I’ve done some studying about Sandstone Retreat, an experiment that existed between 1968 and 1972. This is a fact-based work of fiction based on that information.
I heard about Sandstone Retreat from a neighbor. Harry and I regularly talked about sexual matters when we went fishing together. It was really vulnerable conversation, but we were good friends, both married with grown children, and felt we could trust each other with our secrets. We talked about how much we enjoyed masturbation, how our wives’ sexual appetites had slowed down, teenage sexual exploits, and so on.
One day, he was just bursting to tell me about a party he and his wife had attended. It was at a place called Sandstone Retreat. I perked up when he said most of the guests at the party were naked. Naked? Really! He then told me that there were always amazing parties at Sandstone, and all I had to do was to phone them and tell them I’d like to attend. The person on the phone would conduct a brief interview, and if I wasn’t a pervert or mass-murderer, I’d be allowed to come to the party too, as long as I brought my wife.
Ah, so much for that idea! But come to think of it, how had he talked his wife into it? He didn’t. She suggested it when she heard about it from one of her clients. She was a psychologist, and had some wealthy, well-connected clients. She evidently decided that the lull in their sex life was due to lack of stimulation, lack of ‘newness’ not just some sort of hormonal downturn. When a client told her about it, she figured this Sandstone place might shake up things quite nicely.
Well, a couple of weeks later, I managed to steer a conversation with my wife to her thoughts about her recent lack of sexual interest. I let her know that I loved her, and was not trying to talk her into anything. After all, I masturbated frequently, she knew that, and it took the pressure off. But, I was wondering whether she missed our former sexual level. She did! Very much so, to my surprise. Very carefully, I talked to her about what was called “swinging.” She knew the term, and to my complete dumb-struck surprise, she said she would have brought it up long ago, but was worried I’d disapprove.
To cut the story short, we decided to give Sandstone a try. We didn’t really know what it was, but a party with naked people, and perhaps some sort of sexual activity with strangers might be the best thing in the world for our marriage, not the worst. We discussed it, and we both felt our love was strong and we could handle each other getting sexually involved with other people. After all, marriage isn’t about possession of each other. It’s not like, “You’re mine, and I’m not sharing you with anyone.” If you really love someone, you let them enjoy themselves in any way that doesn’t bring harm to themselves or others. It turns out that was one of the basic tenants of Sandstone.
So, one Saturday evening found us winding way up into the hills into Topanga Canyon, inland from Malibu, California, which is a suburb of Los Angeles. Way into the hills. The place was remarkably isolated, and I added about ten miles to the trip going back and forth looking for the final turn-off.
We arrived around 8pm, and there were already thirty or forty cars parked in the dirt parking lot and along the long, eucalyptus-lined driveway. Some of the cars were ordinary Ford Falcons and Mercury station wagons. But most were ostentatious. There were low-slung foreign sports cars, Mercedes, and even a Rolls-Royce. Hmmm, interesting already!
We parked our yellow Mustang, and admired the view of the far-away lights of Malibu as we walked quite a ways to the main house, and were greeted at the door by Marty, a fully-naked, barrel-chested short-haired gentleman about 45 years old. He was jovial and welcomed us with open arms – literally. He gave me and my wife Sandra a wonderful bear hug. Well, wonderful for her. I was a bit, well, taken aback being hugged by a naked man, who, by the way, was waving his erection around as if it didn’t matter in the slightest. When he hugged me, I felt his boner pressing momentarily against the keys in my pocket.
He brought us in, and showed us to the cloakroom, where he explained we could store as much clothing as we chose. We remained clothed at the moment, and he led us into the enormous living room. It was as large as a tennis court, and well appointed with excellent original paintings on the walls, a thick carpet, and sumptuous furniture. I asked Marty why the chairs were so short. It was as if someone had cut the legs off them. He said they had indeed cut the legs off, and told us it makes conversation more comfortable and intimate. Most of the chairs housed people, almost all of whom were stark naked. Some of them looked familiar, and I think they might have been rock musicians or movie stars. I couldn’t quite tell, them being naked and all. I immediately felt out of place with my Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals. I was thinking Sandra also felt over-dressed for the occasion. There were at least a dozen others standing around in conversations holding glasses of wine and snacks. They were all naked also. Over on a love seat in a bright lamp-lit corner, a woman was giving a man a blow job – right in front of everyone. I didn’t know whether it might be alright to stare at them, so I quickly looked away.
