Ranger World – A Gunnison Nude Beach Group
Ranger World – Ranger World is a group that has been gathering at Gunnison Beach, New Jersey shore’s famous nude beach, for the last 30 years. They throw parties and events on the beach every summer and have their own long-established niche there. To learn more about the group, we decided to interview Ranger Joe, the man who started it all!
Jordan & Felicity: Why is it called “Ranger World”?
Ranger Joe: Ranger World was a place that I actually built in the backyard of my house. But back in the day they wanted people out of the dunes, and it was a big issue because they were worried about erosion. Well that’s no longer an issue, but Ranger Joe was given to me here because I had the loudest voice, ‘Get out of the dunes!’ Things weren’t set in stone here yet, we didn’t know if we’d have a beach the next day even.
J&F: Were you an official ranger?
RJ: No, I was never a ranger. But I used to wear a sun-type hat, and people assumed. And the other reason is there were like 5 Joe’s we were hanging around with, and every other guy was Joe, so I just accepted the handle ‘Ranger Joe.’
J&F: How long have you been coming to Gunnison Beach? Has it changed a lot?
RJ: 31 years. Changed a lot, and it’s changed for the better. Attitudes changed now, you know, back in the early 80s, you had Ronald Reagan years, and now, because of the expansion of cable TV and the Internet and everything else, sexuality is more accepted. It’s a whole different state of mind. You were still dealing with puritanical values, good or bad. Now it’s a money-maker for the 3 towns around here too. People book hotel rooms, eat at restaurants. If you check the license plates when you go home, you’ll see people from Illinois, Indiana.
J&F: Do you consider yourself a nudist or a naturist?
RJ: I’m more of a beach animal. I’ve never been to a nudist club in my life. I was raised on the Jersey shore, and to me, this lifestyle is like baseball season. We’re out here til October. To me, if you want to play baseball or do this again, you have to go to the Caribbean or Florida. I need the palm trees, the sand, the ocean. Most of my group are beach animals. Basically we did what was going on in the bars and brought it out here. We brought the contemporary music, the fun girls, the beads.
J&F: The nudity part, does that play any factor here?
In the early days it did. Once everybody’s naked around you, you don’t see nudity any more, you see the person.
Basically once you strip down here, whether you’re a millionaire or a billionaire, it’s left in the parking lot, nobody knows. You’re all equal. You’re not gonna show the Maserati and all that. A boat’s useless here. You can be the richest guy in the world or the poorest guy in the world, and you’re on an even keel here. I guess that’s the best way of saying it.
J&F: So Ranger World has been around since you started coming here?
RJ: What I did is I built a complex in the back of my house with an in ground pool, a hot tub and a tiki bar. And at about 4 or 5 o’ clock, what we used to do is we would go over there and barbecue with 20 or 30 people. From there, wherever the night takes us. I don’t do that anymore. I don’t own the house anymore. It was a lot of fun, but there was a lot of work involved in it.
J&F: There’s a lot of rumors about Ranger World..
RJ: Yeah, havin’ fun is not a rumor…
J&F: There are rumors about having sex on the beach.
RJ: I wish that was true! I haven’t seen it. You’re gonna hear everything. I’m sure in your field you hear rumors about you guys. I’ve had rumors about me since 1981, and you know what, you can’t please the world.
J&F: How did you get involved in the whole nudity thing? Was it a nude beach back then?
It was an unofficial nude beach, and basically this was part of Fort Hancock at one time, and in 1974 the federal government unloaded this to the national park system. So the national park system took it over, and they really didn’t have any money. So anyway I guess a couple leftover hippies from the 60’s started comin’ out here, and on a day like today, you’d maybe get 25 people. People didn’t think about it. You didn’t read about it, these nudist magazines were like something out of the 40’s. You think of it like a hippie-type thing, and then it caught on from there.
I started comin’ out here ‘cause I was bored. Then you meet one person and another. It’s like tailgating at a ball park. You go to the same parking area, you start knowin’ the people around you, start having relationships. All of a sudden, you have that camaraderie.
