by David Wraith
Clothing Optional Meet-Ups (COMUs) may be the most popular regular event thrown by SEX+STL. People want to be naked and be around other naked people. Not only do we always get a great turn out here in St. Louis, but we also get a lot of interest from people in other cities (Incidentally, there seems to be a lot of interest in the Springfield, Missouri area. What’s going on in Springfield?). Whenever we promote a COMU, I get emails from folks outside St. Louis, asking “When are you guys going to bring this to my town?” “Does anybody do this sort of thing around here?” Whenever someone asks if someone is throwing a COMU in their city, my stock answer is always, “Why don’t you?” This is usually greeted with a chorus of “I can’t!” “I don’t know how!” “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
Well, you’re in luck. I’m fixing to tell you.
First, know this: No one in the leadership of SEX+STL is a professional event planner (but, a few of us are semi-professional nudists). We just set out to create an event and it worked. Throwing a clothing optional party is a lot like throwing any other kind of party, just with less clothing.
Find a place: The obvious solution is to hold the party at your place, but if for whatever reason, your place is not an option, find a friend who’s willing to host. We’ve discovered that finding folks willing to open their house to a bunch of naked people is not a problem.
Make a guest list: Our clothing optional events are private and only people we know, or who are vouched for and/or guests of people we know, are allowed to attend. Who gets on the guest list has nothing to do with who’s got the nicest rack or the best abs and everything to do with the safety and comfort of everyone attending. It’s not about velvet ropes or being the “cool kids” in the cafeteria. For those outside the SEX+STL loop, we throw plenty of public events that they can attend and make themselves known to us.
For those of you who don’t have an organization like ours with which to promote your event, start small. Start by inviting your friends, even the ones who aren’t nudists. You might be surprised who’s interested.
Themes: Themes are optional. The first time you throw a clothing optional party, the default theme will no doubt be the fact that you can get naked. If you’re going to make clothing optional parties a regular thing, try giving each a different theme to make it different and involve your guests. Our themes have included body image (a loaded topic when you’re completely covered, imagine having these discussions when you’re laid bare), sexy socks (you’ll be surprised how often you find yourself looking at the clothed feet of an otherwise naked person) and of course, our clothing optional Christmas party, Fleshtivus. If you come up with an awesome theme, let us know. I’m surprised we haven’t done clothing optional karaoke. They say the cure to stage fright is imagining your audience naked. Well, viola!
Make sure everyone knows the rules.
No Touching: Our COMUs are “No-Touch” events. No, couples won’t get thrown out for holding hands or putting their arms around each other. But no heavy petting, less any of the new people get the wrong idea. COMUs are not Roman orgies. Not that I have anything against Roman orgies, but they should be advertised as such so that everybody knows what they’re getting into.
Err on the side of caution when it comes to people’s personal space. Don’t assume that things people are comfortable with fully clothed, they will be equally comfortable with naked. I even ask permission to give someone a hug if one of us is naked, even if we’ve hugged before with clothes on. When in doubt, go for the handshake.
No Cameras: If folks want to preserve the moment in pictures, try to find an out of the way spot apart from other party goers where there’s no danger of any non-consenting parties being photographed, even in the background. Employ a strict no cameras rule in the common areas, and watch cell phone usage. No one needs to aim their phone at a bare ass to send a text message.
Bring a Towel: Bring a towel to sit on. As a good rule of thumb, with the exception of toilet seats and bathtubs, don’t sit your naked ass on anything you haven’t paid for without an invitation.
And of course, the two commandments of social nudity: No Erections. No Staring.
Erections: Erections are a natural biological response to stimuli. If you feel one coming on, don’t panic. Just think about your mother until it goes away. If thinking about your mother gives you an erection, let me know. That might be a good topic for another blog post. If you get a full-on woody, just wrap yourself in your towel (because you brought one, right?) and /or sit down. Either or both will de-emphasize your engorged member. The most important thing to do if you get an erection is to resist the temptation to stroll through the party calling out, “Hey ladies, who’s got two thumbs and a huge hard-on? This guy!” Not only will the ladies not be impressed, but guys with erectile dysfunction, or who have lost one or both thumbs, will think you’re mocking them.
Staring: Staring can be considered rude and it can make people uncomfortable, even when they’re clothed. However, it’s been my experience that when there’s naked flesh everywhere you look for the better part of a few hours, the motivation to stare tends to dissipate.
Clothing Optional Means Just That: As I always say, clothing optional does not mean “nudity required.” To borrow a phrase from the World Naked Bike Ride, everyone should be allowed to go “as bare as they dare.” Not that there’s anything wrong with “nudity required,” so long as it’s advertised as such and everyone knows what they’re getting into. I’ve heard of Clothed Female Naked Male (CFNM) parties where the women dress to the nines, but the men have to show the full monty. I’ve heard of parties where people remain clothed for the first couple of hours, but at a certain time of the night, those who want to leave can leave and those who want to stay have to strip. Pick whatever floats your boat; just make sure that everyone knows what they’re signing on for.
And the most important rule of all…
Have Fun: All these rules and regulations can make throwing a clothing optional party sound like a giant pain in the (naked) ass. Don’t lose sight of the only reason to do this in the first place: to get naked with a bunch of good people and have a great time!
And if you do throw a clothing optional party, by all means, let us know! Nothing would make me happier than to see COMUs become all the rage, like martini and cigar parties or adult kick-ball leagues. When COMUs get mentioned in The Utne Reader or on NPR’s All Things Considered, I’ll know we’ve arrived.