How Nude Beaches Work | Stuff You Should Know Podcast (Transcript)
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Length: 48 mins
Welcome to Stuff You Should Know, from howstuffworks.com
Josh Clark: Hey and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark, there's Charles W. Chuck Bryant, there's Jerry. This is Stuff You Should Know, the totally nude edition.
Charles W. Chuck Bryant: [Laughs] Gross.
JC: You're looking good.
CB: Well, I think you're sort of kidding. [Laughs]
JC: [Laughs] Only time will tell.
CB: You want to break the news?
JC: Go ahead.
CB: Yeah, lost another tooth.
JC: I didn't want to mention it.
CB: So here's the story because I know people are interested.
JC: Everybody likes this tooth saga of yours.
CB: In my dental woes.
JC: It's riveting but it alsoÔøΩ people feel for you, you know?
CB: Yeah, I think so and I think the dentists and oral surgeons of our audience get a kick out of it.
JC: This is the thrilling part for them.
CB: So I was on vacation, as you know, Isle of Palms, South Carolina.
CB: Bought tonsÔøΩ Well not tons, pounds and pounds of seafood to cook and was having a great week grilling fish and scallops and shrimp.
JC: Nice. So you went to the local seafood market that's just one big long counter of seafood and it's super cold inside?
CB: Yeah. [Laughs]
JC: I love those places. There's always a few bottles of Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning.
CB: Oh, and the local stuff like, "Here's the crab boil, in a Ziploc, that we make."
JC: Yes. I love those places. Nothing makes a beach vacation more than a visit to the local seafood place.
CB: And I will even shout out Simmons Seafood and Mount Pleasant Seafood.
JC: They're gonna send you a box of shrimp under refrigeration. [Laughs]
CB: [Laughs] I bought a box of 100 oysters while we were there.
CB: And we had oyster happy hour every night.
CB: And I learned to shuck oysters like a pro.
CB: And I made my own version of Frogmore stew one night.
JC: Dude, can I come on vacation with you guys next time?
CB: [Laughs] We do it right, man.
CB: I bought probably 7 or 8 pounds of shrimp, 5 or 6 pounds of scallops, stone crab claws, king crab claws.
CB: Flounder, snapper, salmon, you name it, dude.
JC: Do those guys have a lien on your house now?
CB: No. Oh, I did spend a ton of money on this stuff.
JC: I'll bet. [Laughs]
CB: the other thing that we enjoyed was the dips, like crab dip and shrimp dip and salmon dip. Anyway, everything's speeding along, it's the second to last night and I make my own version of Frogmore stew, which is the low country boil, basically, of Charleston, and I biteÔøΩ We have these crostinis that we baked and the one tooth that I've been saying is gonna go, that got hurt in college and has been loose for, whatever, 20+ years.
CB: And I've been afraid that my daughter's gonna kick it in one day; I was just counting down that clock. I bit into a crostini, felt the crack and immediately was like, "There it goes," and Emily and my friends were like, "No, really?" I'm like, "Oh, yeah. I know that crack." [Laughs]
JC: That sucks.
CB: It does suck.
JC: Did it hurt at all?
CB: No, it never hurts.
JC: Well, that's good.
CB: That is the one good thing. I finished my meal, very gingerly eating on theÔøΩ I've learned how to eat in the back of my mouth like a Neanderthal.
JC: You use your eyes like a frog. They just go inside your skull and push the food down.
CB: So I made an appointment the next day; I called around. It was like do I go home or do I tough out the rest of the vacation here and be stressed and go home and do it, which means I probably can't get in till Friday, or do I ruin part of a day, my final beach day, doing this locally? And so I decided to go in and get it done there and 2 hours out of my day was all I wasted.
JC: Oh wow, that's pretty good.
CB: Not bad, so big, big shout out to Apex Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
JC: And janitorial services.
CB: Of Mount Pleasant, and Doctor Charlotte Marvel, she was great.
JC: Was she marvelous?
