In this writer’s opinion, “Naked Lunch” will go a long way toward dispelling many of the misconceptions that mainstream, non-nudist readers have about Nudism, and I believe it is destined to become a classic of naturist literature. Many nudists, not well versed in Naturist history or its current state of affairs, will find much to enjoy here as well.
In the first chapter, set aboard a nude cruise, Smith introduces us to his participatory journalist’s odyssey in the clothing-optional world. Simply put, his idea was to explore the nudist world through complete immersion. With true journalistic courage, he got naked and jumped in feet first. Interspersed with chapters about his various adventures are chapters devoted to the history of the movement with plenty of nods to some of the heroes, past and present, of Nudism: Richard Ungewitter, Lee Baxandall, Ed Lange, Cec Cinder, and Felicity Jones, to name just a few.
Mr. Smith begins his sojourn in the clothing-optional world with an interview with a live, card-carrying nudist, none other than Mark Story, of TNS fame, in a chapter entitled “Interview with a Nudist” (with apologies to Anne Rice!). After encountering the all-too-common “couples only” policy at Terra Cotta Inn, Mr. Smith takes us to Desert Sun, Vera Playa, Cap d’Agde, Cypress Cove, and to the Alps for the Naked European Walking Tour. Along the way, he explores in a very clearheaded manner many of the issues facing Nudism today. Starting with a chapter called “The Fall of Nudist Clubs” he discusses the dwindling number of resorts, disappearing nude beaches and the state of legal nudity within certain urban areas such as San Francisco and Munich.
The book also examines some topics and nudist subcultures most of us might not give much thought to but that would certainly draw the attention of a newbie. Topics such as genital piercings, fetish wear and “Smoothies” in such chapters as “Trends in Genital Topiary.” He also takes a close look at the fuzzy demarcation along the spectrum between traditional non-sexual nudists and the ever-present swingers. I wasn’t long into the book when I found myself asking “I wonder if he’ll discuss such and such?” only to have my question answered later in the text.
In the end, while not fully becoming a nudist himself, Mr. Smith is very sympathetic to nudist culture and fully supports the ideas of body acceptance (“They’re doing a beautiful thing.” as he said in a recent radio interview.), our plight for more “set asides” for nude recreation and a more mature attitude about nudity in American culture. Further, he adds that he is not adverse to “dropping trou” (as he puts it) and joining in a nude event should the opportunity present itself.
I feel that Smith deserves our gratitude for his work. I hope Smith’s book will spark a new interest in Naturism, or at least, a more informed and accepting opinion about the lifestyle amongst non-nudists.
The book is available through Amazon.com (both hardcover and Kindle versions).
The American Association for Nude Recreation - Western Region