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Bare Beyond the Bone

Quality nudist beaches are ideally isolated from the suntanning masses, and to get to them requires a dedicated journey. You can drive through endless suburbs to get to the nudie beach on the far tip of the Sydney harbor or, more dramatically, take a water taxi. In Venice, Italy, on the Adriatic side of the Lido, you must take a water taxi to a bus and descend steeply by foot over sand dunes. But in Southern California, you only have to drive south to the seaside city of La Jolla to find Black’s Beach.

I have a sentimental history with Black’s Beach. Back when I was a teenager and left home for the first time, I interned for a summer at the Jonas Salk Institute, and found Black’s directly at the bottom of the cliff. In a few short weeks, I already considered myself a regular as I experienced what felt like the end of the ’60s in a nude Fourth of July parade, complete with body paint and American flags. Now, a couple times a year, when I feel nostalgic for that summer of freedom, I head down to La Jolla again.

Last summer, my friend Franko B. was visiting from London. It was his first trip to the States. After a few days of L.A. life, we headed for Black’s Beach. First I gave him a tour of the Salk, an amazing Louis Kahn building complex made of concrete, metal and teakwood, then we took the walk past the hang-gliding station and looked down at the devastatingly beautiful view. The path known as the goat trail looks treacherous, but I’ve always found it doable. Franko, however, was terrified — he looked at me as if I were mad. But after some coercing, we ploughed ahead down the cliff and touched sand in less than 20 minutes.

If you make a left at the bottom of the trail, you’ll usually find a game of nude volleyball. If you take a right, you’ll find the gays. We walked a good quarter-mile away from a few small groups and “troll” stations, but the beach wasn’t nearly as active as in the days of my youth. We installed our towels and cooler, then walked toward the ocean. “Brilliant!” said Franko, as the cold water ran over our bare feet. I always forget how violent the Pacific Ocean is compared to the seaside in England, but Franko found out for himself when ankle-deep water suddenly came up over his midsection. I took a quick swim alone, then we lay down, our bodies melting into the warmth of the sand.

I couldn’t have art-directed what happened next. A very attractive young man (albeit a little on the twinky side for me), maybe about 19 or 20 years old, walked past us with his butch-realness, ginger-headed “Daddy.” Fortunately for our viewing pleasure, they parked about six yards away from us. Franko, who has an extreme underbite with all gold capped teeth and a shaved head tattooed with red flames, lighthoused him with radar, and so did I — the boy knew he had a captive audience, and commenced to perform a prosthetic striptease.

With a low-key burlesque quality, he slipped out of his board shorts and T-shirt. The revelation of his slim, sexy body came as no surprise, but the full-length fake left leg did: He had come down the cliff and walked across the beach with no detectable limp. We fixated with thyroid eyes. He snapped off the outer skin (which was some kind of flesh-toned rubber), then removed the solid component of his leg (which could have been wood or plastic), put on the attached steel skeleton and ran into the sea. We tried to relax. After a few minutes of frolicking, he came back to the towel, lay on his stomach while he dried in the sun, then started giving us coy, sideways glances, which we took as encouragement that we were indeed being insensitive lechers and could continue our gawking. Ginger-Dad looked over and smiled. I wasn’t sure where it was going, but felt confident we were all thinking alike.

The boy then unhooked his metal skeleton, reassembling solid and skin components, and stuck the leg, thigh-first, into the sand. The act was significant, like staking a flag to announce he was open for business. We ventured over and introduced ourselves.

How to get there: Exit I-5 south at Genesee Avenue and turn right.Turn left onto North Torrey Pines Road to the Gliderport parking lot. Other routes can be found at http://blacksbeach.org/routes.html What to do: Swim, sunbathe nude, hang-glide, surf. For more information: www.sannet.gov/lifeguards/beaches/blacks.shtml


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