People Are Staying at Other People’s Houses for Free, and Sometimes They Are Naked


This story is not what you think it will be, which is to say, it’s not a dating story. Not explicitly, and not generally, either. This story is about kind people, people who are opening their New York and other city apartments to traveling strangers in need of lodging. Except, the twist is, sometimes these people are nudists, and as such, when their travelers arrive, they are faced with nude people. This is unusual, but also, sometimes, fun for everyone! This is an actual story in the New York Times.

Wannabe lodgers find their lodgings via CouchSurfing, which is a social networking site that allows couch-providers to meet virtually with couch-surfers, so that each can do what they do best in real life. The Times interviewed several of these providers, who function under the 1,100-member-strong “Clothing Optional” group on CouchSurfing (there are other, specific groups as well, like for libertarians). But since it’s more hilarious to take photos of the nude people, and interview the clothed people who must live among the nude people, than it is to interview a bunch of libertarians, that is what happened.

According to Robert Redmond, a 48-year-old retired New York City parks department employee who has been a nudist since 23 and who hosts travelers in his Upper West Side apartment clad in “a Swiss Army watch and a weathered pair of Tevas,”

“I’ll always slip on some shorts if my guests are uncomfortable,” he said recently, as he served bagels and lox to Mr. Ruf and Mr. Palme, who were fully clothed but appeared perfectly at ease with Mr. Redmond, who was not.

Most guests are perfectly thrilled. After all, they’re getting bagels and lox and a place to stay for free! However, some are not so adaptable, because to certain traditionalists, being naked means you want to have sex. Sometimes confusing or awkward things happen.

“People often think it’s a sexual thing,” Ms. Muise said. “In truth, it’s a lifestyle thing. Society is confining me when I have to wear clothes to work. So when I come home, I take off my shoes, feed my cats, and get naked, because that’s how I’m most comfortable.”

Sometimes nudity is just an ice-breaker, and leads to great conversations! And when you think about it, your cats, technically, are naked too, or at least not wearing clothes — and you let them stay at your house for free, and probably sometimes are nude in front of them. Why not some random humans? Wait, why the hell are you letting random humans stay at your house for free?

You’re Not a Stranger When You Leave [NYT]