The Return of the Black’s Nude Beach Bares
Guest blog by: Tony Young
The Blacks Beach Bares Return:
“I’d wanted to see all the naked supermodels,” Dave Cole said when asked what prompted him to first visit Black’s Beach in San Diego back in the mid to late 1990’s. Needless to say, no supermodels ever showed up.
The crowd was mostly men, maybe a few older women, and to a 21-year-old had who’d just gotten out of the Navy a few months earlier, 30 would have been considered old.
According to his group’s website, there’s no easy access to Black’s Beach. Entering at La Jolla Shores meant a northbound hike and entering at Torrey Pines meant you had to hike south. There is a sign on the Torrey Pines trail to the north which says, “Area Closed: Nudity Prohibited.” That meant you were close.
Still, Dave had spent several hours on the bus just getting to Black’s Beach the first time, followed by a long arduous journey down the cliffs.
“After such as long journey, I was determined to enjoy the beach,” he said. But getting up the courage to finally worm out of his shorts and get in the water took a while. He suspected people were watching him, but didn’t know for sure.
Dave didn’t grow up in a nudist household but spent “some time nude” when alone at home. Something inside him wanted to try going to a nude beach, to be nude out in nature.
“I kept going to Black’s every year after that, as much as three or four times a summer.
What really turned things around was the day I noticed a co-worker there. We were both walking towards one another. I thought, “Oh . . . sh–. I was going to get in trouble at work.”
But to his surprise, his co-worker had been thinking the same thing. “He kept inviting me to sit with his friends and I felt uncomfortable, being a single male as his group of friends were mostly couples.” Eventually, Dave brought a female friend along to the beach, and then the two of them started sitting with this group.
“It was the late 1990s, and we had noticed that on this beach a group of single men patrolling and hitting on the single women, or at least leering close enough to make them feel uncomfortable. It would always be the same individuals over the course of ten years, and while these single men kept returning, the women never did.”
Dave’s new friends took it upon themselves to police the beach in effective but non-confrontational ways. If some perv were to park him self down beside a woman, someone would sit in his line of vision and set an open umbrella down in between. When the women started getting tighter with each other, it allowed for growth within our group.
It was in 1999 when a giant grill showed up on the beach. No one knew where it had come from but we asked the lifeguards if we could use it. They consented; after all it wasn’t theirs to give away. And ever since that Labor Day Weekend, barbecues became a regular activity and a group was born. There were socials at friends’ houses, but these socials weren’t always naturist related, so therefore they didn’t operate like a non-landed nudist club, nor has it ever been a club. The scene was mainly centered on the beach: picnics every summer weekend, and keeping the beach clean. The group drew in more people until there were a fairly even amount of women and men.
The only drawback, Dave says, is that because they don’t require membership, most of the beach goers tend to take the beach for granted. Black’s Beach, as a nude beach, has always been here and had been a cultural touchstone in the 1970s, so when it gets threatened by legal action, it’s still an uphill climb to gain support for the cause. In addition, though naturism has a long, illustrious history, very few if any nude beach-goers knew about it. In fact AANR didn’t actually show much support for the nude beach movement for years.
There had been another Blacks Beach Bears about a decade before the current incarnation. One of the members of their group, Lloyd Johnson asked original founder Al Spencer if he could give us his blessing to use the same name. He did and they used the original logo until 2006 when Lloyd designed a new one for their flag, based on the original.
The largest picnic they had drew just over 200 people, though they have no idea how many of them were part of the Bares. But when the state park recently revoked the Cahill policy, nudity at state beaches became officially illegal, though park rangers have been hesitant to enforce it.
But with a media obsessed with exploiting nudism, and nudist groups barely getting any air time, Dave and the Black’s Beach Bares were very active in giving interviews. Case in point: a story on The Weather Channel’s “SoCal Lifeguards” featured the subject, “why people enjoy nudist beaches.
“My response to that question was, everybody has their own reason. For me it’s just comfortable. I feel very self-conscious wearing a swimsuit. I’m just more comfortable without one.”
“Later they asked us what we thought of the lifeguards. We told them we loved them as they’d been total professionals. Though they may ask a guy to cover himself if they’re attending him, they never seem to ask a woman to do the same.”
During a volleyball story for Fox Sportscaster, the newscasters informed Dave that they would blur out the faces and certain body parts of the nude beach users and not name the beach. Dave objected, told them they’d want the beach named and that no one would go on camera unless they were willing to show their face and use their full name.
“We’re not ashamed of what we’re doing,” he said. “Hiding implies that we’re doing something wrong.”
Of course, the nudist education of the community wasn’t limited to broadcast media. While Lloyd Johnson publishes the newsletter for the Black’s Beach Bares and had been responsible for getting the group started, Dave has become an unofficial spokesperson for the Bares, representing them at TNS Gatherings and a few AANR conventions, as well as doing the aforementioned media interviews.
Years before those interviews, however, a member of the faculty at Lloyd’s college at Southwestern Community College had approached Dave to speak to her class on Human Sexuality. Along with a friend, Claudia Kellersch, we prepared a lecture along with a video, “Chasing the Sun” from the Naturist Education Foundation, NEF. Later, his wife Chrissy took over Claudia’s place, and they were regular and popular speakers at that college and others.
Dave and Chrissy focused on body acceptance issues and started with a survey, asking students what image they thought of when they heard the word “nudist.” They got a lot of the standard, typical answers, “old men, pervs, etc.,” but a surprising amount of students mentioned, “freedom” despite saying they’d be unwilling to try it themselves.
According to the 2006 Roper Poll, only 25% of the American population had even tried skinny dipping, but when we surveyed our class, the numbers were more like 50% had tried it and the majority of those were women.
“This was one class,” he reiterated. “On average it’s closer to about 35 – 40% and not necessarily all women.”
Of course, the inevitable question always gets asked, “Does it ever gross you out seeing all those old or overweight people?”
“We are still human,” said Chrissy, Dave’s wife and co-lecturer. “But we try not to be prejudiced. We are accepting of all different types of people.”
Naturists, they say, can still appreciate a healthy, beautiful body, perhaps without the guilt that a non-nudist would attribute to it. Being naked is not necessarily a “turn on.” It’s your behavior that determines that.
A good sign of their hard work bearing fruit is that once in a while they’ll see a student or two joining them at Black’s Beach. However, they don’t expect a great majority following suit.
Perhaps in ten years, he said, they’ll finally let that nudist philosophy sink in. “We like to think we’re planting the seed for the next generation.”
Dave continues his activism as part of NOVA for the Naturist Society. NOVA stands for the Naturist Outreach Volunteer Advocate, whose sole purpose is that of “promoting an attitude of tolerance and respect for the human body, as well as the benefits of clothing-optional recreation, and of membership in The Naturist Society.”
According to the The Naturist Society TNS website, “The purpose of the NOVA program is to inform and educate the general public about the benefits of naturism as put forth by the Naturist Society, as well as to provide continuing support to Naturist Network organizations.”
Dave also works for the Naturist Education Foundation. He has been to nudist resorts as a result of seeing a bumper sticker at Black’s but Dave doesn’t see himself as a nudist resort type of guy. He has spoken at naturist gatherings and visited resorts just for fun, but the nude beach simply feels more natural to him, like a second home.
this article about the return of the Blacks Beach Bares was published by – Young Naturists & Young Nudists America