CB: She was. And, you know, when I get it done here, I go under twilight sleep, which I don't feel a thing and it messes me up the whole rest of the day; I'm just groggy and in bed and I didn't want to do that. I was like, I'd like to enjoy the beach and go out to dinner tonight. We had reservations at this great place on our final night, the last night dinner out deal and she said, "Well, I can just inject you if you're okay with needles," and you know I've long talked about the needle in the gums as the worst thing. And she said, "Well, this will also be needle in the roof of your mouth," and I was like, "All right, I got to do it." And she stuck me in the roof of my mouth and my eyes just started running water and I literally said, "I'm not crying. That's just a reaction." [Laughs]
JC: [Laughs] Nice.
CB: Yeah, it was fine. I mean, it numbed up so much I didn't feel a thing and it was kind of interesting being awake for once during this procedure of extraction and boneÔøΩ What do you call it?
JC: Destruction? No?
CB: Bone grafting.
JC: Oh, yeah.
CB: Not destruction.
JC: Yeah, because I've learned, when they take out a tooth now, the best practices are you immediately graft bone to it because you lose it so quickly.
CB: Pocket protection is what it's called.
JC: [Laughs] Yeah. That's awesome.
JC: That is so nerdy awesome. I love it.
CB: But man, it is a rough procedure, they are so rough. And now I know why they knock you out because they don't want you to know how rough they are with you.
CB: I felt like I was getting assaulted.
JC: Yeah? Yeah, they don't play. Dentists don't play.
CB: And that's not to knock Dr. Marvel; she did great. I mean, you got to get in there and do it, you know?
CB: So anyway, I was literally on the beach two hours later with a gin and tonic.
JC: That's great, man.
JC: That is really great. Good story. Story had it all.
JC: Had food, had surgery.
CB: Yeah, the beach.
JC: Dentist with a great name.
JC: The beach, yeah, the whole thing.
CB: And also, this also means, for people coming to see us on tour for the remainder of the year, I'm not even bothering with the insert tooth.
JC: Thank goodness because I had to sit there with it right next to me.
JC: Staring at me during each show.
CB: [Laughs] No, I'm used to it by now. I'm just gonna bubba it up for the next nine months or whatever.
JC: [Laughs] They're gonna love it. We should start charging double for tickets then.
CB: We should.
CB: So thank you for indulging that story.
JC: Well, it leads to a burning question that I've been trying to ask this whole time. Were you nude on the beach at any point?
JC: No nude beach at Isle of Palm?
CB: No. I thought about, during a nighttime ocean swim, doing it al flagrante. Is that how they say that?
CB: But then I thought, "You know what? I'm being sort of brave swimming in the ocean at night anyway I'm not gonna have things exposed."
JC: There's something really creepy about swimming at night in the ocean particularly.
CB: Yeah, agreed. But I did it and it's great.
CB: It's really likeÔøΩ I think that's part of the exhilaration is, "I don't know what's out here."
JC: Yeah. I guess as long as you say, "And I don't care, I'm just gonna enjoy myself," then it would be enjoyable.
CB: Yeah, but I did keep saying, "But at least I've got my pants on."
JC: [Laughs] Right.
CB: Not pants. Well, I did have pants on. I had tuxedo pants on. [Laughs]
JC: I'll bet there's a lot ofÔøΩ You what?
CB: I had tuxedo pants on, as is per tradition at Isle of Palms.
JC: Oh, okay. To cover your junk from the sea turtles?
CB: Yeah, that's what you do at night; you swim in the beach in tux pants.
JC: Right. So that's almost the exact opposite, then, of a traditional nude beach, which is what we're talking about.
CB: Have you ever been to one?
JC: I have.
CB: Did you go nude?
JC: No, I went and visited. I just went and looked for a second.
CB: Oh, you're one of those guys.
JC: Yeah, no, but I wasn't like, "Oh," and poking people with a stick or anything like that.
JC: I just want to see like, "Okay, what is this?" And I'll tell you what really drew me over to look. Umi and I were down in Florida and there's a nude beach, it's a clothing optional and, I believe, unofficial nude beach at the Canaveral National seashore.
CB: I have been there.
JC: Okay, yeah, that's right.
CB: We'll share our stories.
JC: Okay. And we drove down, at one point, just to kind of see and, sure enough, there was a woman walking around just wearing shorts and that was it. But what really got me to go check was we saw this girl, who must have been 17 or something, and she was totally clothed, fully dressed not even wearing a swimsuit; she was just dressed. And she was coming back from the beach with her hand over her mouth and her eyes like the size of bread plates and her mom was sitting there laughing at her, waiting at the car watching her comeback like this and I was like, "I got to go see." So I went and looked and I was like, "Yep, there's a couple naked people, they're all dudes and, well, I've seen the nude beach now." But at the same time, I was like, "I would love to just go nude at a nude beach."
