BY ALEX SILVERMAN
It's off the beaten path. You walk down a little hill, through some trees, and there it is.
"If you want to come and hang out and not wear clothes, this is a place where you can do that safely and respectfully," said Jim, who asked that we not use his last name.
Seattle's unofficial nudist hangout is a small, secluded, grassy patch on the shores of Lake Washington, just a hundred yards from a public beach where swim trunks are not optional.
"You can touch the water with all your body, have the sun touch your whole body," Jim told me, sprawled on the grass in his birthday suit. "The water is there. It's like you don't need to bring anything but your body into the water."
According to Jim's friend and fellow nudist, Mark, trunkless bathers have called this spot home for at least fifteen years. As a condition of our interview, he asked that we not reveal its location. "The danger is that the publicity might bring the authorities."
Jim and his friend Mark are encouraged that the Seattle parks department agreed to meet with clothing-optional activists earlier this week. "It would be great to have it be out in the open and not have to have it under wraps like something dirty, that has to be hidden from society," Jim said.
Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams told the nudists he would be open to the idea of designating a clothing-optional beach, but the department might not have the authority to do so. A state law allows police to crack down on nudity in public places. But Williams said community and political backing could make the difference.
"Right now, everything's on the quiet," Mark said. "Everyone seems to be respectful of each other. It's live and let live."
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