Friday, September 28, 2007

More on the Nudist Republican Leader in Arizona

Richard Ruelas

The Arizona Republic

Sept. 29, 2007 12:00 AM

His political contributions, totaling more than $18,000 since 2003, and his volunteer work for his legislative precinct, have put Kraus on a first-name basis with the state's top Republican officials. The party recently named Kraus to a post on its finance committee, heaping praise on him for attracting new Republicans. The state Democratic Party responded with a mocking press release. Republican Party officials now politely decline to discuss Kraus.Kraus expected Democrats to make sport of his nudism. And he knows that it causes some members of his own party to keep their distance. But Kraus remains steadfast in his politics. He would wear his Republican pride on his sleeve if he regularly wore a shirt.On the wall of his office hang framed pictures of Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush. There's also a hook where Kraus keeps clothes that he can get into quickly in case shy visitors come by.

"As a self-thinking individual, like most nudists are, they want the government to stay out of their way," Kraus said, "and the Republican Party is that for the most part."Kraus, 77, has been a Republican longer than he has been a practicing nudist. Kraus said that he frequently would be nude as a child, something that was "not a big deal" in Germany, he said. He became an adult nudist after he moved to the United States, settling in Illinois. He and his wife, Gini, had to travel to neighboring Indiana because there were no nudist camps in Illinois, Kraus said."You take your clothes off and everyone looks alike," he said. "You take the pressure off the everyday business, the competition, of how to dress and how to look good."You take that away and it's an unbelievable feeling that no one can understand unless they experience it."

'Anthem for nudists'

Kraus moved to Arizona to retire and took over Shangri-La in 1997, figuring running the nudist ranch would be a nice hobby. He turned it into a job, though, as he expanded and improved the ranch. One of those projects was a sewage system for the ranch's trailers. Kraus also is using some of the treated water to grow oleanders along the border of the property. They'll come in handy as a natural shield as more homes move in around the formerly isolated area.

Next, Kraus wants to build a community of two dozen single-family, red-tile-roofed homes on land just south of his ranch. "Like a little Anthem for nudists," he called it, referring to the giant subdivision a few miles north.

Kraus said his entrepreneurial spirit attracted him to the Republican Party after he and his wife immigrated to the United States in 1960. He was already a successful businessman, but started his own contracting business, which blossomed despite what he described as overbearing government regulation. Kraus' first vote after becoming a U.S. citizen was for Richard Nixon in the presidential election of 1968. "I would like everyone to become self-sufficient," Kraus said. "There is no need to become a state-funded breadbasket." He said this while removing his clothes for a photo shoot.

Kraus started giving heavily to Arizona Republican candidates and the state party in 2003. He said he wanted to ensure Republicans remained in power. Campaign records show he has given to U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl and U.S. Reps. John Shadegg and Rick Renzi. In the election year of 2004, he also donated to the state Republican parties of Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. So far this year, he has donated $3,950, nearly the maximum amount allowed, to U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential run."We're really cranking it up now," he said of the donations from him and his wife. Records show she has donated more than $10,000 to Republican causes since 2003. "I want to see a Republican in the White House," Horst Kraus said, "and I want that Republican to be John McCain."

'OK' with leaders

Although the party appreciates his checkbook, Kraus knows that some question how visible a role a nudist should have in the Republican Party."I don't think I have any enemies. I just have people in the Republican Party who think I'm nuts. And the feeling is mutual," he said. "As far as the movers and shakers in the party, I'm all right."

Kraus recalled being at a party function when Jan Brewer, the secretary of state and the top elected Republican official in Arizona, introduced him to her son. "She said, 'Horst owns a nudist camp. But it's OK.' "Brewer said she has long appreciated Kraus' dedication to the Republican Party. "He is a man who knows what his philosophy is and what he believes and is very adamant about it," she said.

