Repost From March:
Coming of age through nudity.
Repost From March:
Coming of age through nudity.
Anyone who knew me as a kid would never imagine my writing this memoir. Without a doubt, I would have been voted “least likely to become a nudist” if such a category existed in my third grade yearbook.
In last week’s chapter “The Awakening” I wrote about how I got interested in nude recreation and the first steps. In this week’s chapter, I write about my further adventures in naturism.
Chapter Two: Self-Expression
My nude activities were relegated to an uncomfortable drive to Black’s Beach (with no car radio) when I had the time. The drive there was long and the drive back was even longer. Plus there was no amenities at Black’s Beach, i.e. restrooms, snack bars, or other conveniences. If you had to take a wiz the ocean or the cliffs were your only bet. Also I had an incident where a pervert hit on me (it happens to men too). The problem with nude beaches is they are open to anyone and everyone.
Keep in mind also that I was still living at home at the time and my nude activities were on the down low. I came from a very conservative family and I could have gotten into big trouble for my “hobby.” I had a job and a car so I could afford the gas and etc. for my trips. But I was looking for a better place to be nude.
It was at this time that I became a card carrying naturist, I joined the Naturist Society. I was glad that they sent me their magazine packaged in plain wrapping. I started to look for a landed nudist/naturist club I could join. Most nudist clubs were out in the boonies and in the rural part of San Bernardino County. Plus most nudist clubs banned single males in those days. Glen Eden only allowed couples and females. There was only ONE nudist club in Los Angeles County, Elysium Fields. Elysium Fields was located in Topanga Canyon and was about 60 minutes away. Still a long drive. But it allowed single males and was clothing optional, not nude mandatory like the others. So I got up the courage and called them for an appointment.
I cannot recall when I visited Elysium Fields for the first time. All I remember is that it was warm and shortly after Elysium’s founder Ed Lange died. The drive there required me to drive on the freeway then drive on a winding road through the canyons of Topanga. I over planned and got there too early before my appointment, so I drove around, killing time, and then came back to Elysium Fields.
It wasn’t what I expected. Elysium Fields was very small. It had a brown main house which led on to a big lawn, across from the lawn there was a small clubhouse with a swimming pool. Nearby was a sauna, restrooms, and showers. Up above, on a hill overlooking everything, was a large Jacuzzi surrounded by trees.
I checked in and made my 1st faux pas, I told the receptionist that I was a member of the “Naturalist Society” instead of the “Naturist Society.” The young woman with red hair and a nose ring excused my mistake. The reception area also had a small naturist store with naturist books, video tapes, and magazines for sale.
I waited outside in the nearby patio. The place was empty, it was the middle of the week in the late morning. Three other people came for the tour as well. A older gentleman and a woman near my age. At the appointed time, “Betty” one of the directors of Elysium Fields came over to give us the tour. The tour is what you’d think it would be, “here is the restrooms” and “here is the pool.” But in hindsight it was one of the friendliest/nicest tours of a nude recreation facility I’ve ever had. Since Elysium Fields, most nudist/naturist resort tours I’ve been in are conducted more like an interrogation. Intentions scrutinized. Rules were heavy handed and I was even told at one nudist club “we’ll be watching you.” But not at Elysium Fields. Of course rules were discussed, but I don’t recall being hit over the head with them. Plus the clientele were the remnants of the 60s counterculture. After the tour, we were told that we could spend the rest of the day here and visit a few times more before we were required to become members.
The older man left and just me and the female remained. I went to the shower room and removed my clothing.
What to do first?? Swim? Get a tan? The sauna? The sauna was the first place I’d try, I never been in a sauna before. I entered the sauna and the female I was on the tour with was already there. She was in her twenties and had done some nude modeling and that’s how she got interested in nude recreation. We talked for a while and then went to the pool to cool off.
It was a strange sensation. I’d only had experience with being naked for a few hours, but now could be nude all day. I was nude so long that day I’d forgot I was naked. It was normal as normal could be. One of the oddest experiences, odd is not the word, more surreal. I was in the reception area/store when the UPS man pulled up and came in to deliver some packages. It was surreal to be naked in front of someone you wouldn’t expect to be nude in front of. The UPS driver did his best not to look at me but had an uncomfortable grin. I Inquired about membership. There was a flat yearly fee and a gate fee per visit of $11per visit.
As I left, I made up my mind to become a member. I visited a few times more, and when I saved enough money, I became a member of Elysium Fields.
