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I’m no stranger to public nudity. I’ve been a gay adult man for long enough to have visited my share of nude beaches and bath houses. I’ve practised stripped-down yoga and organised skinny-dips, and spent enough time in Scandinavia to fully embrace naked sauna culture. It’s not that I’m a naturist, I just love experiencing everything that life has to offer – and sometimes that just so happens to involve taking your clothes off with strangers.
Clothing-optional hotels, however, are something new to me. For years I’ve heard stories about the nude resorts out in the desert playground of Palm Springs, California, a place that seemed like a veritable paradise for nudists. My curiosity finally got the better of me.
I didn’t know what to expect when I approached the gates of Descanso, a nudist resort for men tucked away on an otherwise unremarkable desert road in the north of Palm Springs. Thick vines curl along its walled perimeter, and frosted glass prevents any onlookers from peering in. Though it’s billed as “serene, comfortable and effortlessly sophisticated”, I was dubious, because in my experience nudity and sophistication seldom go hand in hand. I was promised luxury, but I couldn’t help but imagine disposable bedlinen and wipe-clean plastic furniture.
Were the gates about to open to reveal an Achillean fantasy born of the hedonism of ancient Greece? Would there be poolside gangbangs and orgies in the hot tub? Or perhaps something markedly more tame, more civilised? Would the staff be naked too? Were clothes forbidden or just frowned upon? Should I start undressing right there on the doorstep? I had so