I Went to a Nude Comedy Show and Learned to Accept My Body

I Went to a Nude Comedy Show and Learned to Accept My Body VICE MAGAZINE April 16, 2015 by Alison Stevenson

A few weeks ago, I found an email in my inbox with the subject line: “THE NAKED COMEDY SHOW RETURNS.” I opened it and learned that I was on the email list for a nudist Meetup group that I don’t remember joining. The email was an invitation to a nudist comedy show, which required everyone involved, including the audience, to be in the buff. I bought my ticket on the spot.

Even though I was a part of this Meetup group (which, again, I really don’t remember joining), I hadn’t thought much about nudism—but the movement is very important to some people. Nudist events first gained popularity in America in the 1960s, when nude beaches were popularized and Americans started to push back on Puritanical attitudes toward nudity (though there was a long history of nudism before that). Today, according to a younger nudist organization, there’s a “generational gap” in nudist circles. That is to say, millennials aren’t that into it.

I enjoy being naked in the comfort of my own home, probably more than the average person. The only time I’m not naked in my apartment is when I have company over, or when I’m frying food in the kitchen—it took an oil burn on my chest the size of a third nipple to learn this lesson. In the past, I wore underwear in my sleep due to an irrational fear of spiders crawling up my vagina, but have since overcome this fear by the possibility of a thousand spider eggs hatching inside me. I am purportedly infertile, so that could be my only real chance of motherhood.

As much as I like being naked at home, I have an entirely different attitude about being naked in public. Of course, most people do. While we are generally a nation that agrees a bare human body is inoffensive, we still prefer that bare body stay indoors or on our television and movie screens.

Advocates for social nudity are obviously aware of all this, and thus keep their public nudity within the confines of private property. This comedy show was no exception: It would take place inside a rented-out theater space in the San Fernando Valley. Cameras and recording devices were strictly forbidden, while towels were strictly required.

The day of the show, I wasn’t completely sure I could go through with attending. Hours before the event, I had stared at my naked body in front of my mirror, analyzing each and every thing I liked or disliked about it. I concluded that I disliked my nipples. If my nipples were eyes, the left one would be a lazy eye. While my right nipple can look you in the face, the left appears to wander off, giving the impression that it’s bored of your conversation or looking for someone better to network with. Then there’s my back acne. Though not as drastic as it was when I was a teen, remnants of those miserable years are still present.

Then I thought about what others might not like about my body. Surely, most would find my gut unattractive. I don’t love my gut, but I welcome it as part of the package deal that gave me my sizeable ass, breasts, and thighs. Actually, my thighs could be considered unattractive as well. They’re far too mighty to have one of those quaint little gaps thin girls hashtag about. Then there’s the stretch marks, cellulite, and thick mound of pubic hair—things that are inherently me, but I worried about them anyway.

When I arrived to the theater, I had to stand outside for a bit and give myself a final pep talk. I couldn’t quite figure out why this was so hard for me. I kept telling myself this would be a group of accepting people—it had to be—and yet, even though I knew I was to be in a room full of other naked people, I couldn’t imagine not being personally judged for my nakedness. I finally just sucked it up and powered through.

Once inside, I was taken back by the sea of naked men and women. This was a smorgasbord of dicks, butts, and breasts, all varying in shapes and sizes. There were at least 70 people present, and they stood around talking with one another real casually. They looked like parents standing around and chatting while waiting for their kids to be let out of school.

I sat near the back, next to a woman who still had her button-up shirt on. I asked her if she was going to take it off and she said she was planning to. I was still hesitant, so I asked her if we could take our clothes off together. She agreed, and on the count of three I removed my dress, ripping it off as swiftly as a BandAid. I had deliberately chosen to not wear underwear or a bra underneath, knowing that if I did, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to take them off. So once I pulled off my dress, there I was—naked.

It took a few minutes to adjust, but I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I felt being naked in my chair (sitting on my mandatory towel, of course). I wasn’t sure if I could leave my chair though, as it became my new safety blanket. It took a lot of mental debate as to whether or not I had it in me to get up and buy a drink at the bar. Luckily, my desire for whiskey outranked my fear of awkward stares. Waiting in line completely nude became my true test of courage, and I passed.

