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40 Naturist Skaters in Golden Gate Park

San Francisco, California

Copyright by Kathie Fry of SkateLog.com

In June of 2001, forty skaters gathered in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for a clothing optional inline skating photography session organized by sports photographer Jack Gescheidt and 24 hour world record holder Sandy Snakenberg.

When I first heard about this event I had many questions for Sandy. Here is how he responded:

An Interview with Sandy Snakenberg
Organizer of Group Naked Skating Events

Kathie: Is this the first time you have organized a group clothing optional skating event?

Sandy: No, it isn't. My first San Francisco clothing optional skate was in 1996. Jack Gescheidt took a photo of me skating clothing optional up California Street behind a cable car. A lot of my friends saw that photo and thought it looked like fun, so I invited them to share the experience with me the next time. I was quite surprised to find out how many people were interested. Since 1996 we have done several clothing optional photo shoots in landmark locations around San Francisco, including Lombard Street and the Golden Gate Bridge. The 2001 skate was the seventh clothing optional photo shoot we have done in San Francisco and there have been other clothing optional skates in New York City, Boston, and several other cities.

Kathie: Why did you organize the June 2001 skate in San Francisco?

Sandy: I'm always looking for something new and interesting to do. These clothing optional skates have been more fun for me than anything else I have ever instigated. It had been two years since the last skate, so I decided it was time to have a really big one. I put out the word about two months before the skate, and there was a lot of interest, from skaters who were totally into doing it and from others who were interested but feeling timid. We ended up with forty skaters, and I believe we might have set a world's record for "the largest number of people skating clothing optional at the same time".

Kathie: When did you skate clothing optional for the first time?

Sandy: The first time I tried it was back in 1984, with the Rad City Rollers Skating Club in San Diego. I was living in a skating commune at the time. It was a 13-room boarding house and 11 of those rooms were filled with skaters, 2 or 3 to a room. It was a fun and carefree time, and that first clothing optional skate was a spontaneous event that was done for the pure joy it.

Kathie: Are you planning to organize another clothing optional skate?

Sandy: We are now doing clothing optional skates every month in San Francisco and everyone is invited to join us. They are just fun rolls and they are not necessarily meant to be photography shoots. The first two clothing optional fun rolls were scheduled for July 4th and August 19th , 2001, and they will take place monthly after that. These events will be short clothing optional skates followed by breakfast with the group. Skaters who would like to join us can contact me (Sandy Snakenberg) at sk8around@earthlink.net.

Kathie: Won't I be arrested by the police if I skate clothing optional in public?

Sandy: No. At the very most you will receive a citation and be required to pay a fine. During our clothing optional skates no one has ever been cited or fined. The cops have approached us, but all they have done is ask us to put on our clothes. The last comment made by a cop during one of our photo shoots was "You KNOW that was your last photo". Whenever we have had encounters with law enforcement authorities, they have always been very friendly and good-natured when they ask us to put on our clothes.

Kathie: Why should I skate naked?

Sandy: Skating clothing optional is fun. It brings out a sense of child-like glee in everyone. It feels good to skate clothing optional and it's fun to do it with like-minded souls. There are no snobs in a group of naked people!

Kathie: Do I have to be completely clothing optional to join one of your events?

Sandy: The entire rear side of your body must be nude, but you can wear pasties or other cover-ups in front if it makes you feel more comfortable. You should bring a blanket to use as a cover-up when you're not actually skating. Sometimes it can be cold out there!

Kathie: Will I always be photographed if I join one of your events?

Sandy: Not every clothing optional skate is organized as a photo shoot but you always COULD be photographed.

After answering my questions, Sandy invited me to come along on his next clothing optional skating event so I could write about the experience. In June of 2001, I flew to San Francisco to join Sandy and 40 naked skaters in Golden Gate Park.

What the Naked Skate Was Like

The skaters' plan was to meet in Golden Gate Park at 7:00 A.M. and start skating at 7:30. The location was only disclosed to the people who signed up to participate in the skate.

One by one the skaters arrived, each wearing their own personally selected cover-up. Some skaters took Sandy's advice and wrapped blankets around themselves. Others wore robes made of terry cloth or silk. Some people tied sarongs around their bodies and some just held squares of cloth over parts of their body. A few people taped or glued strategically placed pieces of cloth or paper to the front of their bodies. The "unique cover-up of the day" award went to two skaters who brought baby strollers to push during the clothing optional skate to protect the privacy of certain body parts.

The photo shoot took place on a rather secluded road where the skaters could move up a gently sloping hill with the sun on their backs. A few passersby noticed what was happening, and some of them stopped for a few minutes to watch in amusement. At the end of the photo shoot, photographer Jack Gescheidt asked one of the skaters to operate the camera so he could take off his clothes and join the others in one last skate up the road.

Before we headed to breakfast, Sandy suggested that the group make one last skate, to the finish line of a large 10k race that was being held in Golden Gate Park that morning. Everyone thought that was a great idea, and 40 clothing optional skaters took off down the road. They skated to the finish line, zoomed across it, made sharp a U-turn, and skated away, before anyone at the marathon realized what hit them. We heard later that the skaters were given an honorable mention by Hootie and the Blowfish at a concert held after the race, and they were the "butt" of many jokes on San Francisco radio stations that day.

What Did I Think?

The thing that surprised me the most was how normal and natural this event felt. It was a lot of fun, but the nudity itself was no big deal. I'm sure most of the skaters were feeling a bit daring that day - like they were getting away with something. But really, it felt more like a family day in the park than anything else. At first a few of the skaters seemed a bit nervous, but after 30 minutes or so, everyone started relaxing. Some skaters brought their parents to the skate, a few brought their infant children, and at least one father skated with his grown son (this skate happened to fall on Father's Day). It was a friendly and respectful group that was a nice mix of men and women, couples and singles, and skaters of all ages. Several couples and individuals asked me to take extra photos for their personal collections.

As the morning went on, I could tell that even the people who were shy at first, were thinking less about the nudity, and more about just having fun. There was a real feeling of camaraderie among the participants. I even started to feel a bit left out because I was not skating clothing optional myself.

Will I take off my clothes and join the group next time? You'll have to come along yourself to find out!

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Related Links
Sk8Around.com (Sandy Snakenberg)
JackPhoto.com (Jack Gescheidt)

This article was originally written for Fitness and Speedskating Times Magazines (FaSST) and it was published in their August 2001 issue. FaSST is a hard-copy magazine for ice and inline speed and fitness skaters that is published eight times a year and distributed to skaters all over the world. Contact speedsk8in@aol.com for FaSST price and subscription information.

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