“A delightful and informative look at nudism throughout history and around the world.” —Seattle Times
People have been getting naked in public for reasons other than sex for centuries. But as Mark Haskell Smith reveals, being a nudist is more complicated than simply dropping trou. “Nonsexual social nudism,” as it’s called, rose to prominence in the late nineteenth century. Intellectuals, outcasts, and health nuts from Victorian England and colonial India to Belle Époque France and Gilded Age Manhattan disrobed and wrote manifestos about the joys of going clothing-free. From stories of ancient Greek athletes slathered in olive oil to the millions of Germans who fled the cities for a naked frolic during the Weimar Republic to American soldiers given “naturist” magazines by the Pentagon in the interest of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, this book uncovers nudism’s amusing and provocative past.
Coated in multiple layers of high SPF sunblock, Haskell Smith publicly disrobes for the first time in Palm Springs; observes the culture of family nudism in a clothing-free Spanish town; and travels to the largest nudist resort in the world, a hedonist’s paradise in the south of France. He reports on San Francisco’s controversial ban on public nudity, participates in a week of naked hiking in the Austrian Alps, and caps off his adventures with a week on a Caribbean cruise known as the Big Nude Boat.
Equal parts cultural history and gonzo participatory journalism, Naked at Lunch is “an absolute hoot” (Los Angeles Magazine) and “a total joy” (Meghan Daum).
“Smith puts on his reporter’s hat and takes off everything else as he explores the history and sociology of nudism.” —Los Angeles Times