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Public Nudity? Underrated!

I can barely type this without giggling, but here we go.  I’ve been super migraine-y this week, so yesterday a new friend decided to swoop me off to a spa for some enforced relaxation.  Two hours of decadent pampering on a random Wednesday afternoon?  Yes ma’am!  Now, obviously when I think of “spa,” I think decadent body treatments, pitchers of ice water spiked with cucumbers and strawberries, plush, Frette-esque robes, flickering Diptyque candles…massage therapists who’s sweet smiles contradict their knot-pummeling strength.  But before he picked me up, I was warned that this wasn’t a 5 star situation.  It was Korean-style, family-friendly “utilitarian” spa/restaurant/mall.  What did that even mean?  And it was in Flushing, Queens!  Adventure.  I’m there.

We pull up, and I’m awed by the sheer size.  Five stories of red brick — it looks more like TJ Maxx than Bliss.  You pay an entry fee,  go through a turn-style, and then the men and women are funneled into separate, massive “locker rooms” where I was told most of the spa action happens (on other floors, you get food courts, nail salons, pool action, kid-friendly activities…a spa-musement park!).  Weirdly nervous, I entered the locker room and looked around.  The lockers were the left, and to the right was a massive space with warrens of saunas and jacuzzi after bubbling jacuzzi (each one had a name, like chilled bath, hot bath, shiatsu bath, event bath, etc).  You could book a massage or scrub, but treatments seem to be beside the point — everyone was hanging out in the baths and steam rooms.  And everyone was naked.  Naked, naked, naked.

I ran over to the lady at the desk, and before I could say anything she thrust a locker key and a neon pink-and-orange polyester uniform in my direction.

Me: What is this uniform even for?  Everyone’s naked!

Lady: It’s for if you go on the other floors.  While you’re in here, no clothes.

Me: No robe?

Lady: Robe? 

Me: I mean…is this really mandatory?  I’m never naked.

Lady:  If you want to enjoy the spa services, you will be naked.  Here’s a towel for the baths.

“Towel” was an exaggeration.  It was a pea green hand-towel, and it was laughing at me.

Eyes downcast, I beat a tunnel though all the nakedness (there were naked children running around, too!), stripped off my clothes and tossed them in the locker.  I quickly figured out that if I hunched over, the itty bitty green towel could cover me from nips to Little Flower.  My ass was on it’s own.  Only then, Quasimodo-style, I managed to quick-shuffle over to something called the “event bath” and jump in, losing that mean towel at the very last second.  Mortifying.  But the bath felt amaaaazing.  I relaxed a little.

Phase one of public nudity is mortification.  Phase two is voyeurism.  Suddenly all I wanted to do was stare at all the naked bodies — and obviously you have to pretend that you’re not doing it, because it’s so uncool to address nudity when everyone’s nude (don’t meet the eyes, don’t meet the eyes…).  It was every type of woman — mostly Korean, but some white, some black, some really old.  Every shape, not model-y at all.  Manicured pubes, full Brazilians, Seventies bush-tastic.  And no one cared!  If they were self-conscious, it didn’t show.  One gorgeous, zaftig middle-aged woman was laid on a bench in the sauna with her legs spread.  Fascinating.

Twenty minutes later, I learned that Phase 3 of public nudity is exhibitionism.  Suddenly, I was swanning around the place, making friends, answering questions about my Prince tattoos, chatting up the (also naked) masseuse about Korean vs. Turkish massage techniques.  I was seconds from performing a solo Pasa Doble!  And then it was all over.  I was on deadline, so my fab new friend had to take me home.  But before I left, I took the mandatory shower and slathered myself in my favorite bath & body products du jour:

Pacifica Shimmer & Glow Body Beautiful Set ($24) is a near-perfect collection of pampering stuff with my favorite benefits: the products are moisturizing, skin-illuminating, paraben-free, and smell wildly delish.  The adorably portable kit comes with a Kona Coffee & Sugar Detox Body Scrub, Coconut Pearls Luminizing Lip Quench and Coconut Crushed Pearl Bronzing Butter (just enough shimmer to give skin a summery sheen, no discoball effect).  A radiance-boosting end to two hours of confidence-boosting nudity!

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13 Comments

  1. March 15, 2012 3:32 pm 

    I’ve been there a few times too since I used to live nearby. It’s super relaxing. Although at first being naked is a little strange, but yes, after a while, no one cares. Have you been to the Turkish Baths in Manhattan?

  2. Angie D
    March 15, 2012 5:33 pm 

    I giggled the whole time reading this post! LOL I commend your bravery!

  3. NikkiC
    March 15, 2012 6:09 pm 

    I am at work literally LOLing!!! You have a way with words. So glad you’re back!

  4. March 15, 2012 8:39 pm 

    Oh my lawd! I can’t. even. imagine. Naked! In public?! I. I just. couldn’t. Cracked me up.. & glad for your adventure… so does that mean you’d go back?

  5. jw
    March 16, 2012 1:13 am 

    It seems SO liberating.

  6. Simone
    March 16, 2012 9:40 am 

    LOVE spa castle! Spa Disney Cruise on land… Hated the uniforms 😛 I avoided the naked pools in the locker room… The other pools, saunas, recliners with tvs were fun! Bliss it ain’t but good sushi!

  7. Bethany
    March 16, 2012 8:28 pm 

    Seriously cackled through this entire thing. Oddly liberating, though.

  8. TNDRHRT
    March 17, 2012 4:48 am 

    I bought a Groupon to go to one in Alexandria. Everyone I’ve spoken to about it said they enjoyed the experience.

  9. March 19, 2012 11:13 pm 

    As soon as I saw the picture of the place; I knew I had to read about your experience from beginning to end. I took my sister there for her birthday. We didn’t experience the whole uncomfortable naked scene. We didn’t understand that we had access to all of the pools where you had to be naked to enjoy. We saw a few naked people in passing as we put on our ugly uniforms and headed upstairs. We went for a facial. The experience led me to one conclusion; if I come back it would be strictly to hang out. It was a place that showed great potential for meeting people. Later my cousin told me of her experience. When she tells her story, it is hilarious. She starts off by telling me she wished I warned her of the naked people. Then she described her body massage as one that made her feel like a piece of meat being prepared through a factory. If you want to go for a real spa experience, check out http://www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com the experience is priceless and worth every cent.

  10. Angelica Golden
    March 21, 2012 6:23 am 

    Hilarious! There’s a similar place in LA — Olympic Day Spa. Totally nude! But they use Darphin products and you leave smelling like all sorts of fabulous, so they public mortification is kinda worth it.

    Great story, so glad you’re back!

  11. Donna
    March 23, 2012 7:59 am 

    Cracking up at almost 4am. My Honey and I spent a day at Spa Castle and we left relaxed but saying, “WTF!!” on the way home. Best part for us was the couple massage. Woosah!

  12. November 26, 2015 9:36 am 

    I would have difficulty idiytifneng four swinger couples at a nudist resort unless they were engaging in sex in front of everyone. That sort of thing will get them kicked out, but what goes on in someone’s RV, tent, cabin, etc is really no one else’s business. +5Was this answer helpful?