What then is freedom? The power to live as one wishes.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero
In this installment of Nudist Planet’s Bare Voices Andy from the USA tells his story.
Bare Voices Andy USA
Deep down, I believe that I am hard-wired to be a nudist. I prefer the word nudist to naturist. There can be no misunderstanding that a nudist is someone who likes being nude, whereas naturist often requires explanation. I am a proponent of the idea that we have the right to be naked when and where we choose. Nudity is our default state. Putting on clothes is an action. To be ashamed of — or offended by — the human body is to be ashamed of — or offended by — simply being human.
My childhood was spent in Los Angeles and the suburbs of New York City. Both areas are relatively progressive, but during the 1950s and early sixties nudity was not common in any part of the USA. I did not grow up in a nudist family, and I never saw my mother unclothed. I have not been naked with my siblings since we were tiny. My dad and I used to swim naked together when I was 7 or 8, and those memories are special.
In my early teens I secretly began sleeping in the nude. Home alone, I wandered through the house with nothing on. Late at night I crept naked into our backyard to feel fresh air and cool grass against my skin.
I was 16 or 17 at the time of the Summer of Love (1968) and Woodstock (1969). A new comfort with nudity was part of the era’s hippie culture. Suddenly, there were non-sexual images of naked people in magazines. Nudity in films became commonplace. I admired those confident naked people, dreaming of unlearning my body shame and becoming one of them. I wanted to let my nakedness be seen, because without clothes I felt like my truest self. Now, I still feel that way.
After graduating high school in 1970, I moved into Manhattan to pursue an acting career. I began dating a guy who liked sunbathing at Riis Park, a beach near NYC that was then clothing-optional. The majority of people wore swimsuits, but nudity was legal and accepted. It was my first opportunity to be naked outdoors without fear of being caught. I spent long happy days in the nude, body surfing and gathering shells. On two occasions I ran into people I knew: a former camp counselor, and neighbors from my apartment building. All of them wore swimsuits. My impulse was to turn away, but I forced myself to say hello. We had friendly conversations. My nudity was neither acknowledged nor awkward. When I later encountered those neighbors, I realized that their having seen me naked changed nothing. Those were moments of growth for me.
All in a day’s work
In autumn of 1970, I began modeling for art classes — which I still do. On a beach, no one was necessarily even looking at me and I could get dressed if I felt vulnerable. But a nude modeling gig was a commitment to three hours of being literally on display with nowhere to hide. It was interesting to hear the instructors calling the students’ attention to the particulars of my body: “He’s unusually long-waisted,” and “See how he’s bow-legged?” I came to realize that my body was not being criticized; these were merely facts about it. The experience increased my self-acceptance.
That summer I also worked as an usher at an Off-Broadway play in which most of the cast appeared nude. I watched the show dozens of times and knew it by heart. Months passed. One desperate evening when several actors were out sick, I was asked to go on as an understudy with just one quick rehearsal. There I was, 18 years old, naked on the stage of a sold-out theater in New York. I was so proud to be in a professional play that I announced it to my family and friends without hesitation. Their curiosity about the notorious nude scene provided an opening for me to come out as a person to whom being naked is both enjoyable and important.
Naked among friends
Since then nudity has been a facet of myself that I share pretty easily. I have always had non-nudist friends who are comfortable if I am naked in social situations, and others who are not. Generally, I broach the subject early in a friendship. If a person reacts favorably, I might disrobe on the spot or ask whether they would mind if I were naked during future visits. I find it more difficult to introduce nudity once there is an established pattern of always being clothed. I would guesstimate that 95% of people in my life are aware of my nudism and perhaps 50% have seen me without clothes.
Going really public
In my thirties, I left New York for San Francisco, a city with a reputation for tolerance, eccentricity, and freedom, and with a history of public nudity. I have now been nude — and photographed — at more street fairs, parades, demonstrations, foot races, bicycle events, and parties, than I can count. My nude photo was once published on the front page of a local newspaper. I think being naked in public and online helps to advance acceptance by desensitizing viewers and resetting their expectations. Even when clothed I am frequently recognized as one of the city’s Naked Guys. I accept that title with pride.
What could be more normal than the human body? We all have one, and there are few surprises among them.
Find a more detailed version of this entry on Andy’s blog, https://
Tell your story
Each of us has a story to tell. An outlook on the world and on naturism that can be beneficial to others. Share yours here by contacting me. I’ll send you a list of questions to get you started.