if I was in the proper changing room, but it turned out I was in the right place. Later in the day, the changing room was quite crowded with an expected gender mix, all completely oblivious to the various stages of nudity around them.
  • Again… all signage is in Dutch, including those warning signs I mentioned that I think were trying to tell me not to slip on the ice or the slippery floor. It’s one of the few places I’ve ever been, including Japan, where at least the most critical signage was not multi-lingual. Not complaining – just thought you should know.
  • Unlike most German spas, you are NOT allowed to bring in your day-pack or any other small bag with your day’s provisions. In fact, they give you a smallish semi-transparent plastic bag at check-in for the things you want to keep with you. This always make me nervous when I have a rented towel, a rented bathrobe, and a plastic bag that looks exactly like everybody else’s stuff. You simply have to pay close attention as to where you leave your stuff as you wander about the facility or you’ll never find it again. (I once had to purchase a robe that I misplaced/was taken by mistake at a German spa. Not a good end to the evening.) Bring an empty water bottle with you, as there are plenty of places to fill it during the day, but that’s not so helpful if you didn’t actually bring one.
  • On the less pragmatic side, you want to make sure you have allotted enough time to really enjoy the place. The crown attractions seem to be the Hammam pool, the Geyser Sauna, and the salt-water cenote, where you float on your back with ears submerged while Zen music resonates through the water. Absolutely magical! I was also fond of the rest area in the Kelohouse with warmed tiled loungers. Perfect for an early afternoon nap. (Tested and approved!)
  • It’s worth noting that there is a hotel connected to the spa. It looks lovely, but I was only there for a day visit. It’s a solid hour by car from central Amsterdam, so it’s not a place to stay if you’re up for sight-seeing, but it looked like they have a clear flight-path set up that would allow you to enjoy the spa without ever putting on real clothing for the duration of your stay. I’m eager to test that theory out.

Final verdict? Addie was right! If you’re looking for a naked escape that is essentially weather-proof from the variable climate of northern Europe, Thermen Bussloo should be on your short list. In fact, I’ve added it to my port of entry destination list – as I think the best way to start any European vacation is with a day of snoozing, soaking, and sweating at the spa. Berlin and Munich have always been good options given their proximity to Vabali and Therme Erding, respectively. I’m most certainly adding Amsterdam and Bussloo to the list.

Images for this post were found by Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that requires attribution, or should be removed, please advise accordingly and I will do so at once.

The Joys of Living Naked

About two weeks ago, there was an article in the New York Times called The Joys of Cooking Naked that literally set the naturist community all a Twitter as links flooded social media and messaging feeds. As best as I can tell, confirmed naturists mostly applauded the “positive PR,” while comments from the textile community drew upon the tired canon of nudist puns, “I simply don’t think I could bare to dine naked!” … Ugh.

With permission from IG @amis_natturisttes

I posed the question on my own Twitter feed as to whether a media splash like this actually helps or hurts the naturist cause, as I, personally, was quite disappointed in this particular article. The New York Times has recently published a few very thoughtful pieces in recent months. (See A Once in a Lifetime Dilemma or The Naked Truth About Germans). But in this case, I found myself wondering what the author was driving for: A history of nudism in America? An advert for a nudist resort/retirement community in Florida? Or perhaps just an admonition to would-be nudists to beware of the evils of splattering bacon grease! Isn’t that common sense, whether naked or not?

I had wished, instead, that the reporter might have taken a different tack, broadening the topic a bit to something like… the The Joys of Living Naked. And for that matter, was it really necessary to get on a plane and visit a nudist resort in Florida to find a person who cooks, eats, or lives naked? I know there are several progressive young naturists living in and around New York City who embrace the clothing-optional lifestyle, but not just on vacation or in retirement, but on a typical Sunday morning when the apartment is warm enough to be naked at home, even in December, and clothing is simply an option that isn’t necessary. How about an article on Window Treatments for the Discreet Naturist, or Talking to Your Neighbors about Casual Nudity. I suspect there are any number of city dwellers across the country who could really benefit from those articles.

I don’t wish to downgrade the seemingly growing trend amidst the general public as related to the tolerance of social nudity, and would even go as far as to celebrate that fact that a major U.S. newspaper published a photo of a fully nude woman – from the backside – working in the kitchen. Apparently, we’ve all finally agreed that the nation’s children will not be harmed by the  incidental sighting of unadorned buttocks. (News flash! Everyone has a pair!)

