Naturism - The Naked Truth
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I'm Happiest Dressed In My Birthday Suit
The world would be a better place if we could all take off our clothes and look each other in the eye.

The Naked Truth: Nudists tend to be kind people who take up many causes and would give you the shirts off their backs (if they were wearing shirts)
Lauren Fleishman for Newsweek

The Naked Truth: Nudists tend to be kind people who
take up many causes and would give you the shirts off
their backs (if they were wearing shirts)

By Robert Denker

June 18, 2007 issue - I am a nudist. I am not a naturist. I am not awestruck when I see a green mountain range or a waterfall or a babbling brook—whatever that is. I love to look at tall glass buildings. I like to look at magnificent bridges. I was born in Manhattan, and when I moved to Queens, which is one of the boroughs of New York City, I was amazed that it had trees!

I grew up with lustful images of Sophia Loren and Jane Russell—though I also liked Mitzi Gaynor. I used to watch Dagmar on TV and thought if I stood close to the TV I could see down her cleavage. In the 1960s and '70s, I would fantasize about women in their bikinis at the beach.

Then, in 1999, I made my first visit to a clothing-optional beach in New Jersey. When I realized where I was, I tried to maintain my poise. My buddy said that he had never been there either, so this was a first for him too. We took off our shirts, but neither of us took off our bathing suits. I felt very uncomfortable wearing a suit while mostly everyone else was nude.

But later, as I thought about my experience, I realized that the people I had seen with their clothes off were ordinary citizens such as myself and had conducted themselves in a very civil manner. I also realized that I was not at all titillated by my experience. The next week I returned, and got fully undressed, though I didn't wander too far. On subsequent visits I strolled the beach and even joined in a few games of volleyball. I later struck up conversations with some of the other beachgoers, and by the end of the summer I felt as if I had been a nudist my whole life.

I eventually joined an organization dedicated to keeping the clothing-optional beach clean and to help "police" the population. Although there are federal park rangers patrolling the area, we try to prevent them from having to come down and escort anyone off the beach. If we see someone who appears to be intoxicated, we will attempt to get him to hand over his car keys and will not return them till he has had time to sober up. If we see people not behaving, we try to persuade them to alter their behavior. If all else fails, we will notify the lifeguards, who in turn will call the rangers. However, everyone's privacy is always respected.

I also joined a group called Clothing Optional Dinners—CODinners for short. We have had several functions, including nude dinners at local restaurants, poetry reading in the nude, a nude high tea and a night at a nude comedy club (the comedians were also nude). Over the years, I have truly become a convert to the nudist lifestyle, to the point that I believe all people should join me in taking off their clothes.

Why am I preaching that we should become nudists?

  1. We could all zip through airport security.

  2. My son loves to read all the sports magazines previewing the upcoming seasons. However, these magazines quickly become obsolete because so many players are traded. If they appeared in the magazines sans uniforms, that would no longer be an issue.

  3. Nudists don't know how rich anyone is because everyone is dressed the same.

  4. Nudists listen to each other, because at a clothing-optional beach everyone makes eye contact.

  5. Politics is hardly ever an issue—most nudists are united in their desire to keep the environment clean. And yes, there are many nudists who are Republicans.

  6. Finally, nudists tend to be very kind people who take up many worthy causes— they would even give you the shirts off their backs (if they were wearing shirts).

Have I become jaded about women's bodies by my experience? The answer is no. Although I am married (my wife has been to the clothing-optional beach but does not feel comfortable there, and I respect her wishes as she respects mine), I still find women in clothes to be attractive.

Some people fear that our society will turn into a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah if we allow people to be nude in public. This is far from the truth. You know who should really worry about public nudity? The peddlers of pornography— for if we became inured to nudity in everyday life, then there would be little or no market for their wares.

A final thought: I have slightly elevated blood pressure. But when I am at the clothing-optional beach, people have told me they want to put a mirror to my mouth to make sure I am still breathing—I am that relaxed. Nudity, for me, truly is my most natural state.

Denker lives in Staten Island, N.Y.

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