I was talking to Bob Lefsetz (of the Lefsetz Letter fame) and he wanted to know when I was going to put up some of my adventures on the road. As many of my friends have been asking this a lot of times in the past four and half months that I’ve been doing this, I thought I’d put one up and see if there is any interest in these stories.
In the 1970’s I lived in the beautiful Northern California beach community of Santa Cruz. I was recording for Wooden Nickel/RCA, getting local radio airplay and consequently, had a little local celebrity. Whenever I came off of a national tour, I played all the local rooms while I was home, to keep from getting rusty…and to pay the mortgage and I worked anytime I wanted to, as the good people of Santa Cruz kept coming out for the shows.
One day shortly after I got home from a tour, the phone rings and this fellow says to me, “Look James, we know a hundred dollars isn’t a lot of money but …could you play this nude beach party?” Well, as any musician knows, we play all night in the hopes that just one of the lovely women in the audience might just possibly be willing to take off her clothes in our proximity later on in the evening so the prospect of the entire audience already being naked? Well, the vision did intrigue me. “Look,” I said. “I’m gonna need a couple of hours to raise the hundred, but… I”LL BE THERE!”
“There” being the fabled Red, White and Blue Nude Beach, about three miles up the coast from Santa Cruz. The beach was so named because of the large red, white and blue mailbox at the side of Highway 1 right at the rutted dirt road that lead down to the coast and the beach. And it’s very easy to find. It’s on the side of the highway with the Pacific Ocean.
I remember how excited I was to be playing my first nude beach party. I got all cleaned up, put on my best clothes…then took them off and put on some jeans and a t shirt. What was I thinking? I then lengthened the strap on my guitar so that it hung lower on my body than normal for two reasons.
- I didn’t want any sunburn to slowdown the evolution of the evening, (and I didn’t know how to casually apply suntan lotion there.)
and just as importantly,
2. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to respond to the presence of all these naked women.
I mean, my experience is that, even in the presence of one naked woman, my enthusiasm is, …well,…obvious. So, now the question became, how enthused am I going to be when ALL the women are naked? I mean, will I be outrageously, throbbingly enthused or what? Well, it turns out that your body is much cooler than you are. Because when everyone is naked, your body looks around and says, “hey, everyone is naked. chill out, relax, …flaccid city” And that’s what happens. No obvious enthusiasm, just casual conversation and you know, LOT’s of eye contact. You make certain that you are looking everyone right in the eye when you are talking to them. Don’t want them to think that you are hung up or obsessing or a perv.
Curiously, with everybody completely naked, I found myself staring at all the women who were wearing tennis shoes. It’s that old mystery thing…
I just wanted to know what their toes really looked like.
I know. Men are sick. I don’t know why you ladies are ever nice to us. I’ve never liked men. Sometimes I feel like a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.