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Nudism Revisited! 10 Questions with Tom Mulhall, Owner of the Terra Cotta Inn, Clothing Optional Resort in Palm Springs, CA

Since I wrote my nudism blog back on January 10th I’ve gotten some replies from those who are curious, those who know and those who want me to spend some more time on the subject. Well, I spoke with the owner of a nudist resort recently, Tom Mulhall, who shed some light on this industry, its history and its future:

How Would You Introduce Yourself?
I own a nudist resort and we also belong to the Trade Association for Nude Recreation (TANR). I’m also a past president of the Palms Springs Chamber of Commerce, so I’m not just involved with nudism, but the entire tourism industry.

How Popular Is Nudism?
Well, one in seven people in Europe will visit a nude resort each year. Europeans are much more comfortable with nudity than we are in America. Nudism actually began in Europe (Europe the continent, not Great Brittain) in the late 1800’s as a medical treatment for Ricketts and the black sky effects of coal burning during the winter.

What’s Your Personal Nudism Story?
My wife, Mary Claire, and I were maybe 23 or 24 years old and were really poor recent college graduates looking to visit the original Jamaican Hedonism resort, which wasn’t like it is now. It cost only $300, round trip, including airfare, to go. We never realized they had a nude beach there. Since it was the 70s, the hippie culture was still dominant, but it took us a while to work up the nerve to try it. But once we did, we thought it was really cool, and we’ve been into it ever since.

How Has This Industry Evolved?
Now, nudism is no longer family/kid-oriented. There’s something now called “couples vacation packages.” People, especially when traveling to the Caribbean, tend to not take the kids so now there’s a huge market for resorts that can offer a different type of vacation experience. First, topless sunbathing, like at Hedonism and then at places like Club Med and Sandals became popular. This progressed to nude sunbathing becoming more popular.

What About Your Resort?
We lived in Chicago until 1994 when we moved to Palm Springs. We started buying rental buildings. I’m a CPA by background, my wife is a home economist. We’d vacationed a lot in the Caribbean and in Europe and talked about possibly opening our own clothing-optional resort at some point. We were the very first couples-oriented nude resort in the United States. We’re called the Terra Cotta Inn. We’ve now been open 12 years.

What’s the Personality Type of a Nude Sunbather?
This is for very outgoing people. And when you take your clothes off at a nude resort, you are so much better behaved. Its like bearing your body also accompanies bearing your soul. If you go and stay at a Hyatt or Hilton hotel, you never, ever make friends with people. Whereas at a nudist resorts you’re likely to make lifelong friends because you’ve really gotten to know other people.

Has Nude Sunbathing Grown In Popularity In the U.S.?
Nude recreation is really getting major press these days. I always say that once you get a major A-list celebrity who says they enjoy visiting nudist resorts, then you’ll blow the lid right off. You’ve got people like Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Aniston who enjoy nude sunbathing or who say they enjoy going nude at home like Shakira, who gardens nude at her home in the Bahamas. Those things will always make the press. Then, everyone will want to do it.

And Personal Highlights?
When Newsweek did their article a few years ago on the best small business in America, they came here. How many people can say they’ve had their bare butt in Newsweek Magazine?


Where Should We Go for More Information?
I would suggest the American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) for basic information, and, of course my site and blog: www.sunnyfun.com and www.terracottainn.blogspot.com

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