When I arrive at Nudes-a-Poppin' (NAP) nudist pageant and festival appears like any other outdoor summer event; there are parking attendants, ticket takers, and Rihanna's latest hit playing in the distance. However, it's the comments and catcalls I receive as I walk through the crowd that make it clear the festival is not your typical gathering. I'm frequently stopped by men who ask to take their picture with me; after I agree, many wrap their arms around my chest and try to lift up my shirt like some sort of 7th grade movie theater date move. I'm also bombarded by questions: "Shouldn't you be on the other side of the camera?" and "What time is your performance?" and "I showed you mine, can you show me yours?"
NAP is an annual nudist event for mostly women and some men to compete in various erotic events such as Sexiest Pole Dance, an amateur wet t-shirt contest, Best Fake Orgasm (no sexual conduct allowed), and the ultimate prize—Miss Nude Galaxy.
Ponderosa Sun Club, the Indiana nudist nudist resort where the event is held, is typically a family-friendly club, but members oblige to the weekend of eroticism because it subsidizes their yearly fees. Most members do not attend the festival.
A man I chat to tells me that nudism is about inclusivity and openness, and that the sex industry is about voyeurism. It's a difference between looking and not looking, and a clear divide emerges amongst the attendees—those sitting away from the stage, sunning their nude bodies in the company of other nudists, and those crowded around the stage with their telephoto lenses and other camera equipment. The flyer online reads in all caps BRING YOUR CAMERA, so men arrive early to claim the best vagina viewing spots. Some offer to trade places with me if I agree to show them my boobs—I pass.
The event feels more like a pseudo-hobbyist photography event than anything else—like sexy bird watching. Women walk around with a pack of 10-15 camera-clad men following at all times. I can't walk more than 15 feet without someone trying to talk gear with me—what flash am I using, what settings I should be on, if I have any camera recommendations for them. At one point, I find myself in a five minute conversation about the best white balance for vagina color, unable to escape.
Then there's Ron Jeremy—the event's host and judge. He, alongside his colleagues Flavor Flav and Sunny Lane, seems to just be going through the motions, making the obvious Ron has a big dick, or Flava Flav is black, or Sunny Lane knows how to handle [insert penis shaped object] jokes during every down moment in their hosting. People warned me about Ron, and when I finally get my time to take a quick photo he kisses my neck and cheek and tells me I can do whatever I want to him. I approach him later when he seems less busy to get a better photo. "Only if you're nude," he says.
By the end of the second day, the nude-only swimming pool is full of glitter, confetti, and a film of sunscreen oil floating on the surface. The contestants, most of whom are strippers promoting their clubs, hand out business cards. The stage props are covered in various unidentifiable liquids. The crowd begins to pack up before the trophies are awarded. I left thinking, I never want to see another dick again.