Sunday, August 04, 2002

Nudism: A Growth Industry?

OK, I will admit to the double entendre -- and this is certainly a topic that invites self-conscious humor from those of us who are squeamish (or perhaps "horrified" would be a better description) about the prospect of baring ourselves publicly -- but some people are serious about growth prospects of nudism, also called "naturism." The topic has received lots of exposure (sorry) recently because of one Canadian's plan to "streak across Canada," as well as a spat about nudist resorts catering to youth. Florida Congressman Mark Foley has taken the latter issue to the public, and that has everyone wondering about this industry. The American Association for Nude Recreation, which has played a prominent role in the controversy, boasts a "roster of more than 240 private clubs, resorts, and RV campgrounds, as well as nearly 50,000 individual members." Even a quick tour of the Web reveals (there I go again!) a wide array of nudist services, from dating to volleyball tournaments. (By the way, most of these sites are very discrete when displaying their target customers, so don't expect a porno exhibition.) Although I cannot claim to have any first-hand experience with this industry, a friend who had visited nude beaches once provided this maxim for those who think of nudism as a spectator sport: "Most nudists shouldn't." In the end (oops, I did it again!), this is not an industry that is likely to provide much of a boost to Wisconsin's economy, unless nude indoor water parks become the rage.