It was sometime in the mid-nineties, after the last ragged, dying gasps of my foolish decision to marry at nineteen. The disco ball sparkled fragments of light romantically around the floor, where I moved slowly underneath, head pressed against the chest of my new boyfriend. A crowd of equally drunk people swayed around us in the haze. Through the speakers, Whitney Houston was singing “I Will Always Love You” in a time before reality shows would make her a laughingstock. I pushed aside the cynical part of me that was cringing at the drippy song lyrics, and just tried to enjoy the moment. We were young, it was midnight on a New Year’s Eve, and we were naked.

No, not emotionally. That’s not a metaphor or anything. We were actually naked.

He was the bass guitar player in a country-rockabilly band. I was learning to play guitar for an all-girl rock band I was joining, and I’d met him in my crowd of musician friends. His band had a standing New Year’s Eve gig at a nudist colony in Washington, Texas. They would make the drive from where we lived in Warrensburg, Missouri at the end of every year, to ring in the next one at the Live Oak Resort.

I wasn’t a stranger to nudity. When I was a child, my parents’ divorce took my little sister and me from Phoenix, Arizona to a farm outside of Lawrence, Kansas to live with our new stepfather. Our land was completely secluded, and our parents were reformed hippies, so we ran around naked outside in warm weather if we felt like it. Our only neighbors were the proprietors of a lesbian sprout farm that provided alfalfa and bean sprouts to local restaurants and grocery stores. They often walked around topless, and would casually squat to pee in the grass mid-sentence while we chatted with them, so they didn’t mind our nudity. For a couple of city kids, the newfound freedom in the countryside was awesome. Kids love naked time.

When my boyfriend tentatively asked me if I wanted to road trip with his band for the New Year’s Eve gig at the nudist ranch, I didn’t bat an eye. I knew the people watching would be choice. Of course I wanted to go.

As we pulled into the resort and parked the van for load-in, I was surprised to see various stages of clothing on the patrons. Some people wore clothes. Some people were naked. Some were only wearing shorts, but no shirt, as if they were getting dressed and suddenly remembered where they were. Most were wearing shoes, however, which bothered me. There is something inherently off-putting about a fully shod naked person. If you’re going to wear shoes while naked, you might as well strap on a fanny pack, or don a top hat and pair of mittens too. It just looks odd.

During the drive there, I had been briefed by my boyfriend and his band in the etiquette of bare-ass, and what to expect. They told me that nobody would be pressuring us to take off our clothes; nudity was not a requirement. “That’s cool,” I murmured casually, lest they think me uptight.

We got out of the van fully clothed. As promised, no one pointed sternly to the word “nudist” on a sign and demanded that we strip down. The band set up their instruments, sound checked, and we started drinking. Despite the nonchalant attitude we were trying to maintain about the naked people, there was definitely a nervous vibe. I knew I wasn’t the only one whose inner teenager was giggling and pointing.

The large building had been decorated for the occasion in white and silver streamers with rainbow confetti on the tables. There was a disco ball glittering in the middle, and a black velvet-covered deejay booth to one side. The champagne fountain caught my eye immediately. I had only dreamed of such glorious things up to this point in my young life. The sweet alcoholic nectar was flowing expressly for my girl-drink inebriation. Despite my free spirit upbringing, the plethora of casual naked strangers was unnerving, and I knew the champagne fountain and I would become fast friends.

The band got onstage and began to play. Naturally shy, with the boyfriend/social lifesaver now missing from my side, I took up permanent residence near the stream of liquid courage. Through the softening focus of my bubbly-dimmed awareness, I soon realized I was surrounded. The once empty recreation building was slowly filling with people. Naked people.

When you picture a nudist colony, if your mind is like mine, you might mentally hearken back to the sixties, to a time of lax inhibition and free love. You might picture young, unclothed people at one with nature, walking serenely though a field of flowers, holding hands. You might picture throngs of squirming, nubile bodies seeking pleasure from one another. You might even picture yourself in that scenario, if you are feeling sexy. What you do not picture in any imagined dreamscape full of naked people are your grandparents.

But that was what the building was full of: naked grandparents.

I was aghast to discover that my hedonistically carnal vision of what the nudist resort would be like was completely off target. I was expecting Greek gods and goddesses with bodies made of marble and supernatural sexuality on full display. Instead, I was surrounded by elderly people who might have pulled out a hard candy to offer me, if only they had pockets. I didn’t know if I was disappointed, relieved, or repulsed. Probably a combination of the three. The pressure was officially off to be attractive. Anyone with a poor body image would do well to go to a nudist camp.

With the intimidation factor lifted by the sagging skin and alcohol around me, I soon felt comfortable enough to revisit my carefree childhood by taking off my clothes. I stripped down to nothing, leaving my baggy jeans and T-shirt on a chair. Fuck it, I decided. Obviously nobody here cares if I have the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, or even a Lane Bryant model, for that matter.

Standing near the front of the stage drunk and naked, watching my boyfriend’s band play, I was soon asked to dance by one of the older men. It was a fast song, so there was no slow dancing closeness, and I accepted. I was really nervous about the slow songs, though. How would we keep the naughty bits from touching? With visions of Uncle Creepy punch lines dancing in my head, I didn’t want to explore that disturbing riddle any further.

I ended up dancing with many elderly gentlemen. As we talked, most of them seemed to feel obligated to explain to me, the outsider, why they were at the nudist ranch. Even though I never asked, or cared, they seemed determined to give me their reasons for getting naked. They told me they liked the resort because unlike in their normal lives, where they were very wealthy and powerful, nobody could determine one’s financial status without clothing. Everyone was equal when naked.

At the time, this rationalization struck me as noble. My youthfully trusting brain thought they were really neat people for valuing the social equality to be found in nudity. Now that I’m older, I realize they were probably just trying to impress the hot young chick by making sure I knew they were rich. Rather than appreciating the lack of class division, they were actually making certain I was aware of it. Unable to display shiny red sports cars and power suits, all they had left in their arsenal were words of braggadocio. They made sure the cat was out of the bag, or wrinkly old sack, as it were.

