Monday, July 30, 2007

Naturists Get a Fair Shake in "Monk" Episode

My wife and I watched one of our favorite shows, "Monk" in the buff Friday night and were surprised to see a naturist group given a fair if comic shake in the episode.

Alfred Molina and Diedrich Bader (you may remember him from the Drew Carey Show) guest star this week, as Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) tries to overcome his issues with the flesh while solving a murder on a nudist beach. The screen tradition of nudity made PG-rated by strategically placed props gets a workout: surfboards, beach balls, and venetian blinds are all employed to comic effect. (One woman seemed to carry an umbrella aimlessly just to cover her "naughty bits" as the British say.)

Monk isn't simply offended or disturbed by nakedness. Bare skin has an unprecedented power to unsettle the meticulous detective. He insists on accusing a nudist (played by Bader) of a murder he could not have committed. Challenged to make the accusation stick, Monk rattles off a series of preposterous scenarios, from the Apple Core Key Theory to the Double-Jointed Escape Through A Bathroom Window Theory. (In his world, nudists have strange, almost supernatural powers.)

Somebody did there homework. Bader plays the leader of a naturist group seeking to save a nude beach. He says he prefers to be called a naturist, and a naturist society sign decorates the inside of his trailer.

Ordered to sort out his personal issue, Monk sees his devoted therapist. In a watershed counseling session, he reveals that his fear springs from a surreal memory of his own birth. Overcoming the emotional scars of that recollection, and putting it in perspective as a positive event, Monk regains his relative composure in time to solve the crime and offer an olive branch to the man he formerly targeted:

"I'm sorry for hating you and accusing you of murder, and I've learned a lot and I'm a better person."

Naturists were depicted as a little on the crunchy granola side, but all and all not weird or warped. Bravo to the writers of Monk!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Happy and Bare in Idaho

This posted despite the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Musings are Republicans. Read on...


WORLEY, Idaho -- For 200 vacationers driving into a northern Idaho resort this week, Independence Day had a whole different meaning.

The Sun Meadow nudist resort in this region of wheatfields, tall pines and rolling hills offers gated amenities for those who prefer going without.

The nudists are at this 75-acre resort for the 61st annual convention of the American Association of Nude Recreation's Northwest regional chapter.

"I undressed before I hit the front office and I haven't had a stitch of clothing on since," said Shirley Gauthier, a recent arrival. "I don't like the confines of zippers, elastic and snaps."
This is Sun Meadow's fourth year of operation. Members pay $300 per year and folks under 35 get a 20 percent "non-senior" discount. The resort welcomes families, doesn't serve alcohol and is classified as "clothes-free," meaning guests are expected to take it all off - as opposed to "clothing-optional" resorts that allow members to disrobe when they desire.

While other nudist camps around the world boast more exotic locales - there's Desire Resort in Cancun, Mexico, Grand Lido and Hedonism in Jamaica and Eden Bay on the white sand beaches of the Dominican Republic - Worley helps compensate for its more rural setting by offering music, volleyball, bocce, yoga and even tamale-making - nude activities that require a little courage and an ample dose of strategically applied sunscreen.

"You leave your stress with your clothes at the gate," said Alice Anderson, who lives at a nudist camp in Mount Vernon, Wash., and says she was initially nervous during her first visit to a nude club she was introduced to by a male friend. "I realized nobody was paying any attention to me."
There are several landowning nudist clubs in Washington, including Kaniksu Ranch in Loon Lake north of Spokane. Washington also has several "travel clubs" whose members venture to spots such as Sun Meadow. Idaho also has Bare Backers Nudist Club near Boise.

This is the second time Sun Meadow has hosted the convention for the regional group, which has 2,500 members in Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana. The national group has 45,000 members, and the numbers of the willingly unclothed appear to be growing: There are 268 nudists clubs across the nation, up from 212 in 1998.

Resort members wander about the lodge's central meeting room, kept at a constant 78 degrees. A couple is seen strolling along a hiking path, walking sticks in hand. A giggling toddler runs through the clubhouse, and children's water toys litter the outdoor pool area.
Some liken the atmosphere to a family reunion.

"Your body needs air and sunshine. To me it's just like exercise. It's a necessity like brushing your teeth," said Terri Capshaw, whose family built a home on property next to Sun Meadow and who has raised two children in the nudist community. "I'm more comfortable telling people

I'm a nudist than saying I'm a Democrat."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Nakedness and Godliness

By John Curran, Associated Press Writer July 1, 2007

WESTFIELD, Vt. --Nakedness is next to Godliness -- in Jim Cunningham's view.

After 20 years preaching the gospel of nudity, the author of skinny-dipping guidebooks, coloring books and take-it-all-off "naturist" magazines is using an old ally in his bid to spread the naked truth -- the Bible.

"Nudity & Christianity," his 596-page compendium of scripture citations and selectively-chosen observations by the likes of Pope John Paul II, C.S. Lewis and Kahlil Gibran, promotes a world view sacrilegious to some but perfectly natural to Cunningham.

Contrary to popular opinion, nude is not lewd, he insists.

"There's lot of references in the Bible to being naked. In the early church, all Christians were baptized naked -- men, women and children. It wasn't an issue.

"My point is that the church, instead of changing the world, has let the world change it. It's accepted (Hustler publisher) Larry Flynt's definition of the body, instead of the Bible's. If the body is just lust bait, then modesty is making sure it's always covered.

"But if the body is what the Bible says it is -- the temple of the Holy Spirit and the image of God -- then modesty doesn't mean always covering up, it just means comporting yourself in a way that does not cause lust in others," he said.

If you think Cunningham's interest purely prurient, think again.

The 53-year-old father of five, a conservative Catholic and former parochial school teacher, is blind.

