Chapter One: The Awakening
Why am I a naturist? How did I become a naturist? When was the first time I was nude at a beach or a club? It’s hard to answer these questions. Much of it is lost in the fog of time, or was so natural that it’s like being asked when did I first notice the sky was blue.
As far as I can recall, I’ve always been fascinated by nudity. As a child I thought it was strange that people wore clothing. I didn’t like wearing shoes, preferring to walk home from school barefoot. I could recall finding my dad’s stash of Playboy magazines, looking at the pictures of the nude women, I was neither titillated or repulsed. The nudity of those naked women seemed normal, beautiful, the most beautiful thing I ever seen.
As a teen I was drawn to being nude. We lived on a dark cul-de-sac with no street lamps. I remembered taking off my clothes and walking around nude. I remembered one time riding my bike up and down my street with no clothes on. I lived not to far from the local high school which had a pool. Many kids would sneak down there on hot summer nights, hop the fence, and skinny dip. I remembered one hot night sneaking out of my room, walking barefoot to the school, hopping the fence, and swimming naked. I could remember the thrill and the freedom swimming nude in a normally clothed pool.
I also skinny dipped at friend’s swimming pools. I remember one time being invited to go swimming at a friend’s house. I conveniently forgot my swim trunks and my friend without batting an eye said I could swim nude. There was nothing sexual about it, just two friends swimming. He in swim trunks, me nude. Then his mother came home early. In a fearful state I got out of the pool and ran towards my pile of clothes. “Don’t worry,” my friend said, “my mom doesn’t care.” Sheepishly, I walked back towards the pool. Through the sliding glass door, I saw a woman carrying a bag of groceries. She saw me and waved. I waved back. It was the late 1970s and people had a different attitude towards nudity back then. Harmless skinny dipping. If that happened today there would have been a freak out and a call to parents or worse.
My activities more or less continued in the same vane without much thought or label. One night I remembered seeing a program on San Diego’s Black’s Beach. Black’s Beach is a nude beach. The reporter was interviewing a hippie type guy with a long blonde mustache and a wide smile. The headshot cut away showing that he was nude, bare buttocks facing the camera. The interview was satirical, made to make the naked man into something of a loon. I can’t recall what the naked man said exactly in the interview, but I remember words like “freedom” and “there is nothing wrong with what I’m doing.” Terms like nudist or naturism weren’t mentioned in the interview. As the program ended, I wished I could be that guy on the beach.
A few years later I saw an episode of “Hour Magazine” with Gary Collins. He was interviewing a young man who was a firemen and a teenager. They were both members of the “Treehouse Fun Ranch” a nudist club. “Nudist” that’s where I heard it, nudist. The teenager was a female with curly hair and appeared nervous. She was talking about how she became a nudist. Her family took her to the club and she wasn’t keen about being nude. However, the pool required the swimmers to be nude otherwise you couldn’t swim. She started swimming nude and slowly was nude more often and took to the lifestyle. I was a nudist. There were people like me. There were people who liked being nude. There was no internet back then, no way to research nudism or connect with other nudists. But I was a nudist. I didn’t know the “hows” or “whats” but all I knew was that there were people like me out there. I wasn’t alone.
I couldn’t find any information on nudism. Just what dictionaries and encyclopedias defined in the library. In my early twenties, I was reading “Outdoor Magazine” and there was an ad for the “Naturist Society.” The ad was promoting “naturism.” Naturism? The ad was spoke about the benefits of nude recreation. The ad had an address in which you could write for more information. So I wrote the Naturist Society and asked for more information. A few weeks later an informational pamphlet came. Also around that time, I found a copy of Lee Baxandall’s “World Guide to Nude Beaches & Resorts” in a local bookstore. With a little embarrassment, I paid for the book and left the bookstore.
My mind was blown. The book was full of nude photos all ages and all genders. But was the most compelling was the information of what naturism was. The guide spelled out what naturism was and wasn’t, rules of etiquette, and places to get nude. I read the guide cover to cover. It was like a bible to nude recreation. I scrolled to my State, California, and was happy that were a lot of nude beaches and resorts. I found the entry on Black’s Beach in San Diego and decided that was the place to start. Black’s Beach was two hours away, but it felt like the other side of the moon. How would I get there? I had a car but had never driven that far. But I decided it was the best place to try going nude in public.