The night wore on, and the room full of nudists got more raucous. I noticed there were a few people who stood out as full-fledged extroverts, and many who were more casual. Upon meeting, some women would flirt openly, lasciviously telling me they liked the way I moved my body on the dance floor. Others would politely extend a hand in greeting, as if we were undressed ladies-who-lunch attending a fundraiser for clothing.

One woman was going from table to table, hiking up a leg to show everyone (who didn’t ask) her recent clitoral piercing. I found it interesting that someone could be seeking attention so hard that being naked wasn’t enough; she still needed to perform a labial lambada to stand out. I happened to be close to a few different tables when she did this, each time smiling benignly on the outside, while screaming in horror on the inside. She had managed to do the impossible: making me want to un-see something even more than the wrinkled ocean of senior flesh surrounding us.

There was a younger guy maintaining a constant state of semi-erection as he tried to dance with every woman in the room. People were giggling about this, which surprised me, as I would think any form of bodily mockery would be frowned upon in such a place. I was relieved to discover that even in a room full of nudists, it was still okay to laugh at an errant boner.

One man in particular latched onto me that night, grilling me about the nature of my relationship with the boyfriend. Yet again, the explanation was given that he came to the nudist resort so that he could be naked and not judged for having so much money, blah, blah, blah. Same story as the other men, but he was pushier, shoving a business card into my unwilling hand. “Call me,” he insisted.

The band ended up drinking enough to lose most of their clothing by the end of the night. And there we were: a bunch of naked people rocking out in a Texas warehouse. The show ended before midnight, and a deejay took over, playing all of the grungy songs and romantic ballads the nineties had to offer.

This experience reinforced to me that even in a group of people who consider themselves nonconformists, there will always be the familiar personalities. The archetypes exist with or without clothing: the attention whore, the arrogant rich guy, the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, the criminal… you’ve seen the movie.

Hugging my naked boyfriend on the dance floor at midnight while Whitney serenaded us, I noted the inimitability of the odd evening. This will probably be the most unusual and interesting New Year’s Eve I ever have in my life, I thought. And so far, this has proven to be correct. But I’m not giving up. I remain hopeful that I may someday top it.

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TAWNI FREELAND played guitar and sang for rock bands in Lawrence, Kansas and Los Angeles before settling down in Tulsa. She is working on her first novel. She has no exotic pets.

145 responses to “Happy Naked New Year”

  1. Gloria says:





    I’m reading now.

    (Welcome, beautiful lady.)

    • Gloria says:

      “lesbian sprout farm” is my go-to phrase for the day. Possibly the week. Thank you for that little gem. 😀

      There is something inherently off-putting about a fully shod naked person. – I’d never thought about this before, but I think you’re right.

      I was expecting Greek gods and goddesses with bodies made of marble and supernatural sexuality on full display. – this and the grandparents thing I so get. The first time I went to a hot springs, I had the same misconceptions. The second time I went, I wore a bathing suit. And blinders.

      I love the idea of everyone being equal when naked. I’ve heard this theory before. (Have you ever read David Sedaris’s hilarious retelling of his time at a nudist colony? So funny.) I think I might get naked right now, as a matter of fact. I’ll tell ’em Tawni sent me.

      This piece is so funny, Tawni. You, dear lady, crack me the shit up.

      If you ever have a stranger New Year’s Eve, will you promise to write about it?

      • Tawni Freeland says:

        “The second time I went, I wore a bathing suit. And blinders.” Ha! Blinders would be good.

        I’ve never read David Sedaris’s retelling of his time at a nudist colony, but I will have to now. How did I miss that one? I dearly love that man. I can still be reduced to laughing tears by SantaLand Diaries, no matter how many times I re-read it.

        And yes. Yes I will write about it if I ever have a stranger New Year’s Eve. But hopefully it will be a double piece written by both of us because you will be there with me. You in, lady?

        • Gloria says:

          I’m relatively certain that if you and I were involved in any New Year’s Eve shenanigans (especially if it were the first time meeting), there would be some legal issues surrounding writing about it. Self-incrimination and all that.

      • kristen says:

        Oh my god YES. Like Gloria, I love “lesbian sprout farm,” and I love the whole thing.

        You are one hilarious (and observant and poignant and really freakin’ talented) writer. Keep the posts a-comin’!

  2. Tawni Freeland says:

    WHEEEEEEEEE!!! I’m so excited and honored to be here on TNB among so many of my favorite writers! Thanks for reading me, G-Lovely. xoxoxoxo.

  3. Yay Tawni Freeland! This is a wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking first post. And, hey, where did that guy keep his business cards? It reminds me of a birthday card my parents bought me once picturing a naked dude patting his bare ass for an invisible back pocket in line at a grocery store and exclaiming, “I forgot my wallet!”

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Thanks so much, Cynthia. Haha. I like that birthday card your parents bought you. The guy actually went out to his car to get the business card for me, even though I made it clear I wasn’t available. I don’t think he was used to taking no for an answer. I threw the card away as soon as he was out of sight. A week later, I got a message from him on my answering machine, even though I’d never given him my number. He had looked me up via my last name. Creepy!

  4. Ashley Menchaca (NOL) says:

    Tawni! You’re here! Yay!!
    You told this story perfectly!
    I don’t mean to be uptight but the thought of going to a nudist camp scares the bejesus out of me! Although, 19 year old me would have been fine with it. It’s the post baby, 27 year old me that is hiding under the bed with layers of clothes.

    My favorite part…

    “One woman was going from table to table, hiking up a leg to show everyone (who didn’t ask) her recent clitoral piercing. I found it interesting that someone could be seeking attention so hard that being naked wasn’t enough; she still needed to perform a labial lambada to stand out. I happened to be close to a few different tables when she did this, each time smiling benignly on the outside, while screaming in horror on the inside. She had managed to do the impossible: making me want to un-see something even more than the wrinkled ocean of senior flesh surrounding us.”

