Q life: with GABRIEL TABASCO

Q Magazine - - Q Life -

Nude Beach Rule­book Nude beaches. The world is dot­ted with them. Europe es­pe­cially has plenty; from the vol­canic beaches of the Ca­nary Is­lands to se­cret coves of the Greek is­land. Though there is a com­mon un­der­stand­ing on how to (and how not to) be­have, there is no set rule­book.

Dif­fer­ent beaches have dif­fer­ent vibes. Most gay beaches are found at the rocky far-end of a beach. This was be­cause to most beach-go­ers bathing on rocks was un­ap­peal­ing. As with any­thing, the gays took over what was un­wanted and made it cool; turn­ing un­wanted rocks into nude sun­bathing and cruis­ing ar­eas. Some of which have be­come fa­mous and com­mer­cial.

Of the com­mer­cial gay beaches the most in­fa­mous is Elia Beach on Mykonos. One sum­mer, as my friend and I sat sun­ning our­selves, one man ar­rived and be­gan un­dress­ing. His low-hang­ers dan­gled freely as he bent over to pack his clothes away. My friend picked up the bag of nuts we bought as a snack (no re­ally, we did), held it up and said ‘would you like some nuts?'

‘It's fine. I got some right here' I laughed, as the man's big balls swayed be­tween his legs right in front of us.

Some men are more con­fort­able be­ing naked than oth­ers. Still on Elia beach, one stun­ning man, with toned bi­ceps, un­blem­ished, tanned skin and wash­board abs sat alone on a sunbed. It was im­pos­si­ble not to no­tice him. Not be­cause of his beauty but from the way he was sit­ting: with his legs to his chest re­veal­ing his ass­hole that, like the rest of his body, was tanned (bleached?) and as smooth as mar­ble. It was as if a mu­seum was dis­play­ing a rare gem in an ex­hi­bi­tion pre­vi­ously not open to the pub­lic. Any­one who hap­pened to pass by, mo­men­tar­ily stop to stare at him. I caught some snatches of the con­ver­sa­tion as peo­ple made com­ments. They ranged from ‘wow' to ‘re­ally?' If there was a rule­book for a nude/ gay beach then how much and what is ap­pro­pri­ate to dis­play?

The sandy part of Elia Beach, or any nude beach, gives way to the rocks where, as tra­di­tion dic­tates, all the sex­ual ac­tiv­ity takes place, ei­ther one-on-one or in groups. Peer­ing from my sunbed I could see small groups of men hud­dling to­gether. Fur­ther away, one man was stand­ing as an­other man's head bobbed up and down.

Other beaches, though they have no ameni­ties are pop­u­lar to gay men. One beach in Crete, cov­ered in sharp peb­bles, rocks of chalk and only ac­ces­si­ble by de­scend­ing a dirt-track was so un­pop­u­lar, it be­came a com­mon gay beach af­ter the gays laid claim to it. I would go there my friends to sun­bathe. Some of them would hook up. Oth­ers would pose for photos for their on­line dat­ing pro­file. But mostly it was to en­joy the nude beach.

As we sun­bathed I no­ticed the oc­ca­sional jeep or van drive in the cliffs above. The men, prob­a­bly clos­eted or mar­ried, would gaze down at us but they would never join us.

‘I don't feel com­fort­able' I said.

‘They just want to look. They won't touch,' An­drea said be­fore adding ‘don't be so frigid.'

I was not aware that I could still be frigid while sun­bathing naked, in pub­lic, as a strange man overtly ob­served me. Nor did I know that it was pos­si­ble to be chat­ted up while be­ing shouted at from the cliffs above me. Those rugged men would wave and ask how we were. They were flirt­ing. I was be­ing po­lite. And my friends ig­nored them. Those con­ver­sa­tions went nowhere. It was hard to be hit on by a man in dusty dun­ga­rees who was stand­ing me­tres above me on jagged rocks.

From the beach below we could see who walked on the cliff's edge. On one oc­ca­sion my friend Nick (in his bathers) emerged with his new boyfriend (in the nude).

‘He's not that big' said An­drea who was eval­u­at­ing the new boyfriend.

‘He's so hunky… and beau­ti­ful' I said, happy that there was a nude man on the nude beach.

At times it seemed that men with bathers out­num­bered the nude sun­bathers. I once spot­ted a sleazy ar­chi­tect I knew, wear­ing a shirt and jeans (in the sum­mer heat!) on the nude beach.

‘Yeah. Hi. Yeah' he said un­com­fort­ably when he spot­ted us. ‘Just here to walk my dog.' ‘But… you live 80km away' I said.

‘Yeah, but, you know… the dog likes this beach.'

Let's es­tab­lish at least one rule: don't use your pet to perv on men at a nude beach. Surely you can't be that horny. Surely you don't need to drive 80km to look at nude men. And if you do, then own it like those mar­ried men on the cliffs.

On hol­i­day in Spain, I looked in my guide­book for a gay beach. Once find­ing it, I stripped off only to won­der if in­deed it was a gay beach. It was a beau­ti­ful beach of shal­low, rocky pools of wa­ter but there were no gays. In fact, there were no peo­ple. I asked my friend who worked in the gay travel in­dus­try about it.

‘Some­times, if we don't have con­tent we just make it up and say a cer­tain place is a gay beach. Then the gays read about it, go there and make it gay.'

‘So you trick the gays?' I asked.

‘I guess… but only for their ben­e­fit' he added.

Per­haps the best nude beaches are the beaches that are not la­belled as nude and where there is no sign read­ing ‘Beach'. With friends I spent one idyl­lic day on one hid­den beach in Mi­los. We claimed one side of the beach, while hip­pies shad­ing them­selves in caves claimed the other. The mid­dle part of the beach was shared ter­ri­tory.

We were com­fort­able in our nu­dity un­til a fam­ily of tourists in­vaded our beach with their li­los, play­ing balls games and scream­ing like lu­natics in the waves, be­fore leav­ing af­ter 45 min­utes. We were drunk of sun and salt­wa­ter so it did not bother us… but it got me think­ing: what are the rules for ask­ing some­one to leave a beach if you were there first? Tech­ni­cally isn't the beach yours?

I think the best nude beaches are the ones that are hardly beaches at all; hid­den nooks of rock and sand, not la­belled on any maps and where the only peo­ple are the ones you bring with you. On such beaches there are no gawk­ing farm­ers, no ir­ri­tat­ing fam­i­lies, and there are no rules. None are needed. There are no ball games though there may be the oc­ca­sional nuts. Not in­clud­ing the ones you bring as snacks.

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