Jenny Jones Television Talk Show (Part I)
Aired on December 18, 1992
Though there was some cheap, repressed humor (ironically, mostly from Ed Lange himself [growing up a naturist one would have thought he'd be a little more mature about sex and nudity]) this show was done before the Jenny Jones (and most other talkshows) degenerated in their obscene obeisance to greed and ratings.
JENNY JONES: We're going to be talking about nudism today. The topic, and the photographs we're showing may offend some viewers so please watch at your discretion.
Some people think nudism is perverted, but there are close to 75,000 nudists living in America who feel that their lifestyle is perfectly normal. They go to resorts (pictures of nudists appear on screen), where they can socialize together (another picture of nudists), get plenty of exercise (another picture), and they say they have a healthy attitude about the human body.
My first guest is a 54 year old grandmother who disagrees with all the critics. She says nudism changed her life. Meet Sonny Gallagher.
We also have a man who calls himself the senior advocate of nudism, for the last fifty years he's been a spokesman for people who prefer life in the buff. Meet the owner of Elysium Fields, a nudist camp in Southern California, Ed Lange.
This is, ahm, a little bit unusual for -- I've never really spoken to anyone who went to nudist camps, so I guess I first want to ask you what, what's so great about it? Why do you go?
SONNY GALLAGHER: I go because of the free feeling I get. Um, the body image is -- when I'm not in clothes happens, is that I'm not um, oh I don't want to say that, I'm I'm feeling more freely, my body image is, my self-esteem, my body image is much improved; when I'm -- with clothes I feel like I'm hiding something, uhm.
JENNY JONES: Has it changed the way that you feel even -- well, you are hiding something when you are in clothes, but ah.
SONNY GALLAGHER: More than the body.
JENNY JONES: Has it changed the way you feel when you are clothed, now that you've been going?
SONNY GALLAGHER: Yes, I feel better about myself. My esteem is higher, I feel more relaxed, uhm --
JENNY JONES: I wonder -- could you explain how you would get higher self esteem by taking off your clothes?
SONNY GALLAGHER: By feeling accepted as a person rather than a body. And, in our society, our society sees women as bodies instead of what's inside their body, their mind, their spirit, and that's what has built my self esteem.
JENNY JONES: Have you done this all your life?
SONNY GALLAGHER: No, for fifteen years.
JENNY JONES: What made you start?
SONNY GALLAGHER: Well, I went to Ed Lange's place in California, Topanga, thinking that it was -- it is a clothing optional nudist camp -- called The Option Resort, however I went there not knowing what clothing optional meant; I thought it meant wear jeans or a dress, and when I -- (everyone laughs) -- so when I pull in I saw these men playing tennis, men and women, in the nude, and I got a little bit afraid, and a little reluctant. However, I pulled up to the gate, and a couple pulled up and said, "We'll walk in with you, and if you try it, we know you'll never regret it." And I walked in, and within five minutes I had my clothes off. (everyone laughs)
Yes, It was just so comfortable there. And I have a lot of scars on my body, from surgeries and having five children, and I just felt like I was accepted for the person I am. They didn't mind my scars or anything.
JENNY JONES: Uh, Ed, you've had to fight for the right to keep your place open, I understand, that, uh, uh, people want it closed down?
ED LANGE: Well, mostly, people who have misconceptions about what happens. They think in terms of nudity equating with lewdity, like orgiastic behavior, sex orgies, and all that kind of stuff, and that's simply not true. And the way to find out, of course, is to come, but until then people have this notion; we've been raised in a puritanical culture that says nudity is lewd, obscene, filthy, vile indecent. I don't think you believe that, I certainly don't, because if we did that, then we would think of the way we were born as nudists, was vile and filthy and if we were. So what happens with clothes is that you remove the barrier toward accepting of self, body self esteem, and body self image, and that's where it's really at. When you come to accept the way you are that you're perfect. Large, small, big, thin, heavy, whatever. That's what it's all about.
JENNY JONES: So there's nothing sexual about it?
ED LANGE: Oh, obviously there's sensual delight in seeing a very attractive young man or young woman, certainly, but that's not the motivating force, because sexual arousal comes in a environment that's conducive to it. A naturist park, club, camp, or resort, with children playing and couples having fun picnicking and families being together, is simply not conducive to sexual arousal, and that's really what it's all about; it's really in the head, not just putting off your clothes.