In the early summer of the 1990s, the exact date lost in time, I drove the “long” trip to San Diego. In my part of California, it was sunny, but as I drove closer to San Diego, the weather turned overcast. The windshield of my car became wet with mist. My first day nude in the sun was in jeopardy. Compounded later by becoming lost when I got closer to the beach. These where the days before GPS or Google Maps. AlI I had was a Thomas Guide Map book and the “World Guide to Nude Beaches & Resorts” to guide my way.
The guide said to look for the sign that said “Glider Point.” I finally found the parking lot near the beach at around 11am. The parking lot was a dirt lot near the University of San Diego. The weather was still overcast, but the sun started to peek out. I could see why this was the place for a nude beach. The trail was treacherous, steep, and carved out of the side of a cliff, the trail was maintained by a group of volunteers “The Black Beach Bares.” I got my towel and things and started the long climb down. I didn’t wear shoes, and that was a mistake, because by the end of the day my feet were cut up.
The zig-zag trail was narrow in some parts and had stairs in some parts. The color of the cliff was a red adobe studded by rocks. The end of the trail opened to a wide view of the ocean. The smell of the ocean the crashing of the waves. I saw no one. There was a jogger running along the shore, but no one else. I thought I was in the wrong place.
I walked closer to the shore, looking out at the ocean with my feet being lapped by the waves. Then I saw them, a man and a woman laying on a towel facing the ocean, near the cliffs. Both were nude. I was in the right place.
I walked a bit and found a place that looked okay. Not too far from some volleyball nets. I set out my towel and sat there, which felt like forever. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt. The weather was still overcast but warm. After a while I got up my courage and stood up, took off my shirt and slid off my jeans. I prepared by not wearing underwear. I put sunscreen on even though it was cloudy, I didn’t want to get a sunburn. I immediately laid on my stomach with my head facing the ocean. My pulse was quick and I thought to myself “I’m really doing this.”
As it got past noon, more people began to populate the beach. I got enough courage to lay on by back. Contrary to popular myths, newbies males don’t always get erections. You’re too nervous and scared for that to happen.
I was on my back when I heard the crunching of sand nearby. I looked up and saw three people. Two young women and a large man. They were 30 feet away from me. They put down their stuff and immediately the two women took off their clothes while the male stayed clothed. The two women ran towards the ocean and dove in. The male started to dig a hole in the sand, and later in the day the hole was large enough to in lay in.
After their dip, the two ran back to their towels, and dried off. Their eyes were red because of the salt water. What was most interesting about the trio was that the male wasn’t excited by their nudity, he was non-plussed. It was my first encounter with a person (another male) who didn’t view female nudity as something to get excited about or concerned about. The two females then laid down and later fell asleep.
I got up the courage and got up and walked to the water. It an odd but pleasant feeling to feel the breeze on my body. It was also odd to be totally naked for anyone to see. I waded waist high into the water, the water was cold and grey. I didn’t swim.
There was more people on the beach now. Not too far from me, a father and his toddler son set up their towels. The father removed his clothes and the clothes of his son. The son was happy and began to run around. A tall dark man with long braids set up and began to do what appeared to be yoga.
I was there an hour and already “this” began to feel normal. It was just like being on a clothes beach except no one was wearing clothes.
The two females woke up and started smoking cigarettes. I went up to them and asked for a cigarette. I just quit smoking a month ago but this was my “in” to talk to someone. I was met with a smile and given a cigarette. I offered them some bottled water but they declined. I was dumbstruck. If a naked man came up to you, a stranger, would you react the same? Back then Black’s Beach was more of a mix of people, more hippie-ish. Back then you could strike up a conversation with someone and have it not mean anything.
It was getting late, late as in near 3pm. Even though I was naive on long driving trips, I knew it would be a longer drive if I didn’t leave now, rush hour traffic is a nightmare in Southern California.
I packed up my stuff, but I didn’t put on any clothes, I walked the whole way back to the foot of the trail nude. As I walked along the shore, a clothes couple walked past me holding hands, they had nervous looks on their faces as they past me.
I reached the foot of the trail, put my jeans on, and my shirt.
The trail was a hard climb. I was out of breath and dripping with sweat as I reached the top of the cliff. I stood there looking down at the beach. I felt different, I felt changed. Something meaningful just happened.
Next week, Chapter Two: “Self-Expression”