If you want another reason to shake your fist at Mother Nature in a fit of impotent rage, I've got a good one for you. Thanks to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, Fire Island's famously nude-friendly Lighthouse Beach will not be so nude-friendly anymore. The New York Times reports that "the last major sanctuary in the state to frolic in the ocean without a swimsuit, Lighthouse Beach on Fire Island, will begin enforcing a state ban on nudity," because Sandy wiped out the beach's dunes which "provided a buffer for those in the buff." In addition to the loss of dunes, officials had begun to worry about corrupting the innocent, nudity-fearing public. You see, the crowds of people coming to the nude-friendly beach had "become larger and the behavior coarser," and so, you know, won't somebody please think of the children, or whatever. Somebody must always think of the children.
Even if you are not personally inclined toward nude beaches and the naturist lifestyle (which, "naturist" is different than the "naturalist" even though they are spelled almost exactly the same way—confusing!) it is a bit dispiriting to think that there are fewer and fewer places to go for the people who do like to let it all hang out. And beyond the shutdown of Lighthouse Beach, the news that the beach at Fort Tilden will not be reopening this summer means that all the people who used to explore their naturist side there will also have to keep covered. So what are the alternatives for everyone who understands that the best part of New York's scorching summer is to take off as many articles of clothing as possible? Well, I've done some research and feel confident that if you want to be naked this summer, there will be a place for you. And, in fact, you could even go get naked at a couple of these places now if you're into that sort of thing. I mean, it's the human body. We all have one. Some are better than others, sure. But they're all fun to look at for one reason or another. (I think that's the reason people like nude beaches, though I might be wrong.)
Gunnison Beach in Sandy Hook, NJ
New Jersey might seem like a long way to go to get naked in public, but there's a shuttle ferry to Sandy Hook which will get New Yorkers there in about an hour. And so while Gunnison Beach used to be a bit of a well-kept secret among people who like to go au naturel in the sand, it has become increasingly popular due to the ferry access. Despite the larger crowds, it's still a beautiful beach and a relatively quiet spot compared to say, Coney Island, and while this area of dirty Jerz was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Sandy, all the beaches in the region are due to re-open this summer.
So, ok, you can't get totally naked in Prospect Park. You'd be arrested. How embarrassing. Try not to get arrested for something so banal next time. Anyway, even though you can't get totally naked, you can go topless. This goes for men and women. This does at least guarantee a certain kind of freedom. It also guarantees, I would imagine, a certain kind of imprisonment. Not a literal kind, no, but the kind where it is already imprisoning enough to have to walk around in the summer with eyes focused on every movement your body makes when it's covered. I can't even imagine wanting to walk around in the park letting everything hang out. But then, I'm not a naturist. For those that are, go to the park. Go lay down by the lake. Enjoy yourself and your freedom to be topless. And don't forget to celebrate on August 25, which is National Go Topless Day. It's not noted on any calendar that I've ever owned, but it is, apparently, a thing.
Basically paradise, Spa Castle is a total wonderland of saunas and pools and Korean food and so much more. What else do you even need, really? Oh, that's right. You're interested in the chance to be naked with a bunch of total strangers. Well, Spa Castle has that too. It's not co-ed nudity, so sorry if that's your bag, but Spa Castle does have pools and hot tubs that are attached to the men's and women's changing rooms that are totally clothing-free. You couldn't even wear a bathing suit there if you wanted to. Once you leave the single-sex area though, you get to wear these awesome Spa Castle-approved orange/pink (for ladies) or blue (for gentlemen) hopsital scrub-like shorts and shirts and wander around the facilities having the best time ever. I can't recommend Spa Castle enough as a place to get naked, sure, but also, as a place to have an all-around amazing time.
Now, I know that naturists and nude beaches aren't supposed to be about having sex. I know there's some other principles involved. But if you're looking for a place to get naked, why not try out an underground sex club. The L Magazine has actually provided you with a comprehensive list before, so it'll be easy to get started. And this is pretty great because nudity is fine and all, but sex is better than fine. Sex is superfine. So, go have fun. Go have superfun.
Well, this all depends on having roof access. So barring that—and barring having backyard access—just lie naked on your bed with all your windows flung open so that you can feel the outside air on your skin. The key to getting that extra little frisson that nude bathing also gives, is that you're doing this in public. And is anything even important if no one sees you doing it? Did it ever even really happen? Yes, it did. Sure. But it's better when someone's watching. So go up on your roof when the weather is right and strip down so that it's just you out there and the air on your skin. And lament the reality that it's harder than it used to be to go to a nude beach in New York, but celebrate the fact that you still have options. Choice is everything in this crazy world. Choose your choice.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen