Pages of History

The newsletter of the Naturist Education Foundation and the Naturist Action Committee.

Volume 1, Number 4.  April 2020.

NAC News -- Call for Candidates

Doug Hickok, NAC Board Member
If you haven't visited the NAC website recently, we've put up the annual Call for Candidates.  The Call is usually led by NAC, but board members serve dual roles on both organizations.  If you're interested in helping out NAC and NEF in a formal way, feel free to apply for a board position!  If you're interested in helping out in other ways, get it contact and let us know too!

Naturism Under Lock-Down

Susan Shopiro, NAC Chair
[Editor's Note:  With much of the country looking forward to a warm summer of clothes-free sunshine, I asked Susan how the Florida resorts are coping with the pandemic and what we might expect as other venues open for the season.]

It’s been a quiet month here at Cypress Cove.  In order to protect our residents the management of the Cove has closed the business down to bare essentials.  For at least the month of April, our hotel rooms are closed, no tenting reservations, and only long-term RV reservations are being honored but new arrivals must agree to a two week self-quarantine.   The retail businesses, our salon, massage, concession, and the boutique have been closed since mid-March.  The pool, hot tubs, gym, clubhouse, and game room have also been closed since then.  All of our famous activities, classes, pickle ball, golf, pétanque, water aerobics, and line dancing to name only a few are canceled.  The only food service is from Cheeks with take-out only, and they charge to our accounts with no signature required.  The only drinks available must be from a can that you have to open.  (There goes my martinis.) 

Many of the residents who have homes elsewhere have left and we only have the folks who live here and the full-time RVers left.  There are no day visitors allowed, even if they are Cove members.  Those of us that are here are requested to follow the physical distancing guidelines and wear face masks.  We have access to the entire park property including the lake.  Naturists are smart people and the compliance with the guidelines is very high.  We are not visiting people in their homes but standing in the street and shouting to people on the porches and driveways, talking to each other across the street, and waving when we pass by on bicycles and golf carts.  There are no gatherings of 10 or more people and those that gather sit 6 feet apart.  Yes, you do see folks with face masks and nothing else and our selection of face masks make a traditional nudist fashion statement.  One of our members, Suzanne, will make you a beautiful and functional mask and you can pick your own fabric.

As of this moment, we have had no one in the resort come down with COVID-19 and we are working to keep it that way.  Most of us are taking advantage of food delivery services including our weekly pizza/pasta in-home party, with delivery by a Cove member who is still working and we all do our part to keep her working.  A special Cove project, organized by Linda, was to take donations and have the Chef prepare meals that were delivered to our local hospital staff and first responders.

A quick call to Morley Schloss at Sunsport Gardens tells of a less restrictive regime that requires the naturists living there maintain strict 6 feet distancing and many are wearing masks and of course nothing else.  However, the pool & hot tub are open and pétanque is still on their schedule, no tennis or volleyball.  Sunsport still allows non-resident members to enjoy the facility but they are very quick to call out distancing violators.  Morley states that following the lead of Palm Beach County, he will reopen the seating in his restaurant and has hopes of hosting the Young Nudist Weekend the end of May.  Regardless, the physical distancing requirement will remain in force.  Morley also reports that they have not had any COVID-19 cases at Sunsport and there are a certain number of people who live there that are working in essential businesses.

Michael Kush, Marketing Director from Lake Como, reports the same efforts as at Cypress Cove with no visitors allowed and physical distancing requirements.  Lake Como was one of the first resorts to impose restrictions starting after their Volleyball Tournament that ended on March 8.  The pool and hot tub are open but with strict time, distancing, and numbers restrictions.  There are about 200 residents still on their grounds.

I suspect if you ask naturists at Sunsport Gardens and Lake Como, they would say exactly what the Cypress Cove members say: "I can’t imagine a better place to be locked-down."  We are all looking forward to more freedom of movement but we are even more concerned that we all stay healthy.

Treasures of the Library

Doug Hickok, NEFRL Director
Consider this Part 2 as I highlight more of the interesting items from our audio CD collection.  Part 1 covered some Skinny Dipping songs.  This time, I'll point out some audio recordings that are spoken word comedies.  If you're a library member, you can listen to any of these by requesting the audio tag numbers.

Bea Arthur, born in 1922, might be a recognizable name for many of you.  After a few years in the US Marine Corps Women's Reserve during WWII, and a quick job as a medical technician, she ended up in theater and then on television.  Perhaps her most recognizable role is that of Dorothy in Golden Girls.  Later in her career, after Golden Girls, she went to Broadway with a collection of stories and songs based on her life and career titled "Just Between Friends" (audio103).  The NEF library has a live recording of this show, because one of the first tracks is "What can you get a nudist for her birthday?"  It's a short track, stating her sister "joined a nudist colony".  After a couple ideas won't work, she ends with "I'd send a check but dash-it, how could she go and cash it?"