Even before Kraus started writing checks, Brewer said, he was a reliable volunteer. She said for the past decade, Kraus could be counted on to knock on doors, make phone calls or grill hamburgers and hot dogs at a GOP rally. "He really is a very generous man with his energy and his time," Brewer said.His nudism has not been an issue for Brewer. "They can still be upstanding citizens, can't they?" Brewer asked of nudists. "And be good Republicans."

Tom Horne, the state's superintendent of public instruction, said he has met Kraus at several party functions. Horne said he understands why some may shy away from Kraus, but added that "being a nudist is not the same as being a sexual deviant."

The party prides itself on being a "big tent," and should be able to accept someone like Kraus, Horne said. "Or the party will have to learn to cry a lot from the results of the elections," he said.

When Kraus was named to the Arizona Republican Party's finance committee in August, the communications director for the party praised the nudist ranch operator. Brett Mecum told the Arizona Capitol Times that Kraus was doing a "heck of a job" at recruiting voters.

The Arizona Democratic Party relished the news that Kraus had been appointed to a leadership position. The party issued a news release headlined "Nudist czar named to Arizona GOP Finance Committee." It questioned Republicans' commitment to "family values," bringing up a case where Kraus was called to testify as a character witness for a person accused of child molestation. Kraus had phoned the police about the incident.

Republican Party officials have since distanced themselves from the leadership decision. "We have no desire to actually talk about that," Mecum said. "To us, it's really not all that newsworthy."

'Proud conservatives'

Mecum said that Kraus' appointment was automatic given his donations to the party. However, campaign-contribution records show that Kraus has not given recently to the Arizona Republican Party. His combined $5,000 in contributions to the party came in 2003 and 2004. Mecum refused to clarify the decision to give Kraus the position.

Randy Pullen, chairman of the state Republican Party, would not agree to an interview about Kraus. Mecum did confirm that Pullen gave up his seat to allow Kraus to be part of the delegation that attended the 2004 Republican Convention. Kraus said he was grateful to Pullen for doing so and that he met a few other nudists on the convention floor."Nudists are proud conservatives," he said.Kraus knows his lifestyle has cost him some political positions, and he's aware it could cause some from the Republican Party to be turned off. If state leaders asked him to not take such a visible role, he said he would consider stepping back for the good of all Republicans. But he's not sure if he would continue donating to a party that didn't appreciate his efforts."

That's the $64,000 question," he said. "I don't know. If it happens, ask me then. But I hope it never happens."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Leave your troubles (and clothes) behind

Fashion dictates no white shoes after Labor Day, but birthday suits are always in season. Just not always practical.

Along with nippy fall temperatures, came the season clothes-er at Sunny Rest nudist resort in Palmerton last weekend.

Now that the grounds are bare of visitors, resort co-owner Myra Mesher, 53, has time to reveal more about the nudist lifestyle.

Why do some people drop their drawers and shun their shirts?

"It makes them feel free. It's relaxing. When they arrive in the gate they can let everything go," Mesher said. As people shed their clothes, she noted, they also shed their stress.

Sunny Rest Resort draws an array of people, families, couples and singles, from truck drivers to doctors to bankers. When everyone is in the buff, it takes away the preconceived notions that clothes bring.

On 190 acres, Sunny Rest offers the same things you would find at most resorts. A hotel, cabins, campground, pool, nightclub and organized activities such as sand volleyball.

Does naked volleyball get a bit jiggly?

"Not really. It's not like running," Mesher said.

Do eyes wander, or are most guests able to maintain eye contact?

"When you are new you look once, then get used to it. Everyone is more or less the same," Mesher said.

"The resort is clothing optional, so people have a chance to ease into the nudist thing," she added.

Mesher eased into nudism at 18, in 1972 at Sunny Rest. "I was nervous. I sat on the porch of my in-law's cabin."

She was topless for the first time, when to her surprise, a police car drove by. "I ran inside," she recalled. Later she learned that the police patrolled the area regularly and expected such sights at the resort.

"I got back out there. After that, I took off all my clothes and became comfortable. But it's gotta be 80 degrees for me (to go nude). We dress for the weather. We're not nuts," Mesher said.

