"Nudity and the self"
When it came to researching Lora Boswell before I would interview her in November of 2020, there was not a lot of published material from which I could pull much information on her. Of course, that made sense. Lora is not famous, or particularly influential. However, she did impact a lot of people, for many years. In Lora's time running and managing Lupin Lodge in Los Gatos, CA during the 1960s and 70s, she left an indelible mark on the club and its members.
Luckily, as a result, there was some writing about her that was done for the club's newsletter, Random Times.
In 1986, the year of Lupin Lodge's Golden Anniversary, Glyn Stout, Lora's business partner and Lupin Lodge co-owner, wrote a series of articles for a publication called California Nudist, titled "50 Years of Freedom". The articles narrated a detailed and distinctive history of Lupin Lodge, from its earliest ownership on through the time the article was written.
Glyn Stout later reprinted these articles into a 57 page manuscript which was never published. With the help of an associate through the Western Nudist Research Library, I was able to obtain a copy of the compiled manuscript. Much to my delight, there was a full chapter on Lora Boswell.
"Once, when asked in a media interview to summarize what the attraction of Lupin was for her, she described it simply as 'the feeling of freedom.'"
["50 Years of Freedom", Glyn Stout, 1986; unpublished.]
As soon as I was talking to Lora one on one, it became clear to me that my research would not help me much. Lora is whip smart, and has incredible recall of events that occurred more than fifty years ago, but what became apparent to me was that one of the things that makes Lora such a joy to talk to (and listen to), is that she is so inwardly focused and rooted in the present moment, that questions about petty quibbles of the 1960s nudism movement didn't seem to interest her much. She was never intrigued by the politics of nudism. For her it was always a more individualized connection with nudity that led her to live full time in a nudist environment. Listening to her speak, it occurred to me that the ephemeral "feeling of freedom" she admittedly sought within Lupin Lodge so long ago is still a sensation she pursues on a regular basis, even at 91 years old.
One manifestation of this pursuit of joy is her love of art and building. At Lupin Lodge, Lora always put her hands to work, constructing an adobe home for her family, or adding a dynamic effect to the wooden facade of a Lupin structure. This artistry that she exhibited at Lupin has not diminished with age. When we met for our discussion over zoom, she spoke to me from her current residence, a 500 sq. ft. treehouse which she designed and built by hand – in her eighties!
As this revelation about Lora's personality occurred to me while we spoke, I decided to pivot away from my notes somewhat. Rather than futilely work to keep our conversation focused on my limited research, I did what I really wanted to do anyway, and simply let her speak, and tried to listen. I was glad I did. She had a lot of wisdom to share.
My biggest personal takeaway from Lora's story was the necessary reminder of how deeply personal nudity is. It's not a social pursuit or a form of expression. It's simply the most basic, free way to exist.
As someone with a tendency to get wrapped up in the business of social nudity – volunteering on boards and committees, writing, speaking, podcasting, etc. – I know first hand how easy it is to occasionally lose sight of exactly why the matter of nudity is of such importance to me in the first place. Which, for me, at its core, is simply that it's a visceral sensory experience that grounds me, and brings me closer to my baseline. From my first experiences with nudity, it was a connection with my self, my body, and nobody else.
Lora reminded me that nudity can be, even must be, deeply personal. The rest is politics.•