PHOTOS BY BRIANNE KALEO/THE PIONEER
Dave Crutois is 63 years old and wears a suit to work as an engineer, but on the weekends, he wears nothing but a coat of sunscreen on the lawn at Sequoians Nudist Recreation Center, down Cull Canyon Road between the hills of Castro Valley.
“My daughter wonders where I get the tan all the time,” Crutois said. He claims to be a nudist since he was born but officially became a nudist in 2008. “I’ve gotten comfortable in my own skin, hair and all,” said Crutois.
Sequoians Nudist Recreation Center is open to the public for its summer season from April to October. Founded in 1947 by a group of seven families, the recreation center has been open year-round for nude swimming, hiking, and relaxation. A board of directors of Sequoians Nudist Recreation Center currently owns the 80-acre non-profit organization in Castro Valley.
Bill Hendricks, President of Sequoians Nudist Recreation Center, designed the park for nudists to express their freedom and represent the idea that everyone is equal.
“Nudists are not exhibitionists,” Hendricks said. “It’s not walking the streets of downtown San Francisco to prove something. It’s about relaxing, feeling comfortable, acceptance of yourself and others.”
Sequoians Nudist Recreation Center has a recreation hall, a pool, hot tub, eight hiking trails, and a basketball court. The club hosts various events such as the Naked Village Disco Dance, ‘20s Prohibition Dance, Lingerie Dance/Fashion Show, The Pub Crawl-Poker Run, and arts and craft festivals.
This co-operative clothes-free club has about 100 members and roughly 200-300 seasonal association members, or prospective members. During the week and the off-season from November to March, Sequoians is only open to their members and American Association for Nude Recreation/International Naturist Federation members who must have prior reservations.
During registration for becoming a member of Sequoians all applicants are put through an intensive background check. Any inappropriate behavior such as harassment or gawking that makes anyone uncomfortable is not permitted and offenders are immediately escorted off the premises.
“The beaches have the gawkers, guys with cameras, and people who are non-nudists make nudists uncomfortable and vice versa,” said Beverly Axelrad, Treasurer of Sequoians and nudist. “Sequoians is organized and safer especially for women. This place is gorgeous with wildlife and I get to walk around naked all week.”
Sequoians is a member of the INF, an organization consisting of member federations in over 30 countries. Within these federations around the world, there are over a thousand clubs, clothing optional resorts, nude beaches, and holiday centers.
The recreation center is also a member of the AANR, the largest, most long-established organization of its kind in North America. The AANR’s mission is to advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment.
Jo Ann Keesee, who is 54 years old and works as an account executive for advertising, claims that Sequoians is a family. “This place is unique,” said Keesee. “It is my life, it’s my lifestyle, it’s who I am now, it’s my family, it’s my friends, it’s my boyfriend.”
Keesee came to Sequoians and has stayed since August of 2011. “I can’t imagine a life other than this,” said Keesee. “When you take off the clothes, you take off so many other things, you don’t know who is rich and who’s poor and you don’t care.”