A naked trespasser learned that the hard way, once.

Assuming everyone would be nude, he snuck onto the property and hoped to blend in. But it was 55 degrees and everyone else was dressed.

"That's how we knew he didn't belong there," Mesher said.

There are some rules you won't find at other resorts. For example, you must carry a towel to sit on, photography is generally not permitted, nudity is required in the pool and whirlpool, so leave your bathing suit at home.

The rules make it clear that it is not a sex club and "conduct requiring no apology is the accepted rule at Sunny Rest at all times."

The resort, usually full on summer weekends, has been in business since 1945. Day passes are available for guests who don't want to stay overnight.

Sunny Rest Nudist Resort


(866) SUNNY-50

According to the American Association for Nude Recreation, more than 18 percent of Americans would find a visit to a nudist club or other clothes-free experience a highly desirable vacation choice.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Buff Carpenter Scrapes By

Judge acquits nude carpenter of indecency

Friday, September 7, 2007

(09-06) 21:02 PDT OAKLAND -- Percy Honniball, an Oakland carpenter with a fondness for working in the buff, was acquitted today of misdemeanor indecent exposure.

"I wanted to go to trial to prove that the charge could not stick, that it was an over-reaction, " said the 51-year-old building contractor. "You don't expect to all of a sudden see somebody in the nude, but there was never a threat, never anyone in danger."

In October 2005, Honniball was working on a bookshelf project at a client's house in the Montclair district of Oakland when a neighbor spotted him carrying materials in the nude, said Honniball's attorney, David Beauvais.

"The neighbor happened to be a police officer in Berkeley, she reported him," Beauvais said. "He was engaged in an activity where he was not intending to draw attention, he was simply doing his work. He was not acting in a lewd manner."

Honniball had previously clashed with local law enforcement over public nakedness - Berkeley had cited him three times since 2000.

Ending a three-day, non-jury trial, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Julie Conger today acquitted him, sparing Honniball a lifetime of registering as a sex offender.

Prosecutor Erin Loback said she had no comment.

As for Honniball, he's learned his lesson. If grudgingly.

"He's not going to continue to work naked, at least not where he'll be in a public area," said Beauvais.

Email Elizabeth Fernandez at efernandez@sfchroni

http://sfgate. com/cgi-bin/ article.cgi? f=/c/a/2007/ 09/07/BAKIS11B8. DTL


Friday, September 07, 2007

It Just Makes Sense (and Saves Dollars!)

Why are these ladies smiling? No laundry to do this week!

September 6, 2007

By Nathan Powers

Nudists (or “naturists” as some prefer to be referred to), have been the brunt of many a joke for many years. However, the truth of the matter is that living a nudist lifestyle may actually be far better for you, physically, ecologically and economically.

That dirty word – “Laundry”: Let’s start with the obvious. Nudists tend to wear as little clothing as possible, usually nothing at all, as often as possible or whenever conditions allow. Most live in climates that are tropical enough to maximize this opportunity. Wearing less clothing means washing less clothing and washing the clothing that they own less frequently, requiring the repair and replacement of clothing less often. They also tend to have less of a wardrobe, requiring less storage space. So here, we are seeing a saving in money spent on laundry detergents, gas and electricity to operate a washer and dryer, replacement clothing and repair costs, home closet or storage space. We also see less chlorine, phosphates, ozone and carbon dioxide pumped into the environment as well as a reduction in health issues related to exposure to the chemicals needed for properly washing clothing. (Chlorine bleach is one of the deadliest chemicals we can expose ourselves to).

Cooling Down: Since for practicality reasons, most nudists live in either tropical or subtropical regions, many homes and businesses in those regions have some form of air conditioning. Nudists can save money and as in the case of laundry, the environment, by being able to turn up the thermostat a few degrees and allowing the natural cooling system provided in our bodies to do it’s job. Also, if things get a little too hot, it is very easy to simply jump in a cool shower or hose off for a second or two with having to take the time to get undress and redressed. Besides, who wants to throw those sweaty clothing back on right after a shower.