JC: But the more I did this research, the more I was like, "I could take or leave it." I have no problem and probably would still like to go nude at a very secluded nude beach, but I get the impression that public nude beachesÔøΩ And I don't even think I would enjoy a nudist resort or a nude beach. It would just be a remote deserted island.
JC: Not because of any shame or anything like that, but because I just think that that would be the way that I'd most enjoy the experience of just being nude out there on the beach. You know I mean?
CB: So you just want to be nude on the beach with just you and your wife?
JC: Right, yeah.
CB: And that's it.
JC: Yeah. You know, just hanging out.
CB: You want to own your own beach.
JC: I guess. [Laughs]
JC: I think that's what I'm getting at. I'm hoping a wealthy listener will send us one.
CB: So here's my experience with that very beach, was that Playalinda or Klondike?
CB: All right. So my deal was, many years ago, I did a long, like 3 month, out west trip with my best friend, Brett, and we started in Atlanta and said, "All right, where should we go first?" And this was pre-internet when you're doing book research, and I said, "There's this place in Florida near Canaveral that's called Klondike Beach," and I said, "and I don't know if this is true, but what I read is that there is a law enforcement vacuum there because no oneÔøΩ" There's some overlap with counties and national land where there's a space where there's no law.
JC: Yeah, there's supposedly a place in, I think, Yosemite National Park that's like that too.
CB: Well, yeah, I've heard that stupid story where you can kill somebody and get away with it.
JC: Right. Is that not true?
CB: Well, I don't know. I don't think this isÔøΩ I remember reading that article and they would get you somehow.
CB: But I think there wasn'tÔøΩ I don't think it wasn't no law, but there wasn'tÔøΩ Technically, there was no legal overseer of this one area, and that was Klondike Beach, and there were hippies smoking weed and nudists and I was like, "That's where we should start." [Laughs]
CB: I have no idea what drew me because it wasn't like I was going for either one of those things.
JC: That sounds a bit like a place called Wreck Beach in Vancouver, where it's not like there's no jurisdiction or a questionable jurisdiction; it's just really hard to get to.
JC: There's like 400 steps down to the beach.
JC: So apparently, the cops, a long time ago, said, "Whatever, you guys can do whatever you want there."
CB: Right, "We don't care."
JC: So not only is it a nude beach, it's like a drug-addled, drunken beach. But, apparently, it's a lot of fun. But, supposedly, they started cracking down on it recently and it's not as fun as it once was.
CB: Well, I do remember actually what drew me was you can camp on the beach there, which is sort of rare toÔøΩ It wasn't a campground; there's like backcountry camping on the sand and youÔøΩ There's not a ton of places in the States where you can do that.
JC: Yeah, that sounds kind of funny, actually.
CB: It was great.
JC: Waking up to the sound of waves and things like that.
CB: It's wonderful.
CB: And we did go down there and we did camp and it was a great way to start the trip and we didÔøΩ There was this dude walked up to us, this‚Äö√Ñ√§‚Äö√Ñ√Æ‚Äö√Ñ√§and of course, I think this is usually the story‚Äö√Ñ√§‚Äö√Ñ√Æ‚Äö√Ñ√§this probably 50-something year-old man, butt naked, walks up to us just starts a conversation.
JC: Oh, really? So I got a lot of differing advice from doing research on this.
JC: so the guy started a conversation with you.
JC: What did you do? Did you go, "Hey, Bob, good to meet you. Nice penis," like that Saturday Night Live sketch?
CB: No, I think we just tried to treat it like a normal conversation, which it was.
JC: I guess what I've been hearing different things on is that, at nude beaches, you will possibly be surprised by the standoffishness of the nude bathers. You might be expecting free spirits like Bob, the guy you met, right?
CB: Yeah, I think the deal is‚Äö√Ñ√§‚Äö√Ñ√Æ‚Äö√Ñ√§and we will be corrected through listener mail‚Äö√Ñ√§‚Äö√Ñ√Æ‚Äö√Ñ√§but I think if you are clothed, they may be a little more standoffish. But from what I understand, if you're not clothed, that's all kind of part of the community. And we should do a larger one on nudist at some point.
