The Shame of Being Naked:
A Visit to a Nudist Camp
by Nina Silver
Copyright (c) Nina Silver 1990
All rights reserved.
Commercial Use Prohibited.
Reprinted from the ICONoclast, Spring 1990
Sunny Rest Lodge in the Poconos is well known among nudists. I was invited there for a weekend by a male acquaintance, a member of Sunny Rest who took advantage of the management's offer to bring as many women as he wanted for free. The owners, responding to the disproportionately large number of men to women, are trying to attract more single women to the club.
The evening I arrived, I sat in the recreation room talking with a man in a body suit who was a writer. After a while, he pulled out his penis and showed me the nine cock rings on it. I asked him why he needed to exhibit himself. Quite a paradox at a nudist camp: obviously, one needs to try very hard to do that there. He told me his exhibitionism afforded him an outlet which, if he did not have it, might make him even possibly dangerous as he acted out his need to be noticed in the outside world.
While we were talking, disco dancing was taking place in the adjacent room. The disco is the only evening activity. The owners told me later that they had to close the clubs whirlpool between two and six o'clock am because people had been using the room to have sex.
The following day I was enjoying the heated pool when a man spoke into a microphone explaining that Sunny Rest was videotaping its yearly lingerie fashion show by the pool, and anyone who didn't want to be filmed as the models strolled past was advised to leave the area. I had mixed feelings both about being there at all and having my image taken as a bystander, but felt that as a writer it would be valuable for me to stay and observe from my well-placed seat.
The models were primarily customers of the resort. All of the women came out in skimpy lingerie, some with garters and cut-off elbow-length gloves.
Most wore panties that often just covered the vulva with a single strap running between the buttocks to hold the cloth in place. The women also wore high heels, strutting around the perimeter of the pool in time to the emcees comments.
"There's Cathy, modeling a black teddy with removable feathers. Seven or eight guys ought to be able to take care of her." The nudists applauded as Cathy came out from the door of the dining room adjacent to one side of the pool, which served as a stage.
"Theresa Pat in black lace and pink flowers. Doesn't she look beautiful? And a beautiful smile to match, with flashing eyes. That's the way you should always wrap a package."
The door opened again. "Heroes Sandy in a red lace teddy, pearls and matching shoes. Shell pass by your place at night and make sure you're satisfied."
"Back row, back row!" After almost each presentation, the people seated behind me cajoled the models to come to their area. The lingeried women would sashay toward them, eyeing their attentive audience, then lean down and blow kisses or turn around and stick out their rear ends. I looked closer at the people directly behind me in the back row. The two women had trimmed their pubic hair into mohawks. The man with them had totally shaved his.
"I need an Amy," the emcee was saying, referring to a model who had just emerged from the dining room. "Daun't any of you guys need an Amy? We all need an Amy. Here comes Amy in tassels. Amy, you're lookin' good.... Look at that sliding pond. Its getting hard."
There must have been about two hundred people around and in the pool, watching the fashion show. Now some men emerged.
"There's John, wearing a G-string that's a cockatoo. John didn't want me to reveal this, but he'll be single for the next two weeks and he said he'd leave the key to his trailer under the mat."
The male model's G-strings were designed as brightly colored animal heads that covered the penis. The men wore matching animal head hats. John, in an elephant motif, jumped in sneakered feet around the pool, poking various people with the elephants trunk on his hat. None of the women had pranced like that. They all wore spiked heels and had to walk slowly as they were being watched.
"Does anybody have a whip? Nine people have volunteered their whips," the emcee announced. Two women in matching teddies stepped in opposite directions and met halfway around the pool. Looking each other in the eyes, they kissed on the lips. The nudists clapped and cheered.
Another man came out of the dining room wearing a green-and-brown army camouflage pattern G-string and a helmet. "We got someone from a military base to model for us," the emcee quipped. "This guys doing night patrol."
Then came the male-female couple walking haltingly in tandem. They wore matching scanty bottoms attached to each other by a chain. "Hold on to the person that brought you," we were advised. "Then again, you may not want to go home with the person that brought you...."
By now I had borrowed a pad and was furiously writing. I had become more accustomed to the probability that I was in the video movie as the camera swept by me each time it followed the models into the back row. Even so, I finally made a face as I looked at the camera.
I also looked at the clock. The show had been going on for about two hours. Periodically I'd dive in to the pool to cool off. Then I heard:
"Here are Cathy and Amy in pink and white. They're wearing frills. They look just like little girls." The emcee paused. "Doesn't that give a new meaning to little girls?"
I looked in the pool at two little girls and two boys about eight years old, leaning on rubber rafts. They were watching intently.
The last act of the show was two men in drag wearing wigs, heels and fringes. The nudist audience tittered, cheered and applauded. "Look at them," we heard through the p.a. system. "They're trying to be careful and don't want to mess their hair up." The two men joined the third male model and eleven women for the grand finale, all lined up holding drinks in a toast position. At least half the people around the pool had drinks. They were also smoking.
Two of the models were Myra and Buddy Mesher, the owners of Sunny Rest. I talked to Myra and Buddy after the show. Myra was tired. "I had a little too much to drink," she told me. But I wouldn't have been able to model otherwise.
Why? I wanted to know.
Because I was in front of all those people looking at me. I had to drink so I wouldn't feel self-conscious.
"Don't you think that says something about the premise of the fashion show?" I asked her. "Maybe you were right to feel self-conscious."
