3.18 / THE NAKED TRUTH: Free Range

Free Range



at Zoro Gardens

Saturday, March 18, 1 - 8 pm

ADA accessible. Free, no reservation required


Before the turtle necked Beatniks of the 1950’s and the bell bottomed Hippies of the 1960’s there were the Naturists. Originating as early as the 1890’s and gaining popular recognition in the 1930’s, the naturists celebrated vegetarianism, exercise, and the joys of bare skin under the sun.  “Nudism seems to be a reaction against the doctrine of original sin and against the abuse of clothes to produce an unnatural excess of sexual desire” playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote in the 1935 magazine Health & Efficiency. “In my Victorian childhood, it was carried to outrageous lengths by the Victorian women, who we upholstered rather than dressed, like sofas.  In these points all my sympathies are with the nudists.”

In the same year that Shaw remarked upon the nudist movement, the Zoro Gardens Nudist Colony opened in Balboa Park. For the two years of the California-Pacific International Exposition, families, bachelors, and fair wanderers could pay 25 cents to visit the only nudist colony open to the public. Much like a human zoo, the nudists could be found performing sun salutes, reading, exercising, and cooking. Lead by their queen, they worked from 11am to midnight every day.

After last year’s Parkeology pageant directed by dramatist Playwright Welton Jones, the question still persists: was Zoro Gardens a social experiment or was it a peepshow? The facts are unclear. What remains is the garden environment built for public voyeurism which has since been transformed into a butterfly haven. For one day Naked Truth: Free Range will revive Zoro Gardens with a group of nudist sympathizers, in collaboration with performance artist Maria Ríos-Mathioudakis.  Hourly programs with special guests will explore ways a contemporary reincarnation of the 1935 nudist colony can be an accessible, diverse, intersectional, gender-non- conforming, and body positive social experiment.


photos by Carlitos Galvan


1:00-2:00 Free Yoga Class *Open to the public*

2:00-4:00 Pre-War Sounds DJ set with Brendan Boyle of Folk Arts Rare Records

2:00-3:00 Bacon and Juicing Cooking Hour

3:00-4:00 Game Hour

4:00-5:30 Spa time with Maria Ríos-Mathioudakis Stylist Brian Gaul

Readings by Nudist Colony members

5:30-6:30 The Body Politic: A Candid Conversation with with Nudist Colony Members Yelena Gluzman, Louise Hickman, and Maria Ríos-Mathioudakis, moderated by Kate Clark

7:00-8:00 Concert with Sonidero Travesura (Tijuana)




Nick Lesley, Sound Engineer

Maria RÌos-Mathioudakis, Creative Direction

Jeremy Raab, Parkeologist

Diana Benavidez, Parkeologist

Jeszi Mcpeak, Parkeologist

Peter Chen, Parkeologist

Save Starlight, Tech Support

School for Creative Careers, Tech Support

Marina Grize, Marketing

Lissa Corona, SDAI staff support

Kevin Freligh, SDAI staff support

Jessica Ballenger, Production support

Jennifer Betancourt, Stenographer

Brochure image from the archive of Welton Jones

Thanks to Park Ranger John Anderson and the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department

Nudist Colony Members

Rebecca Maria Gold

Brian Gaul

Ashley Ray

Minxuan Lin

Gabrielle Ramlow

Carlos Galvan 

Arati Lane

Angela Risi

Kate Clark

Yelena Gluzman

Rafa Rios

Eva De Leon

Jeyla Spencer 

Sonidero Travesura

Loretta Carota

Peter Chen

Diana Benavidez

Jeremy Raab

Jeszi McPeak

Glena Trone

Jamie McGuffee

Abra Olivier

Em Hoguin

Rat Malone

Maria RÌos-Mathioudakis

Hannah Johansen

Camilla Fimbers

Paola Viola

Leilani Trepkau