South County Nudists Start $2 Campaign

Naturists Work to Restore Clothing-Optional Section of Bates Beach

If anyone is wondering why they were handed a $2 bill this weekend at a local store, their best bet is that it originated from the pocket or fanny pack of a South County nudist who is part of a group known as the Friends of Bates Beach (FOBB).

FOBB is trying to restore the clothing-optional section of Bates Beach, also known as North Rincon Beach, just above the Ventura County line. Their $2 campaign will officially start in Carpinteria on Saturday, June 30, during the Independence Day Parade. FOBB urges others to hand out these bills if they support the cause.

By introducing the rare bills into the community, FOBB — which is a division of the Southern California Naturist Association (SBNA) and has around 50 members in the south county — hopes to show how strong naturist support is for local businesses while advocating for the return of a nude area to Bates Beach.

FOBB estimates that re-establishing a nude section of Bates Beach would increase local revenue by $800,000 dollars annually. “This is a long battle and we are not going away,” said Gary Mussel, the president of SBNA. As the spearhead for the nudists’ cause from Santa Barbara to Orange counties for many years, Mussell got the idea of a $2 bill campaign from the success of a similar group in Florida.

Mussell looked back fondly on the days in ‘80s and ‘90s when families and friends gathered in the nude on Bates Beach for weekend barbecues. Sex was rarely part of the fun. These days, he expresses frustration that people think of naturists as perverts while the vast majority of them are only at the beach to get their share of vitamin D. “Kids,” he said, “are safer at nude beaches than in shopping malls.”

Mussel said that in 2001, Sheriff’s deputies began handing out tickets for nudity on Bates Beach, after complaints about obscenity from some Rincon residents. But, he went on, according to a 2009 survey conducted by the Wisconsin-based Naturist Education Foundation, 78 percent of California residents believe there should be designated sections of beaches and other public areas for people to go in the nude.

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