I few months ago, I ran into a couple of short interviews with an author, Mark Haskell Smith, about his latest book "Naked at Lunch, A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World". After reading the reviews, it didn't seem like it was a stupid fluff piece, so I bought the electronic version and made my way through it. The premise of the book is that he wanted to investigate what all this nudist/clothing-optional stuff was about, and with the air of detachment of a pseudo-journalist or armchair sociologist, he went about having a wide range of nudist experiences to find out what he could about "those" people.
It was a good read and he certainly had a lot of high end experiences that most of us will never be able to have or afford. I've had some of his basic experiences and found his reporting of them to be insightful and genuine. Black's Beach (near San Diego) was my first experience with social nudity and a clothing optional beach. His description of the place, the people, and hiking down there and back was spot on. And I like his description of Haulover Beach near Miami, Florida as being a drop dead gorgeous beach right off the main highway, right in the middle of everything. It is a shining example of what a modern urban beach should be.
He likewise found it odd, as I did, that the staff of Desert Sun Resort in Palm Springs were all dressed up appropriate to their jobs, while everyone else went naked. Stephane Deschenens, owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, has a wonderful podcast called the Naturist living Show. His latest talk was on the subject of working in a nudist club and why, in his resort, the staff is nude. I have to agree with him.
Mark did a nude cruise, which I've never done. But then, I don't like themed cruises. They're expensive and I like the diversity of everyone not trying fit the same mold. Likewise, I enjoyed his description of Vera Playa in Spain and of course Cap d'Agde in France. Two places I'll probably never get to. He highlighted people dressing up erotically at night and some of the swinging at those places. Sorry, but that stuff turns me off. Which is why I'll probably never go either place.
The one experience he had that I would have really loved was "The Naked European Walking Tour". A group that gets together annually and day hikes in the Alps, base camping for a week together. Being a long time back-country hiker and lover of mountains, I would LOVE that!
He interviewed some interesting people, including Scott Wiener, the city supervisor in San Francisco who put into place the nudity ban there, nudist historian and academic Mark Storey, Felicity Jones (co-founder of Young Naturists America and my favorite young nudist blogger), and many others. And he covered a lot of history about nudism that I didn't know. And yes, not all of it was pretty.
It wasn't a light fun read (and free Kindle book) like "Going Bare" by John Harding, a brit who needled his wife into going to a nice low key French resort (La Jenny) with the family, and loved it. La Jenny sounds a lot more appealing to me than the fancy resorts do. Nor was it a throughout sociological study, like the book "Nudist Society", which I enjoyed and if Mark Smith had looked for it when he visited the "American Nudist Research Library" on the grounds of Cypress Cove Nudist Resort, he would have seen the copy of "Nudist Society" I donated there several years ago.
Either way, buy Mark's book. Maybe you'll learn something. He claims that he was simply acting as a "reluctant nudist" and that he still isn't one, even though he thinks society misunderstands it and that simple nudity shouldn't be criminalized the way it is. Maybe he still doesn't get it. All a nudist or naturist is, is someone who actually likes being human and doesn't mind actually looking like one. Perhaps, he fits that description and still doesn't know that, in fact, he is one (simply human = natural nudist).