Photos were not a big part of our history. After all, the proverbial selfie only captures moments; it does not experience them.

I bring up the selfie because it is also possibly the true villain at clothing-optional beaches these days. You can’t swing a rescue cat without knocking over a photo shoot of zero importance. Camera phones are omnipresent and the people wielding them are fierce. I am convinced this is the number-one contribution to nudists becoming endangered species.

Until recently, cameras were strictly prohibited on a nude beach. If a photo was taken, it was with explicit consent. There was also a custom to bring the photo back once it was developed and present it to the person in the photo; if all parties okayed it, the photo lived on. The only other times photos were permitted were for special events like Wreck Beach Day or the Bare Buns Run.

For the most part though, we nudists are one big, happy family experiencing life, not capturing it. Nudist, or naturists as many prefer to be called, should never be confused with exhibitionists. Exhibitionists need attention. Naturists want to be nude in nature without a bunch of self(ie)-important “rubberneckers” as the back drop.

Something amazing happens when you first decide to get over yourself and get naked. You leave your camera in your beach bag and you start to rejoice in nature and your place in it.

Many of the tales I chronicle in this column aren’t trapped in a phone. They are captured in my mind. Here are a few I’d like to share with you:

I first went to Wreck Beach in 1992. It was busy; weekends would easily attract up to 4,000 people on a sunny day. I didn’t get naked my first few times. Mostly, we went down to get stoned and day party. Who doesn’t love a good day party? Often, we went down at night as well to eat mushrooms, laughing till it hurt. Nobody to disturb.

I went top free around my fourth time. Certain areas on the beach were unfriendly to “textiles” (people with clothes on), and I was so enthusiastic to fit in. I got the message and dropped my drawers too. Free of clothes, I could frolic into any groovy scene on the beach.

That’s because naturist don’t discriminate. Anybody, absolutely anyone, can be a nudist; just take your clothes off. Once it’s over, you can stop obsessing about being naked and accept yourself.

One perfect day, a beautifully tanned girl with long, curly hair was floating down the beach wearing only a crown of fresh flowers. She looked angelic; radiant. Most likely, though, she’d eaten some magic mushrooms. Slowly, she traversed past throngs of people crowding the shore, occasionally stopping to kiss a few chosen foreheads as if to bless them. I was spellbound watching her trajectory. She had presence; she had grace.

She broke my trance with a kiss upon my face. I was chosen.

Her name was Anne. Turns out, she sold magic mushrooms in wonderful flavour combinations like Bavarian chocolate mint, dark chocolate almond, and white chocolate cranberry. She also took conscious vending to a whole new level. She would first ask customers if they had any allergies, then go on to explain what they could expect from her dose of mushrooms. Anne was also the first to offer money-back guarantees. She was very ethical in her “drug dealing.”

She became my mentor and lifelong friend. The level of freedom and expression Anne embodied was clearly not for everybody, but man, was it for me! I was young. I was entrepreneurial. I was extroverted.

I also met my new best friend, Paddy, right away. He was a vendor of cigarettes and candy bars, shuffling along and singing out his slogans.

Paddy was around 76 years old at the time, but he coerced me into saying he was 80. When everybody was trying to look younger, Paddy wanted to look older. He thought it made him cooler. “First guy I ever sold a cold beer to down here was Captain Cook,” he liked to brag.

I would call him over as he casually sauntered by; then, out of nowhere, he’d kick his feet out from under himself. He’d be suddenly lying on his side, head resting in his palm, saying something amusing like, “I thought you’d never ask.” I’d buy a smoke and light up, anticipating his bevy of well-rehearsed jokes.

“Cops stopped me at the top of the trail last night and asked if I had been dropping LSD down here? I looked that cop straight in the face and said, “Shit man, you think I got this way smokin’ tobacco?”

When you got to laughing the hardest, he would spring up equally as fast as he fell and continue on his way. Always leave them laughing; Paddy taught me that early.

It was during a cigarette purchase I asked Paddy if he would help me with my own comedy routine. I think I flattered him. We met at his apartment one rainy afternoon a few days later, where I sat on the floor at his feet, listening to him tell tales for four hours uninterrupted. He had been a comedic actor on CBC and a few other places, here and there. He boasted knowing Molly Ringwald’s dad, Bob, the blind piano player. He told me he once saw Betty Davis’s tits backstage. Then, we played some poker, listened to Tony Bennet, and ate steaks. I found my new life. I was Paddy’s new side kick.

Being unclothed and Paddy’s new best friend made me quick alumni down at Wreck Beach, able to sit most anywhere with anyone. If Paddy introduced me, I was okay. This is an important social tool on any nude beach where police can show up at any moment, uninvited, and you need to blend or worse…hide your cookies.

Both Anne and Paddy have passed now, taking something near perfect away from me. Such is the nature of perfection; It cannot last long, photo or no photo.


Baking a Fool of Myself: Capturing a Moment


Quiche Your Ass Good Night Recipe

-with shallots, bacon, and cilantro

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cream/milk
  • 1-cup fresh spinach
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/3-cup fresh cilantro
  • Dash salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 4/5 strips bacon
  • 5/6 grams toasted shake flour*
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 12 tart shells

Pre-cook four strips of bacon. Pat off excess grease with paper towel Set aside a few sprigs of cilantro for decor. In blender combine spinach, cream, cilantro, shallot, shake flour, eggs, salt and pepper.

Cut bacon into 36 pieces. Place two pieces of bacon on the bottom of tart shells. Pour egg mixture into each shell

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with sharp cheddar, a sprig of cilantro and one piece of bacon. Return to oven and bake another 15/20 minutes or golden. Cool and serve

*Toasted shake flour is dried cannabis leaves that have been pre-toasted in oven at 240 degrees for 20 minutes before grinding into flour. This process increases the potency of the shake but is not necessary.