    I used to hang out at a piercing place in the French Quarter named Rings Of Desire and this sort of thing would happen all too often. But then again, we all kind of expected it.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Yep, my fellow mommy, I heard THAT. I was much younger and ten pounds underweight at the time, and had not yet given birth to a child. It would take a swimming pool full of booze to get me naked in public these days.

      Oh god. The piercing. I am squeezing my legs together really tightly right now just thinking about it. Ouch!

      • melissa says:

        Great story. I’m now remembering skinny dipping with you and a bunch of people at a small lake in a private sub-division just outside of town.
        A older man, a homeowner that we had awakened came toward us with a flashlight and a brave few or maybe just the drunkest met him and giggled and begged he wouldn’t call the cops. I was one of the brave and I will never forget that…so young….so thin. Oh my life and bodies before kids.

        • melissa says:

          I liked your story, how long have you been writing? I’m gathering from things I’ve read here and there that you’ve written alot.

        • Tawni Freeland says:

          Oh my goodness. I had forgotten about that skinny dipping escapade! What an awesome memory. Those were the days, yes? And I am starting to suspect that I have spent an inordinate amount of my life engaging in naked tomfoolery. Haha.

          Thanks for reading. I’ve read books constantly and written my entire life, but didn’t start focusing on writing until after the birth of my son in 2006, when I lost my usual creative outlet of playing music in bands. Creativity in any form is good, and necessary for my sanity. Writing has been giving me a gentler, parent-lifestyle-friendly way to release it.

  5. Becky Palapala says:

    Poor boys.

    Poor penises.

    Penises are always —-> <—– this close to being mocked, for some reason or another.

    Because they’re funny-looking, because they’re small, because they’re big, because they’re hard, because they’re soft, because they’re something in between.

    No wonder men are so insecure.

    Unlike the labial lambada lady, I’m happy my plumbing is hidden away.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Poor, poor penises. They can’t catch a break. And has anyone ever seen the Perfect Penis? Do angels sing when the owner unzips his pants? Does a glowing rainbow of light shoot out, blinding the person lucky enough to witness the Perfect Penis glory? I wonder.

      Yay for hidden plumbing!

  6. Victoria Patterson says:

    Congrats on your first post! What a way to come out of the gate. Here’s my favorite sentence: “Some were only wearing shorts, but no shirt, as if they were getting dressed and suddenly remembered where they were.”

    Your piece, along with the comments, just considerably brightened what otherwise was a gloomy Wednesday for me.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Awwww… thanks, Victoria. It makes me so happy to hear that I helped brighten your day. I hope it continues to shine brightly. (:

  7. Victoria Patterson says:

    Congrats on your first post! What a way to come out of the gate. Here’s my favorite sentence: “Some were only wearing shorts, but no shirt, as if they were getting dressed and suddenly remembered where they were.”

    Your piece, along with the comments, (and even your tags), just considerably brightened what otherwise was a gloomy Wednesday for me.

  8. Greg Olear says:

    What a pleasant surprise! Long overdue, Tawni. Welcome to the Other Side.

    And what a great post!

    I was once in a situation where nudity was allowed, although not everyone went that route; it’s a story for another day, but I remember him being totally naked except for his Tevas. The shoes were ridiculous.

    Even in a room full of nudists, it’s still okay to laugh at an errant boner. Who knew?

    Yay, Tawni!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Yes. The Other Side. I always knew the grass was greener over here. Should I begin the “one of us, one of us” chant, or will you be doing it today? (:

      My next band will be called Errant Boner.

      Thank you so much for the post props, Greg. That means a lot to me.

  9. Yvonne says:

    YAY, TAWNI!!! You’re on TNB!!! I’m so thrilled about this, and I hope to read more from you – because you always ALWAYS crack me up!

    “I was relieved to discover that even in a room full of nudists, it was still okay to laugh at an errant boner.” Niiiice!

    All gone, need more!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      It’s Yvonne! Yippee! Good to see you here, you amazing lady. You should go to http://www.gravatar.com and upload a picture to go with your email address so we can see your pretty face. You have such a pretty face.

      Thank you so much for reading, and for saying nice stuff that makes me smile. xoxo.

      • Yvonne says:

        Aww, shucks, thank ya! But, I don’t know, I kinda like the anonymity of the little round faceless creature. I think it kinda resembles me, hehe!

  10. Marybear says:

    I was just naked, then I noticed the curtain by the computer was open. damn =/

  11. David says:

    First, “labial lambada”… very funny!

    Second, and I almost hate to ask, where did the business card come from and where did he intend it to go, there being no pockets and all?

    Great post, Tawni.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Haha. You’re perceptive to notice how strange that part was, as it required some effort to get me the business card I didn’t want. He made a special trip out to his car to retrieve it, amid my protests. I guess cars serve as pockets for naked dudes at a nudist resorts. I don’t want to know what the ladies use for purses. My brain goes to an icky place when I try to picture potential storage spaces on naked ladies. (:

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I truly appreciate it.

  12. Tawni! How fabulous that you danced naked in a room full of naked seniors on new years eve! It’s a dreadful holiday filled with way too much expectation and usually no pay-off, but you, oh you and your telling of this story just made it a little more bearable. Now, please, I beg of you, tell the story of your country move, your early love of nudity, and the sprout loving lesbians who could squat pee and carry on a conversation… please , please, please, please, please!

    You have a way with these words, girl! MORE!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Yes, it really was the funniest, strangest party I’ve ever attended. I’ve got to find a way to top it someday, I simply must. Maybe next time I could go in the opposite direction and attend a New Year’s Eve party for furries or plushies? Haha.

      And… wow. Considering how much I enjoyed reading your book, I’m absolutely ecstatic that you liked this, Robin. Thank you so much!

  13. Marybear says:

    poor sweet penii their comic gold is undeniable

  14. Carol Hiller says:

    I get to say “yes, I was there when Tawni made her first TNB post.” It’s all about me.

    Love you, cupcake,

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      It is all about you, Carol. Always.

      I get ridiculously happy when I see the picture of you holding that watermelon.

      Love you too!

  15. Joe Daly says:

    Welcome aboard, Tawni!

