Jesse Monteagudo

The Full Monty: My Life as a Nudist

Filed By Jesse Monteagudo | May 14, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Naturist Movement, nudity, public nudity, The Full Monty

"The Full Monty" is a British slang phrase that means "the whole lot." It also refers to a movie and Broadway nudist-beach.jpgmusical about unemployed English factory workers who become strippers in order to make ends meet. To a lot of people, what makes "The Full Monty" such a hoot is the sight of fat, middle-aged and/or out-of-shape men removing their clothes in public. A society that is uneasy about the human body firmly believes that public nudity, if it is to exist at all, should be limited to the slim, the young and the muscular.

The idea that only super men and wonder women should be allowed to be seen in the buff is held by many so-called "tourists"; those who visit Haulover and other nude beaches just to "see the sights". Once they are there, they are disappointed and outraged by the reality of naturism: "ordinary" men and women who socialize, sun, swim, and picnic in the nude. From slim to fat, 18 to 80, you see them all.

I am a long-time nudist, who does my best to be naked as often as the law and courtesy allow. But I am in my mid-fifties, and overweight. All this does not keep me from enjoying the freedom and the pleasure of being naked. I am very happy with my body - though I am always trying to lose weight - and enjoy the freedom and comfort that the absence of clothes gives me. The same goes for all the naturist men and women who make Haulover and other nude beaches what they are today. Those who only want to see buff models in the buff should visit a sex club, or rent a DVD.

My life as a nudist goes back a long way, almost as long as my life as an out gay man. During the 1970's, nudism was generally associated with sex orgies and the bathhouse culture, and to this day the term "nudist club" is often thought to be an euphemism for "sex club". There is not a gay male nudist club around that doesn't have to deal with the issue of sex at club-sponsored events. Some clubs forbid sex altogether, others limit it to certain hours, and others allow it from the word go. "Safe sex", of course, is always a given.

My life as a nudist began in earnest in 1981, when I answered an ad in a South Florida bar rag that sought to establish a gay nudist club. The club was the Everglades Rawhides, and I became one of the founding officers. AIDS had not yet reared its ugly head, and the Rawhides did well during its first five years. The second half of the Rawhides' decade-long existence was not so good, as many of the early members died of AIDS complications and the club itself deteriorated into a private procuring service for its president. I was gone from the Rawhides by then, having temporarily dropped out of organized nudism for the pleasures of married life in 1985.

Though I was not involved in a nudist club for a while, I continued to bare it all at home and at clothing optional resorts like Key West's Island House for Men. In any case, my break from nudism ended in 1992 when the Gold Coast Bare Skins were created to replace the now-defunct Rawhides. Here again I became a "founding member", though other commitments have kept me from serving on the Board. Like other groups, the Bare Skins have had their good times and bad times, though it seems to be holding its own. I am also a member of Wildfyre, the largest group of its kind. These and others like them give me and other gay and bisexual nudists opportunities to have a good time, meet like-minded men, and be naked as often as possible.

Through my involvement with local nudist clubs, I became familiar with the naturist movement and naturist organizations, both gay and mainstream. I have been a member of GNI (Gay Naturists International) for over half a decade, though job obligations have sadly kept me from attending its annual summer Gatherings. I am also a member of South Florida Free Beaches/Florida Naturist Association, the entity responsible for making Haulover one of our country's leading clothing-optional beaches. Being on the fringe themselves, "straight" nudists tend to be gay-friendly, though of course they run the gamut. Some "family" nudist camps keep single men out, while others welcome gay men (and lesbians) with open arms. There are also naturist political action committees, for nudism remains a hot target for pressure groups and pandering politicians. Thanks to groups like SFFB/FNA, many naturists of all genders and sexual orientation can enjoy nude recreation in their own home towns.

Public nudity, like GLBT rights, is a controversial topic. Through the years religious bigots and their representatives in office have repeatedly tried to close down clothing-optional beaches, often successfully. Even Haulover and other resorts we take for granted remain at the mercy of the politicians and the developers. The fight for public and recreational nudism is not an easy one, but it is not without its benefits. At least it brought together all men and women who believe in individual rights, whether lesbian or gay, bisexual or heterosexual.

This post originally ran on September 16, 2008, on Bilerico-Florida; img flickr

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Regan DuCasse | May 14, 2011 12:45 PM

Jesse, I have a VERY serious question for you. I've been trying to figure out that type of mindset. Okay, so nudity is liberating and all that. But WHY in PUBLIC?
That, I think is what is most disturbing to people AND engaging children in it as well. Why in PUBLIC?

I am a female, I'm tall and athletic. My developing body never felt like my own to begin with because I'm always subject to street ogling and loud and obnoxious observations by men especially, in public. It's difficult to know WHAT to do because it's hard to know if that wolfishness won't turn into actual physical threat. Verbal abuse is bad enough.
You might defend your public nudism as anathema to that, that your fellow nudist enthusiasts respect other's bodies and are NOT a threat when so much is revealed outright.
And how does ANYONE really know that? People who abuse others are clever. Sociopaths play their parts effectively up until they are ready to pounce.
How DOES a nudist keep the trolls out? How do you know one from the other even when you can see more than face value?

My body has been cared for throughout my life. Even for a woman that lives in the most LOOKIST city in the nation (Los Angeles )and who works in the film industry part time, I do my best to not stand out. I don't wear make up usually and I started shaving my head decades ago. But being a dancer and serious athlete gives me away as such and wearing t-shirts and jeans and cowboy boots is my usual mode of dress.