The notion here is your attitude about what you think about yourself, and therefore, what you think about others.
JENNY JONES: I'd like to know what your family thinks about this, if you just started fifteen years ago.
SONNY GALLAGHER: Well, they've always known that I'm not the normal grandma, or the normal mother. (everyone laughs) And as I age I'm allowed to do more crazy things. So I --
JENNY JONES: Including nude sky diving (intelligible here as everyone starts laughing) You have done that.
SONNY GALLAGHER: Yeah, uh hum, in California.
JENNY JONES: And your daughters are in the audience. Can I ask them what they think?
SONNY GALLAGHER: Uh hum.
JENNY JONES: Where are you? There they are. You have two daughters? (she walks over to them) Stand up for just a second. Okay, what was your reaction the first time she went into a nudist camp?
SONNY GALLAGHER'S DAUGHTER: Um, at first I didn't know how to react, but, I support her wholeheartedly, and I feel as though it makes her feel like a better person. And if it makes her feel good, she's not hurting anyone else, she's not hurting herself, I support her wholely.
JENNY JONES: Who is a little uncomfortable with the whole concept here? Are you? Okay, what do you want to say? (walks over to audience member)
WOMAN AUDIENCE MEMBER: Well I personally believe it's morally wrong, 'cause I was brought up Catholic, but how do you explain this to children? I mean, like, like, your grandchildren, for instance, I mean, do you bring up children to cover themselves and to be, you know, but, but how do you explain, oh but, your grandmother does this, but don't do that? You know what I'm saying?
JENNY JONES: Well, but, their saying that it's okay for the kids, too, to run around nude, right?
SONNY GALLAGHER: Um hum.
ED LANGE: Watch them sometime, you'll see them play, you'll have to put the clothes on them.
SAME AUDIENCE MEMBER: There are children in the nudist camps?
SONNY GALLAGHER: Yes.
JENNY JONES: Yeah, they're, they're family camps.
SAME AUDIENCE MEMBER: You've got to be kidding.
SSG: They're family oriented camps. And children, once they're there, it is so hard to get them to put their clothes on, because -- we were all children at one time, too, and if you can remember when you were very small, your feeling of running around with nothing on after you got out of the bath tub, it feels very good, and children grow up to be adults like us, and we're programmed that it's bad to show your body. Little children don't want to get dressed really. You put them in the nudist camps, they're, they're having a great time. It's time to go now, we got to get dressed -- they fight it, they don't want their clothes on. (Ed Lange laughs in the background, saying, "They do, they do.") Yeah, they're happy without them.
JENNY JONES: And a lot of adults are, too, apparently.
SONNY GALLAGHER: That's right!
JENNY JONES: We're gonna take a break and come back with more, don't go away.
OVERHEAD VOICE: Next, a journalist who went undercover at a nudist camp and discovered some bizarre sexual activities.
(Commercial break is over)
JENNY JONES: When you're a writer some assignments are easy, and some can be very revealing; my next guest wrote an article for SELF magazine called, "I Was Curious Naked." Along with a photographer, she visited two nudist camps where she bared it all for the sake of journalism. Here to tell us all about her bizarre experience is Amy Engeler.
If you were doing this to do the story, then you couldn't have been too comfortable out there naked, could you?
AMY ENGELER: Uh, I wasn't at first, but, um, I think they're, they're somewhat right, once you take it off, you begin to enjoy the sun and the water--
JENNY JONES: 'Cause you had, uh, a photographer -- a lady with you?
AMY ENGELER: Yes, she ran around, she was completely naked, she had her camera around her, and her film packs on the hip, and all that stuff.
JENNY JONES: Uh, can you, uh, we want to take a look at the pic -- you took some pictures that we, uh, want to show the audience, if you can tell us what they are here. (A picture comes on screen of a naked man mowing a lawn) Oh, hello! This is, uh, what's he doing? (Audience laughs)
AMY ENGELER: He is mowing his lawn.
JENNY JONES: Mowing the lawn, okay.
AMY ENGELER: These were taken by Amy Arbis, the photographer.