    Absolutely thrilled to see your name under the lead piece. And for a first post, you’ve got nudity, drinking, and live music covered. I have a feeling that you have a long and prosperous career here at TNB…

    Whilst many years as a rugby player have left me comfortable with nudity (for all the wrong reasons), I have never been to a nudist ranch, nor have I visited the nude beach here in San Diego, which apparently has more hanging junk than a road house. Thanks, therefore, for the education on nudist etiquette. I think I’m 50/50 on whether I’ll ever put it to use. 🙂

    Congrats on a fun and enjoyable first piece. Already looking forward to the next one!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      “Has more hanging junk than a road house” made me snort. Awesome.

      Thank you so much for the kind comment and welcome aboard, Joe. I’m so excited to be a part of TNB, this amazing website I have adored since its inception. And yes, getting the word “naked” into my title was completely intentional. I also made a point of saying “fuck” at least once, just to get that out of the way early. (:

  16. Erika Rae says:

    I am so pissed that I have no time to read right now. But I saw your name and did a total double-take and hence had to write. WELCOME!!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO!

    I will read later. I promise.

  17. Jessica Blau says:

    THis is SO great!

    There are so many more posts I want to read now: 1. You married at 19. 2 Your hippy parents, nudity at home.

    We had the Diane Arbus photo book in the house growing up. She took lots of pictures of nudists. Most of them older or oldish–paunchy bellies, hanging flesh. These are the people I see when I think of a nudist colony.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      When I read your first book, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, one of the things I loved most about it was relating to another girl growing up among nudity and free spirits. I wouldn’t trade my interesting childhood for anything, but I haven’t met too many people (besides my sister) who can relate to giggle-worthy things like the distraction of a penis bobbing through their field of vision as someone walks past the TV. (:

      My parents were awesome and unconventional. I think you’re right; they deserve a post of their own. A piece in loving appreciation of hippie parents everywhere, perhaps?

      Thank you so much!

  18. jmblaine says:

    There’s your book:

    Errant Boners
    & the Owners

    by Tawni

  19. Matt says:

    “Everyone was equal when naked.”

    Truest fucking statement I’ve ever heard. Even if those people were trying to find other means to flaunt their status.

    Unlike Joe, I HAVE been to the nudist beach here in San Diego, and it’s pretty much as you describe here, a more….mature…crowd than a younger mind would hope for. It does have some of the most surfable break in town, though. And I can tell you quite honestly that there is nothing quite like surfing naked.

    Way to come out swinging, lady.

    • Erika Rae says:

      And by “swinging”, he is obviously discussing your fists.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Wow… that’s really cool. Surfing naked! There were nibbling fish that made it uncomfortable when we tried skinny dipping in college at the Lake of the Ozarks. I guess we needed the vastness of the ocean. I would love to go to the nude beach in San Diego as an experiment to see if my childhood ease with nudity might triumph over my adult body issues. I have a feeling that naked time might win, especially with the assistance of a few adult beverages in me. I still can’t sleep with clothes on. I try, because it is cold here in the winter, but I end up frustratedly ripping them off and hurling them on the floor in minutes.

      “Way to come out swinging, lady.” Nice one. Haha.

      Thanks, Matt. xoxo.

  20. Richard Cox says:

    Hello, Tawni! Fancy meeting you here! Seems like I’ve been seeing you a lot lately!

    I know you dropped the F-bomb in this post to set the stage, as it were, but I think the description of a woman hiking up her leg to show everyone her recent clitoral piercing worked just as well. Ha.

    I loved this post and I’m so glad to see you on board, Ms. Freeland. Your presence as a contributor is long overdue. 🙂

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Hello again, Richard! It was so cool to see you in your human form the other night. (And I didn’t even get shy-girl neck hives. Victory!) Now I know that you really exist… or do you?

      Haha. Yes. Nothing like writing about clitoral piercings and boners to let people know who you really are inside right off the bat. The F-bomb was more of a festive sparkler when dropped among those topics, wasn’t it?

      Thanks so much for all of your kind support and literary hand-holding, my friend. I’m overjoyed to be on board TNB.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Also: I put the sentence “I knew the people watching would be choice” in this just for you, Richard. (:

  21. Zara Potts says:

    What an awesome surprise to see your name here today! And what a tonic!
    You are a much braver woman than I, Tawni Freeland. I wouldn’t have dared show my arse at 19! I remember going to some awful hippy festival when I was young -CLOTHES OPTIONAL – and standing in line to get some food, most likely sprouts from a lesbian farm, and behind me was a nude juggler with a foot long beard. I promptly forgot about lunch and I have hated the public ever since.
    Great story, lovely T – how wonderful to have you here!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      “I promptly forgot about lunch and I have hated the public ever since.”


      You poor, traumatized sweetie. That sounds highly upsetting and truly unappetizing. Did he have socks and shoes on too? That’s the worst.

      Thank you, beautiful Zara. I am so grateful and happy to be here. xoxo.

  22. Erika Rae says:

    Yep. You’re a keeper. Fantastic first post. So many great observations here. And those men: Hi. I come to nude beaches so that no one knows how fabulously wealthy I am. Wow. (Shhh! The emperor is wearing clothes!)

    I went to a nude beach in France with my parents when I was in high school (not that there were any non-nude beaches in France in the late 80s). Aside from a bunch of nubile teenagers playing nude volleyball, I swear the entire rest of the beach was filled with grandparents. Saggy parts abounded. And then there was us – the little American Evangelical family all fully clothed in one piece suits complete with frills on my mom’s bathing skirt. (awkward!!!)

    Anyhow. Glad to see you have joined the Dark Side.

    • Erika Rae says:

      I forgot to ask – did you peel off your clothes while all alone? Or did you wait for boyfriend for some courage to co-peel? I really like the image of you just standing up at the table all by yourself and then just tossing them toward the champagne fountain. Please say it was so.

