Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I’ve never been to a nudist colony, but I enjoyed reading about one in David Sedaris’s book entitled Naked, in which he talks about his experiences growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and some aspects of his adult life in New York City. Topics include but aren’t limited to: how his parents dealt with his teachers’ concerns about his obsessive compulsive behavior, his family’s relationship to and the demise of his paternal grandmother, discovering his homosexuality at a summer camp in Greece, and his mother’s bout with cancer. In the title story, he describes his vacation at a nudist colony in great detail.

According to David Sedaris’s home page, he has become one of America’s most pre-eminent humor writers. He is the author of Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice and collections of essays including Naked and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. There are a total of seven million copies of his books in print, and they have been translated into twenty-five languages. He was the editor of Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories. His work appears regularly in The New Yorker and has twice been included in The Best American Essays. His newest book, a collection of fables entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary was published in September of 2010.

He and his sister Amy Sedaris have collaborated on a number of plays that were produced in a variety of New York City locations. His original radio pieces can be heard on “This American Life,” a program distributed by Public Radio International. He has been nominated for three Grammy awards for best spoken work and best comedy album. His most recent live album is “David Sedaris: Live for Your Listening Pleasure” released in November of 2009.

The recording of Naked that my younger brother Andy gave me for my birthday is produced by Time Warner Audio and narrated by the author with the help of his sister Amy. I especially loved the way Amy portrayed David’s teachers and other female characters including the matron who ran the nudist colony and David’s portrayal of his mother. The snippets of jazz played throughout the recording gave the narration a nice touch. This book kept me laughing and my husband wondering what was making me laugh.

As for a nudist colony, I don’t think that would be such a bad place to take a vacation. Although I’ve never been one to flaunt my nakedness, when I was a kid and heard the 1974 hit “The Streak,” I wanted to do that but didn’t want to be arrested. In 1980 when a group of students streaked across the stage with sacks over their heads during the local college’s graduation ceremony, I thought that was so cool and considered doing the same thing at my high school graduation that year, but again, I feared the consequences. Andy was more adventurous. As early as three years old, he was running around without any clothes. One summer when he was older, he took to dashing home from the local park’s swimming pool in the buff, provoking a scathing letter to my mother from one of our neighbors who said it wasn’t safe to raise little girls around him.

At a nudist colony, you can run anywhere you want without clothes, and nobody will care because everyone else will be doing the same thing. Also, if you’re not wearing clothes, you don’t have to do laundry. Now that’s the kind of vacation I would love to take. However, I doubt I’ll be visiting a nudist colony any time soon. For one thing, I don’t think my husband wants me running around naked in the presence of other men. For another, I always feel the need to carry a cell phone on me when traveling, and there’s no decent place on my naked body for that. Without my cell phone, I’m truly naked.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome

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