By Paul Tatara

Posted November 21, 2007 in Pop Goes the Culture

While I get most forms of vice and aberrant behavior—people become drunks, degenerate gamblers and dope fiends because, initially, these things are fun, really fun—I’ve never understood the nudist camp scene. Unless you mean a Playboy Mansion nudist camp scene. I’ve never got why the hell a regular person would want to be naked in front of other regular people, though, and without even a thought of having sex.

So one recent day I dragged my wife to the Deer Park Nudist Resort in Devore. I wasn’t afraid. Not really. Well, kinda. My wife was seriously dower, coming along only after hours of convincing, and promises that her wildest nightmares would not come true. Of course, I secretly wondered if  we’d be abducted into a Jonestown-like sex cult. And then started in on the physical psych-outs. How big is my gut? Would there be pubes in the Jacuzzi? Would there be shrinkage? Or, even worse, enlargement? Would a fat woman with whiskers protruding from her nipples try to sell me a life insurance annuity poolside?  

When we arrived, the aged but cute blond behind the desk (a cross between All in the Family Sally Struthers and the late-night spokeswoman for starving Africans Sally) wearing a bizarre San Diego Zoo-ish, ranger outfit ran my driver’s license, and I filled out an agreement form to assure them that I wasn’t some douchebag. I promised, in writing, to smoke only in the designated areas, drink moderately and refrain from any blatant sexual activity, lest I face the crackdown of some hidden security force, of which I saw no signs.

Just like in Jurassic Park or Planet of the Apes (the old, good one), where the movie doesn’t really begin until you actually see the dinosaurs or apes, I didn’t feel like I was in a nudist camp until, driving up Pole Cat Lane on our way to the swimming pool, I spied a 200-pound woman showering at the public bathrooms. Yeah, naked. Her meaty buttocks and swinging pink jowls clearly meant that the previews were over and the horror was to begin.  My wife simply muttered, “You owe me big time.”

Sincenudist camps want people who visit them to be, well, nude, standing around in trunks and gawking is a bit of a social blunder.  But I really didn’t want to get buff in the middle of an area called Briar Patch—and I could see the freeway, for fuck’s sake. There might be someone I know on that freeway.

I pounded one of the mini airplane bottles of Schnapps I’d brought to steady my nerves, then quickly pulled my trunks down. I was naked, outside, in a glorified trailer park. My belly was bigger than I thought—my penis smaller—and yet, I was strangely liberated, even feeling somewhat pleased with my newfound bareassedness. Or maybe it was the Schnapps.

When a helicopter buzzed overhead, I realized that I’d never be president. A naked photo of me had certainly been added to my FBI file, along with that old e-mail to Senator Feinstein protesting the war, and the reports of my arrest in Baja for possession of a rather sad looking roach. We decided to run toward the pool before they could ruin my wife’s rep as well. 

Enclosed by a wooden slatted fence, the pool was somewhat secluded—we thought—until my wife got her first shot of naked man-nage and was visibly shaken. Perhaps she believed I’d brought her out there to sell her to the lumpy 60-year-old cross between George Hamilton and Tony Soprano. But there was no place to hide a wallet, after all.

Then other people arrived. An elderly couple who fulfilled my long-time fantasy of visualizing my grandparents sans cardigans and muumuus. A Barstow Betty with a Southern drawl. And a corpulent couple—the man topping 350, and his wife with two missing front teeth that didn’t seem to quell her nutritional intake. The haunting fear of getting an erection in front of strangers immediately subsided. 

Now I hadn’t expected porn actresses batting around beach balls, but nubbly nudies floating on noodles? When Ray, the bronzed nudist we first ran into, floated toward me, I shrank. When he started glancing at my Johnson, it did too.

Like perusing the aftermath of a serial killer’s slaughter, it was hard not to look sometimes. Like when gap-toothed Myrtle got in the pool; I had to sneak a peek, but I just couldn’t determine where her rolls stopped and vagina started. For the most part I stared into people’s eyes, not wanting to appear perverted, interested or conscious. No one seemed to notice either way. That was a bit of a let down, really. Besides them all being naked, the folks at Deer Park were not weird.

They were warm and sincere, if old and unattractive. The opinions they expressed in the pool—the Jacuzzi was mercifully closed—were full of good-hearted cheer. They were nothing more than middle-class normals minus the social striving, a smart choice for people living in a desert trailer park. I had come there to mock out with my cock out. Instead, I left vaguely impressed, with only a few indelible images (like the old guy changing his oil spread-eagled) unfortunately burned into my psyche forever.

After taking a tour of the Jacuzzi area (think Hef’s mansion meets Interstate rest area) with a naked Abe Vigoda in the spa, we decided we’d be leaving.We drove through the gate and back to the world of the clothed, and I felt a grateful pang to take my wife clothes shopping. 


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