Photo by the author
Everybody knows that nudists are a bunch of senior citizens that front like they really want to play naked volleyball but actually have big wrinkled orgies when nobody else is looking. Nudist lifestyle brochures all show families with tanned flaccid asses holding hands in the woods, but you totally know that as soon as the camera goes away they’re gonna have a full-on fuck fest that looks like a mound of beef jerky having a seizure. The kids may or may not participate in these Wicker Man sex rituals, but you can bet your un-sunned bum they know about it.
What they looked like:
The people at church that insist you call them aunt and uncle and give them a kiss, even though your mum only sings in the choir with them sometimes. Ugly enough in church attire, their nude appearance could curdle molten steel. Nudists claim to want to be freed from the confines of clothing, but they’re not into pubic maintenance either. This one Auntie Nudist had the most massive minge I have ever seen. It undulated in the wind like a wide bed of steel-grey sea grass undiscovered by dugongs, sea turtles, or anything else that might have checked its growth. The late afternoon sun filtered through this gunmetal muff and cast the shadow of a giant snowflake on my thigh.
What it smelled like:
Bodies. Not dead or even dirty ones, just decades of naked bodies blasting the chemical byproducts of emotion, room temperature, and the contents of last nights’ supper through their uncovered pores. It’s the nasal equivalent of what that kid from The Sixth Sense would experience at an old prison in Thailand, except ground up and jammed into his prepubescent nostrils.
What they do for fun (when they’re not swinging)
1. Play volleyball
2. Play “miniten,” a form of tennis with modified rackets that prevent you from hitting the ball with any kind of speed or accuracy. This is crucial when competition gets hot and nobody’s wearing any pants.
3. Have costume parties. People show up in costume, and as they get progressively pissed, they strip until everyone’s naked again. Then they all fuck on the floor. (Nobody told me that, but you can just tell.)
4. Go swimming.
5. Take lots of pictures of each other. Some keep two albums of all their travels together, one clothed to show their kids, and a naked one for their nudist friends. This one couple pioneered “the nudist challenge,” where they race to take naked pictures of themselves at popular Australian tourist spots before tourists arrive. “This picture was at Ayers Rock. I swear, we took that picture, and 30 seconds after we got dressed this whole crowd of Asians came right around the corner there, taking pictures left, right, and center.”
What the nudists claimed:
A man with an all-over tan and laissez-faire dentistry said, “There’s a real deviant crowd down there at Swanbourne (Perth’s nude beach) that likes to go off into the hills with each other and…” The intensity of his silence implied that I should know exactly what he was talking about. “They’re mostly gay, that lot,” he elaborated. Although we can all be naked, fat, wrinkled and pimpled together, talking openly about hand jobs, blowjobs, or a good old-fashioned butt-fucking carries some sort of taboo.
Then this other guy with some home-job Native American tattoos (lame enough in the U.S., but really fucking stupid on an Irish guy in Australia) said “Most people think that this club is a lot of old people wife-swapping, changing partners, what have you. There’s none of that here. Or there might have been at one time. We can’t know for sure, but there’s none of that here now.”
How it felt:
I was just as naked and fragrant as everyone else, but I felt like an alien and I wanted to run. I needed to put on four shirts and six pairs of pants, fireproof gloves and a motorcycle helmet then crawl into a sleeping bag on the far side of a mountain. I am not one of these people and I never will be. At the time, I refused to believe that I had skin or arms or a body capable of nudity. I was a being that assumed the form of these hideous friendly creatures and if I didn’t get back on the mother ship before darkness fell, one of those naked mummies would bite me and I’d live among them forever. The neighbors in Rosemary’s Baby seemed really nice and look how that turned out.
I call bullshit on that new-age leprechaun. If there’s no swinging at nudist clubs, how come every last nudist works so fucking hard to prove that they don’t swing? And really, what’s the point of just walking around a caravan park with a bunch of naked rumply trolls like yourself if you can’t at least fuck them while you close your eyes and think about Janet Jackson?
Freeing yourself from clothing just invites different problems. In addition to obvious hygiene, sunburn, and insect concerns, nudists have to lie constantly about the fact that they aren’t all just a bunch of old swingers. It’s nice to know that while the world may be full of bullshit, there’s no getting rid of it….the best you can do is move it around for a while.