As I stood at the bar and waited, I distracted myself by scoping the space to get a better look at everyone present. The men outnumbered the women, and most people seemed to be in their mid-40s and 50s. There were about ten or 15 men and women in their 20s and 30s. The woman I was sitting next to, Leslie, looked to be around my age. When I got back to my seat, she introduced me to her much-older boyfriend, Patrick. He told me there were people at this show he didn’t expect to come, and I got a sense of what a tight community this was. Some of these nudists drove several hours to be at this event. Patrick said he’d known some of these people for over a decade, purely through the nudist community. Outside of nudism, these were people he would probably never meet or interact with in real life.

The show finally started, and ran for about an hour and a half. The host was the only woman other than me who had a hairy bush. (Hers was neatly trimmed though. Kudos.) Some performers were trying comedy for the first time. Others were more seasoned. I wasn’t really there to see comedy. I was there for the nudist experience, and am genuinely happy to have done it. By the end of the show, I was able to get up and grab more drinks, as well as walk to the bathroom, without any hesitation about my body.

I took to public nudity a lot better than I thought possible. In fact, it felt pretty great. Not one comment was made about any of the things I obsessed over in front of my mirror. No one was offended by my lazy nipple, or disgusted by my back acne. By the end of night, I came to terms with the fact that though these things on me were definitely being looked at, they simply didn’t matter. Just like I took notice of a strange growth on one woman’s breast, and one man’s legitimate micro-penis, people were noticing what I thought of as “flaws” in my body and nobody cared. I left the show that night with Leslie and Patrick’s contact information. They urged me to join them at another nudist gathering, and I think I just might take them up on it.

I was Naked in PUBLIC. That’s right, NO CLOHTES!

I was NAKED in PUBLIC. That’s right, NO CLOTHES!

– By Diane Kawasaki
DIANE K3I’ll admit it, I like to dress up like a skanky whorebag for Halloween. I love taking stupid photos with complete strangers in West Hollywood—it’s like a tradition. However, Halloween 2011 was different. Instead of dolling up in the trashiest outfit I could find, I ditched clothes altogether and spent Halloween weekend at a nudist resort.

I’ve always been happy as a “textile”. In fact, I’ve spent a small fortune indulging this lifestyle and never had any complaints. I’m not sure what brings most people to the nudist resort, but I ultimately made the decision to bare it all because I was so of afraid of nudity. Secondly, I liked the idea of being in a setting where it was socially acceptable not to wear pants. I hate wearing pants. Pants: the ultimate reminder that I have a big ass. Thanks pants, you bastard!

One of my best buddies is a nudist. Throughout our friendship, he’s shared bits and pieces of life as a nudist. I gave my buddy a lot of props for being so secure in his skin to hang out naked in front of complete strangers. I thought it was awesome and said my usual line, “that’s cool, we should try that someday” (I didn’t mean it AT ALL).

While the thought of overcoming those insecurities was indeed “cool”, I had never actually planned to seriously do it. That would involve me being naked… in front of strangers AND my friend—my MALE friend (i.e. I’d have to see his… you know… ahhh!).

A few days before Halloween weekend, my friend invited me to a costume party at Olive Dell—a lovely nudist resort in Colten, CA. I received his text right before bed and felt particularly adventurous at the time. For some reason, when I’m bundled in my blankets about to fall asleep, I feel invincible and oddly optimistic.

The next morning I woke up in horror. I looked through my texts and immediately regretted my decision. A part of me was still intrigued while every other part was completely terrified. I hopped out of bed, jumped in the shower and thought of every possible excuse to bail on the nudist resort weekend. At the time, my friend Nicole had caught a cold. I was so worked up over my fears and even thought about intentionally catching her cold.

I eventually accepted that I was going to spend my weekend at a nudist resort NAKED. From experience, the things I feared most usually turn out to be really awesome, life-changing moments. I knew that my friend was really stoked to have his first “textile friend” to “cross-over” into nudism and I didn’t want to let him down. I made the decision it was going to be great and that was it.