He can't see the color pictures of naked sunbathers, au natural toddlers and plump, hairy Dads contained in his "Vermont Unveiled" guidebooks and "Our Wonderful Bodies!" any more than he can see the small hillside cottage in rural northern Vermont where he lives with his wife of 27 years.

A longtime diabetic, he has lost his sight, his kidneys and half his right leg to its ravages. But he hasn't lost faith -- in God or nudity.

For a recent interview, he walked down the stairs of his home and welcomed a visitor wearing a Catholic scapula hung around his neck, hiking boots on his feet -- and nothing in between.
He's not self-conscious, and doesn't think anyone else should be.

"People don't see nakedness anywhere except pornography. Everything that's naked on TV is some kind of sex theme. That creates a culture where nude is lewd, in people's minds. And it's getting worse instead of better."

"Nudity & Christianity," his new self-published book, is the first publication he's put out that has no pictures in it.

If there's a message in that, it's that he's trying to get his across without the semantic noise -- and inevitable distraction -- of naked bodies.

"I decided to put together, in one book, an anthology of writings from present day to all the way to scripture itself," he said.

In it, he quotes theologians, saints, news accounts and himself on various topics that touch on nudity. Among them:

-- "What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot grasp the fact that the human foot is more noble than the shoe, and human skin more beautiful than the garment with which it is clothed?" -- Michelangelo.

-- "A Christian mother's first duty is to soil her child's mind, and she does not neglect it." -- Mark Twain, from "Letters From the Earth."

-- "The contemplation of this makes it possible to concentrate, in a way, on the whole truth of man, on the dignity and beauty, also the supra-sensual beauty of his masculinity and femininity." -- Pope John Paul II on nudity in art, from his May 6, 1981 general audience.

"No matter what your religious persuasion is, all naturists believe the body is inherently decent," Cunningham said. "I see the body as not only decent but in the image of God and the very temple of the Holy Spirit.

"Paradoxically, it's the Christians that oppose naturism the most -- next to the Muslims. and it's really their Bible that says so many wonderful things about the body," he said.

The Awkwardness of Youth...and Strawberries


Young naturists bare their, er, souls

In the real world, there is a lot of politics. It's all about what you wear, how you dress and how you look. But in the park, no one cares about that at all Ayesha Mitchell , 18-year-old naturist.

There is a strawberry social at the club on the weekend, but the last thing 18-year-old Ayesha Mitchell is worried about is what to wear.

That's because the dress code in effect for the party is absolutely nothing.

"We're just going to sit around and eat strawberries and have a great time," Mitchell says.

"And, yes, we will all be pretty much naked."

Going to parties in the nude is nothing new for this young naturist.

She lives and spends much of her time on Bare Oaks, a family oriented nudist park in Sharon, Ont., north of Newmarket, where, in addition to partying, people are encouraged to let everything hang out as they camp, play sports and socialize.

Mitchell, who moved to the 20-hectare park with her family three years ago, says being comfortable with yourself and everyone around you is exactly what she enjoys about the naturist philosophy.

"Everyone loves the fact that you can just be yourself and be comfortable in your skin," she says about the park which boasts high-tech wireless cabins, pristine lakes and saltwater pools (which are known to be softer on bare skin).

"It's so different than high school, college and the regular world that people my age usually live in," says Mitchell, who attends George Brown College.

"In the real world, there is a lot of politics. It's all about what you wear, how you dress and how you look.

"But in the park, no one cares about that at all."

Recent media reports about the sale of a number of aging naturist camps across the country have spurred rumours that the nudist heyday is history and that younger Canadians are just not into baring it all in clubs where the vast majority of patrons are the same age as their parents.

But a number of teens who choose to spend their days and nights in the buff say that while the interest from their end is still there, naturist clubs need to do more to cater to a younger demographic.

"The owners of many of these clubs are in need of a revival," says St├ęphane Deschenes, 41, president of the Federation of Canadian Naturists.

"They got very big or very full in the '70s and generally stopped growing or evolving," says Deschenes, who recently bought Bare Oaks and is working to make it more youth-oriented.
It's a problem that hasn't gone unnoticed by Christine, 16, who officially joined the naturist lifestyle three years ago, after having grown up in a home where nudity was the norm.

"There is a definite lack of options for teenagers at the clubs," says Christine, who lives near Edmonton but often attends clubs in Ontario during the summer.

"So, if there's nothing for us to do, why would we come?"

She suggests the awkwardness of being a teenager is another reason why there are few young naturists.

"It's hard for many teens, because you're sensitive and you are getting used to your body as you change into an adult."

Christine says, in many naturists groups, kids usually drop out when they hit about 10 or 11 but then reappear when they are in their 20s.

"I get frustrated when I hear people say teens have no interest, because my feeling is that we are changing and exploring.... It may just be that, at the moment, we are going through a phase where that's not something we're comfortable doing," she said.

Another problem, these young naturists say, is that societal stigmas surrounding nudist camps still exist.

"People who have never been to any nudist parks feel like it's one big sex party, but it's not like that at all," Mitchell says.

"People associate nudity with sex, but that's not the case. It's a chosen lifestyle of relaxation and it works for most people."

But, she says, the negative stereotypes usually change when people actually open their minds and doff their clothes to give naturism a try.

"If they have a chance to experience it, most of them like it," Mitchell says.

"A lot of young people are not coming because they are worried what their parents will think, how they are going to appear to their friends, and they don't want anybody to judge them on it."
Christine says naturism is on solid ground.

"I can't see some of the kids that I have met all of a sudden converting back to a `textile' sort of life," she says. "So I am not worried about naturism dying out. I don't see how it could happen, because, for so many people it's just a way of life."