This is an alternative world, and it’s not for everybody. We just recruit here. Why bother tryin’ to talk to somebody into coming here when they’ll “yes you” to death, and then they’re nowhere to be found.
J&F: When was the first time you were nude in a social setting?
RJ: Wasn’t even here, it was in southern California on Black’s Beach, which was a rockin’ beach. I said, ‘you want a nude beach, this is the way to run it.’ There were 10,000 people on this beach, and they climbed down a 300 foot cliff. In fact the kids were hang gliding off the top. It still had that element of the 60s there, surfboards, bon fires, it was a great place.
I walked up, I didn’t know how I was gonna do it. We took the 2 mile walk north to the nude beach, and then when I wasn’t paying attention I looked around and suddenly noticed nobody was wearing clothes. I said, well, “when in Rome.” I had a sunburned ass the next day.
J&F: Has it changed here over the years as far as the presence of families and kids?
RJ: Well, in a perfect world it wouldn’t matter, but here it does because you get a lot of twisted people out here. And I discourage kids from comin’ out here because they attract the perverts. I see families with preteen daughters, and I can tell they’ll pop up all around them. And with all the electronics and gadgets today, it’s trouble waiting to happen, and you can’t do anything about it. I’ve gone to the rangers, but if they’re not doing anything, there’s nothing we can do about it. So we kind of discourage it.
J&F: How do you discourage it?
RJ: We don’t socialize with them. In a nudist camp or club, you can screen the people coming in. We’ve caught a guy that actually cut a hole in his cooler with a video camera. That’s how crazy it is. My attitude is you got the whole planet to take your kids. If there was way of regulating the perverts, I wouldn’t care. The rangers told us we can’t do nothin’ about it.
J&F: The rangers don’t hand out fines and such?
RJ: They haven’t broken the law. I can stare at you all day, and there’s nothing you can do. I could actually have a camera running on you, and there’s nothing legally you can do about it.
J&F: So what do you do, try to scare them away?
RJ: Yeah, but if they call my bluff, I’m not gonna hit ‘em and start trouble. You can regulate at clubs, but here you don’t know who’s gonna walk on. But that’s the only negative thing.
J&F: In a perfect world what do u see Ranger World becoming?
RJ: In my perfect world, I’d just like to see your generation carry on. Have a good time. Dance, do whatever you like to do. That’s it, I have no ambition or none of that.
J&F: Would you like to see this section become much bigger?
RJ: I’d rather have quality than quantity. Because you lose control and you can’t see what the other side of the beach is doing. I’d rather have 50 or 60 good people. You can expand, but I’d rather have additional groups form.
J&F: We know there has been some drama between Friends of Gunnison (FoG) and RW over the years?
RJ: I’m not gonna say anything negative about them, I just do my thing. I’ve seen groups like FoG come and go. To each his own. They do their thing, we do ours.
J&F: This is a sanctioned nude beach, right?
RJ: Yeah, federal government sanctioned.
J&F: We know the fed government doesn’t have any laws regulating nudity, but they can be asked by the state to outlaw it, right?
RJ: Yeah, they can close you down tomorrow. That’s one of the reasons why, God forbid, something happens to a kid out here, with some naive parent. And boom, they say ‘Oh, that’s going on out there? We gotta close it.’
J&F: Well at Hippie Hollow nude beach in Texas, there were all kinds of rumors about sexual activity going on so they regulated it to age 21 and over. Once they did that, it became a total swinger place because the presence of kids had kept a lot of people at bay. So it’s an interesting turn where the reverse happened.
RJ: Well, don’t ask me to give a prediction, because I’ll probably be wrong. I just enjoy the day and time we have. This beach is the best nude beach on the eastern seaboard.
We’ve done off-season parties, but it’s time for you guys to do it. Enjoy it. Have fun. That’s what this is really all about. You can sum this interview up with, let’s just have fun.