Health Costs: There are other bonuses as well. It has recently been found that exposure to natural sunlight is far healthier to the human body than attempting to hide from the sun altogether. Regulated exposure to natural sunlight lets the body naturally produce all of the Vitamin “D” it needs to ward off a host of deadly and debilitating diseases, cancers and conditions, including MS, ALS, osteoporosis, breast, ovarian, prostate and brain cancers. (source) Even more recent reports indicate that almost all sunscreens are completely ineffective in reducing the deadliest forms of cancer, melanoma (source). Several reports indicate that the ingredients used to manufacture sunscreens are actually more harmful that the cancers they purport to prevent. However, by balancing the ratio of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, combined with an adequate amount of Vitamin “D”, incidence of melanoma has shown to be reduced by around 40% (source). It is therefore better to gradually expose the body to the sun, slowly building up our body’s own natural sunscreen, melanin, being careful not to get sunburned in the process.

The bottom line is that nudists can save a ton of money by not buying sunscreen, simply exposing themselves to natural sunlight in appropriate amounts; there by creating Vitamin “D” for free and by simply eating a diet that balances omega 3 acids. This can be done through supplement or through adding fish, flax or kiwi fruit to their diets. The real savings come from not having to pay medical bills for treatments for all of the conditions.

Stuff: Nudism is often referred to as the “Great Equalizer”. When people are naked around other people, it is difficult to tell if a person is the president of a bank, or a school janitor. Consequently, nudists tend to be far less “class-conscious”. Nudists are typically less likely to want to keep up with the Joneses, realizing that not only do clothes not really make the man, but neither do homes, cars, boats etc.

More Health - Less Stress - More Money: Studies have also found that children raised in nudist homes tend to be more socially developed (and often more intelligent) than those raised in “textile” families. Nudists generally feel that they have nothing to hide. That attitude permeates the rest of their psyche as well, so they tend to be less stressed out and more sure of themselves. We have probably all heard about the health problems produced by living under stress. Nudists save money by not having to treat as many stress related disorders. (source - pdf format) Also, by being more self confident, and supposedly better educated, they are more likely to get better jobs, making more money.

Society: Those same group of studies indicated that children raised in nudist homes are less inclined to become burdens to society. They are less likely to become involved in early sexual or drug experimentation or to commit crimes against society. This is partially because they are not as materially oriented and because they are already familiar with the looks and workings of the opposite sex. In general, nudity allows them to be more open and honest in their family life, which is expressed in how they relate to others in general. Nudists save money by not having to bail their children out of jail, take them to the doctors to treat sexually transmitted diseases or help them raise unwanted grandchildren (as frequently). If all families raised their children with the same attitudes as nudists, we would all be able to save money by having to pay less in taxes to support fewer children of unwanted pregnancies, drug addicts, juvenile delinquents, vandalism, etc.

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Connecticut Text on the Nude Volleyball Court

Nudie Newbies

Getting Naked To Uncover What All The Fuss Is About


The icon of nudist recreation, volleyball still remains the most popular sport at Solair, where the evening volleyball! yell echos through the trees, summoning regular players and beckoning curious first-timers. Zo Ross, a veteran volleyball player, front, grew up with the naturist lifestyle, returning to the ways of youth with his wife and son. Morley Schloss, a guest of Solair, backs up Zo on the court and has been a proponent of the naturist lifestyle since attending Woodstock in 1969. (JAY L. CLENDENIN, File Photo / August 1, 2001)

A valid driver's license and a towel, he tells me.

"That's it?" I ask the voice on the other end of the line.

That's about all you'll need, confirms the man in the registration office of Solair Recreation League, a family-oriented nudist resort -- New England's oldest -- tucked in the lush woods of northeastern Connecticut.

I inform my sister, Donna, of this abbreviated packing list.

"Oh, man," she sighs. "Seriously?"