      • Tawni Freeland says:

        He was onstage performing with his band most of the night, so I was alone on the floor. I got naked before he did. I took off my socks and shoes first, then shirt and pants, and finally undergarments. I placed them on a chair in a neatly folded pile because I am still compulsive, even when naked. But when I think back on that moment, I like to picture myself crying like a first-night-at-work stripper while I take the clothes off slowly and sadly, with an air of defeat. I’m kind of a drama queen that way.

        • Ashley Menchaca (NOL) says:

          I would feel awkward to undress later…
          like I finally gave in to peer pressure or something.

          you have balls, miss!

      • Ashley Menchaca (NOL) says:

        I wondered the same thing!!

        • Tawni Freeland says:

          I can see that side, like I was giving in to peer pressure. But at the time, the vibe in the room was so celebratory that it just felt like I was joining the party, if that makes sense. People were like, “Yay! You got naked with us!” and cheered when the band started to strip in between songs. It was very freeing to dance nude in a room of naked people, and didn’t feel perverted or creepy at all. Maybe a bit primal. It mostly made me feel like a little hippie kid again, running around the farm naked. Except this time I was drunk, with all kinds of interesting characters around to watch. Bonus! Haha.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words and welcome, Erika. And for the description of your modestly-clothed family standing in shock among naked French elderly beachgoers. That mental snapshot is beyond glorious. If you could reproduce that moment in front of a camera, it might be a compelling cover for your book, yes? (:

  23. As Erika mentioned above, French beaches back in the day were pretty much nude beaches. I saw a lot of saggy naked folks when I was younger, and most of them were German. The Germans seemed to enjoy airing out their genitals more than most nationalities, and would always place their hands on their hips and let everything sag before the world.

    Never actually got into the nudity thing myself, although I’ve been skinny-dipping on various occasions. It’s not the same when you’re drunk at night and everyone is either in the water or crashing quickly in that direction. That doesn’t strike me as full nudity.

    Anyway, I really enjoy this and there were a couple of sentences I’d like to quote but I see that they’ve already been applauded above, so I won’t repeat them again. Oh yeah… welcome to this side or the other side or whatever side it is that we’re now on.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Oh, those wacky Germans. Striking that saggy, naked pose with pride. My grandma was born in Germany. I’ll have to ask her if she ever got naked on a beach before she came to America. Hmm. Or maybe not. *shudders*

      Skinny dipping is fun, but I agree with you. Alcohol is definitely a crutch, carrying nervous reservations onward to braver places. I wouldn’t even consider my New Year’s Eve experience full nudity, because I had to get drunk to feel brave enough to strip. A nude beach sober would be a true test. Broad daylight, no clothing, no liquid courage, and nowhere to hide. I’d probably end up shivering in the water until sunset.

      Thank you so much for the warm welcome! It’s really nice over here on this side.

      • I don’t know why this just crossed my mind but Korea actually just got its first (and probably only/short-lived) nude beach. It’s on the island south of the country (so it’s really not that Korean…) called Jeju. I have a feeling that there will be one brave foreign guy and one brave foreign girl standing on the beach, with about five thousand Korean guys sitting in their cars, having just heard about it in the internet.

    • Amanda says:

      “The Germans seemed to enjoy airing out their genitals more than most nationalities…” so true!

      i’ve been groovin’ on the nude thing most my life (my son knows that ours is not a “drop by unannounced” home, as most likely Mom will be naked), but being in Germany was a lovely treat. i was playing frisbee in the park–one of those wonderfully tucked into the intersection of 5 or more streets–with 2 american boys (we were all around 19) and they were immediately shirtless. i was very soon shirtless, as well. it took them a few awkward moments to get used to this, but soon any “self-conscious for my sake” eye aversion stopped and we had quite a rousing game of catch. how gleefully i could leap for the disc and extend my arms without that oversized, pesky tie-dye t-shirt cloying to me. did i mention there was a hot summer rain?

      ah, bliss.

  24. Yay, Tawn Tawn!!

    Instead, I was surrounded by elderly people who might have pulled out a hard candy to offer me, if only they had pockets.

    It’s about time they let you in!!!! Those on the other side are rooting for you
    and know that fame and fortune will not change you — you’ll still remember the old days
    of being a groundling commenter, of sleeping in your van down by the river.
    There’s always a seat for you, by our fire – we’ll always treat you the same, you’ll always be
    the ever sweet, Tawni McTawn Tawn to us. ; )

    Anyyywaaay, GREAT STORY!! I had some experience with public nudity in France at the beach — it was very freeing for sure. You see enough wrinkled tanned old ladies and gents and it’s all good. Bodies become kind of funny. It’s silly, right? Our asses are silly.

    Can’t wait to read more from you – yaaayyy!!!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      You know the hard candy would be a butterscotch disc. My grandma always pulled out a used Kleenex or two before she found a butterscotch disc to shut me up in church, but I wasn’t a choosy beggar. I wanted that candy. Haha.

      Asses are silly, aren’t they? I think seeing my son’s tiny cute little butt running around the house all of the time has made me acutely aware of how weird they are. Like two Christmas hams stuck to the backs of our bodies. We’re festive!

      Thank you for saying the nice things, Steph. You made me feel all smiley and blush-tastic. And I will never, ever give up my van down by the river, because that’s the only place I can get any peace. Well, there, and in the office in the front of the house. But the van is much more exciting. I can sing along to the radio and eat beans out of a can in the van, after all. (:


  25. deb says:

    Oh my Tawni, so good to hear your nonsinging voice, too!

    This is one amazing life story…and soo well told! You certainly have a way with the creative descriptors.

    Errant boner, for one

    And my fave…labial lambada!

    Please keep sharing when you post. xx deb

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      I’m thinking that “Labial Lambada” will be the first song written by my next band, Errant Boner. What do you think? It has HIT written all over it, right? (:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Deb. xoxo.

      • Gloria says:

        And you will, as always, play the skin flute, right?

      • Gloria says:

        And by “as always” I mean that that’s the joke you always make. I don’t mean to imply that your trampy or anything.

        **walks away whistling to override the sound of crickets chirping**

        • Gloria says:


          not your

          Screw you guys. I’m going home. (Actually, I’m going to lunch.)

