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. . . a few naked people sitting around eating crackers. : Tales of a Floating Skin Show

Sunland may be the last place in the world where anyone would expect a nude party to be held. It is a small, semi-rural community in the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains more noted for disputes over noisy goats than for naked humans. Retired mail carriers live in Sunland, not liberated sexual swingers with an exhibitionist cant.

If it were Malibu, I would not be surprised if everyone in town slipped out of their bikini bottoms simultaneously, nor would I even bother to look up from watering my rattlesnake ferns if 400 naked marathon runners puffed by in Topanga.

But Sunland? As my daughter used to say, gimme a break.

It is darkly hinted that not only are there naked parties in that bucolic corner of Southern California but perhaps there is even some, shudder, mass sexual activity going on out where the yellow-rumped warbler trills.

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That would seem logical to presume. Why else would 30 or 40 people remove their clothing at the same time if not to undergo a mass medical examination, bathe, be embalmed or mess aroun’?

For those unfamiliar with the rompings-about on Green Verdugo Drive, neighbors complained of the nude parties not because of the morality involved but because of parking congestion on the narrow street and because of the potential fire danger large crowds bring, whether they are naked or not.

The complaint reached City Councilman Howard Finn, who knows a good moral issue when he hears one. As I understand it, Finn whispered grim warnings of residential sex clubs and turned the matter over to the LAPD. Sex clubs may be all right in Marin County, but not, by God, in the 1st Councilmanic District of Los Angeles.

So.

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No doubt utilizing state-of-the-art electronic surveillance equipment, police investigators found that naked parties were indeed being held every two weeks in a rustic house in Sunland and that a clothing-optional Halloween party was coming up the following weekend.

Two cops were assigned to attend the party last Saturday, cleverly disguised as disguised cops wearing cowboy hats.

They saw naked people and they saw semi-naked people, but no one was rolling around coupled on the floor or performing sexual acrobatics in the kitchen sink. Guests sat around sipping wine, nibbling hors d’oeuvres and talking. The report didn’t say whether or not they were talking dirty.

It must have been a bitter disappointment to both Finn and the cops. There is nothing illegal about either being naked or eating a mild pate in a private home.

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The most anyone could be accused of was illegally charging a $55 admission fee to get in the door, which is a violation of the city’s Building and Safety Code, i.e., running a naked business without a license.

My reborn Christian friends are incensed that anyone could be so lightly slapped for fully displaying their genitalia and, worse, for doing so in a party environment.

“Sex and balloons,” one of them said to me angrily, “do not mix.”

The observation doesn’t really make a lot of sense, since consenting adults do not favor balloons at their parties, but I so admired the quote that I wanted to use it anyhow.

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My nudist friends, on the other hand, are grumbling that the cops had no right to crash a private party without a search warrant. When I asked if they would take it to the ACLU they said no, since the ACLU looked for high-profile issues and there was nothing very jazzy about a few naked people sitting around eating crackers.

One friend said many of those at the Sunland party were indeed members of Sandstone Reflections, and, if they couldn’t hold their parties on a secluded road in San Fernando Valley, for God’s sake, where could they hold them?

You remember Sandstone. It was a touchy-feely institute in the Santa Monica Mountains where horny aging singles went to die. The place has long since ceased to exist, but its philosophic exponents still band together as Sandstone Reflections.

However, since they have no permanent location, they meet wherever they can, even in Sunland. The subsequent gathering is considered America’s only floating sex party, which is yet one more distinction Southern California could probably do without.

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I don’t know if these are really sex parties, by the way, since I have never been to one. I haven’t even been to a nude party.

The closest I came was a college bash where the men took off their shirts to do the limbo, a dance that required one to shuffle forward under a high jump pole while bent over backward.

Only Thelma, among the women, would remove her shirt, but then she’d remove it for the any reason at all. It sure as hell didn’t help her in the limbo, I’m pleased to say. I often wonder what became of Thelma.

I don’t see anything wrong with sex, but I would find it in poor taste to have all that moaning and flopping about going on around me while I sampled a garlic dip and chatted about the deeper meaning of “Punky Brewster” in today’s high-tech world.

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It’s just as well they keep it in Sunland, I guess. I never go to Sunland.


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