Wearing Only a Smile, Nudists Seek Out the Young and the Naked

Changing the Demographic Is a Tough Sell; A Bare-It-All Dinner Party

By DOUGLAS BELKIN

LOXAHATCHEE GROVES, Fla.—On a recent Friday morning, Jessi Bartoletti arrived at the Sunsport Gardens Nudist Resort here in a T-shirt and shorts.

By evening, the 19-year-old had stripped down to a string of purple Mardi Gras beads and was dancing around a bonfire with about 200 young nudists, many of them first-timers.

Nudists Recruit Next Generation

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Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

"I don’t think I’ve ever felt this free," Ms. Bartoletti yelled over pounding drums.

That’s good news to the nudist resort industry, which is desperate for young nudists like Ms. Bartoletti to augment its clientele of graying baby boomers.

Membership in the two big nudist umbrella groups has been flat or declining for years, prompting a youth-recruitment effort that includes reverse-strip-poker nights, volleyball tournaments, naked 5K road races and music festivals like Nudepalooza and Nudestock.

One new group, Young Nudists and Naturists of America, this month is having a naked dinner party in a loft in New York’s financial district to recruit members.

"The whole lifestyle will just disappear unless we attract a younger crowd," said Nicky Hoffman, head of the Naturist Society, one of the two big organizations of U.S. nudists. "The problem is, most of these resorts aren’t geared to young people. They’ve become like retirement homes; they’ve sort of calcified."

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