January 2019 — Residencia Dinner / Seaport Series / Moving forward
I’m happy to report that our naked dinner event was a beautiful success. Anthony and Maybel, curators at Residencia, were kind enough to lend a hand as I managed the food and checking in guests. Hard bop jazz played in the background as people got acquainted and munched on the mediterranean spread. I enjoyed opening the door to each new person, some with puzzled faces as they were suddenly the only clothed person in the room. Following Residencia protocol, I handed them a plastic bag and directed them to disrobe and place their belongings in the bag. This worked easy enough, though some suggested later that we hold a shared disrobing moment. Which would you prefer?
As we brought out the hot food I realized that I forgot the falafel at home! Luckily, this would prove to be the only tragedy of the evening. We still had enough eats to go around (with coffee and dessert of course). We gathered in the main room, seated in a large circle, and I started the discussion. The topic of the night was a meta-discussion on nude events/spaces. I explained why we started Just Naked, our philosophy and principles, then invited folks to share their thoughts. We received a lot of valuable feedback for how to present our events moving forward. For example, someone suggested listing our principles in the event description of every social page we share it on. I assumed that everyone would want to explore our shiny new website before purchasing a ticket, but this wasn’t the case. When I brought up the topic of allowing women to wear bottoms (but not men), a few of the female attendees said they didn’t realize they could’ve kept their shorts on (though they preferred to be fully nude anyway).
Sex-positivity and family-friendliness in nude spaces was another topic. If one grants that swingers are not inherently amoral, why are so many family-friendly clubs against swinger culture? Why do I have to take out my penis piercing at Rock Lodge Club? Many of these concerns seem to pivot around protecting children, but is this valid? If a child is accosted by a pedophile at a nudist club (the worst-case-scenario that inspires these policies), wouldn’t that child be more likely to report it if they were educated on acceptable human sexuality? Is there any correlation between the Catholic church’s practices of sexual conservatism and its industrial pedophilia? These are not hypothetical questions, but serious matters to be addressed if the nudist community hopes to emerge from the intellectual dark age and into mainstream culture.
There was so much more discussed, but in the spirit of keeping this short I’ll tease you with a few questions that came up: What exactly is voyeurism? How do we foster trans-positivity? Do same-sex events require the same rules? Should we have compassion for “creeps”? How do we normalize verbal consent?
I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to share these ideas, learning from others and designing future events based on this feedback. If anything you’ve read here inspires you to add your voice to the conversation, please send us a message or comment somewhere on our socials.
As we considered what events to offer this year, we got the idea to batch-test different event ideas and times-of-day to see what the turnout was at each event. If we received a lot of RSVP’s on a certain event or time, we would create more of those and discard anything that didn’t receive much attention. We created seven events over the course of three days; yoga/meditation, embroidery, drawing class, a French-speakers social, and a coworking space. This seemed like a good idea at the time, and perhaps it is, but a comedy of errors ended up corrupting our data and attendance this time around.
What happened? First off, our audience reach was too limited to pull this test off. With only a combined 300 followers on our socials, we barely scratched the surface of the NYC nudist community. Our following will grow in time, but RSVP’s will continue to be an issue as long as nudism exists on the (barely) acceptable edge of society. Once we have a few thousand active followers, we’ll be able to poll them (you?) about what you’d like to see. We’ve received a lot of requests for things that, for now, we are simply not large enough to pull off. Naked ballroom dancing, naked spa, naked run around Central Park? YES! In time..
Secondly, my wife Lea got sick right before we held our marathon of events. We plan as God laughs, they say, and I’m sure she was laughing this week. With two less hands to pull this off, we decided to cancel the few events which didn’t receive much attention online and focus our energies on the others. While she stayed at home to recover I held down the naked fort. I was sad to refund the handful of people who had bought tickets for the canceled events, but I hope they will understand if they read this.
By far, the most successful event was the naked coworking space. The first couple hours were slow, but I met a wonderful nudist who offered a lot of support and encouragement. Thanks to you, if you’re reading this. The afternoon picked up, with curious nudists trickling in to work on their laptops, chat, and nibble on the snacks and espresso we provided. By this time Lea felt better, so she joined us to do work and talk about future projects with the more eccentric attendees.
That evening I led an intimate (that’s the polite word for small) yoga class, and by then end of the night I had three people interested in leading their own groups in the future. While I’m passionate about normalizing naked, my favorite thing about Just Naked is meeting new people and growing from their positive influence. To see someone disrobe in a social nude space for the first time, first a bit shy but eventually blossoming open into their vibrant confidence; this brings me the deepest joy.
We have a lot of plans for the near future. Next week we start the Residencia series, led by Maybel Ovalles. This includes another coworking opportunity as well as a few art/movement classes designed by her (I highly recommend attending anything she is leading). We have two new builders who want to co-host a naked drawing group. We’re working out the details now, but it looks like it will be a free-draw session wherein the hosts alternate as model/facilitator (and perhaps some time for other attendees to model if they wish). Another naked dinner location might have emerged, though that’s too tentative to say much about. Finally, we are designing a women’s empowerment group for story-sharing and skill building.
That’s it! Thanks for reading.