Peter Cook, sometimes called the "father of modern satire", performed in numerous places on stage and on TV in the 1950's - 1970's, even including co-hosting Saturday Night Live.  For Cook's first regular TV spot, he played a character "E. L. Wisty" who is described as a "bland monotonal know-it-all".  NEF has a 1965 CD recording of Cook's with this theme (audio123).  One of the tracks, "Peace Through Nudism", describes his hopeful role of "Shadow Minister of Nudism" to promote peace.  This role would put him on television every evening, where he'd start with "Good evening, this is the Minister of Nudism.  Take off your clothes, and begin to dance about."

Garrison Keillor led a popular Minnesota Public Radio show called A Prairie Home Companion, which ran from 1974 to 2016 (with a break from 1987 to 1993).  His show was syndicated on radio stations internationally, performed in venues all around the world, and was popular enough to get a call from Barack Obama congratulating him on the 42 season run of the show.  Part of the show was a segment titled "The News from Lake Wobegon", which is a fictional place but is based on the area Keillor lived.  On the CD NEF has (audio170), there's a good funny story about hot summer days and a couple going skinny dipping in the middle of the night.

New Arrivals

Doug Hickok, NEFRL Director
We're expanding beyond just Audio!  Through April, I've been working on some of the "Other" items we have at the library.  A few shelves were dedicated to things that just didn't fit anywhere else, or small collections that don't quite earn their own recognition, and simply weren't even indexed and listed on the website.  Things I've been digitizing include items like a puzzle, jewelry, buttons, decals, signs, stamps, a coin, an ash tray, card decks, and 35mm slides to name a few.  Check the Other page for the newly available items, and feel free to request them if you're a library member.

Another exciting new arrival is our Celluloid Film Collection.  Visit our Videos page to see the 9 celluloid films that we have recently finished digitizing.  Most happen to be nudie-cutie or striptease films, but two stand out as pretty good naturist films.  One is detailed next.

Optical Audio on Celluloid Film?

Doug Hickok, NEFRL Director
The NEF Research Library only has one 16mm celluloid film:  "The Take Off", which is a 1970 film from the American Sunbathing Association (now AANR).  Since it costs money to digitize these old films, we asked the other naturist libraries if they have the film in a digital format already.  The AANR-NW library has another copy of the 16mm film.  ANRL at Cypress Cove has a VHS copy of the film in OK condition.  (Most old VHS tapes are slowly degrading, so if you have something on VHS that you'd like to keep, you'd better digitize it soon!)  At some point, the film must've been converted and re-released on VHS because VHS didn't exist until the late 1970's.  It has never been re-released on DVD.  Neither library had this film in a digital format, so NEF decided to proceed with digitization along with 8 other 8mm films.

We would like to give a shout out to Memory Keepers for providing an excellent service in working with all of our celluloid films.  The cost was very reasonable, and they use the best equipment available.  Their scanner goes frame-by-frame and assembles a 1080p video, which is higher resolution than the film itself seems capable of.  They can process a magnetic strip audio track, but none of our films had a magnetic strip and thus no sound to deal with, right?  Wrong...

The film has something called an "optical audio track" that Memory Keepers cannot process directly.  They work with another company who exclusively works with video conversion businesses and not the general public.  This would've doubled the cost of digitization, but I had another method in mind.

An optical audio track is actually a pretty neat technology.  The sound information is imprinted directly on the celluloid film, so that it looks like an audio waveform.  Wikipedia has a nice article with graphics about it for those who are interested.  After we got the film back, I unspooled it enough to see the audio track, and there it was!  The ASA film has the "stereo optical sound" (which looks like two waveforms along the edge of the film), "variable area" type.

This type of optical audio isn't as good of quality as a magnetic strip, but magnetic strip is more expensive to work with since it needs to be attached to the celluloid.  The VHS copy of the film that ANRL has, which actually uses magnetic tape since it's VHS, is probably a better quality audio track than what could be pulled from celluloid.

Since NEFRL has the best-quality video, and ANRL has the best-quality audio, it's time to make a trade!  ANRL kindly provided me with a freshly digitized (to DVD) version of their VHS, and I paired the audio track with the celluloid video.  I delivered the final product to ANRL so they have a good-quality digital copy for their archive.