JENNY JONES: All right, and the next one is...? (A picture comes on screen of a long row of people seated at a table, their naked backs to the camera) Lunch! (everyone laughs) We've got the hot dogs, where are the buns! No, I shouldn't have, I shouldn't have said that!
(A picture comes on screen of a woman talking on a pay phone. She's wearing a skirt and a blouse, which is open, revealing her breasts) And this is a lady on the phone. Now she's dressed, oh she's not dressed, is that blacked out? Oh, she's dressed. So, what happens, they dress up in the evening?
AMY ENGELER: In the evening in lingerie. Not at the camp that I went to, um, Cypress Cove, but another one Paradise Lakes. They dress up for dinner with teddies and G-strings, and --
JENNY JONES: What you're saying then that there -- did you feel that there were some sexual overtones at this camp?
AMY ENGELER: Oh, definitely, definitely, um, I mean the ideal of nudism is to separate sexuality and nudity, but -- and I've been to beaches in Europe and it's successful, um, there -- but at these camps in Florida there really wasn't a separation, and... (she trails off, here)
JENNY JONES: Did you have any men approach you?
AMY ENGELER: Yes, yeah, men would come up and, you know, put their hand on my shoulder, you know, and talk to me, and I was, at one point, asked, uhm, out on to a paddle boat and we went with a man, and we went out and we're paddling, and looking at the alligators, and, he uhm, told me that his interest in nudity was primarily sexual, and at one point he, you know, propositioned me out on the paddle boat.
JENNY JONES: What'd he say?
AMY ENGELER: He asked if I wanted to watch him masturbate. (The audience makes sounds of objection, or shock)
JENNY JONES: Wow, it's a little different view point, um, Ed, do you have a response to this?
ED LANGE: Oh, I'd love to respond to that, I can hardly wait to respond to that. Because I used to work for the same publishing house that Miss Engeler has been working for, and I couldn't help -- she reiterated the story to you -- I couldn't help wonder if she is customarily allowing a nude man to pick her up to go out on a boat alone without being suspect. Somehow I felt that, ignoring the photo business as a photo journalist, sometimes you have to create things in your story. That's not to say she's not saying the truth.
JENNY JONES: Yeah, but you're not, you're not suggesting that she brought this on because she went --
ED LANGE: I am, I am calling your attention to the fact that her behavior set herself up for it, that it did take place -- (audience makes sounds of protestation)
AMY ENGELER: I think that's the classic line --
ED LANGE: It's the exception rather than the rule.
AMY ENGELER: It's the classic line that a woman has asked for --
ED LANGE: The exception rather than the rule. And further, that can happen anywhere in any --
JENNY JONES: But let me ask you a question, do you think if a woman dresses sexy that she's asking to be raped?
ED LANGE: (pauses) No I don't think so.
JENNY JONES: Aren't you suggesting the same kind of thing?
ED LANGE: No, I don't think so. I think -- I'm suggesting that it's almost too pat for my comfort, and there's a little bit of disbelief in my hearing the tale, and having read the story, as have many other nudists.
That's not to say that such advances or sexual overtones are not present there as they are in any group anywhere, but just like all of us, there is the same circumstance, whether it's in a naturist park, camp, club, or resort that there is in a church picnic, as there is in a company picnic, or in a New Year's party.
AMY ENGELER: (said this at the same time Ed Lange starts to make the above statement) What's the difference?
JENNY JONES: But you know what, if I were a guy, if I were a man and wanted to be, to look at naked women, I'd go to a nudist camp.
ED LANGE: Sure, and isn't it wonderful that there are four men to every woman on the average in nudist parks, it's a wonderful place for women to find attractive men.
JENNY JONES: But the point is, we're saying that, that sexual things do happen at nudist camps.
SONNY GALLAGHER: Anywhere.
ED LANGE: Everywhere.
SONNY GALLAGHER: Anywhere. And it's up to the woman to make a choice of whether or not she chooses to be with that man or not, and --
ED LANGE: Hey, it's up to the men to make that same choice believe it or not.
SONNY GALLAGHER: (laughing) Right, it's true, it's true.
JENNY JONES: Well, Ed said they're family camps, but Amy says they have sexual undercurrents. What my next guest says will shock you.
(Continued: Jenny Jones Part II)
(Nikki Craft and Collette Marie will come on in the next segment.)
BACK TO NUDIST/NATURIST HALL OF SHAME