"The show was a good thing." Buddy, her husband, immediately spoke up. "We have it because the people like it. And I never would have thought I'd be modeling; initially I felt funny. But I'm glad I did it. It was very freeing."
"The only thing", he continued, "that may not have been so great was that the kids were there."
"But its better they learn about this here, where its safe, than on the outside," Myra interjected.
"Look," Buddy turned toward me, "I know how you feel. But these happenings are harmless. Women who had been too afraid and shy to go to lingerie shops were able to get the things here, even heavy women, women who don't have great figures. They were able to feel good about themselves. And yes, the people do come here to get titillated. I admit it, there's swinging here. But what people want to do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is their business as long as I don't see it."
"Don't you think," I asked him, "that all this swinging diminishes peoples ability to be genuinely intimate with each other?"
"When people come to Sunny Rest," Buddy explained, "they want to get away from it all business, family pressures, politics. They don't want to talk about anything heavy. They need to let loose. Some people come here just to go to the disco and watch, then they go home and probably have better sex. Others dance, are part of the show. Whatever the people need, we provide that for them."
I awakened the next morning thinking about something else that Buddy had told me. One weekend during a Naturist Society gathering at Sunny Rest in 1984, he, Myra, and two other family members had seen at least five different adults with a pre-teenaged boy, all at different times.
One man had been noticed with his hand down the boys pants.
The youths parents were not at the resort. At the end of the weekend, after he'd seen enough to know that something improper was going on, Buddy summoned the boy and all the adults into the office, locked the door and called the police.
(Nikki Craft and Lee Baxandall were present during the several hours of questioning at Sunny Rest. Nikki has informed me that one of the offenders was a former state trooper named James OBoyle, a member at Sunny Rest, who was convicted several years later for over 90 counts of child rape and sodomy. Paul Zimmer, who is now out of jail and currently networking with various naturist groups, was the only one convicted. Robert J. Schumann, a previously convicted child molester from Clarksburg, New Jersey was not charged for that incident.)
This was the second incident of pedophilia Buddy had told me about during our two-hour conversation. The other involved a little girl who disclosed to Buddy that she was feeling uneasy because a man was following and staring at her. "I told him very gently what the little girl said, and he turned pale and started shaking. So I gave him his money back and asked him to leave."
The morning after my discussion with Buddy and Myra, it is raining. In one of the bathrooms I speak to a woman in her thirties whose boyfriend has brought her to Sunny Rest for the weekend without telling her that it is a nudist camp. As she speaks falteringly about her discomfort, she inadvertently dries herself off with my towel. I tell her I don't feel that this or any nudist camp is a good way to become introduced to a clothing-optional lifestyle. I ask her if her boyfriend swings. She says he does, but not when she's around, and she doesn't want to do it. He then appears at the screen door.
"You're not in a good mood," she says.
"Sure I am."
"You're always in a terrible mood in the morning." Her voice is restrained, and as she speaks she is looking in the mirror and putting on makeup.
He takes out a cigarette. "Would you mind, I ask, smoking away from the door?"
"Not at all," he replies, then mutters as he walks away, "Jesus."
I am not sure he's out of earshot. He was being very hostile, I remark to the young woman, my voice low. Her eyes are earnestly focused on me.
"This isn't a healthy place to learn about nudity," I repeat; then,
"Don't let him intimidate you."
Even though my new friend is considerably taller than my five foot one inch height, she seems very frail to me. I don't yet want to leave her.
"You have a right to do what you want," I say softly but firmly. "Don't let anyone pressure you. It's your life."
Suddenly, awkwardly, she gives me a hug from the side. I am very touched.
"Be good to yourself, I tell her."
"Thank you. Goodbye." As I depart, treading my way down the path outside, I soberly contemplate that I'll probably never see her again. I doubt that she'll return to Sunny Rest. At least I hope not. I know I wont.
The Nudist Lie:
"I wonder what it would be like to come to a nudist resort as an adult. To me it's second nature. I believe in it. I feel it is a safe place to be. Everyone has the same thing in common." Judy Olds, former Miss Nude World, 1978.
"I think I'm a well-rounded individual. I don't have hang-ups regarding sex, clothing or personal communication that are so common today. I'm much more relaxed and more in touch with people than most others." Buddy Mesher
"It takes away some of the allure of latent sexuality that you find when people are clothed." --Gary Sharp
"Maybe people think its something else maybe something sexual, but when they get here they find its a social thing and the experience makes them feel good." --Myra Mesher
"What's predictable is that many people in our sex-oriented society would assume that nudism and nudist clubs are sexually oriented. Yet the human body loses much of its fascination when you stop playing peek-a-boo with it. First-time visitors to a nudist club are struck almost immediately with how unsexy a place it is. Nudists are generally very peaceful, very low-key, very unself-conscious."
--Carol Goldbergers Excerpted from "Why Nudism from The American Sunbathing Association Bulletin," June 1990.
Sunny Rest Lodge (at the time this article was written) was an American Sunbathing Association Camp and they were then the nudist club of choice for several Naturist Society Eastern Gatherings. (Evidently the AANR no longer sponsors them.) I don't know if they are still allied with TNS or not. It's reputation for swinging is well established and actively encouraged by management. During past Naturist Society Gatherings at Sunny Rest the unscheduled evening entertainment included women on table tops in high heels wearing Frederick of Hollywood nighties during crowded bar dances.
It's my understanding that several years ago (long after the publication of this article and long after their reputation was well-known) Sunny Rest was finally dropped as an affilated club with the American Sunbathing Association.
Reprinted from the ICONoclast by Nikki Craft
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