But I think naturism will really turn the corner in America when we can speak freely about one’s neighbor who has a penchant for being be naked at home, just doing normal things on the day-to-day basis, without the urge to make some goofy pun, or quietly wonder if you’re living next to some kind of sexual deviant. Which takes me full circle – Does an article like this help or hurt that cause?

With permission from IG @moreschicarina

One curious element of all this is the evolution and self-perception of naturist places in the United States that are, at least inadvertently, self-deprecating if not outright ridiculing themselves. In this particular article, the author mentions the resort restaurant (where the research for said article had taken place) – the Bare Buns Café, and adjoining bar, the Butt Hutt! While all under the guise of fun and laughter, (“Hey Naturist Dan! Lighten up a little!“) American nudist places simply can’t seem to resist nomenclature, sign-posts, and newsletter headlines that actually perpetuate the idea that “You naked people are all a little crazy!” or at the very least, you’re hopelessly addicted to second tier dad jokes. (I’m a dad. I love dad jokes. But in this case, doesn’t this kind of thing make us naked people all look a bit silly?) I don’t think I fully recognized the subversive impact of all that until visiting naturist places in Europe, especially in France and Croatia, where you would never find that kind of word play.

Truth be told, if the social media (e.g. Twitter and Instagram) confessions of many a closeted naturist have any validity, it seems that The Joys of Living Naked is probably embraced by hundreds of thousands of people who would never think of dining at a place called the Bare Buns Café, but routinely find ways to avoid getting dressed in the morning until the last possible moment before stepping out into the “real world.” That has certainly been my strategy, and I most definitely do not live in a warm place, and we most definitely have neighbors. To that end, I thought I might offer a few tips on how to realize to joys of living naked, whether you’re into cooking or not.

A GUIDE TO THE JOYS OF LIVING NAKED

  • TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS: Obviously, this depends on whether your neighbors reside through the 14th floor window in the adjacent apartment building, or just across the fence. But if you’re making an effort to be discrete, chances are good they might be more chill than you expect. The neighbors on each side of our home know about our naked tendencies, (Especially mine!) but neither seem to have an issue with it, even though the teenage daughter on one side once let herself into our backyard – unannounced – to tell us her family was leaving on vacation, only to find me reading naked on the porch. The moment was a bit awkward, but the residual effect was null.
  • BE AN ADVOCATE: Seasoned naturists find ways to work potential nudity into the conversation to test the waters as to anticipated reactions. Try “Come over any time, but you’d better call first in case I need to put clothes on!”… and see how they react. You might be surprised when they respond with, “Yup. We know that about you.”
  • UNDERSTAND YOUR WINDOWS: My wife is more likely to get naked on “nakation” than she is around the house. (It’s simply not pragmatic to bother with throwing something on to empty the recycling bin.) But I finally got her to do the “window test” a few years ago to demonstrate just what people can and cannot see when looking in from the outside. The tint of the glass, the angle of the sun, and simply the sight-line from the ground to the window often makes it impossible to see whether a person is naked or not, especially during the daytime. And there are a myriad of window treatments that react differently to light. Some let the light in while making it impossible to see in from the outside. Talk to your friends at Home Depot to figure that out.
  • LANDSCAPING AND SIGHT-LINES: A clever rhododendron here, and a leafy lilac there, can help with those windows that provide outside exposure below the neck. And fast-growing plants like privet hedges, forsythia, or Leland Cypress can create a better barrier than any fence in just a year or two.  
  • THE WOOD BURNING STOVE: We have a house with vinyl siding in the northeast US that was never warm in the winter – at least certainly never warm enough for naked. Our wood-burning stove changed all that, making our family room (and adjoining office space) naturist friendly 365 days a year. A real wood burning stove may be more trouble and expense than you want, but there are a lot of second-bests these days, some of which run on pellets, gas, propane, or even electricity for no trouble or mess. But the intense heat source in your living space makes wearing clothes unnecessary at least; maybe even a bother. Almost as good as direct sunlight on your bare skin!
  • PAREO or SAUNA TOWEL: The ubiquitous pareo (or sarong) is the go-to cover up for many a beachgoer, but an absolute necessity for the confirmed naturist. A single piece of cloth that can cover the controversial body parts in a matter of seconds, which is particularly useful for women who, in most places, are required to conceal their breasts. For men, a quick Google search will lead you to the sauna towel with Velcro binding common in European spas, so you can move from awkward to appropriate in a matter of seconds. Pareos work for guys too. All a matter of preference and choice.
  • DISPLAY NUDE ARTWORK: We’ve become increasingly brazen with decor that reveals small hints that we’re less than offended by nudity. Maybe a simple line drawing? A fridge magnet, or a simple wooden sign that admonishes: “Life is Short. Run Naked.” All good conversation starters when inviting friends over for dinner or cocktails. You never know when you’re going to run into another closet naturist.
  • NAKED GOURMET DINING: The author of the NYT article claims “the nudist movement has historically been connected to food.” I thought that was a particularly peculiar statement that attempted to draw a connection between the health obsessive virtues of the nudist pioneers a hundred years back, and the “astonishing” truth that people at today’s nudist resorts still… eat. (But they’re very careful when frying bacon!) I would counter that with a story of two couples we met years ago at Club Orient in St. Maarten. They happened to be from our greater metropolitan area. Though it requires a bit of travel, we get together at least a couple times a year for naturist gourmet nights, sometimes on the patio, sometimes by the fire – season dependent. Here again, if I were a reporter in New York City, I’m guessing a bit of digging would have led me to one of the groups that stage evenings like that on a regular basis. One such group is Just Naked NYC that is leading the way in helping would-be naturists find one another and even planning events like these. My hunch is this trend will continue to grow in cities across the nation.
  • AND WHAT ABOUT THE WNBR? The World Naked Bike Ride events that are popping up all over, well… the world! I’ve not had an opportunity to participate in one of these events yet, but as the numbers are growing steadily all over the planet, it seems that would be an excellent place to meet other people who might be open to the idea of “living naked.” Personally, it’s on my bucket list for 2020. Wanna meet people who embrace social nudity? Go hang out with them for a day.
With permission from IG @naturistsmarumba