        • Tawni Freeland says:

          Hahahahaha. Yes, as always, I will play the skin flute and talk in my Valley Girl-Dude voice. I get your jokes, punkin. I didn’t answer until now because I was out picking my son up at school, and then waiting in one of Dante’s levels at the Urgent Care clinic to see if he has an ear infection.

          It always cracks me up when my friends worry about offending me. I am possibly the hardest person to offend in the whole wide world.

          P.S. I’m totally trampy.

  26. angela says:

    great post, tawni!

    the closest experience i’ve had to this is going to nude stand-up comedy. GOING, not participating. my friend was the one performing. and you’re so right that after a while, nakedness just becomes meaningless.

    but still i couldn’t help but notice if someone had an unusually shaped body or, ahem, body part.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Oh my goodness. Nude stand-up comedy? That is amazing. I’d imagine that being naked could really give the comedian a head start on the “making people laugh” part, couldn’t it? I mean, depending on what one looked like naked. Wow. What a completely fascinating experience.

      Thanks so much, Angela!

  27. Art Edwards says:

    Tawni, you’ve been holding wonderful sentences hostage from us all this time?!?

    “Some people were naked. Some were only wearing shorts, but no shirt, as if they were getting dressed and suddenly remembered where they were.”

    I demand more, soon.


    • Tawni Freeland says:


      Thank you so much for the kind words. I am incredibly happy to be here on TNB among so many fine writers like yourself. I will try to keep up!


  28. Clarissa Olivarez says:

    “Labial lambada” – I feel like I haven’t lived.
    What a great post!

  29. Valerie says:

    Yep … a bunch of old naked people. That’s what I’ve heard. And they say New Year’s Eve is overrated … LOL. 😉 (Shelley sent me here – funny, girlfriend!) xo

  30. Gloria says:

    I’m sending you a ferret. And a bengal tiger.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Just the tiger, please. If you sent me the ferret, I might like it, and then the Ferret People (Ferret Nation?) would stop sending me hate mail because of the one snarky blog I wrote about how ferrets smell like pee-pee. And I do so enjoy their enraged emails. (:

      • Dana says:

        Did you see the report the other day about the ferret that ate a babies fingers?! Ewwww!!

        • Tawni Freeland says:

          Those miserable little weasels.

          I once wrote a goofy blog that mentioned some documented and true cases of ferrets eating the faces, noses and ears of babies. And even though that silly blog is years old, I still get an angry letter (in the comments section) every few months from a ferret lover. They are usually rife with misspellings and grammatical errors, and therefore unintentionally hilarious.

          A book* I read explained that in the wild, ferrets go into the dens of mice and eat the babies, so they are instinctively attracted to the smell of milk. Experts think this is why they attack the faces of babies (milk breath). And I know that statistically there are more dog bites and cat attacks per year, but it is still horrifying to me that when ferrets attack, they often try to gnaw off facial parts. Jesus.

          *Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings by Pamela Nagami M.D.

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Yeah, ferret owners are dumb.

          But don’t worry – the one I’m sending you will be nice. And I’m going to ask Tree to knit it clothes. I’ll see if she can pull something together for the bengal tiger, too.

          I’ll also send you a boa constrictor. Those are exotic, aren’t they? I’ll send them all in the same crate, too. It’ll be very Darwinian.

        • Tawni Freeland says:

          Awesome. My money’s on the tiger. With pieces of snake skin and ferret sweater in his teeth.

  31. Dana says:

    First – YAYYY Tawni! So great to see you on The Other Side! What a hilarious story to begin your TNB career! Most of my own naked in public time was under cover of darkness or at the very least under cover of water. Alcohol was almost always involved.

    I love that as shy as you purport to be, you have no problem getting naked with strangers or sharing that you did with the entire internets. HA!

    I had an aunt and uncle that dappled in nudism for a time. Very weird. Especially since it was something they suddenly adopted around the time their children were hitting puberty. (Also, since this was the uncle that subscribed to Playboy and Penthouse so we knew what the human form was SUPPOSED to look like. 😉 ) You never knew what was going to happen at their house. Still, I can’t imagine them just squatting and peeing in front of us! That’s just weird. Like China weird.

    Can’t wait for more of your tales!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Yay! It’s Dana! Woo-hoo!

      Most of my adult naked in public time was fueled by alcohol too. Oh, alcohol. You make life so much more interesting.

      I am only shy in person. Booze helps. But I have no trouble expressing myself in writing. (Seriously. If it weren’t for email, I wouldn’t be married right now.) I’m trying to work on being less of a chicken. For example: I talked to Richard Cox in person the other night, and didn’t even break out in neck hives. And I only froze up and mind-blanked once. Progress! (:

      The squatting and peeing thing was really jarring at first. Before we moved to the farm, I was a typical suburban Phoenix kid, riding my bike around the neighborhood with the other kids and such. My mom remarried, we moved quite suddenly, and now I was helping women wash the husks off alfalfa sprouts in a big tub of water while we all sang a song together about how “we all come from the goddess, and to her we shall return.” Definite culture shock. I still remember the first time one of the women squatted and started peeing while we were talking. I was mortified, but kept my composure casual on the outside. Growing up on a farm really sucked all of the prissiness out of me, and for that I’m thankful. You can take me camping, for example, and I’m not going to whine about there not being a restroom. I’m just happy to have a tree to squat behind. Haha.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, dear lady. xoxo.

  32. […] The Nervous Breakdown thenervousbreakdown.com/tfreeland/2011/01/happy-naked-new-year/ – view page – cached Tawni Freeland rings in the New Year nude and surrounded by the uninhibited elderly., Tawni Freeland rings in the New Year nude and surrounded by the uninhibited elderly. […]

  33. Wendy says:

    This may have been the most uncomfortable-while-riveted-and-highly-amused I’ve ever felt while reading a piece. Hilarious! Awesome story, Tawni – as usual, I love love your witty narrative voice! It just goes with the old adage that the vast majority of the people who like to run around naked are precisely the ones who shouldn’t.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      “…the vast majority of the people who like to run around naked are precisely the ones who shouldn’t.”

