Where does one even begin with Seattle and nakedness? How about in 1970 (or so), with a man named Faygele ben Miriam, a prominent gay rights warrior, Radical Faerie, and strident "effeminist" who would show up at queer community meetings wearing "dresses that were not as long as his dong," as one person recalled it to me a few years back.
"That's asking a lot of your audience," this person said.
True. And yet, as RuPaul points out as often as possible, "we're all born naked." For Ru, "the rest is drag," but perhaps for you the rest is finding a chance to get naked again—in public.
If this is indeed you, and you're new here, you have a number of options.
First, though, some ground rules: We will not be talking here about your options for getting publicly naked in local saunas, or steam rooms, or locker rooms, or adult lounges, or bathhouses, or back rooms, or fancy restaurant bathrooms with epic views of the city, all of which are readily available to you in Seattle. Such nakedness opportunities are generally attached to commercial enterprises that make enough money to have marketing budgets that will for sure reach you without my assistance, especially if you're looking.
Instead, we will be talking about no-cost opportunities to be buck naked in public, completely en plein air, ripped by your own volition from the rigid bounds of "civilized" society so that you can fulfill your deep and as-yet-unquenched desire to (I am just guessing here) awkwardly say hi your neighbor, coworker, or kid's teacher without any pants on.
If it's a nude beach you're after, then you should know about two.
The first is Daikiki Beach (aka "Dyke-kiki Beach," aka Denny Blaine Park), located along the shores of Lake Washington and not far from the house where Kurt Cobain spent his last moments. (Sorry. But true.) I am not certain whether all the typical Denny Blaine activities comply with Seattle Parks Department regulations, but in summers, barring some kind of crackdown, you can join in with all the naked, and half-naked, and no-way-I'm-getting-naked people at Daikiki as they lounge, drink, gossip, ogle, and float on rolling waves in blow-up unicorn rafts. Legend has it this used to be a topless lesbian beach. However, this is not a legend I was able to fact-check. In any case, these days the vibe is welcoming of all comers—with watchful and wary eyes kept on the inevitable creepers.
Just to the south, down a steep street marked with a blue public beach sign is Howell Park, more commonly known as Howell Beach. This place is very gay and very nudist. Like, you may find yourself feeling as if you don't belong if you don't fully disrobe. And hey, maybe you don't!
For that considerable number of Seattle residents who, at a certain point in their lives, end up saying to themselves, "I want to be naked in public but only on a bicycle," there is the Fremont Solstice Parade. This very popular mid-June festival features a lot of people riding bikes in their birthday suits, and if you ask me why, all I can tell you is: "Tradition!" A good number of these people will paint their bodies from head to toe, Blue Man Group–style (though not usually with all-blue paint—think ladybugs, bumblebees, comic-book characters...). The naked bike ride is technically before the parade (though the parade itself is dazzling too because it has a rule that no floats can have words on them, so the floats are far more creative than what you see at Gay Pride). The naked biking usually happens around 11:45 a.m., shortly before the 1 p.m. start time of the parade on June 22 this year.
And with that short jaunt—and my apologies—we have now arrived at the end of our unofficial list of totally public, totally free nakey-places in Seattle. There are similar opportunities in certain corners of British Columbia and Oregon, and if you're motivated, you will definitely find them, but that's so far away!
So let's talk briefly about a few nearby places that do involve you paying money, but are really more in the naked hippie/naked artist realm of "commerce."
If you long for a theater experience that requires you to bring a towel so your bare ass doesn't touch the audience seating, the Greenwood neighborhood offers you Nudeprov, which is exactly what it sounds like. Nude improv. With a nude audience. The vibe at Nudeprov, according to a Stranger colleague, is "sweet and vulnerable rather than vulgar."
Squarely in the naked hippie realm is the family-friendly Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island. (Which, yes, is not really all that nearby, but at least it's still in this state! Plus, people-wise, Orcas kinda feels like a Seattle neighborhood during the busy season.) Doe Bay is gorgeously set, with deeply calming views of the Salish Sea and nearby islands, a cafe that probably rivals most of your go-to brunch and dinner spots, numerous no-nonsense cabins and yurts to rent, and—the naked part—three outdoor, clothing optional, saltwater soaking tubs. This isn't the cheapest way to get covered in warm, salty water with no bathing suit on, but if you're willing to stay in one of Doe Bay's dorm-style cabins, off-the-grid yurts, or tent camping spots, it becomes a lot more affordable.
Getting back to the exactly-what-it-sounds-like category: Tiger Mountain Family Nudist Park in Issaquah, just east of Seattle. Its 40 acres of clothes-free land have been run by the park's members since 1945, but nonmembers will be let in for $24 (or $10 in the "off-season"). There are nude potlucks, an annual "Bare Buns Run," something called "Nudestock," and plenty of naked volleyball. A bit of trivia: Tiger Mountain Family Nudist Park is the inspiration for a plot twist in a new book called Koln Letters, written by a shaman named Mushroom Montoya! The book's Amazon blurb reads: "Earl, a secretive and soft-spoken archaeologist, finds a cache of two-thousand-year-old letters at a Jewish dig site in Germany that could destroy Christianity as we know it. Seeking guidance, he sends photos of one letter and the original of another to two shaman friends in Seattle. Almost immediately, Church agents from Germany chase one of the shamans to a nudist facility..."
And finally, in the good cause/charitable donation category: A naked bungee jump to benefit the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society is being held in Nanaimo in March. Not free! Not particularly close! But, as its promotional materials state, it's "a key fundraiser for helping all those affected by mental illness." And it's an excuse to make a trip up to Canada. And, as the promo materials also note, "an anonymous donor... will match all donations up to $25,000." No word on whether the donor will be jumping naked, too.