To the point… While I’m always delighted to see ANY positive reference to social nudity in the mainstream media, I think the author of The Joys of Cooking Naked overshot the assignment, and in doing so, sort of missed the point altogether. Naturism is not just for retired people living in Florida nudists resort! And in fact, I suspect there are people living naked within blocks of the author’s apartment. But perhaps most presciently, there’s a good bit of evidence that a good number of Millennials are ready to doff their clothes, turn up the heat, live naked in the suburbs, and take the appropriate precautions when cooking bacon.

With permission from IG @simonnaturist

As a recent guest on the Naturist Living Show recently stated, we’ll know we’re making progress on this front when people react to naturism the same way they react to skydiving. “Would never care to do that myself, but I have a quiet admiration for those who find that exhilarating.”

THAT… would be a good article in the New York Times.

The Garden of Eden Under the African Sun: Sun Eden Naturist Resort

Ever since discovering the intoxicating summer climate of the South of France, which precipitated the insatiable desire to enjoy so many naturist opportunities there, I’ve had an obsession with finding alternate locations in the southern hemisphere where summer occupies the months when Europe and North America are frosty at best, if not outright freezing.  How is it that with so much landmass crowded around the equator, where it’s perpetually 85 degrees Fahrenheit 365 days a year, that most of those continents are occupied by countries and cultures subject to some flavor of religious and philosophical doctrine that essentially makes public nudity all but impossible, if not a severely punishable offense? What’s a devout naturist to do? Even if you live in a region where saunas are common, you can’t stay in there sweating it out for six months!

To that end, I’m happy to report that after years of diligent and exhaustive research, we may well have identified a place where a laid back nakation in January is actually a viable thing, though it does require a bit of work to get there.

Sun Eden Naturist Resort near Pretoria is one of three places we’ve visited in South Africa where naked is the norm. I actually made a brief reconnaissance visit to this place in the midst of other travel about a year ago, (You can read about that here.) simply to see if this would be a suitable place for a more substantial naturist stay. (Translate: Will my wife be keen on this place?) For a sense of context, the first impression is not completely unlike visiting some of the “legacy nudist camps” in the US – those like Rock Lodge Club in New Jersey, Lupin in California, or even Lake Como in Florida. In fact, if you show up on a Wednesday afternoon (as we did) you will quickly discover this is largely a weekend retreat for locals from Pretoria and Johannesburg who have discovered the additive and addictive qualities of the naturist life, making a hasty retreat from city life each Friday evening for weekends with their naturist companions.

However, a couple things set this place apart from some of its US counterparts, beginning with the pool of rental accommodations that have been made available to local and international travelers like ourselves. Last year, I rented a tiny “chalet” – a very basic little house similar to the modest accommodations one might find at most American naturist places. That was fine for a brief stay, but fell a bit short in the amenities division. While walking the property a year ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Lofty and Amanda, two long-time owners who rent out their “Summer Place” for quite a reasonable price. Turns out that Lofty has held many important roles in South African naturist circles, runs a local naturist tourism business called Joxilox Tours, and to our good fortune, their rental has been folded in as one branch of that operation.

