So here’s how it happened.
I’m a stand up comic based in New York City, and I produce something called "The Naked Show." The Naked Show is exactly what it sounds like—stand up comedy performed in the nude. The audience is mostly clothed, and usually equal parts excited and nervous at the prospect of seeing people perform naked. It’s a cool vibe for comedy, a packed house full of people who are just a little bit uncomfortable. So, it made sense when I was invited to perform at Solair, a family nudist resort.
Solair is the oldest nudist resort in the country; it started as a nudist gun club in 1934. Yep, gun club. Their website describes Solair as “a family oriented resort and campground where people of all ages can relax and discover the freedom of recreation without clothing.” Located on 360 acres in Woodstock, Connecticut (not Woodstock, New York, which is where Woodstock the concert happened). It’s a 3 hour drive from New York City. There are no trains or buses that go anywhere remotely near the campground. Trust me, I looked.
The woods are a place where rednecks and environmentalists go to be condescending to each other, which I respect.
When I arrived, I discovered that my phone had no reception. I wandered around in my sun dress for only a few minutes before a friendly woman in her 50s noticed I was...out of place. After I explained I was one of the performers, she gave me a quick tour. The place reminded me of the kind of camp in Dirty Dancing, but without the sex scandals. So, more like what the camp in Dirty Dancing wanted to be: aggressively wholesome. There were a few people frolicking in the lake, and sunbathing by the pool. There were a lot of children. After I found the bathroom and oriented myself, I had a few hours to kill before the show, so I went to my car, took off my sun dress and immediately became distressed by the lack of places to put my keys. I decided to carry my purse with me, which felt really weird.
I wandered up to the pool & asked if there were any towels. An older woman with a thick Boston accent asked “You didn’t bring any towels?” Rookie mistake. She lent me one of hers after learning I was a newbie. Everyone was very nice. After seeing to it that I was settled, she and her girlfriend, both women in their sixties, continued their discussion about what exactly Eat, Pray, Love was about. Nobody knew. Their husbands were sunbathing next to me trading tips about where to buy the best sunscreen. In bulk.
Frankly, I was kinda bored. It didn’t take me long to revert to my normal naked time activity: picking at ingrown hairs. In the few hours I was there, I developed a new fear about performing with toilet paper stuck to my labia. What’s the etiquette there? Do you tell someone, like with spinach in their teeth?
The show was a special comedy/sword fighting/Renaissance themed dinner—think big turkey legs and elaborate costumes, but also nudity. I know, it was weird. The Pun Gents opened the show. Get it? Lord Seymour Thanue and Sir Thomas of Lipton, otherwise known as David Barone and Matt Harlow fought each other with swords while throwing pun-filled insults at each other. Next, Alex Feldman, aka Alex the Jester performed. Alex is a literal jester. The first part of the show was family friendly. I felt sort of silly explaining that I couldn’t perform a clean, kid-friendly set naked.
I mean, I can’t not say the f-word with my tits out.
I travel all over the country doing comedy. I’ve schlepped to Lake Ontario to perform in a theater built in the 1890s and slept in a “bedroom” that was “built” into the rafters of that theater. I’ve performed on a riverboat in Tennessee, in nursing homes, in people’s apartments. I’ve driven 5 hours to perform in restaurants for people who didn’t want a comedy show. But nothing terrifies me more than performing for children under 12. The camp agreed to a short “get your kids out of here” intermission and allowed me to do an adults-only show.
The people at Solair, and probably other nudist camps, refer to people in the clothed world as “textiles” which rhymes with “gentiles” and means basically the same thing—not of this tribe. I wasn’t sure what the rules were. Most of the audience cues I’m used to interpreting start with what people are wearing. Despite a bunch of dicks being out, it felt like a pretty conservative crowd. I had to ease into my bluer material gently. But once they warmed up, it was a great show!
Driving back into the city, parking my Zipcar and walking back to my apartment, it felt strange to be gawked at again in my summer dress. On every block I was aware of men obviously undressing me with their eyes. It was ironic that leering eyes would be a problem on the streets of New York, but not in an idyllic little camp where everyone’s naked, and no one thinks it’s a big deal.
Tickets for The Naked Show on October 9th at the Creek & the Cave will be available soon.