This year summer begins with the solstice on June 21 at 12:38 P.M. EDT. This year, Father’s Day is also celebrated on the 21st! What could be better than to help us dads celebrate another year and the joys of summer, than encourage communal disrobing and to frolic naked? It’s not clear if witty and talented author Mark Haskell Smith had this notion in mind when he set about researching and eventually writing, Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World. But, what is without question, the publication date of his charmingly hilarious book coincides with the official beginning of summer and the day Hallmark mints money by anything emblazoned with “Dad” on it.
Smith author of five novels, Moist, Delicious, Salty, Baked, and Raw: A Love Story, and the non-fiction book Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup, has been a frequent and welcome guest to Life Elsewhere. He returns with his latest non-fiction tome, although some of his keenly-observed observations are so riotously funny, you’d be forgiven if you thought he was conjuring up scenes from his vivid imagination. In Naked at Lunch, Mark Haskell Smith shows that being a nudist is more complicated than simply letting it all hang out. “Nonsexual social nudism,” as it’s called, rose to prominence in the late nineteenth century. Intellectuals, outcasts, and health nuts from Victorian England and colonial India to Belle Époque France and Gilded Age Manhattan disrobed and wrote manifestos about the joys of going clothing-free. From stories of ancient Greek athletes slathered in olive oil to the millions of Germans who fled the cities for a naked frolic during the Weimar Republic to American soldiers given “naturist” magazines by the Pentagon in the interest of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, Mark uncovers nudism’s amusing and provocative past. He dives into the nudist world today. He publicly disrobes for the first time in Palm Springs, observes the culture of family nudism in a clothing-free Spanish town, and travels to the largest nudist resort in the world, a hedonist’s paradise in the south of France. He reports on San Francisco’s controversial ban on public nudity, participates in a week of naked hiking in the Austrian Alps, and caps off his adventures with a week on the Big Nude Boat, a Caribbean cruise full of nudists.
Make sure you don’t miss the next edition of Life Elsewhere, as Mark Haskell Smith promises to reveal all and recount his outrageous adventures in the clothing optional world.
Life Elsewhere airs every Sunday at 12 noon ET on The Source WMNF HD3 and Mondays at 5.00pm PT at NWCZ Radio
The photograph above is by Norman B, from a series shot in the summer of 2009. To see and learn more about Norman B’s photo work,write to firstname.lastname@example.org