This year, we booked the Summer Place for several nights, coinciding with what appears to be a regularly recurring event – the Friday Evening Naturist Game Drive. Knowing that there is actually a substantial game reserve just a few kilometers away from Sun Eden, we weren’t quite sure what this game drive might entail, so we pulled on our shorts and shirts and found our way to the beloved, well-worn safari jeep where we would meet our driver and tour guide, Bert.

A truly affable guy with many interesting stories to tell, his first directive was to explain the dress code for our imminent explorations – NAKED! Our route would remain within the confines of Sun Eden, which turns out to be a significant expanse of land that stretches out over the South African Bushveld, perhaps over 200 acres or so. As it turns out, Bert used this opportunity to give that typically awkward “nudist camp orientation” that is so painfully uncomfortable at most American naturist places. In this case, we learned a bit about Kathy and Wally – the founders of Sun Eden – the twenty-five year evolution of the place, a bit about the ecology of building a self-sustaining naturist resort in the remote African bush, and of greatest intrigue, an introduction to the wildlife that resides there, including a significant herd of impalas and similar cousins from the antelope family, referred to by the locals under the umbrella term of bokkies, that were a constant source of entertainment during out stay.

There had been significant social events planned for the weekend before and the weekend after our visit, so even at the height of our time there, the crowd was small, and decidedly middle-agey, though during both my stays there have been families with young children on the grounds. Bert tells me that recent years have seen significant trends with more international visitors, especially from northern Europe, along with the ever-increasing presence of young urban professionals who seek to escape city life to explore this “new idea” of clothes free recreation. That seems hopeful.

Revisiting the lead-in to this post, I would reiterate that my passion for finding that perfect nakation destination when the days in North America are chilly and short, it seems that Sun Eden is a major contender for the adventurous naturist. Especially now that Club Orient in St. Maarten is out of the game, a visit to Hidden Beach in Mexico has a price-point similar to buying a car, and options in South America are scarce, lacking amenities, and frequently requiring a tolerance for unpredictable weather.

Days at Sun Eden were typically warm and dry, with relatively low humidity and pleasantly cool evenings. We did encounter a brief rainy spell during our stay with torrential downpours, but a few hours later the skies cleared and the vast African horizon fell back into place, infinite and alluring.

Perhaps it was the pleasantries of meeting and socializing with a few of the regulars this time, or simply finding our sea-legs a bit more confidently with South African travel during this, our third visit to the region. I’ve finally grown accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, (even with a stick shift!) and with a bit of advice from the locals, it seemed easy and safe to make our way from the Johannesburg airport out to this naturist respite in the bushveld. What’s more, we had the opportunity to survey a few more of the options for lodging on the grounds, ranging from simple studio apartments to expansive homes where the bokkies are likely to provide live entertainment as you sit next to the braii (BBQ) with a glass of South African wine on your naturist terrace embracing the sunset. From a more pragmatic perspective, there’s no question – it takes some doing to get there, but the dollar and euro are both quite strong against the South African Rand these days, so once you’re on the ground, you will enjoy good value for your money, whether renting a place to stay or venturing into Pretoria for a nice meal. Perhaps half of what you might expect to pay in Europe or the US.

Will this become our South of France surrogate as we scramble to avoid northeast winters yet unforeseen? We’ll see. There are other contenders that we are quite smitten with including a charming little inn in Uruguay and some of the spiffy new places in Thailand, (Check out my previous musings about Oriental Beach and Peace Blue). But I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to Sun Eden. After all, somebody’s gotta be there during the week to look after the bokkies.

A New Naturist Haven in Thailand

Authors Note: This may be my longest travel report I’ve written to date. You may just want to read the first half, which is typical of my rants and raves about naturist travel. The second half gets a bit more pragmatic, in the spirit of “the best vacations are the ones where you don’t use up all your energy worrying about logistics.” Hopefully, this guide to reaching this lovely resort will bring future travelers a bit of piece of mind along the journey.

Ten years ago, who could have imagined it? A naturist resort in Thailand located right on the beach. Actually, a guy named Paulo imagined it, as he had already established himself as a pioneer of Asian naturism when he opened the original Oriental Village resort amidst the rice fields outside of Chiang Mai. We sat chatting with him several years ago when he told us he was looking for the “perfect seaside location” for the ultimate experience in Thai naturism.

The good news is that he found it! Located on the sleepy island of Ko Koa Khoa, you would be hard pressed to find a location more remote than this one, which as one might imagine, is both a positive attribute, and something of a challenge, not the least of which is getting there! A mere 90 kilometers north of the Phuket International Airport, it would be a quick and easy drive where it not for one minor deterrent… It’s on an island… without bridge access… and quirky ferry service that seems a bit disorganized and confusing, even to the locals.

