Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sun and Shadows – Kid Admission Policies Change at a Palm Springs Nude Resort

OF ALL the events and happenings in the world of nudism in North America  today there is, perhaps, no greater watershed moment than a lawsuit pending in California filed by John and Elizabeth Young, owners of Desert Sun resort in Palm Springs California.  The suit seeks a court order allowing the Youngs to bar minors from Desert Sun.  The Youngs filed their case after receiving a letter from an attorney written on behalf of anonymous patrons claiming the no-kids policy violated California law banning discrimination on the basis of age, race, etc.

Folks in the nudist community are quickly taking sides in the debate over these developments. Some point out that a private resort and private property owners should be within their rights to set policy.  Others call it a sign of the times when a nudist club takes such a strong stand against admitting kids.  Indeed, the Youngs have resorted to some pretty tough language in their court documents and press releases alluding that no child can be kept fully safe from the danger of becoming a subject of surreptitious child pornography while on nudist grounds. [ Most observers, while accepting the Youngs’ prerogative to set policy, would have preferred they not gone so far as to call so much of family nudism into question. ]

Bare Platypus is in a unique position to comment because (1) Our team has more than fifteen years serving the nude travel business and has a historical perspective; AND (2) Unlike others who may have that historical perspective (including two national nudist organizations) we are not dependent on outside advertising or financial support to temper what may need to be said.  So here goes:

1.      Most clothes-free resorts in the Palm Springs area have not been oriented toward family visitors and a family market has never been especially true of that city.  Indeed, there are cozy romantic getaways, couples retreats, gay-friendly venues, etc.  We know at least three other clothes-free places in the city that did not market to (or admit) families, including the Terra Cotta Inn, Morningside Inn, and Living Waters Spa & Resort.  These were all beautiful in their own right, serving their respective niches.

2.       Having said that, Desert Sun---which used to be called Desert Shadows Inn, Resort, & Villas---did have a history of being more family-friendly once upon a time.  Those with years of nudist experience will recall the days that the property was managed by two couples: Ray & Sue Lovato and Steve & Linda Payne.  They will recall that Steve and Linda raised a young son into adulthood while living on grounds, and that the Payne’s son frequently appeared with his parents to promote the property in local and national media.  Moreover, past visitors may recall that a HUGE wrought-iron sign/sculpture once adorned the grounds of Desert Shadows.  That sculpture depicted man, woman, and child lounging in their birthday suits.  In our opinion this would have sent a message to prospective homeowners and condo buyers: your children and grandchildren are welcome here if properly supervised.

3.       Regrettably, Desert Shadows came into the custody and control of an owner (ownership group) who promised the investors in the business greater returns.  This owner was NEITHER the Paynes NOR the Youngs.  But a combination of financial difficulties, management decisions, etc. soon saw the club in great distress.  That’s when the Youngs stepped in and, through great sacrifice and personal investment, bought the club and grounds, ensuring that it did not go “textile” as some feared could happen.

4.       For multiple reasons, the Youngs determined they no longer wished to admit children on the grounds of the newly-named Desert Sun.  Predictably, there were some who did not agree with this decision---perhaps because they remember the resort’s history under the Lovatos and Paynes. Perhaps because they own a condo on grounds and want to bring their grandkids. Or perhaps out of some other motive.  We don’t know because they have remained anonymous and used a lawyer to make their case.   [If the mystery plaintiffs live on grounds they may fear retaliation.  Or they could remain anonymous  for more nefarious reasons.]

5.       Backed into a legal corner, the Youngs understandably took the pre-emptive action of asking a court to uphold a decision they had every right ----but maybe not every reason---to make.  Problem is, now much greater issues hang in the balance… including whether the pending case may eventually affect families’ ability to enjoy nudism at venues hundreds of miles from Palm Springs.

We at the Bare Platypus want to make a few things abundantly clear:  While we sometimes travel without our “puggles” (that’s minor children) to nude destinations and on cruises, we will NEVER be counted among those who state, out of hand, that children do not belong in any nudist settings. Or that children are inherently in more danger by visiting nudist clubs with their parents. We have personally raised kids as nudists into confident, well-adjusted, adults.

At the Bare Platypus you, dear reader, will ALWAYS find a voice that supports YOU in bringing up YOUR children to enjoy freedom from clothes within your home, on the road, and consistent with your beliefs.  The Bare Platypus is here to speak the truth and be your best resource.  Platypus not Platitudes. That’s our motto.

05/04/12 Update:  Bare Platypus revisited the Desert Sun Lawsuit in our post asking why national nudist organizations have not stepped up to defend family nudism in the wake of this suit.  Read it