I saw her shortly after a few visits after becoming a member. Kate (not her real name but an alias I just made up) was sitting on a patio chair near the pool. She was blonde and beautiful, naturally beautiful, the kind of beauty that didn’t need makeup. She was tan from head to toe and had a tattoo on her left hip. There wasn’t many people my age at Elysium Fields.
I sat down next to her an started a conversation. I was surprised by how friendly she was. She was a masseuse at Elysium Fields and had lived there for a while before moving elsewhere. Kate wanted to become a doctor. She had a boyfriend who was also a member.
You’d think talking with an attractive nude woman would be erotic or sexual. But it wasn’t. Kate was so sweet and beautiful that I didn’t even notice her nudity. Her nudity was just part of her. Plus when you talk to someone, you look at their eyes.
We talked for while, but then she had to give someone a massage. But I saw her almost every time I was at Elysium Fields.
I started to notice something about me. There was something changing inside me.
I remember going to work, and huddled in the warehouse was a circle of guys. They were hooting and howling about something. When I got closer, one of my co-workers was showing a Playboy magazine to the others. He showed me the picture, I kinda shrugged my shoulders. He probably thought I was gay. Normally, a young man my age would be salivating at nude women, but not me. I had transcended to a different state of consciousness, a more real state.
My nudity up to this point was like model airplane building, volleyball, or stamp collecting. It was an activity. A hobby. Something you do. Now my nudity had become part of my life, a way of living, a way of thinking.
At about this time, tattoos and body piercings were in vogue for people of my age. All the rage. I remember Kate’s tattoo. So one day I got a tattoo too on my left thigh. Then I got one of my nipples pierced. And later I got an ampallang piercing through the head of my penis.
Why would anyone get such a piercing? Many of you think the reason why people get genital piercings is sexual. Sex was not even in my mind when I got pierced. I wanted to express myself. My tattoos, body piercings, and even my nudity were a form of self-expression. There was something empowering about making choices on how to adorn MY own body. I could not express myself to my family, co-workers, or friends. My body became the way I expressed myself.
It used to be a big no no to have tattoos, piercings, or shaved genitals at nudist clubs. You could get kicked out. One day I was at Elysium, when two of the managers cornered me in the office. They said they had some concerns about my piercing. They said it was against Elysium policy to have genital piercings, and if I didn’t remove it, I’d be asked to leave. When I asked why, they made some half-assed excuse as to children might see it. They then asked me why someone would do that? I didn’t have a reason. I never thought of a reason. I never thought about my dick piercing in an intellectual argument. It was something I thought of and did it one night. I remember just saying something like “that’s what my generation does.” The meeting ended, I don’t remember how. I went out in a huff and later told Kate what had happened. She told me to cover up next time I walk near the office. Kate was right. They never bothered me again and no one complained.
Elysium Fields had a volunteer program where if you agreed to help out at Elysium you didn’t have to pay a gate fee. I signed up. The duties included helping out at events and parties.
I was laying on the lawn trying to get a tan one day, when Kate came over an gave me a flyer for the yearly Halloween party and asked me if I was going. I don’t remember if I said “yes” or “no.” As I left for the day, I was walking to my car when I passed by Kate. She was in charge of setting this party up and asked me to help her. Without hesitation I said yes.
On Saturday, the morning of the party, I arrived at Elysium to help get ready for the party. Kate wasn’t feeling well, she had a fever the night before, and wasn’t her normal cheery self. I helped setup tables, chairs, and other stuff for the party. I kept my clothes on because it was kinda cold in the morning. As the day progressed, Kate felt better and returned to her usual self.
Halloween at a nudist club is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Imagine a naked cowboy, or a green woman head to toe, or a naked astronaut. It was wild, wild in the way people have freedom to express themselves without society’s judgement or scorn. I didn’t dress up but was nude for most of the night until it got too cold to be nude. Kate was dressed as a princess in pink and her tan bare feet were the only part of her that was nude. The evening progressed and near 10pm I decided to leave. The drive meant getting home near 12am. As I was leaving, Kate wished me goodbye and gave me a kiss. That’s the last time I saw her.
Soon I got a job as a manager that ate away my free time. I went back to Elysium maybe a few more times, never seeing Kate.
After a while I stopped being an active naturist, school and work left little time. My membership in the Naturist Society lapsed. Soon the body piercings were removed, too uncomfortable and didn’t mean the same anymore. And few years later, Elysium Fields was sold and closed forever.
Twenty plus years ago it was like a dream, an idyllic time. I was able to truly express myself. I look back at those days with wonder. I wonder what became of Kate.
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”