I’ll wrap back around to all that in a bit after offering up a few more accolades for this remarkable new naturist resort, as in the last place, I’m very eager for them to enjoy outrageous success, as there are few comparable options for nakedness in December, and the rapid expansion of naturist options in Thailand has been has been long awaited by those who mourn the short summers of Europe.

The first thing that strikes you is the shear size of the place, most immediately as you walk in the door of your villa – expansive spaces with large glass doors, marble floors, a luxurious living/dining area, and a bedroom larger than most New York City apartments. I had hoped I might learn a bit about the history of the place, as it was clearly built as a village of luxury villas, which seems to be the main commodity on this sleepy little island. As things turned out, lingering conversations in English were not readily on tap during my stay; at least not with the staff – but more about that later.

The villas

The villas are lined up along a wide cement road, something like you might expect in a Midwest or Long Island suburban neighborhood, leading to the heart of the resort centered around a gorgeous pool, an open air restaurant, and several other facilities including a smallish spa, a workout room and a communal library. From there, you can walk directly out to the beach where there are several loungers and palapas, and even a couple massage tables should you choose to take your spa treatment out on the beach within earshot of the sea. I chose to take breakfast each morning in one of the small poolside cabanas, taking note of the fact that they actually had a real coffee machine as opposed to the Nescafé option that seems to be the preferred and only option throughout most of Asia. The minimal orientation provided upon arrival made it clear that nudity is permitted on the beach directly in front of the resort… only! Though as it turns out, long naked walks on the beach are most definitely possible with a bit of thoughtfulness and discretion.

Having visited naturist places in Pattaya and near Rawai on Phuket, I was eager to see just how remote Oriental Beach Village really is. Verdict: It’s really remote! Walking the beach to sleuth out the best waterfront bar, or running around to corner to the Family Mart or 7-Eleven is most certainly not part of the experience here. I did make the 25-minute trek to a local mini-mart I found on Google maps, only to find a friendly woman who runs the place whose vocabulary was pretty much limited to “We no have.” What they did have was a few staples for Asian cooking, a modest selection of soda, bottled water, and Chang beer.

Me and the beach. That’s about it.

My next door neighbors were staying for the better part of a month. Despite the fact that Oriental Beach prepares a mean Pad Thai, several other Thai dishes, and a decent selection of western menu items, my new friends were already growing weary of the limited menu, which led to culinary exploration of other resorts accessible by foot down the beach. They seemed pleased with what they found there, which puts that activity on my list for a subsequent and longer stay. One could conceivably “cook in,” given the kitchens in each villa, though the lack of dishes, utensils, or even a single wine glass makes that pretty much a non-starter, and you’re not likely to find the provisions you would need at that little mini-mart. Which brings us to the most challenging part of opening a full-service naturist resort in Southeast Asia – In all likelihood, most of the clientele will be westerners from the northern hemisphere looking for a winter nakation, the majority of whom will likely expect to communicate in English. But… finding employees to run a place of this size and complexity who speak more than a few words of English is most apparently a huge challenge. (But I can’t really confirm that, because… you guessed it… the language barrier precluded that conversation.)

Even communication during the online booking process was surprisingly confusing and vague, beginning with the first hurdle of trying to make a deposit through their webpage. Keep in mind that I’m a blogger and maintain several websites and blog pages while dealing with international currency exchange on a regular basis, but somehow I couldn’t seem to navigate the “make a payment” option on their official website. I would eventually submit a deposit through PayPal, which elicited a somewhat cryptic confirmation message that left me wondering if I had booked the right days, or year, or place. All a little concerning when it comes to coordinating international flights into and out of Phuket – exactly 24 hours in an airplane from my home!

Now what? … says the meandering naturist.

