There are some interesting details in this article about the Sandstone Foundation for Community Systems Research — the famous/infamous nudist commune and sex club usually called the Sandstone Retreat — about initial startup difficulties:
In 1968, John sold his share in his corporation, and he and Barbara used that money (over $1 million today) as the down payment for their “perfect civilization,” their New Sexual Utopia. They soon found the ideal property: 15 secluded acres way up a winding dirt road in Topanga Canyon, close to Malibu and just far enough from the city. (The Monkees had tried to purchase the place, but the deal fell through.) With a multi-bedroom main house, two guest cottages, and a separate structure that contained an Olympic-size swimming pool, this was the bourgeois free-love compound they’d been dreaming of.
The couple set about engineering the right mood. Barbara decorated the 60-foot-long living room on the main floor with plush carpeting, velvet sofas, a crystal chandelier, giant ferns, and floor-to-ceiling curtains—everything in natural tones, everything designed to feel good on naked skin, and only the most flattering lighting. In the large basement, complete with massive fireplace, they covered the floor with a collection of mattresses and waterbeds. They christened this space the “ballroom”—you know, for balling. And in the final stroke in their return to nature, the Williamsons removed all the doors, converting the bathroom on the main level into a kind of thoroughfare. “There was no backstage at Sandstone,” Barbara writes. “Whatever anyone did was done openly in front of everyone else. I always felt that constant exposure made it virtually impossible to be dishonest.”
By October of 1969, they were ready for their first party. That evening, as people began trickling in, Barbara says she and John were anxious. “We took all our clothes off, went down there, holding onto one another, and just watched.” But they’d miscalculated: Unsure of how to attract guests, they’d encouraged a friend to invite “the Playboy bunch”—some of the folks who usually populated Hugh Hefner’s parties—and the results were far from what the Williamsons had envisioned.
It’s not hard to imagine what happened next. The men, used to swinging at the mansion, worked their way through the women at an impressive pace. “It was as if it was fine for the women to be abused by the guys,” Barbara says. “I saw this one woman—she never got up all night! She must have been fucked by 10 guys. And I thought, ‘This is really an abuse of beauty. This crowd does not share our values whatsoever.’” Sandstone was not meant to be some trendy “fuck club.”
So they called a do-over, and spent time strategizing: how to attract a crowd that did share their values?
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