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Nude or Lewd: The Story of Nudism in America

  • Michael Fitzgerald, Director/Producer

About the Project

Since the turn of the 19th century, men and women of all ages have been gathering together in the nude for fitness and leisure, claiming no direct relationship to sexual deviancy. It has appealed to bankers, politicians, clergymen, and celebrities. It attracts voyeurs, exhibitionists, and perverts —who are systematically removed from their ranks. It is also the “happy place” for a segment of average, law-abiding American families from all walks of life.

Like every significant movement in history, there were prominent figures who followed their convictions, made extraordinary sacrifices, and influenced the direction and expansion of the cause. In our documentary, we will explore the history of nudism through the personal journeys of these influential leaders...

A German immigrant who brought his love of Freikörperkultur (Free Body Culture)
to America and organized gatherings in a NYC gymnasium which would be raided by police.

An Economist and Professor of Sociology who worked for the State Department during both World Wars who wrote the first book on nudism by an American and was ultimately railroaded by the House of Un-American Activities during the Red Scare of the 1940s.

A stringent, forward-thinking minister-educator from New Jersey who would seize the reigns of power of the American Nudist movement, challenge decency laws and the First Amendment in the Supreme Court while fighting the USPS, forcing revisions to the postal code.

An Ohio school teacher would lose her job after an illegal police raid and continue to battle for nudist rights, subsequently finding her home ablaze from a fire-bombing.

The son of a printer who would inherit his family business and use his printing press for the propagation of nudism and go on to join forces with the FREE BEACHES association, create The Naturist Society and build an archive library to preserve the history of nudism in America.​

This documentary investigates the history of nudism in America, its struggles and achievements, its relationship to freedom and body-image confidence, while examining its current state of affairs.