      Hahahaha. It’s funny because it’s true.

      Sorry for having to make you uncomfortable to amuse you. I promise I have my clothes on as I type this comment, Wendy. I promise. (:

  34. Shelley Hall says:

    Of course, you had me at:

    “That’s not a metaphor or anything. We were actually naked.”

    hahahaha!! Hi Tawni! I just had to jump in here and offer my congrats on your first post. It’s such a great story and I loved reading all the details. Well, almost all of the details! The “labial lambada” made me squirm…a LOT.

    I’m looking forward to reading anything and everything else you post. Go Tawni! 🙂

    • Tawni says:

      Hi Shelley! Yay! You commented!

      The labial lambada made me squirm a lot too. I was completely shocked at the time because I’d never heard of such a thing. And that is just not a place I want to experience a piercing gun. Sex is already a good thing; I don’t need to add metal to my girl junk to make it better. But maybe that’s just little old-fashioned me. Haha.

      Thank you so much for reading and supporting. You rock. xoxo.

  35. Simon Smithson says:

    I have yet to hear of anyone actually having a good time with a nudist event or at a nudist colony. The lifestyle seems to be composed exclusively of people who would be better suited to being clothed.

    But, on the other hand, hey Tawni! Welcome to the gang!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      “The lifestyle seems to be composed exclusively of people who would be better suited to being clothed.”

      Hahahahaha. So true.

      Thank you so much for welcoming me to the gang. I’m honored to be here amongst so many talented and kind people.

  36. patresa says:

    oh my sweet lord. THIS IS HILARIOUS!


    “if only they had pockets…”

    what an experience! i’m so glad you had it and not me. and i’m so glad you wrote about it here.

    thank you for an awesome laugh!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      P! It is great to see your friendly face here! Thank you big bunches for reading and commenting. I’m so glad you liked this one. (:

  37. Labia lambada!! hahahahaha!

    What else can I say? Classic. Totally classic. Takes guts to even tell this story.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Nah, not guts. Just booze. Lots and lots of booze. (:

      Thanks so much for reading, and for the kind comment. xoxo.

  38. Ah, brings back the days when I was a resident artist (20 hrs labor per week in exchange for room, board, and laundry service) at a remote “clothing optional” hot springs in the 1980s. So remote we didn’t have any neighbors, let alone lesbian sprout farmers, to visit with on a Sunday. But Tawni’s right. In general, it was less Woodstock and more Diane Arbus.

  39. lori says:

    LOVE this…!
    And so very glad I read through the comments…because I, too, was wondering exactly HOW that ‘gentleman’ produced that business card…
    Oh…and the clitoral-piercing?? I’m STILL crossing my legs and grimacing.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      I know. I still shudder thinking about the clitoral piercing. She was a braver woman than I will ever be, that’s for sure. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

      I really appreciate that you read this piece and took the time to comment. Thank you! (:

  40. Jen Violi says:

    Magnificently entertaining, all the way through. Well-written and hilarious. I love labial lambada–at least the phrase–and I am definitely reassured that an “errant boner” is allowed to be funny everywhere.

    Thank you for this!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Jen. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And yes, I was so relieved that errant boners were still funny. I don’t want to live in a world where I am not allowed to giggle at an errant boner. 🙂

  41. arden says:

    in my experience the persons most interested i disrobing are 99.9% of the time the least likely to have me interested in their disrobulation

    or something

    hi tawni!

    heh… you said: naughty bits

  42. Judy Prince says:

    “It was sometime in the mid-nineties, after the last ragged, dying gasps of my foolish decision to marry at nineteen. The disco ball sparkled fragments of light romantically around the floor, where I moved slowly underneath, head pressed against the chest of my new boyfriend. A crowd of equally drunk people swayed around us in the haze. Through the speakers, Whitney Houston was singing “I Will Always Love You” in a time before reality shows would make her a laughingstock. I pushed aside the cynical part of me that was cringing at the drippy song lyrics, and just tried to enjoy the moment. We were young, it was midnight on a New Year’s Eve, and we were naked.”

    This is THE grabbiest intro paragraph I’ve ever read, Tawni Freeland!

    And you kept piling on the hoots, my dear, yanking billions of my memory braincells.

    Above all, though, I’m struck by your writing’s *elegance*—–smooth, regal, precise, delicate, slyly witty.

    Welcome to the Dark Side, as sweet brilliant Erika Rae has noted!

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Oh my goodness. What a magnificent and flattering comment from a talented and lovely lady. Those are the best ones. Thank you so much. Your kind words mean the world to me. I was so nervous to post my first piece on TNB! And thank you for the warm welcome to the Dark Side. I think I’m really going to like it here. (:

  43. Amanda says:

    TAWNIIIII!!!!!! Congrats on your debut piece here! I love that you “made the transition” and i read it today. just before i started in on this piece, i was crafting one of my own, thinking, perhaps, one day, i too might walk these hallowed halls. Thanks for the validation!

    And thank you, too, for a marvelous story! i totally didn’t even catch “fuck” in my first read-through–and that’s amazing because it is my absolutely favorite word–and so had to go back to find it. kudos for slipping it in so gracefully. (heh. i dare you to not comment on that.)

    With Gloria’s contributions here, i often wait a few days to read so that i can read a slew of comments along with it. Although it wasn’t intentional with yours, it was a delight to read so many wonderful welcomes, comments and insights! Love is in da house!