A Guide to Getting to Oriental Beach

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about, though from the moment I walked out of the airport, I was never quite sure what was going on. And thus, for the benefit of future travelers, I offer this bulleted account of my transfer and arrival so you might have some idea of what to expect, which for a travel control freak like me would have facilitated a significantly more relaxing arrival:

  • Having written to Peter, the mysterious booking contact during the reservation process, I had asked for confirmation that a driver would be waiting for me at the airport. He responded with concision. “Confirmed.” OK, then!
  • There are many exit doors from the International Arrivals terminal in Phuket, and once you go out, you can’t go back in. (Guards are posted near metal detectors to keep non-ticketed humans out of the arrivals concourse.) On previous visits arranged by other resorts, I had always been instructed to exit through a specific door to meet my driver. Lacking such exactitude in this booking, I simply continued out through the first door beyond customs – Door 3, I believe – where a huge throng of people crowded around the barricades with all forms of signage indicating specific resorts and people’s names. To my relief, about halfway down the runway was a sign with my name and the words Oriental Village on it. Woo-hoo, we’re in business!
  • The young woman behind the sign was apparently working several arrivals for a local car service. With limited English, she indicated that since my flight was early (which it was) my driver wouldn’t be here for another fifteen minutes and to go “sit over there” in an outdoor seating area. It was closer to 25 minutes, but they did come fetch me in time, grabbing my small rollie suitcase and walking away as a non-verbal sign for “We’re leaving now.” That would become a valuable, if not singular, mode of communication over the next few hours.
Air conditioned transportation!
  • They say that professional drivers who tailgate and drive aggressively are among the most skilled, and arguably, the safest given the intensity with which they drive. I’m still alive to say that this proved accurate, though I found it more comforting to look out the side window as we whizzed up behind buses and semi trucks with just centimeters to spare as we zipped to the right or the left. All the more reason to stare at my iPhone with the route on Google maps, while my brain remained fixated on that ferry crossing. Was he racing to make a particular ferry departure? How much farther was the resort once we had made it to the island? How does the driver figure the crossing time into his fare? Will I be asked to pony up money for the boat? I mentioned I’m a travel control freak, yes?
  • As the kilometers ticked down on my map app, we came to a little village near the memorial to the 2004 Tsunami, made our way down a labyrinth of side streets, and rolled to a stop on a concrete pier where a car ferry sat, loading ramp down, half loaded for departure. “This is it for me,” said the driver, “Someone meets you on the other side.” With that, he got out, removed my bag from the trunk, and left it sitting on the steps where several locals seemed to just be hanging out. “Back in five minutes,” he said to me as I stood with my bag on the pier, just before he jumped in his taxi and disappeared into the village – forever.
  • Lacking a better plan, I sat on the concrete step, watching for some sense that the car ferry was about to leave. Should I grab my bag and walk on board? Do I need to buy a ticket? Could I identify anything that even looked like a ticket office? Then magically, after five or ten minutes, a guy in a blue shirt walked up, grabbed my bag and started walking toward a weathered longboat. There’s that cue! I followed, boarding the 10 passenger (and three motorbike) vessel while the car ferry sat listlessly nearby. That answers that question.
Not your boat, man!
  • Once on the longboat, it was a ten-minute crossing to the other side, where the guy in the blue shirt grabbed my bag again, this time leaving it on another pier in the blazing sun. Before I could express my concern about the future of my chocolate stash, another guy in an orange shirt bearing the words Oriental Beach Resort grabbed my bag and tossed it in the back of a nearby pick-up truck; a luxurious variety of such with a canopy and bench seats in the back. The truck bore the same logo as the dude’s shirt. We must be getting close.
  • The fifteen minute ride in the open air truck bed was actually refreshing as we drove through farmland and jungle until ultimately working our way down a series of ever-narrowing roads, the last of which was simply a dirt track. Then voila! We had arrived! A big metal gate slid open and the orange shirt guy grabbed my bag, which I would follow, again, to my villa – B1, the second house on the right.
  • I think the girl who checked me in was named Julie. She offered warm salutations in English, but to my weary ears, was quite difficult to understand. After the typical formalities with my passport and credit card, she gave minimal directives about where I could be naked on the beach, (“Just there!”) and a reminder to leave my shoes inside the door, supposedly to keep them safe from the local shoe-stealing dogs. Orientation ended there. I would later find (but never use) the door key perched in the activation portal for the electricity and AC. If there were additional printed materials about amenities, services, and regulations for the place, I never found them. Turns out my next door neighbors were The Hotel Guys, who make something of a livelihood of traveling the world and reviewing hotels. They were most helpful in helping me get the lay of the land, for which I was most grateful.
  • Given the sheer expanse of the place, the staffing needs are considerable, ranging from gardeners, to house-keeping, to restaurant and bar personnel. Where did they find that many locals on this small, remote island with adequate English skills? Well… they didn’t. Which seemed uniformly upsetting to several other guests including the Asians and Europeans. I’ve always felt a bit sheepish (read: embarrassed) about my dependency on English when I travel, as like most Americans, that’s the only language where I am truly facile. It had never quite occurred to me the extent to which world travelers of other tongues have come to rely on English as the common denominator as well.