Harry and his wife Janet were there, about 30 feet away from each other. Harry introduced us to the woman who he had been talking with while looking intently into her eyes and fondling her shoulders, and Janet introduced us to the man she was talking with. Both Harry and Janet seemed totally fine with their spouses hanging with these other people. Somehow, it was momentarily shocking to see the two of them fully nude. Especially Marty, because even though we had frequently talked about sex and all that, I had never actually seen his penis. It made me feel conspicuously over-dressed again. On the other hand, I would not want to have been naked at that moment. I especially would have felt shy about Janet seeing me naked, even though pretty much everyone else was. Then too, I’m not sure I’d measure up to Harry, and some of the other men there, if you know what I mean. But then again, some of the men were smaller than me, so that helped my confidence. But what about Sandra? How would I feel about her being naked among all these people? I thought about it a moment, and the answer surprised me. I wouldn’t be worried, or jealous or anything like that. I’d actually be proud. She is quite a looker. Her Asian good looks always turned heads, and stark naked, she’s even more beautiful, with her long black hair, and pert, tight little breasts. People probably wonder what she sees in a pudge like me.
A striking woman made an entrance with a large cat on a leash. A very large, tan-colored cat with a short tail. I found out later, that’s a very friendly bobcat and one of the residents of Sandstone, they all call PC. The woman was tall, slender, had medium sized breasts (which I couldn’t help noticing), and had short-cropped curly blond hair. She was surprisingly androgynous other than her beautiful breasts, and the closely trimmed darker blond hair over her vagina. Everyone kind of turned toward her, as if she were royalty. Marty steered her over to us and made introductions. It turns out she was Barbara Williamson, co-founder with her husband John, of Sandstone Retreat.
She seemed very happy to have us as new guests to her party, and took a few minutes to explain their philosophy about open sexuality, communal living, not as hippies, but on a wealthier, more materialistic scale, loving all humans and animals too, and zero population growth, among other things. Marty told her about my novels, and she had actually read one of them. Right away, she seemed like a downright good person. And, we found out later, the feeling was mutual. During that first conversation she told us about membership, that we could become members, spending full weekends there, for $240 per year. Marty took us aside after the conversation and said, “Barb really likes you two. She never invites people to be members until she has really checked them out.”
Next, we were shown the Olympic size swimming pool, and noticed a half dozen naked people milling about in the water. They didn’t seem cold, which is not typical for idling in typical pools. I stuck my hand in and found the water was warm. Marty told us the temperature is maintained at 92 degrees, to make the water more inviting and intimate.
Finally, we went downstairs to the ‘ballroom.’ That’s what they called it. It was as large as a descent ballroom, but it wasn’t a ballroom in the typical sense. It would be difficult for lots of people to dance in there. First of all, the floor was covered in wall to wall shag carpet. Spread randomly on the floor were more than a dozen mattresses. The lighting was colored and subdued. In a moment, Sandra nudged me and whispered, “Do you know why they call it a ballroom? It’s because people ball in here.” That was a term people often used at the time for fucking. And sure enough, there were two couples who were, well, doing things.
One of the couples were just finishing a handjob, by the looks of things. She was a very white woman who probably hadn’t been out in the sun in a long time, judging by her lack of tan, and the other was a very black man, who was getting up just as we approached. His non-circumcised penis was still hard and glistening from what she had just been doing to him. I realized he wasn’t very tall, maybe 5′ 7″ or so, and noticed that one eye stared straight ahead. Holy mackerel! It was Sammy Davis Jr. I was shaking Sammy Davis Jr’s hand! As he was telling me he too had read my books, every single one of them, he was stark naked, and his penis was still partially erect. My wife was flattered beyond belief as he kissed the back of her hand, then gave her a big, old bear hug.
Well, there was only one thing we could do after that. Sandra and I went back up to the cloakroom, removed all our clothing, and enjoyed the party.
We returned the next weekend as full-fledged members, and after a month moved into one of the cabins on the property. Since our kids were now out of the house, we knew Sandstone would be the perfect retirement for us. We were a bit young to retire, but the money was there. We were now full-time, live-in Sandstone volunteers. Since I had been a writer and fairly well-known public speaker, my job was to handle publicity and public relations. Actually, John Williamson did most of the appearances, such as on the Johnny Carson show, but I spoke at corporate events, local news interviews, and all the things John didn’t have time for. Sandra became the primary telephone person, answering the dozens of calls that came in to the retreat every day. We stayed until John and Barbara were ready for new adventures and sold the retreat property in 1972. It was a somewhat sad time, but we were happy for them. PC had become so much a part of their lives, that they were planning to start a new kind of retreat. A place in Oregon to take care of big cats including lions and tigers. Sandra and I bought ourselves a motorhome and decided to tour America’s nude beaches. We decided it might be fun to try to discover every nude beach in America, and have been working on that project ever since.