Below is a comparison of the VHS version and the 16mm celluloid version.  The frame I chose has text so it's easier to assess the quality.  Both have been scaled down to be the same size for comparison.


16mm Celluloid:

See this film yourself by requesting "video100" if you're a library member.

Nothing to Hide -- Body Shame is a Shame

Bill Schroer, NAC and NEF Board Member
[Editor's Note:  Bill wrote a weekly column on Naturism and Social Justice for the Battle Creek Enquirer from 2012 to 2014.  Since not everyone has seen Bill's writings, I'll occasionally reprint columns relevant to naturists here in this newsletter.]

Last Sunday’s Enquirer featured a story of a young woman struggling with anorexia, an eating disorder not uncommon among (mostly) teen girls and women.  When the subject of the article said "You'll be surprised how many people think the same thing" (as she does about her body image) she wasn't kidding.  While incidents of anorexia have continued to skyrocket among young women...the issue of negative body image is endemic and hurting an entire generation of women.

A recently completed six year study by Dr. Brene Brown from the University of Houston found 90% of respondents aged 18-80 struggle with negative body image.  90%.  This is not a niche issue.  This is a national epidemic.  Why does it matter?  Because body image is, according to Dr. Brown, the one issue that comes closest to a "universal trigger" for causing feelings of body shame.  "Body shame is so powerful and often deeply rooted in our psyches it actually affects....sexuality, motherhood, parenting, health, aging and a woman's ability to speak out with confidence.  Unfortunately, how a woman views her own body may have little to do with her actual appearance."
The issue is the media "ideal" of the "perfect body" that is young, extremely thin, toned, nubile with large breasts, perfect hair, teeth and skin.  Fewer than 5% of women will fit this model and almost no woman could really live up to this.  The majority of runway models meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria to be considered anorexic.  The average U.S. model weighs 117 lbs and is 5'11 while the average U.S. woman weighs 140 lbs. and is 5'4.  And as Andrea, from last week's article noted, many women look in the mirror and, regardless of the reality, see themselves as overweight.  Even anorexics.

Media and culture have, through perpetuation of this unrealizable ideal, created a toxic environment that dishes out self-loathing and low self-esteem for women with every turn of a magazine page or viewing of a TV show or commercial.  The only amazing thing is more women aren't anorexic, bulemic, or clinically depressed because of it.  But just because all women aren't anorexic or on Xanax doesn't mean they're ok.  Too many women are coping but not living...surviving not thriving.  Far too many women (and men) don’t feel good about their bodies and as noted above, it affects everything else.  Everything.

I'm going to suggest a solution that may surprise you.  Take off your clothes.

It sounds crazy and counterintuitive.  And, it's way too simple.  No pills, therapy, electroshock, residential treatment centers.  Simple, yes, easy, no.  There will be discomfort.  Too many women in our culture are so uptight about their bodies they can't bear to look at least not for long.  So, going nude in your home (and you can work up to this) for a few minutes at a time...working up to several hours...will be stressful at first.  One Hollywood actress took this approach after realizing she was becoming anorexic.  "I developed a devastating case of body hatred.  Striving to achieve the airbrushed status of popular stars...I hired an esthetician, dermatologist, and chiropractor, became a member of a gym...and food."

The recommendations from naturist websites seemed strange...but she went along.  "I stood nude before the mirror and showered myself with words of love and beauty, accepting my body as is in that moment.  Okay, I was desperate.  I did this for months, first cringing at the sight of myself, then adapting, then finding enjoyment.  It had taken about a year to hammer the idea of my hideousness into my brain and took considerably less time for me to rediscover my comfort.  How do you tell the world that being naked saved you from yourself without receiving ridicule in return?"

The answer don’t.  Many will scoff or ridicule what I am suggesting.  But the simple truth is when you are alone and naked confronting yourself in the mirror there is no escape.  Sure, you can put clothes on...continue to perpetuate the self-loathing, denial and pretense.  But if you stick with this exercise you will start to experience a change.  A change in your feeling about you.  You will begin to accept you..and then like you...and then love you.  And you can't really love anyone else...your husband, lover, children or anyone else until you love you.  When you can love and accept can move on.  Naturism is all about body acceptance.  And the first body you have to accept is your own.

In our society we are dealing with a post-Victorian prudish hysteria that combined with an impossible, sexualized media ideal conspires to have us hate, loathe and be ashamed of our bodies.  When the message of fear and inadequacy is so ingrained in the culture is there any surprise that we cannot accept our own body?  Or others?  No good ever comes from hate.

If you can find peace with the skin you're in, healthy adjustments will follow.  Freedom and the truth love the open air and sunshine.  Given the chance, so do our bodies.

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