I DO have respect for others. Experiencing catcalls and lack of respect for my person, makes me empathetic to others, especially women and girls who endure it.
Perhaps a man like you has the luxury of inviting people to look at you naked because you might never have had to be cautious about it. I see practical reasons for clothes. Protection from sunburn, but bites and public surfaces you share.

I get speculated on what's under my clothes to begin with and it's not appreciated when it's used as a means to show off at my expense.
So the mindset of people who WANT it and INVITE it, has me wondering, that's all.

I suppose you can take it for granted that in such an environment YOU are the one in control, where outside of such a place, I certainly am not.
And perhaps the people who share your interest SEEM harmless and without judgment. I'm thinking perhaps just the opposite, that the spectre of such activity is another kind of exhibitionism and being inconsiderate of what that invites.
When YOU don't care, you don't care. And what that means or does, doesn't matter to a nudist. They want to have things the way they want and damn the consequences.
And there ARE consequences, there always are.

A woman's place in all this is very different from a man's. Men DO tend to show off, and aren't judged so much for their looks as women are. Perhaps some nudists rationalize there is no vanity in them, that it's the most natural state and there is no other motive but being comfortable.
But I don't assume all nudists think or care about all the same things.
And there is no way to judge another person's prurience if they aren't voicing it openly.

So perhaps you can enlighten me because I really don't understand WANTING to be nude in front of any kind of people, no matter who they are.
My own sense of privacy, and expecting it to be respected is hard to come by. Personal privacy in particular. Nudists, in a sense, give away the store of privacy so carefully crafted in other quarters.
So, why is that?

Thanks for this post, Jesse.

It bears mentioning (no pun intended) that the "bear" sub-community within the LGBT world is all about not having to be "slim, young and buff" -- although you will find bears that fit that description. The bear community (communities?) also overlaps the gay nudist and the gay leather sub-cultures, for reasons that seem to me both ineffable yet obvious.

I'm an occasional nudist, and I attended a few gay nudist get-togethers. Although they usually take place in someone's home, they are more than bathhouse visits without the sex. In a bathhouse, many won't say boo to you if they don't want you for a sex partner; but at a nudist event, sexual disinterest is the assumption and everyone is free to socialize with everyone else. Socializing -- nude fellowship -- is the whole point.

And the surprising thing is ... sometimes I find an older, overweight and otherwise not-material-for-Honcho-magazine gent who is very sexy for some unidentifiable reason. At almost every sizable nudist get-together, I find one or a handful of these.

The groups I have joined in folks' homes have one rule: Bring a towel, not to wrap yourself with bathhouse-style, but to sit on. That way you don't leave your little puckerhole prints all over the family heirloom Appalachian quilts, the African mahogany stairway, or the Italian marble bench by the Neptune pool.

Okay, Jesse, forgot to ask: Where do we go on Internet to see you posing in your birthday suit?

Gaytorguy | May 16, 2011 11:26 AM

I was born on the other coast of Florida. When I was 15, I convinced my parents to allow me to join a naturist (then nudist) resort which my best friend and his family were members of at the time. It wasn't public, and to be honest I may have had some naivety at that age, but there seemed to be a family organization about it.
Basically, it was just people having fun in the sun without clothes. I am sure other things were happening for the overnighted in their cabins. But we were there for the day and maybe the evening.
One nice thing about it is you get to see all iterations of people's physical body types. And in so doing, there is not repulsion in the future. Similar to when I was younger, I lived in an extended family situation. I was around all aged members of my families and their friends and friend's families. So, I never had a reservation about being with people of any age. Nuclear families tend to have children who have no connection and therefore no value for older people.
I must also state my grandparents came over from Europe. And as such, though they Americanized themselves, they still taught European values. Meaning they were not as puritanical as most Americans were/are.
The place I attended as a boy closed before I left college. Unfortunately, there was a major highway overpass built over an adjacent property and the overpass had breakdown lanes which were wide enough for people to angle park and ogle through binoculars at the people there. And since it was a family camp. This was a no-no for the police. So, instead of banning parking on the overpass and patrolling it and citing people, the commission voted its license revoked.
When I visited Europe, I was reminded of the same feeling of being at that camp when I was at nude beaches and camps there.
When people make something obscene, it becomes both hated and desired. And so, the ogler come to the nude beaches to fulfill some fantastic desire. Yet, they who are normal, are upset when what they see is the normal.
My gay friends used to fawn after the gym rats and juice heads. But I had, I think due to seeing regular people at the nudist/naturist camps and beaches, an attitude of the person, not just the body. And it served me better throughout my life than their mentality served them.
@Regan... I understand your concerns. Catcalls are nothing more than verbal abuse. One can tell someone they are attractive without resorting to testosterone induced mob mentality. Sociopaths, as you called those who may attend a place like a clothing removed locale, may be present. But private clubs should and usually do have a set of guidelines for letting people in, or they did. I have not attended one in years.
Usually, it is membership by referral after the initial member drive. And the security personnel are usually more than adequate to keep the riff-raff out. In the club I joined @ 15, any complaint was mediated and weighted on the side of the accuser. Safety was a priority, especially new members who were on probation for 6 months. Any cause for concern was met with expulsion and no legal recourse on the person kicked-out. Loss of dues paid and no reinstatement. AND the referring member went on 6 month probation.
Why in public? In Europe it is more or less of a "when in Rome" mentality. Here, I think sometimes it is the need for a nice location and the inability to purchase that location, like a beach. Maybe it is the ability to say "I have rights too!"