Nudism Scandals

From the topless gardener in Colorado to the nude Macbeth in Washington to the naked doughnut shop in Maine, VIEW OUR GALLERY of those who dared to go bare.

Mark Leffingwell, The Daily Camera / AP Photo

Mark Leffingwell, The Daily Camera / AP Photo

The Topless Gardener

This month, Catharine Pierce of Boulder, Colorado, incensed local residents by working in her yard wearing only a thong and gardening gloves. While being topless in public is not against the law in Boulder, neighbors phoned the police, claiming the 52-year-old Pierce was indecent. The previous year, Pierce and her husband contended with a possible eviction notice for their nudist activities. The police decided Pierce did not break any laws, but the incidents have spurred Boulder Housing Partners to reevaluate their sartorial stipulations.

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The Live Nude Statue

In November 2009, Kathleen Neill was arrested after shedding her clothes at New York's Metropolitan Museum for photographer Zach Hyman. Known for snapping nudes in various locales across NYC, Hyman typically keeps bail money on him in case of an arrest, and had thus far managed to shoot and flee before authorities got involved. The charges—public lewdness, exposure of a person, and endangering the welfare of a child—were eventually dropped.

AP Photo

The Nude Juice Bar

Over the years, South Dakota's Racehorses Gentlemen's Club—a juice bar/strip club/indie film theater—has been beset by a string of challenges, including attacks from politicians and the formidable Citizens Against Nude Juice Bars and Pornography (15 members strong). Despite the local squeeze, the juice bar managed to emerge victorious. Owner Bob Rieger resorted to serving juice and soda in his strip club after his liquor license was denied. Following the passage of a county anti-nudity ordinance that excluded movie theaters, Rieger rebranded his operation as a strip club and independent film venue for mature audiences.

Naked Hiking Day

What better way to celebrate the first day of summer than with Naked Hiking Day on the Appalachian Trail? "There's no way to explain it until you experience it," a 28-year-old participant who has done so for the past several years told AP. "It's not about being lewd and crude and all that. It's just enjoyment." Though the hikers were warned that they could be charged with indecent exposure, managers of the well-known trail said they discourage the celebration. The event also got another bit of unexpected publicity in 2009: The afternoon South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford allegedly went for a trek on the AT happened to fall on Naked Hiking Day.

AP Photo

Macbeth in the Buff

In 1999, Orlando's infamous Club Juana staged a production of Macbeth in the Buff, during which three dancers went on stage, took off their clothes, and were arrested for being naked in a place in which alcohol is served. A judge cleared the club, which closed its doors in 2006, of any violation. Eight years later, in the nation's capital, the Washington Shakespeare Company also performed a nude Macbeth. One critic, however, turned up her nose. "Nudity is a pretty conspicuous trait, though, so when naked witches appear alongside naked humans, they all seem to fall into the same order of being," Celia Wren wrote in The Washington Post.

AP Photo

The Nudity Capital

While many communities are uptight about nudity, Vermont is famously open to taking it all off. In the summer of 2006, a group of teenagers decided to test just how chillaxed Brattleboro's police were about letting it all hang out. In the town's busiest area, dozens of teenagers decided to sunbathe nude in a crowded parking lot. "We just thought it'd be a little fun," one of the teens told The Boston Globe. But one passerby didn't see it as such. "If I wanted to be naked, I wouldn't sit around in a dirty parking lot," she said. "I wouldn't want to get cigarette butts on my butt." The display of nude pride apparently caught on and soon there were local nude group bike rides, skateboarding, and hula-hoop contests. "I think most of Vermont wants Vermont to be nude," a still-clothed 15-year-old said. "People have a basic human right to be naked if they want to."

Joel Page / AP Photo

The Topless Coffee Shop

Even before the slyly named Grand View Topless Coffee shop opened in Vassalboro, Maine, last year, local residents were preparing for the worst. "My husband doesn't drink coffee," one woman told the Boston Globe. "But I told him if he became a coffee drinker, we were getting a divorce." Then in May 2009, a state trooper was dispatched to Grand View following a complaint that a waitress emerged from the restaurant without her top. While Grand View managed to stay open after the incident, it burned down two months later, ending its coffee and T&A service.

Marius Langlete / AP Photo

The Bare Plane

Before the underwear bomber struck, a 50-year-old US Airways passenger caused a stir on his way to Los Angeles last July. Keith Wright removed his clothes in front of 158 passengers aboard the plane and reportedly ran around refusing to be covered by clothing or a blanket. Other passengers had to physically restrain Wright until they were able to handcuff his wrists and ankles to a row of seats. The plane then diverted to Albuquerque where Wright, still in the buff, was arrested and taken into custody. "I fell asleep... and I woke up... and I was like, ' Oh my God, this guy is naked,'" one passenger recalled. Once Wright was removed and charged with interfering with the flight crew, the plane continued on to its L.A. destination with an extra special announcement: "a reminder to everybody to please keep your clothing on."

Craig Warga / NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Nude York City

Last summer, a group of women in New York gave tourists and even native New Yorkers and eyeful when they took part in "National Go-Topless Day" in Central Park. "This is unbelievable—and super," one 21-year-old New York bike renter told the New York Daily News. "I'm going to tell my wife to join in." The collection of breast-baring women chanting "free your breast, free your mind" while blasting Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman" to break a gender barrier. "We're all here for the same reason—to allow women to be free in the park like men," the gathering's 54-year-old organizer told the paper. But legally, despite some onlookers' disgust and subsequent complaints to police, nothing could be done—after a 1992 ruling, New York is the only state that allows women to be legally topless.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

The Dillinger of Nudism

In October 2009, 29-year-old Virginia resident Erick Williamson decided to walk to his kitchen unclothed. He made coffee and breakfast, and cleaned around the house a little. But a neighbor was passing by his home with her 7-year-old son and claimed that she saw him bare-bottomed in front of his screen door, and called the police, who arrested Williamson. At the ensuing trial, the district attorney compared Williamson to John Dillinger who "thought he was doing nothing wrong when he walked into banks and shot them up." Astonishingly, a jury found Williamson guilty of indecent exposure and he appealed the decision, which is still pending.