I had recruited my reluctant partner in nudism after reading an Associated Press story earlier this summer about the plight of such resorts as Solair, hurting for younger members. The story reported Solair's median age as 55, with the American Association for Nude Recreation estimating that more than 90 percent of its 50,000 members across the country are over 35.

Among their outreach efforts, the story said, some resorts are mounting promotional days for college students and offering sliding, age-based fees. Solair, for example, charges $25 for a first-time visit and $500 for an annual membership. For the under-40 set, that drops to $17.50 for a first-timer, and $300 for the year.

But the age gap didn't completely make sense to me. What of the supposed youthful abandon of those in their 20s and 30s? What about all the spring-break resorts teeming with tight-and-toned young things just a sneeze away from being naked anyway?

I'm about to turn 30, and I wanted to see for myself what these clubs have to offer my generation, find out exactly what kind of fun we might be missing out on.

"You know you are the only person I'd do this for, right?" Donna, 32, says, breaking the long pause after I asked her to tag along for moral support.

Why are we both so skittish? We mull it over on the leafy drive into Woodstock. I had gone topless at a nude beach in New Jersey on a pair of occasions in college. Donna went the full monty at one during a summer trip to Poland. Together we took regular visits to a Russian bath house in New York's East Village, where, on Lady's Day, clothing was an option we never chose.

We felt comfortable enough in our skin to flash it on other occasions. So why were we, and our demographic, so hesitant to strip down to our socks and sandals at a nude resort? We knew nudism wasn't about sex but about clothes-free relaxation and body acceptance. We knew Solair, according to its website (, was "celebrating 70 years of family nudism."

As we turn left on Ide Perrin Road, my stomach in knots, the best answer we can come up with was the anxiety of the unknown, and maybe our ingrained image - right or wrong - of such places as campy playgrounds for free-wheeling hippie throwbacks.

We arrive at the electric gate. As I push the buzzer, I see a flier on the adjacent notice board announcing the morning's pancake breakfast for kids. Pancakes! Kids! I can't image a more non-threatening combination. I ease a bit.

"Wait," my sister says. "When exactly are we supposed to get naked? Do you think we're supposed to show up without our clothes on?"

"Yeah, Donna - they're gonna make us strip right here and leave our clothes at the gate."

"I don't know. I'm just sayin'."

The gate opens. I park beside the registration building. As we shuffle up the wooden stairs, I catch my first glimpse of naked flesh through the office window.

Generation Gap

Time and money. These things, not body insecurities or misconceptions about nudism, is what keeps the youngsters away, says Steve Vickers, a spokesman for the American Association for Nude Recreation.

He should know. He's 26. But then, he was raised a nudist.

"I just know that our generation is a lot more wrapped up with a lot more things - school, work, starting a family," says Vickers. Becoming a member of any club has become a harder sell, he says, citing Robert Putnam's 1995 book on the subject of civic disengagement, "Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital." Consider that most nude-resort memberships hover around several hundred dollars, and the pitch becomes that much more difficult.

"Besides my membership to AANR, I don't have a membership to anything," he says. "No one even joins the library anymore. And that's free."

As such, many resorts aren't upping their marketing efforts to the demographic, he says, knowing they're more likely to reach them a little later in life.

But at Caliente Resorts, a luxury, clothing-optional resort just north of Tampa Bay, a targeted marketing push in just the last year has proven successful in pulling in younger faces, says Terra Boddy, marketing director. Aiming for a broader audience, the resort switched from nude to clothing optional at the start of the year. Caliente went from a 70 percent membership over the age of 50 as a nude resort, to 70 percent between the ages of 25 and 45 as a clothing-optional resort.

Nude On The Block

She wears nothing but a yellow baseball cap, sneakers and a reassuring smile.

"You guys nervous?" the Solair tour guide asks as she hops off the golf cart and introduces herself to me and Donna, standing outside the main office after we hadpaid and registered for the day.

"Yes," we say in unison.

