I’ve been to exactly one nude beach in my life. It wasn’t the bacchanalia I expected. I was hoping to discover something like the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut. Except with more sand and fewer Scientologists. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.
This was Black’s Beach in La Jolla, California. I went alone. If I was gonna be naked in public with people, I wasn’t going with people I actually knew.
To get to Black’s Beach, you descend a treacherous staircase, every step shakier than the last. If you injure yourself, no one can help you. Where would they keep the splints, bandages, and ointments? They don’t have pockets where you’re going!
As I walked down, I wondered: how many sets of testicles was I about to see? And is naked volleyball as awkward as it sounds? It turns out: only two other testicles, and I still haven’t experienced the joys (horrors?) of a naked bump or spike.
In the 1970’s, Black’s Beach attracted 60,000 naked people every weekend. That’s the entire population of Flagstaff, Arizona! But on this day in 2018, it was just me and…one other guy. Who was gorgeous, by the way. I mention that to set the stage for my eventual mortification.
I found a spot for my towel about twenty yards away from the most Handsome Individual Mofo You’ve Ever Seen (HIMYES, for short). I kept some distance so as not to intrude on HIMYES’s space. Then I spread out on my towel, all floppy and nude.
This is nice, I thought, what a beautiful day. But within thirty seconds, I was bored. Where were the naked Frisbee players and the naked surfers? At this point I would’ve even accepted a few naked Scientologists.
So I opened up Grindr. And guess who I saw? That’s right, HIMYES. The app optimistically guessed he was “15 feet away,” when he was clearly 50 feet away. But for an app people notoriously use to lie about the, ahem, length of things, it was an appropriate inaccuracy.
I messaged him a pithy “hey beach friend.” A second later the tell-tale Grindr notification rang out from his phone, echoing across the empty beach. I watched as he looked at his phone, looked at me, then sighed with his entire naked body. HIMYES hit a button on his phone. I looked down and saw he’d severed our cellular connection. I’d literally been cock-blocked.
You haven’t experienced a true “walk of shame” until you’ve been blocked on Grindr by the only other gay guy at the nude beach and then you have to ascend a thousand rickety steps up a crumbling cliff to get to your car, stopping every ten steps to catch your breath, all while the ridiculously hot guy who rejected you watches from below, his penis swaying in the wind.
But I can’t be the first person who’s been relegated to such a fate. Let’s investigate.
The so-called “father of nudism” was a German named Heinrich Pudor, who coined the phrase “Nacktkulture,” aka “naked culture,” in the late 1890s. Later in Pudor’s life, he gained a reputation for penning anti-Semitic propaganda, so this is a case where the Emperor had no clothes. Literally. And we should divorce daddy nudism from the entire naked movement.
Nudism officially made its way to America in 1931 with the founding of the American Sunbathing Association. Sunbathing? More like Bunbathing, amirite?
A few years later, the ASA stopped beating around the bush and changed their name to the American Association for Nude Recreation. At which point, non-nudist sunbathers thanked them for the clarity.
Nakedness finally made waves in mainstream America in the 1960s, when hippies were suddenly like “these clothes are the shackles of society, man.”
It makes you wonder: if Heinrich Pudor had Grindr, how many naked beachers would he have rejected (I mean, besides the Jewish ones)? How many notifications would the members of the American Sunbathing Association have left unanswered? Back when “free love” was all the rage, were nude beaches more HIMYES and less HIMNO?
As I ascended that terrible staircase at Black’s Beach, I looked down. The hot naked guy who rejected me was a speck of sand. Beyond that, the ocean extended into eternity. It was so beautiful, I wanted to be naked again. That’s when I realized nude beaches aren’t about connecting with other people, they’re about connecting with nature.
So here’s a Gleek shout-out to that hot naked guy who blocked me on Grindr at Black’s Beach back in 2018. You knew the drill, Hot Naked Guy.
Next time you hit the nude beach, leave your cell phone in the car. Because you’re only truly naked without it.