BeachFront U.S.A.

 
Let an old American tradition thrive! Why should I care if this tradition lives on or is killed? What can I do to keep this tradition alive? What is BeachFront U.S.A.? Events behind BFUSA

    What is the Callen-Davis Memorial Fund? Victories, Losses, Current Threats to the Tradition! Resources for further information    

The Events behind BFUSA

BFUSA was founded in 1973 to offer opposition to the bullying tactics of sheriff's deputies in Southern California, who had been arresting nudists under California Penal Code Section 314, which covers various categories of sexual misconduct. The police finally were forced to abandon this form of arrest following a unanimous ruling by the California Supreme Court (Chad Merrill Smith, 1972) that "mere nudity," i.e., nudity lacking sexual intent, was not obscene.

The summers of 1973 and 1974 saw nudity increase on Southern California beaches until a certain climax was reached when over a thousand nudists were frequenting Venice Beach (Los Angeles' beach) in 1974. A bit alarmed at the popularity of beach nudity, the Los Angeles City Council began working with BeachFront U.S.A. to establish a portion of the beach for nude use__a sensible approach that was approved by The Los Angeles Times editorially.

Things were looking up for the nudists until the City Councilpersons were heavily lobbied by police and church leaders to ban nudity completely at all City of Los Angeles beaches and parks. Being politicians, the Councilpersons caved in (with one exception, black Councilman Cunningham), and the city attorney was instructed to draw up an anti-nudity ordinance.

This Mother of All Anti-Nudity Ordinances was soon copied, word for word, by Los Angeles County and many other counties and municipalities on the Southern California coast. Area "freebeaches" (free of textile requirements) went down like ten-pins.

BFUSA, together with the Los Angeles ACLU, attempted to secure an injunction in 1975. The ACLU dismounted in mid-stream, the injunction attempt failed, and, money and morale low, BeachFront abandoned the lawsuit after it failed in a state appellate court. This was a costly mistake. Poor leadership and low morale resulted in BFUSA's going belly up in 1979. But 1986 saw a re-organization and revivalization of organizing efforts. This new permutation of BeachFront selected Venice Beach as the focus of a publicity campaign. For several summers, a booth was set up on the walkway at Venice Beach. Volunteers answered questions, handed out literature and ballons and dealt with the attention of the authorities. This effort culminated in a nude dash to the ocean by Suzy and Dave Davis. Their hope was that their arrest would allow a lawsuit leading to the invalidation of the Los Angeles ordinance. However, the District Attorney refused to prosecute, probably because of fears that BFUSA's goal would become reality. Frustrated with the District Attorney's unwillingness to risk action on the county and state level, BFUSA once again took up the battle to secure an injunction against the Los Angeles ordinance, this time through the federal court system.

BFUSA spent $26,000 on the lawsuit, which was unsuccessful. The (single-judge) District Court ruled against us. We appealed, but were turned away by a three-justice Ninth Circuit panel, which stated that the U.S. Supreme Court's 1992 decision in Barnes vs. Glen Theater was "fatal to your case." Feeling that this shaky decision, which applied to barroom dancing girls, did not__should not__apply to nudists, we appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to entertain our certiorari.

BFUSA does not view this lawsuit as a total failure. We have put the federal courts on record as equating nudists with nude entertainment, an egregious error which we feel will eventually be rectified ... just as we feel Barnes vs. Glen Theater will inevitably be overturned.

The money for the lawsuit came not from Beachfront's modest operating budget but from a special fund set up for just such a purpose, the Callen-Davis Memorial Fund

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BeachFront USA is A Web Site and an Organization devoted to keeping our beaches, rivers, springs, lakes and trails nude, that is, open to use by people who want to enjoy a textile-free life or moment in accordance with the long and widespread American tradition of skinny dipping. For further information, send an email message to info@bfusa.org.