Start spreading the nudes!
A group of skinny dippers wants to set aside a piece of Coney Island Beach so they can get a full-frontal tan, but the city says the bathers need to keep their shirts — and especially their pants — on.
The American Association for Nude Recreation says the People’s Playground would be the ideal spot for newbie nudies to take a “nakation” — or to just hang out in the buff — because of its accessibility.
“It would work out great because it’s easy to get to,” nudie spokesman Tom Mulhall said, who added that such a hot spot could stimulate his group’s membership rolls. “People may realize they love the personal freedom that comes with going nude on a beach.”
And his clothes-bereft friends agree.
In an online survey, members of the association placed Coney as one of the top 15 places in the world they would like to see the ban on nude sunbathing fully disrobed.
Mulhall envisions dividing a three-mile stretch between Corbin Place and W. 37th Street into “prude” and “nude” sections similar to the designation at Black’s Beach in San Diego.
But the city has already kicked sand in the face of the idea.
Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor told us that Coney won’t go topless (officially, at least) anytime soon. Bathing suits are required at all city beaches and there are only a handful of legal nude beaches located within a day’s drive of Brooklyn, including on Fire Island and in New Jersey.
Still, a naked enclave wouldn’t be unprecedented in free-wheeling Coney (and we’re not just talking about the widespread nudity during the annual Mermaid Parades). Experts say portions of the beach were reserved those who chose to take the sun in the buff — and those that wanted to stare at them.
“Nude sunbathing was always a part of Coney Island culture,” said Charles Denson, who runs the Coney Island History Project. “All of the beachfront bathhouses had nude sun decks where sun worshipers could let it all hang out but they were segregated by sex. The funny part was that you could observe the nudists from most of the rides.”
Denson added that he thinks that the western end of the beach, away from the bustling amusement district, “would be a perfect setting to resurrect this Coney tradition.”
Still, a nude beach may not gel with the city’s plan to turn Coney Island into an upscale, family-friendly tourist attraction featuring thrill rides, shopping, restaurants and hotels, and some residents might not like the idea of seeing someone’s twig and berries while swimming with their kids.
“Coney Island is a family place, and having a nude beach would take away from that,” said Park Slope resident Chad Nardine.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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