JC: I could not agree more. I had an idea, but I had no idea how lengthy and long-standing the nudism movement, or the naturism movement I should say.
CB: Yeah, naturalists. From what I understand, they're very much a community and that's the whole point, is to normalize it to where it's just like talking on the beach with anybody.
CB: Like it's not any different than being clothed and that's their whole bag is, "Hey, this is how we come into the world and we have all shamed each other with our bodies over the years to where we have clothed ourselves," and of course, you know me, grown up Southern Baptists, I have a very weird relationship with nudity.
CB: To the point where I'm like, "Yeah, man, what's the big deal? Europeans have got it right. It's just your body, who cares?" and then the other half of me says, "Oh my God, put some clothes on." [Laughs] You know?
JC: "Do you want to go to hell today?"
CB: [Laughs] Right. And it's not even that, it's just I guess I'm kind of shy.
JC: Yeah, but I'm sure it's ingrained shyness too.
CB: Oh, yeah for sure.
JC: from an upbringing like that. So you definitely hit on something, right? So when you're talking about the naturist movement, if you go to in naturist resort, like a nude beach that's part of a naturist resort where you have to, say, be a member to get in or something like that.
JC: Yes, you're going to find people who are very happy that you're there and they're very happy to be naked and everybody's very happy that everyone's naked, right?
JC: But you're also probably going to encounter something like compulsory nudity to where if you're there, you have to be naked.
JC: They don't want anybody come along and be like, "What's this all about? What are you guys doing over here? Shake your moneymaker for me," you know?
CB: Yeah, they're not into that.
JC: No. So they have to have their own set-aside resorts that's their own place; it's like a private area. But say, like a different kind of beach, like a clothing optional beach where it's a public beach that allows nudity but it isn't compulsory, that's when it seems to be kind of like Paradise Lost for the naturists, historically speaking.
CB: Well, there's a culture clash going on.
JC: There definitely is.
CB: You know?
JC: Yeah, and it seems like just about every country that has beaches has nude beaches and if they are public nude beaches where clothing is optional, it seems like the naturists who are actually there to just enjoy being naked, it has nothing to do with sex, their kids are running around naked, the whole family is there, it's a very family-oriented naked beach, tend to lose control of it because outside elements usually come in, start partying, having public sex, and then, all of a sudden, this nude beach gets a terrible reputation and the government steps in, local people complain and usually, when they do, it's successful and the government steps in and nobody can be naked anymore and it's ruined for all the naturists.
CB: Yeah, and that is not the same thing at all as topless beaches that you find in Europe and in some places here in the United States. I went to one of those too, and I mean you call it a topless beach; it was, I think, it was just a beach, you know? I think a lot of the beaches in Europe are topless; it's not a big thing.
CB: And we saw ladies with theirÔøΩ With no bikini top on.
CB: And, of course, being a kid, I was young; I was like, "Wahaaa! Hey!"
JC: You're like that wolf in the cartoon where his jaw just hits the floor.
CB: But I was respectful because I knew, even then, you don't want to ogle somebody because that's probably not too cool.
CB: But then, even as a young guy, it normalized and I was like, "Oh, well. This is just a body part, it ain't a big deal."
JC: Yeah, yeah. After you turn, I don't know, 19 or 20, it's really easy to become desensitized to that kind of stuff.
JC: You know? So let's take a break man.
CB: That was a lot of good set up there.
JC: Yeah, that was a lot of set up.
CB: Teeth and penises andÔøΩ [Laughs]
JC: [Laughs] Right.
CB: [Laughs] All kinds of things.
JC: Boobs, the whole shebang.
JC: We'll be right back, everybody.
JC: So, Chuck, you've mentioned it a couple times and it seems like anybody who even basically knows about nude beaches tends to think of Europe.
JC: And for good reasons too. There was a survey in 2016 that surveyed, I think like 90 different countries or something like that, that was a pretty extensive survey, to find out what the attitudes were toward nude sunbathing on public beaches.
JC: And they found that Austrians, the Austrians, I really would not have guessed the Austrians and I'm not misspeaking Australians. I mean the people from Austria.
CB: Do they have a shoreline, Josh?