    Except for the few comments about how the ppl you see nude are the ones who shouldn’t be.

    that smacks of body-negativity and conceit. i am one of those now-overweight anorexia survivors with no metabolism, and am frequently nude in public. (i think it’s easier for me than some because i have been conditioned: i’ve enjoyed being naked so much of my life, through all my sizes.) i have had wonderful feedback from audience members after fire-dancing naked that they so appreciate my bravery and willingness to show my… er, ampleness unabashedly. i don’t feel brave doing it; the opposite, actually. i started fire dancing afraid i would start my clothes on fire, so just took them off and never went back. but it’s ok to me that others think it brave, because maybe they are raising full-figured daughters with body-image issues. maybe they are initially moved to mock and point and then upon further reflection found it to be freeing for them to see me be free.

    regardless, i had to comment on other threads above, and also wanted to write a “freshie” to you to thank you for this wonderful story and say congratulations. then by the time i got to this point, i ended up having to write a personal response to other comments. totally unintended! i swear, this one was going to be all about you!! but, really, this just illustrates how lovely the TNB is; a savvy, interesting, engaged community of brilliant, funny minds. Again, welcome, Brainy Lady! <3

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      When I sent this writing to my mom before posting it here, I mentioned that it was funny to write/read this and remember how I felt back then. I now look at the experience from my older, post-pregnancy viewpoint, while currently possessing one of those aging, not-thin bodies that really young me once stared at in shock. It would be a very different story if written from my present perspective, I think. (:

      Thanks so much for the warm welcome “freshie” and for reading and contributing to the discussion. And I think you are brave for baring it, even if you don’t feel like it. I’m also glad you’re becoming more at peace with your body image. I have noticed that I’ve grown much more so myself as I’ve gotten older. Self-acceptance is a very good thing, isn’t it?


      P.S. I always slip it in gracefully. Always.

  44. Irene Zion says:

    Sorry I’m here so late. I’ve been away from the computer for some time.
    Glad I caught this before it vanished.
    I could never, ever have been at a nudist camp.
    I’ve been dragging body-dismorphic disorder behind me for most of my life.
    Even when I was young and looked good, I thought I was fat.
    Victor had a nurse once who went to a nudist camp in the midwest.
    She brought back pictures of people playing volleyball, tennis, reading, everything really.
    What surprised me was that they were just regular looking people.
    No one stood out as being nice looking or special looking in any way.
    Just a bunch of dumpy regular people wanting to be naked together.
    I find it odd.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Irene! It’s Irene! Yay!

      I can completely relate to dragging body dysmorphic disorder around. Even at thirty pounds underweight, while obsessively working out, starving, and no longer menstruating, I still thought I looked fat. I look back on pictures of me in the baggy clothes I wore to hide my “disgusting” body and wonder what the heck I was so worried about. BDD is an albatross I wouldn’t wish around the neck of my worst enemy. Bleh. Why are we so mean to ourselves?

      I find the idea of just wanting to be naked together somewhat odd, too. Being naked in the summer sunshine on the farm as a kid always felt really wild, free and good. But crowding together in a building in the middle of winter, even in a mild climate, just doesn’t really do it for me. I wouldn’t seek it out at this point in my life.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I always enjoy your kind, wise thoughts.

  45. Amber says:

    Tawni, you make me want to get naked. Um…that sounded so different in my head…

    Great story. And as for the “labial lambada” lady, I just have to say that my theory has always been that if there is not a M.D. after a person’s name, they will be going nowhere near my tenders with a needle. They just won’t. And I have pierced nipples. Some things are just sacred, man…

    • Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

      Hey! My nipples are pierced!
      or, were pierced.
      I took the rings out a few years ago and I’m pretty sure the holes closed.

      Anyway…back to your conversation…

      • Amber says:

        Ashley, I have discovered that winter is the worst time to pierce nipples. In hindsight, this seems obvious, but at the time it didn’t occur to me that getting cold while little pieces of metal are protruding from your healing nipples would be a pain like no other. If I ever do it again (and I won’t), I’ll do it in summer. When I won’t be around air conditioning for a good month.

        • Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:


          I was 17 and soooo scared!
          I didn’t feel the first one but the second one…HOLY FUCK!

          And it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold when you have big boobs! Even the tiniest of movements would have a ripple effect on my soft tissues and that shit hurt! First shower after…I think I saw stars.

    • Tawni Freeland says:

      Yes. That’s me. Making women want to get naked with my words. It’s a talent.

      I’m not afraid of needles, so I have tattoos, and piercings don’t usually make me squeamish. But the clitoral piercing freaked me out because that’s where we keep all the best nerves. I don’t know if it’s even possible, because I am completely ignorant on the subject, but my mind immediately thought, “What if a nerve got clipped in the wrong way and you could no longer orgasm?” Noooooooooooo!

      You said “tenders.” *giggles*

  46. Miller Cross says:

    I had the occasion many years ago to visit several nudist resorts in the area. This was all work related. My first time was to see Ed about a job he needed some help with. Ed and his wife, both in their early 70’s lived in a doublewide there at the colony. Colony, now a word that is no longer used because of its negative connotations. I had Grady my helper with me, a shy young Black kid who had now entered a world of elderly naked white people walking around that was probably far beyond anything he could have ever imagined in his tender life. I’m remembering it as drop jawed and saucer eyes. I could hear gales of roaring laughter while standing outside before I knocked on the door. What I didn’t expect to see inside sitting at the dining room table with Ed and his wife was a Catholic Preist. They had been reading an article in the local paper about an incident middle of night before involving a sheriff’s chase to arrest a fleeing felon who had ditched his truck and had struck out on foot. Apparently at about the same time the chase was in high gear with multiple sheriff’s cars roaring through the neighborhood with lights and sirens ablaze. At about the same time a woman wearing little more than something in the nature of revealing night clothing headed out to the Jiffy Store on foot for cigaretts. After her purchase there was a chance meeting of the two behind store where they both decided right then and there that something in the nature of a quickie behind the Jiffy Store was in order. It didn’t take much in the way of time for the long arm of the law to arrive and put an end to this midnight fornication apparently slap dab right in the middle of the act.

    Leaving Ed’s place as Grady and I headed out there was a young lady dressed in nothing more than roller skates with her standard poodle on a leash leading the way as she strolled to and fro. Poor Grady.

    There is a nearby bowling alley and I happened to meet the owner some
    years after the above. Tuesday is nude bowling night. He runs the place and rents the shoes. If you have ever been in a bowling alley the shoe rental space is behind the lanes. He happened to mention to me that from where he works ”It’s not a pretty sight.”

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