London: When Karl Maddocks wondered why anyone should fill out numerous forms and pay money to go to nudist clubs, he decided to come up with a solution.
Two years ago Maddocks created Skinbook, a website that claims to be the world’s largest nudist social network. The site has thousands of members, and many of the same features and functions as Facebook — except everyone on it is naked.
Now, two years later, the site will hold its first conference in Brighton this summer – a chance for the site’s 9,000 members to see the leaders of the website discuss how they want the site to develop in the future.
Those intrigued about stripping off in public turn to Skinbook, but without having to meet the strict regulations of many nudist clubs. There are rules though - blank profiles are not accepted, or overtly sexual chatter.
Despite a large number of applicants, very few get entry.
“You’ve got to be there for the right reasons,” The Times quoted Maddocks as saying.
“With the nature of the site, we’ve got to do our best to protect people’s privacy,” he added.
More popular with younger people, the website claims to have more females and couples in its membership than most similar groups.
“There’s a lot of people on there who are not necessarily into [nudism],” said Maddocks.
“There’s quite a lot of women who have body issues, and though they are not into the lifestyle, they are curious to relieve themselves of the paranoia and feeling bad about themselves.”
The site started life in 2008 after Maddocks and some classmates from Manchester Metropolitan University decided to sample the experience of nudism on holiday in Wales.
“It’s a counter-culture thing,” he says. “It’s to get away from the idea that you’re ugly unless you’ve had plastic surgery. It’s about not caring if you’re size 14 or size 8, or if you’re packing five inches or ten inches. Life’s too short.”