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Intangible Benefits

I was going through an old filing cabinet recently, and stuck down way at the back I found a copy of my W-2 from the nudist resort where I worked when I was 19 years old--Paradise Lakes Resort.

I was home from college, and I needed a summer job. I saw an ad for cocktail waitresses at "a four-star, clothing-optional resort" and I thought, I've got to try this. At the interview, the nude woman who hired me said that off-duty employees had complete resort privileges--the clubhouse, the pools, the lake, everything. She hoped I'd take advantage of that to experience the nudist lifestyle. I told her I was looking forward to it.

Cultural immersion works wonders--I don't remember being self-conscious for more than a day or two about walking around naked. When everyone is doing something, it doesn't seem weird.

I soon discovered that walking around starkers wasn't the only thing everyone was doing. There's a party line about nudism, that it's not about sex, oh no. Nudism, they say, is about being "natural" and "free." It's psychologically and spiritually liberating.

Well, that's a nice idea. However, most of the nudists I met that summer were not looking for a purely spiritual experience. Many of the resort's guests were vacationing swingers, and they wanted to play. Most of the staff were looking for intangible benefits, too. So guests and staff paid lip service to the "it's not sexual" ideology and behaved themselves in the resort's public areas. But behind closed doors, a whole different kind of lip service was happening. I still remember the first time a coworker said to me, "Hey, there's a party in room 212, come on over after you clock out." When I walked in the door and saw a dozen people humping and sucking and panting and writhing, I recall thinking, Ohhhh, that kind of party....

That summer felt a bit like being in a porn version of a John Hughes coming-of-age movie. I learned that group sex, like group nudity, was exciting at first. But when it ceased to be a novelty, and stopped feeling deliciously taboo, I got bored with it pretty quickly. Still, my experiences accelerated my overall erotic education, and sharpened my understanding of what I wanted from sexual partners. And I was liberated from any hang-ups I might have had about nudity. It's nice when a job helps you grow.

matisse@thestranger.com

 

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