I told Nicole that I was planning to go to a nudist resort. She jokingly asked, “is that like an orgy? Are you going to bang strangers?”

In response, I told her: “Uh, NO. Well, I don’t really know what’s going to happen. We’ll see.” She was horrified.

I really didn’t know what to expect. While my nudist friend filled me in on some details, I felt inundated by the unknown. What was it going to be like? Would everyone have perfect, statuesque bodies? Will people stare at me more than usual?

I’ve always been neurotic and it didn’t surprise me that I had all sorts of irrational fears surface as the weekend drew near. The greatest of all fears was the possibility of someone taking a photo of me without my permission. What if there are perverts lurking around? What if they take photos of me and I end up on some douchebag’s wall under the caption: “Little Person Gone Wild”?

The truth is that I am very uncomfortable with my body. While I enjoy (& prefer) being naked around my apartment, I never felt comfortable with others seeing me naked. In addition, I was also concerned with my own reaction to the nudity. Would I be my usual awkward self and look unnecessarily disgruntled throughout the weekend? Likely.

As soon as I got out of the car, I encountered the first naked stranger. I couldn’t help but stare at his penis. I just couldn’t look away. It’s not that I’ve never seen one before, but I’ve definitely never seen one attached to a body I wasn’t dating. It was definitely different. It was right there at eye level. I kept reminding myself: “look up, look up, dammit look up!”.

Everyone else was totally cool and they were just kicking back on a beautiful sunny day. There I was, still fully clothed and walking as if I was on a tightrope focusing on not looking down. My awkwardness also caused a neck ache from trying so hard to maintain eye contact AT ALL TIMES.

My friend was so sweet and never pressured me to get naked. He told me that everyone was very cool and wouldn’t make a big deal if I chose not to get naked. I figured it was pointless to be part of this experience and not actually face my fear. I watched as all sorts of people—all shapes and sizes—walked around securely in their bodies. It was beautiful and I felt envious of the freedom they carried so boldly.

I went to the bathroom and took off all my clothes. I sat on the toilet inside of the stall and clenched my folded sundress and underwear as I prepared to walk out. I must’ve sat there for 15 minutes before I actually got the nerve to walk out of the stall. A lady came inside the bathroom and I promptly ran back into the stall.

A few minutes later, I wrapped my towel tightly around me and walked out of the bathroom. My towel kept slipping off, as if it was an indication that the towel was just holding me back. I finally pulled off my towel and stood there naked. I expected a reaction from other people and prepared myself. However, I didn’t get much of a reaction at all. Everyone just treated me as a… person. No one was baffled by the fact I was smaller or that I had a crooked spine. No one stared at my massive ass or even glanced at the long scar on my back from my spinal surgery. It was nice. No one cared about my physicality. They all just wanted to have a nice weekend and enjoy the hot tub.

Prior to visiting the nudist resort, my friend educated me that most people have the misconception that nudism is a very sexually explicit lifestyle. The truth of the matter is that nudists are very respectful of the human body. Since being naked is part of his or her lifestyle, it isn’t something to be fawned over when someone gets naked. There is no shame in being naked. Once shame is removed, fear and lust dissolve.

As I surveyed the resort, everyone was having a great time. No one was looking at each other inappropriately and I didn’t even see one erection the entire weekend. Trust me, if anyone was going to spot out a boner, it was going to be me. Everyone was so respectful and there was even a sign indicating that people were not allowed to take photos without permission. All my fears dissipated and I soon realized that I was just creating problems that didn’t exist.

Later that night, I saw a really attractive man with a very beautiful penis. It was just perfect. I never saw anything quite like it before. It was just amazing. I couldn’t help but stare at it and soon realized I had found that pervert I had been afraid of: ME! I abruptly shifted my focus and resumed eye contact. If you fear perverts, but don’t manage to find one, odds are you’re the pervert. Look up, dammit, look up!

I’m so thankful to my friend for sharing this part of his life with me. I’m glad I went to Olive Dell and got to meet some incredible people. I also got to know myself quite a bit. While I won’t be ditching the textiles on a regular basis, I feel this experience will forever leave a lasting impression on the importance of living in the moment and embracing fear as part of growth.