"Don't be," says the woman, who I guess is in her 40s. We're in good hands, she explains, in a resort that screens its membership and leans heavily to multi-generational families. This isn't the type of place where men will leer or make advances. If they do, she says, report it, and the staff will take care of it.

We get back in the car and follow her golf cart to an enclosed, wooded parking lot.

"Well, there's never any other way to say it," the woman smiles. She instructs us to "get comfortable" and then meet her a few yards away, back at her golf cart.

"You mean - right here?" I stammer. There's no better time or place, she says.

And so we duck into the car, clothes scattering to the floor. Towel deliberately bunched between my crossed arms, I scurry back to the cart, a little startled when I get a flash of my naked self in the reflection of my car window. Our guide explains the ground rules, chief among them that we'll need our towel to sit on wherever we go - golf cart, picnic table, canoe.

"It's one of the hardest things to remember," she says. Donna and I later agree - we're pretty sure it's the easiest thing to remember.

Our guide gives us a tour of the grounds - of the lodging, the volleyball and tennis courts, the pool and recreation room, sauna and canteen, and finally the beach. It all has a kitschy campground feel, rustic and woodsy but clean and comfortable. After a routine Q&A to find out more about us, she leaves us to our day.

This is really not a big deal, Donna and I agree, surrounded by flesh of all colors and shapes, as we head to the beach. As we scan the lounge chairs, we see seniors reading their beach books, chatting in groups, even see a gaggle of teenagers - boys and girls - splashing in the water. It all feels rather European, really.

But we've done this part before. It's the nude-recreation part that will be new to us. So we decide an activity is in order. We rule out tennis and volleyball, agreeing that nothing that induces so much bounce should be done sans athletic support. Shuffleboard it is.

Only, we've never played. After Donna and I stare quizzically at the board for a few minutes, a trio of older, grayer gentleman come over to help us out. I tense up - my first real nudie interaction. But after handshakes and introductions, it becomes clear it's all harmless.

"Good to see some new faces," says one. "Especially young ones."

They explain the rules, but I'm having trouble concentrating, especially when a breeze kicks up, and I am reminded: Oh, my God. I'm playing shuffleboard . Naked. This, and the sight of my nude sister high-fiving her nude, crisply tanned partner, is all I could think of.

Our new acquaintances, however, seem much more enthralled with the game.

"Nice 8, Leo," cheers one. "Nice 8."

Any preconceived notions are certainly shattered in the span of a Sunday afternoon. The people we meet are retirees, blue-collar and white. Women and men.

Still, I'm not convinced. It is all fine enough for an afternoon, but I can't picture myself coming every weekend, as most members do. Lounging poolside in the nude? Fantastic. Chatting with strangers or leaping to spike a volleyball while nude? I have to say, it feels kind of weird. I don't know if that's about age or if that's just me.

What's The Big Deal?

So what is the allure? That is the question I kept asking the gaggle of members we talk with by the pool.

Some say it is the ultimate freedom - relaxing from life's everyday constraints, including clothes. Some say they delight in the naturalism of it all, of accepting themselves and others for exactly how God made them. One man explains that so much of class and identity gets wrapped up in the clothes we wear - business suits, construction pants - that to shed oneself of those material things puts everyone on the same level.

"We're all just people," he says, adding later, "I'm telling you, when you leave here, when you have to put your clothes back on? You're going to feel depressed."

We excuse ourselves for a stroll in the woods, batting at bugs and pondering the whole scenario. Donna wraps her towel around her chest. I look at her strangely. "What?" she says. "I just feel like, you know, they've been out for so long. I just need to pull 'em back up for a bit."

We agree, there comes a point when it's time to put your clothes back on. This is our time.

As I dress, the sensation of clothing does feel strange - heavy, even. We pull out of the gates, both quiet and processing our thoughts.

"So," Donna says. "Do you feel depressed, now that you have your clothes back on?"


"Me neither. I like my clothes."

Reach Joann Klimkiewicz at