This review also appears on The Nudist Book Review.
Author Lisa Brandt is an experienced entertainer and storyteller, with years of publishing and broadcasting under her belt. She wrote a fictionalized version of her nudist experiences a few years ago, she says, but couldn’t get a publisher interested; in 2012 she finally completed it as a memoir, and published it herself.
She was interviewed on the Naturist Living Podcast in May 2015, which no doubt gave her sales to the naturist community a shot in the arm. Unfortunately it’s not a great contribution to naturist literature, although it’s an interesting look at nudist culture in the early 1980s.
At the age of 18, Brandt took a job with the Four Seasons resort in Freelton, Ontario, Canada. This resort, which was sold and went textile in 2010, was notorious not only for being a nudist club, but also for hosting the Miss Nude World pageant starting in 1970, a publicity stunt that became a worldwide sensation.
Brant trades not only on the reputation of the club but also on her own notoriety there: she was the only member of staff ever (at least up to that point) who didn’t take her clothes off by the end of the summer. And that’s where the problem is, as a piece of naturist literature: this is a memoir about nudism, by an outsider who works very hard to remain an outsider.
Her heart is in the right place; she’s telling her story honestly and completely. But no reader, especially a nudist reader, would come away thinking that nudism were represented fairly. From start to end, Brandt represents nudists as just slightly off, people who might be nice or not, but are just a bit not all right.
This is especially true when she paints the less-flattering portraits of nudists, like the horrifically obese man who consumes an ungodly amount of food every day from the snack bar. She may not outwardly judge the man, but her distaste at his body is lurking not far below the surface.
That said, she has some reason to look askance at nudists as well, judging from the number of men who said offensive things and made indecent proposals to her. It would be nice to think that nudism has changed since Brandt was in among the nudists, and perhaps it has for the better; but women, especially single young women, are targeted for inappropriate sexual advances. It’s extremely important for male nudists especially to understand that this behaviour exists, and to work to eliminate it from naturist settings, where it does not belong. Brandt’s account of being pestered for nude photographs, and to run off to New York City as a consort to a particularly wealthy Four Seasons patron, give nudist men good reason to feel comfortable.
That said, a scene of consensual, private, adult naughtiness – a whipped cream party in the rooms of some patrons – is treated like a horror scene. The unappealing (to Brandt) features of the participants are highlighted, and the shock at viewing a tiny sliver of healthy adult sexuality is far over the top. It might have been shocking to teenaged Lisa Brandt, of course, but the mature author might have given the scene a little more perspective.
In all, though, Brandt is clearly an experienced and effective writer, and she has presented a little slice of nudist history (especially in Ontario, Canada) very engagingly. It’s a tell-all book with nothing to tell, but there’s nothing wrong with us, as readers, enjoying the scenery along the way.
The Naked Truth by Lisa Brandt; Lisa Brandt Creative Services, 2012.