Lingering reflections…

Were I to return, I think I would translate a few key phrases on the computer and print them out. Particularly those like, “I’d like to confirm the precise time of my shuttle back to the airport,” or “Could someone check out the toilet in my room?” In time, Nui, the local resort manager made an appearance and her English is quite excellent, and Paulo of Chiang Mai fame made a showing shortly before my departure, though as was the case up north, I didn’t find him particularly forthcoming in making small-talk and such. Not sure that’s a language thing – that’s just Paolo.

Menus could be navigated by pointing and charades, but ordering a glass of red wine turned out to be somewhat daunting, not to mention inordinately expensive. (Perhaps $5 for a 3 oz pour?!) In fact, on that point, I should mention that there is a 7-Eleven store near the outdoor arrivals area at the Phuket airport with a limited selection of wine, beer, and spirits. I suspect it would be significantly cheaper, and certainly more efficient, to stock up there before meeting your ride than trying to communicate the particularities of ordering from the wine list of exactly one varietal of red, and one varietal of white. I know… first world problems.

Trying my best to be Zen

Would I go back? Yep! In a heartbeat. It’s beautiful place with unmatched amenities on the naturist market, particularly if your intention is to unplug, read, and relax! And the 60-minute massage under the palm trees near the beach was absolute nirvana at the mere cost of $25! (The moral: Drink less wine and have more massages.)

Would I come back for a two day visit? I don’t think so. It’s simply too difficult to get there, and quite isolated once you are there. Seems there are several options for getting out and around the island if you’re there for a longer stay, but those things simply happen when they happen, which may not correspond with when you would most like them to happen. The Malaysian couple that complained about the language barrier actually arrived with their own car, with their own story of navigating that car ferry I left sitting at the port, which apparently only sails every couple of hours and only when the tide is in! I could imagine that being a bit panic inducing if you’re trying to catch a departing flight the same day.

Should you have special dietary restrictions, or you’ve grown accustomed to consuming large amounts of water, it would be worth coordinating a stop at a real grocery store with your driver en route from the airport. And I’m certain there were places on the island with more provisions than could be found at the nearby mini-mart, but getting back to the mainland for heavy-duty shopping could easily turn out to be an all day affair.

Typhoon hour at the naturist resort

So there it is… probably way too much information for the casual blog reader, but at the same time, maybe not quite enough for someone who plans to visit this little naked oasis on the Andaman Sea. For me, there are two kinds of travel. Exploration expeditions where you mainly expend energy trying to figure out where you are and what’s going on, and chill-out naked and relax vacations, when the main objective is to de-stress. Oriental Beach Village Naturist Resort is an excellent place to imbibe in the latter, if you can sort out the exploration-expedition part of the equation sooner than later.

Like I said up front, I really want this place to be outrageously successful. Hopefully my meandering travelogue will help potential guests know what to expect so they can assimilate their own nakation decompression process and more quickly than I did.

And oh, did I mention I’m a control freak when I travel?

Naked With My Therapist

The meandering naturist stops to ponder…

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere as of late. In fact, my last post dates back to early September, before life became a bit overwhelming, and blogging about nakations seemed a little less urgent than everyday life.

Among other challenges, this has been a time of loss with the passing of relatives and friends – some timely and expected, others less so. All that, along with having to face up to a pretty strong dose of dissolution in the workplace, has made for an intense period of self-reflection. NEWS FLASH: Sometimes things just don’t go the way they should – or at least not the way you want them to! Turns out that’s not news at all. At least, not according to my therapist.

I’d never seen a therapist on a regular basis before, but this seemed like the right time. Turns out the old adage is true… The one that suggests that as people age, they simply become a decidedly more vivid caricature of themselves. I’m willing to own up to that, but not without a bit of discomfort along the way.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you probably know that I’m quite passionate about naturism. In fact, as it turns out, I’m pretty passionate about everything I do! It just so happens that naturism ended up near the very top of my life priority short list. Followers of this blog may have also read my various rants and raves about our – my wife and I – naturist journey and maybe even a few of my opinion pieces about social nudity such as The Demographics of Nakedness, the quirky unevenness of naturism in America, or a more recent piece about my own personal obsession with naturism. If you’re not up for digging back through my personal archives, I can summarize the entire story with one sentence: “My college girlfriend went to a nude beach as part of a class experiment, wrote a paper about it, piqued my interest, and I took up the cause with a fervor that most dudes in my age bracket have for football or golf.” Thirty-five years later, that girlfriend is my wife, and naturist exploration remains an integral part of our relationship.

