For Some Techies, Better Nude Than Nerd
They may don thick glasses or pocket protectors on the clock. Off work, they prefer wearing nothing at all.
They are chipheads like Rich Pasco--Silicon Valley computer consultant, Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and avowed nudist.
“I find that when I take off my clothing, the stress comes off with it,” Pasco says, every inch of his body a deep California tan. “When I have the nerd pack in my pocket and the calculator in my belt, I’m playing a role. When I come up here, I’m a human being.”
For 19 years, San Jose resident Pasco, 47, has driven at least once a week deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Lupin Naturist Club. This hidden nudist resort--110 acres overlooking a redwood forest and fragrant with oak, madrone and bay laurel--claims more than 1,000 members. And like Pasco, most of them come from nearby Silicon Valley.
For Pasco and fellow computer geeks, there’s no better way to escape the high-tech rat race than letting it all hang out.
“We work hard, we earn a lot of money and we play hard,” Pasco said. “This club is a little different because we draw from Silicon Valley. People who come here tend to be a little more educated and affluent than at other resorts. And the thing that’s true about scientists and engineers in general, we’re less likely to believe in old myths. That’s where naturism comes in.”
At the welcome gate, receptionists greet visitors in the nude. Families play water volleyball in a nearby pool. Friends recline on a picnic blanket sipping glasses of white wine.
But while you can take the clothes off these workaholics, you can’t always strip away the nerd.
Club owner Glyn Stout, 59, said he often sees members bring their laptop computers and cell phones to the 61-year-old club. They sit in the buff at poolside, typing away. Some won’t give their names for fear of losing their jobs.
And now that Valley insiders have become celebrity golden geeks, uncovering the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates isn’t entirely out of the question.
“We have everything from founders of companies to people who work on the production line,” Stout said. “But there are also a lot of artists and musicians. People who wouldn’t ordinarily meet each other have very interesting conversations in the hot tub while being completely nude.”
In the mid-'70s, Stout himself ran a company that developed networking software. He took part ownership of the club in 1977 after a decade as a member.
The club tries to carry on the original communal spirit. Members can vacation in rented tents. A wood-paneled restaurant, tennis courts and hot tubs encourage social interaction. And among the weekend activities are dances, jazz concerts and stargazing.
“Here, we’re really ourselves,” said Australian naturist Anta Beinerts, who says her native country is “more open” when it comes to nudity. “It’s like an onion layer. We can do away with all the issues and get to the core more quickly.”
The top annual membership package costs under $1,000. Most people join Lupin through word of mouth. But Stout said many also hear about the club through its Web site, another sign of the resort’s wired status.
“We plan on networking some more in the restaurant,” Stout said. “The club itself is certainly in the computer age.”
But like most Silicon Valley establishments, Lupin has more men than women (a 3-2 ratio, or 2 to 1 when it comes to singles).
Some women may have a hard time shedding clothes because of societal standards of beauty, Stout said, while others may fear attracting pickup artists--unnecessarily, he says.
“Out here, it’s just so uncouth to try picking up,” Stout said.
Dating isn’t exactly taboo. Pasco said he has had “significant relationships” with several club members. And he talks about one member who came regularly as a youth, met his wife here and now lives on the resort grounds.
In fact, many believe the family that undresses together stays together.
Computer consultant Wayne Hampton, 47, laughs as his children Eric and Meredith splash in the pool on a hot Saturday afternoon.
“I bring them because there’s zero body shame here,” says Hampton, clad only in black socks and sneakers. “It’s like night and day. There’s no pressure here at all. Not even the pressure of fabric on you.”