KERA’s Think recently did a story called “Uncovering Nudism in America” featuring author Brian Hoffman. Brian was on the program to promote his book “Naked: A Cultural History of American Nudism.” This is a podcast, and as of this post there was no transcript.
The main focus of the story is about how nudism came about to the United States. The conversation is actually very interesting and provides a really good overview of how nudism arrived, and then subsequently changed over the years in the U.S. It was weird to hear about how nudist camps (as they were called) were segregated, and the rationale for limiting access to camps to single men.
What I found most surprising was that the publication of “The Nudist” took on the early legal fight for allowing nudist magazines to be sold, and how they were responsible (through court decisions) for the availability of pornographic magazines (or “nudies”). Ironically, the speaker notes, that the upsurge in popularity of pornographic magazines, ultimately led to the decline of The Nudist.
Another benefit of the early magazines were how they were used by gay men. By publishing the magazine, the public now had access to stories and – more importantly – imagery of naked people; both men and women. The speaker shares how this provided opportunities for gay men (and lesbians to a lesser degree) to connect with each other through the placements of ads in the magazines.
Finally, I heard a distinction between the term “nudist” and “naturist” that surprised me (a little). The speaker shares that a nudist is the purer category and focuses on the lifestyle without any reference to sex (i.e. sexual activity should play no part in the lifestyle of the nudist). He goes on to say that the naturist recognizes that sexuality is a component of a nudist’s life, and can’t be excluded. While he was not saying that naturists permit sexual activity when socializing with other naturists, but that it was recognized that sex happens and is appropriate for nudists (in the appropriate setting).
This is definitely worth a listen (approx. 43 minutes) and I’d be interested in others views on this podcast.