JC: I don't know.
JC: I don't know.
JC: I wish I did, but I don't know. At any rate, they're fine with nudism. At the very least, I'm sure they have sandy lakes. They're fine with nude sunbathing at the beach. Something like 76% of Austrians say it's "absolutely acceptable" to sunbathe in the nude in public. It used to be Germany was the champion of being cool with nude sunbathing.
CB: On their famous, very famous, shoreline.
JC: yes, in the North Sea. But they fell to second place; 72% of German say it's absolutely acceptable.
CB: And you're sure it didn't say Australians, right?
CB: Because they're way good with it. Okay.
JC: Yeah, I know. Well, Australia has a rollercoaster relationship with nude beaches. I think it depends on who's in charge of the culture at any given point in time.
CB: Oh, really?
CB: Well, maybe, while we're there, we'll be in charge of the culture for a short time.
CB: Nudity everywhere.
JC: [Laughs] Man.
CB: Until Chuck gets grossed out.
JC: Our shows about to get raucous.
CB: You never know, a nude show, how about that?
JC: SoÔøΩ No, no, absolutely not.
CB: [Laughs] No, I mean the audience, not us.
JC: So I'm still not comfortable with that either.
CB: Well, that's how they say toÔøΩ The reason to say that is becauseÔøΩ
JC: It's like a 2 Live Crew show.
CB: [Laughs] They say to picture your audience in the nude if you're nervous.
JC: I think they say underwear.
CB: Oh, okay, got you. I remember that Brady Bunch, that's all I know.
JC: [Laughs] So I don't know Australians.
JC: But I do know 18% of Americans say it's absolutely acceptable sunbathing in the nude.
CB: That seems about right, pretty low percentage. That's what I'd figure.
JC: Well, you know who had an even lower percentage? It's Italians. 71% of Italians say they are not okay with having somebody sunbathe nude by them on a public beach.
CB: That surprises me.
JC: It surprises me as well, but such is the way. But they're kind of an outliner as far as Europe goes, and Europe actually, again, have some of the earliest nude beaches around. This article says that the first one was in Bordeaux, in France, that started around after World War 2, but I actually saw footage of a nude beach in Georgia, the country not the state, dating from the 1920s.
JC: So as far as nudity goes, Georgia's even more progressive than France, apparently.
CB: I don't know about progressive. I think, sometimes, it's just, you know, freaks are gonna let their flag fly.
JC: No, you got it, you got it.
CB: And if you've got a group of them together, I don't care if it's 1920 in Georgia, then they find each other, they're gonna do it. I don't think that necessarily means that Georgia was super progressive, you know I mean?
JC: Oh, okay. I see what you mean.
CB: Or maybe it does, I don't know, but I'm just saying. And that's the case with a lot of these nude beaches is, it bears pointing out, some of these are sanctioned and some of them are justÔøΩ Have happened over the years to this extent where, like you said, the local cops are just kind of like, "They're not hurting anybody, this is sort of where they gather," and everyone knows that so they can either choose to go there or stay away from there and these places are usually somewhat removed too. Not all the times, but usually. Like I remember with Klondike Beach, it wasn't the main beach; you had to kind of work a bit to get there.
JC: Yeah, it's almost always, if not remote, as far as just beaches in general go, it is like, say, the northernmost part or the southernmost part, so it's secluded in some way, shape, or form.
JC: I read this fascinating article about a nude beach off of Palm Beach called Airforce Beach.
JC: And it was a private island owned by John D. McArthur of the famous John D and Catherine T McArthur Foundation.
CB: NPR fame?
JC: Yeah. And he made his billions selling insurance, I believe, and he, apparently, was a bit of a naturist himself, but he allowed people to use his beach and he also allowed one of the sides of the beach to become a nude beach. And there is a big struggle, because he died as he was signing over, or his son was signing over, the deed of this beach to the county with the stipulation that this part remain nude and he died before the nude part document was signed, so the county took the beach and was like, "No, we are not gonna sign that other thing."
CB: Oh, that's a shame.
JC: And there's been a struggle ever since. I think it was in the 90s when he died, but it was a lost nude beach. But for a while there, there was apparently something like 5000 people a day coming there to sunbathe nude on the weekends. It was one of America's most populated nude beaches and it was all because it was t