For readers who have pursued therapy or counseling, I would love to see your comments about how you went about explaining naturism to your therapist. How did you roll out the topic? What parts were difficult to contextualize without feeling awkward or apologetic? And how did you gauge the raised eyebrows when you tried to explain the difference between social nudity and sexual deviance? Surely, any seasoned therapist has heard it all, but context (and empathy!) is absolutely critical when you’re trying to rationalize something that matters to you. I suspect the average therapist deals with all kinds of deviant behaviors – that’s part of their job. I simply can’t help but wonder if my therapist is sitting there indexing my meandering thoughts to that lecture in graduate school about “people who run around naked.” Ugh!

You’ve probably realized by now, the title of this post is misleading. I have not gotten naked with my therapist. At least, not in a literal sense of the phrase. Though my affinity for naturism has been a constant thread throughout our many discussions about how I perceive the world, and how I perceive the world’s perception of me. Not surprisingly, the naturist thing represents a multi-faceted existence for me, which has led to a few “ah-ha” moments alongside a few more, “Well, of course!” revelations along the way.

The most obvious part of my affinity for naturism is likely congruous with nearly every other naturist on the planet. I felt insecure about my body until I went to a nude beach and realized that essentially nobody is pleased with their God-given proportions. Funny that you have to go to a naked place to come to grips with that, but it’s the recurring theme in pretty much every interview following a person’s first experience with social nudity.

But here’s the one I’m still musing over when I drive home from my therapy appointments…

Is there a correlation between social nudity and one’s desire to be real? To be present? Or in the language in my generation, is nakedness a necessary part of the process of total self realization? (Cue the soundtrack from Aquarius here.)

Problem is that I’ve been a naturist long enough to know that there are all kinds of people who participate in all flavors of social nudity, each embracing a unique set of values, which all becomes very confusing when people try to make the argument that nudists/naturists are more forthright, genuine, or altruistic than those who hide behind a shield of garments. That argument simply doesn’t hold up. One’s ability to disrobe in public doth not a statistically valid personality assessment make.

But the part that keeps me in head scratching mode is my own affinity for nakedness, even if I’m home alone. I can’t figure out if it’s simply the counter-culture sense of it all, or the heightened sensory of so much exposed skin, or simply the fact that nakedness represents the extreme opposite aesthetic of my otherwise frenetic and public life.

I’m pretty sure that despite her requisite open-mindedness that fuels so many open-ended questions, my therapist still doesn’t know quite what to make of the naturism thing, or perhaps more presciently, hasn’t experienced it herself. How do you explain such a phenomenon to someone who’s never been there themselves? And how do you adequately explain the difference between a sexually charged atmosphere like Cap d’Adge (See my latest rant about that!) as compared to a place where naturism is as family friendly as Disneyland? (Let’s hear it for La Jenny and French family naturism.) To the uninitiated, I suspect the very notion of social nudity lies someplace between nudist camp jokes and the poorly researched top ten lists for naked places that appear each summer in USA Today – an exercise that routinely fails to convey that Cap d’Agde is nothing like Disneyland.

All that said, the most fascinating part of this process for me is how we arrive at our own personal perceptions that define each of our social norms. For those of us who have embraced naturism for some time, it’s all but impossible to grasp how or why anyone could, would, or should be anxious about seeing a woman breastfeed in public. How could that possibly be offensive to anyone? But here in 2019, to many, it most certainly is.

I put up an article a few days ago on my other nudist blog called “Nudity Increases in America.” It’s a repost of a piece first published in 1974 in the New York Times. It’s a thought-provoking read, if only to realize that while we live in an age where there is so much emphasis on accepting people for who they are, as they are, the adherence to social norms has become more polarizing than ever. Be it based on religious convictions, political ideology, or simply a fight to maintain one’s personal identity, I don’t think this decade will go down in history as the age of open-mindedness and acceptance.

My therapist suggests our preoccupation with all that may well be an exercise in futility. (And yes, I recognize the irony that I’m preoccupied with what she might be thinking about my involvement in naturism. An endless loop!) If anything, the Digital Age has resulted in a time when we are more concerned with how people perceive us than ever before in the history of mankind. Maybe that’s why I so value the freedom to go home at the end of the day, drop my clothing near the front door, and sit by the wood-stove wearing nothing but the glow of the fire. In my estimation, that’s about a good as life gets.

How strange that anyone would think something so simple and so real is anything other than genuinely human, innocent, and innocuous. Hard to believe that living in one’s own skin is actually controversial at all.

But indeed, that is simply the perception of a meandering naturist, and to be sure, one’s sense of perception defines the game.