Full Frontal
November 5th, 2013

I have this friend Goldberger who haunts yard sales in search of interesting items, some of which wind up on my doorstep. The latest delivery included a vintage copy of Sunshine & Health magazine from 1960. It’s not something you would ever find in the office of my dermatologist Dr. Leonard Swinyer, in whose opinion the terms “sunshine” and “health” are mutually exclusive.


Sunshine & Health was started in 1933 by a Reverend Boone, better known as “Uncle Danny.” Until 1984 it was the official journal of the National Nudist Council, Incorporated.

Now, I’ve never been a nudist; however, back in 1960 I would have been keenly interested in this magazine because at the time I was an adolescent frantic to find out what a naked woman might look like. My only other option would be National Geographic Magazine, but who wants to look at naked tribal women? Heck, even those who belong to tribes whose members go naked aren’t interested in nudity. Why? Because they see it all the time, so it’s no big deal.

It sure was a big deal where I was growing up. Based on what little information I’d been able to glean, I labored under the impression that girls had seams. And I thought breasts pointed skyward like ack ack guns. But then the bullet bra fell out of fashion and bust lines dropped.

As the Sixties wore on, public nudity became a symbol of social protest and sexual liberation—but that’s not what the National Nudist Council was promoting in 1960. No, the council was promoting nudity as a family friendly lifestyle. Inside their magazine, you will find photos of suburban moms and dads, daughters and sons, all carrying on in the buff. For instance, there’s an article titled “Christmas In The Cactus.”

Christmas in the cactus “might be rather startling to a die-hard traditionalist,” reads the article. Gone is “the imported evergreen tree and gay wrapping on the presents.” Nonwrapped presents?  Stockings hung by the chimney with care? Sorry—nudist children don’t have stockings. As for substituting a barrel cactus for an evergreen tree—well, to me that sounds downright dangerous!

Another thing that looks hazardous is building a backyard retreat in the nude. I mean, there are tools involved, some of them power tools. You want to know why there are no substantial buildings in New Guinea? Because it’s damn risky sawing lumber and pounding nails when you don’t have a stitch on.

Still another thing I notice is that the naked menfolk in the magazine are almost always standing sideways or behind something or with their backsides to the camera. But not so the women. Nope, with females it’s almost always full frontal nudity. Which just goes to show what a sexist world it was in 1960, before Hugh Hefner came along and made it even more sexist by deleting nude men altogether. Good work, Hef. Who the heck wants to look at pictures of naked men?

-Richard Menzies