More Than Rain and Coffee in Seattle
Nudists share the naked truth
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
By KERY MURAKAMI
Among the people who were happiest when warm weather arrived to bake their bodies was Larry Holman.
He was sitting in a small, secluded beach north of Leschi Park the other afternoon, having decided like a lot of people on an 80-degree day to take his work outside. An architect, he sat cross-legged on a grassy area by the sand, drawing sketches for a house in the notebook set on his lap.
Under the notebook, he wore no pants.
Nearby, a 65-year-old consultant lay on his back, a tennis hat covering his face. Nothing covered anything else.
Holman said he comes to Seattle's unofficial nude beach for the quiet. Set at the bottom of a gravel road, it is curtained by trees that make it invisible from Lake Washington Boulevard above and two homes nearby.
The waves of Lake Washington lapped gently on the shore, and there was a sense of tranquillity -- and not just from the pace of city life.
Holman said it's a place to get away: from work, from the radio, from judgment.
There's also a mutual respect here that's not so evident in the world outside, where horns are honked and birds are flipped.
Only rarely do gawkers come by, he said. There's nothing voyeuristic or sexual about lying out naked, said Holman, who is married.
Sure, he said, he notices attractive women. "But you don't want to make anybody else uncomfortable and you don't want to be made to feel uncomfortable." So you might notice, but you don't really look. There's no class status on a nude beach. Brooks Brothers in the closet doesn't mean much when everybody's in their birthday suit.
There's no shame either in being fat or skinny, because there are others who are fat or skinny.
Mark Storey, co-founder of a group called the Body Freedom Collaborative that staged a rally two years ago to get an official clothing-optional beach, said by phone that's one of the reasons why naturists think the world would be a better place if it were clothing-optional.
Storey said, "You learn there's all kinds of normal and we're all pretty OK."
Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter said the parks department does not consider simply being naked illegal, and she doesn't remember any complaints during the 13 years she's worked for the city about nudity in the parks -- though a man threatened to complain if people went nude at a rally Storey organized two years ago.
Still, Storey said, police have interpreted indecent exposure laws to mean that being nude in public is illegal.
He said that at the rally in Discovery Park, a man who lives nearby threatened to complain if anyone were to take off his or her clothes. Police said they'd make arrests if anyone stripped, so Storey and the other protesters decided to leave their clothes on. However, he said, someone got there late, took off their clothes and got a ticket.
Storey said he still wants a clothing-optional beach in the city so people don't have to worry about being busted. So, he and other members of his organization are organizing light-hearted events to get people used to seeing naked people. On Sept. 9, he wants people to garden nude.
He acknowledged, though, that people probably aren't ready to see nudes lying out at Alki.
In the meantime, and for a couple of months when it's warm enough, people such as Holman can stretch out.
There's no shame.
And there are no tan lines.
P-I reporter Kery Murakami can be reached at 206-448-8131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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