Another fascinating chapter examines how the wholesome ideas of the early camps were corrupted and exploited after World War II by people who used nudity as an excuse for “swinging” and couple swapping in the suburbs, forever connecting sex with nudity despite the movement’s best efforts to separate the two. The rise and fall of such hideaway locations as Sandstone in the Topanga hills near Los Angeles is examined as the most notorious example of this.


The final chapters explore nudism in the current decade and how it is being exploited by corporate advertisers to sell products, and also how nudist entrepreneurs also leveraging consumerism to their advantage. The author discusses the birth and evolution of the two major national nudist organizations, The Naturist Society and the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), and projects how these national organizations will need to change to survive in a world where younger people are refusing to join social clubs or to pay dues to protect their best interests.


Schrank looks at how Gen Xers and millennials are enjoying world naked bike rides, nude comedy shows, and nude yoga classes instead of the established clubs and nudist parks, and how the recent rebirth of women’s equality and sexual and gender freedom movements may affect these older established nudist traditions in the future.


Her text comes with an extensive list of footnotes and acknowledgements for the dozens of interviews she conducted during her three years of research.


To provide full disclosure, two summers ago, Professor Schrank, met with Rolf Holbach and Gary Mussell and reviewed several boxes in their possession of the history of several local nudist clubs and nudist publications. To our great surprise, the author singles out the Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA) for expanding social nudity into many new areas (pages 172-173). We are both surprised and humbled to be mentioned! Thank you!


In 1998, Cec Cinder published The Nudist Idea, since considered the definitive history of the modern nudist movement through 1995. Sarah Schrank’s new book, Free and Natural, Nudity and the American Cult of the Body compliments that work and covers the two decades after Cinder’s narrative ends. It deserves a place on bookshelves of every nudist interested in the history of the movement.


Available at University of Pennsylvania Press at and via Amazon at

The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region