I located this post at the blog of Vadim aka t-maker. It’s a great one so I’m reposting it completely. Thank you, Vadim, for this great post!
Unashamed Nudists: Exploiting the Theme of Nudism in the 1930s
The technical definition of exploitation movies is cheaply made pictures distributed by roadshowmen or by local independents called states’-righters. A major studio was opening, in those days [the 1930s and 1940s], 400 prints. An exploitation picture never had more than 15 or 20, and they moved around from territory to territory… (David Friedman)
Wikipedia defines “Exploitation film” as a “film which is generally considered to be low budget, and therefore apparently attempting to gain financial success by “exploiting” a current trend or a niche genre or a base desire for lurid subject matter” . According to exploitation producer David Friedman, “exploitation pictures are as old as film itself” . It is not surprising that “many exploitation genres relied on nudity as a source of spectacle” . Eric Schaefer, an author of “meticulously researched, interdisciplinary study” of exploitation films , calls the “nudist films” (something about “unashamed nudists”) one of the “cornerstone genres of classical exploitation focused on the spectacle of the nude body”.
Recently, while browsing Internet Archive (which is a “non-profit digital library with the stated mission of “universal access to all knowledge” [4,5]), I came across the classical exploitation “nudist film” called “Expose of The Nudist Racket” (see ; it also can be found on Vimeo  and YouTube ). It was filmed in 1938 for “Hollywood Producers and Distributors”. Producer is, in fact, unknown. The Short Format film is now distributed under Creative Commons license (Attribution 3.0).
In the first half of the 1930s, the American press considered nudism mostly unfavorably. “Crude jokes were made and the reporters liked nothing better than going to a nudist camp and teasing the members for a story, which was usually written up in disrespectful ways”. Later “nudism came to be viewed by the press as a benign, if unconventional, practice” .
Film producers used different strategies “for bringing nudism to screen”, in order to “legitimize” the subject. For example, it could be a pseudoscientific, “anthropological approach” with references to “customs among primitive peoples” . The “Expose of The Nudist Racket” took a different attitude. The creators of the film tried to be funny employing “titles and narration for comic effect”. Jokes about fat women are the height of their humor capacity.
Eric Schaefer admits that “some spectators went to see the films to satisfy their curiosity about the nudist movement” , but he insists that “the nudist exploitation films were designed to create sexual arousal in, or at the very least titillate, viewers”. However, “despite the exploitation films’ sexualization of nudism, the nudist’s advocacy of sunshine and simplicity of life found an ideal vehicle for expression in the movies, in part because of their overlapping ideology” . “Nudism was presented as a middle-class lifestyle option” and “a possible antidote to modern life”. The nudist films pointed to the “precedent of social nudity in ancient Greece, which was “simple” yet highly “civilized” according to modern standards”.
“Expose of The Nudist Racket” can convince you that time goes by, but nothing changes. The nudists still want “publicity for their movement”, while the second word in a word-combination “social nudity” remains the key one for most people.
1. David Chute, Washes of Sin: An Interview with David F. Friedman, Film Comment, July-August, 1986
2. Exploitation film – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
3. Eric Schaefer, “Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!”: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959, Duke University Press, 1999
4. Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine
5. Internet Archive – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
6. Expose of The Nudist Racket. : uncredited : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive
7. The Expose Of The Nudist Racket (1938) on Vimeo
8. Expose of The Nudist Racket. – YouTube
2 thoughts on “Unashamed Nudists: Exploiting the Theme of Nudism in the 1930s”
Paul, This is an excellent piece about early nudism in film. And while labeled “exploitative film” it does show that people have always been eager to see the naked body. Nudism has come a long way in film from those first shorts made by Hollywood producers. I believe nudism has come into its own in the 21st century. We openly have nudist resorts that publicize their existence and are there for other nudists to vacation at in the nude and reap the benefit of sunshine, fresh air, and others of like mind in a safe environment for families and especially children. I intend to marry. My wife will join me as a nudist and we will raise our children as nudists. God created us naked and he had no problem with Adam and Eve in the garden. Why should there be laws in society today prohibiting simple nudity by choice for comfort and good health? If people lived naked they would be healthier and more robust people. We should just see each other the way God originally intended for us to be seen….naked and unashamed. These are my thoughts.