As they do at countless collegiate parties everywhere, the couples wriggled to the watusi and gyrated to the jerk, while recorded drums and saxophones resounded in the dimly lit apartment of a University of California student in Berkeley. Unlike parties most anywhere, however, the boys and girls were naked. After a while some of the couples drifted into bedrooms. Some embraced in darkened corners.
First it was free speech, then filthy speech. Now it is free love, as students, former students and nonstudents continue to test the limits of the permissible at Berkeley. There have been at least six such orgies, attended by between 20 and 45 youths each, in the San Francisco Bay area in the past month. All have been held in private residences. Most have included students from Cal and from San Francisco State.
The promoters of nude parties contend that their motivation is intellectual and philosophical, not merely sensual. Nonstudent Richard Thome, 29, a Negro who heads an off-campus East Bay Sexual Freedom League, argues that "man will only become free when he can overcome his own guilt and when society stops trying to manage his sex life for him." His idea of freedom is parties in which individuals can engage in any sexual act "that doesn't impose on the desire of other people."
Not Everything Goes. On campus, the approach is somewhat different. At Berkeley, 30 "card-carrying members" of the University of California Sexual Freedom Forum man one of the many campus propaganda tables, where they sell buttons reading TAKE IT OFF and I'M WILLING IF YOU ARE. They distribute pamphlets on birth control, abortion and venereal disease, have lectured on these subjects with university approval. University officials turned down as "educationally irrelevant" the group's request to show a nudist movie. "I reject the notion that anything goes on this campus," said Berkeley Chancellor Roger Heyns. "I seriously doubt that this is a violation of anyone's freedom."
The president of the campus group, Sociology Freshman Kurt Rust, argues that the only test of sexual conduct should be: "Do I want to do it? Does it hurt anyone else?" The group's secretary, Psychology Student Holly Tannen, a bright 18-year-old who enrolled at Cal at 16, contends that suppressing sexual expression leads to "pornography and topless night clubs." She concedes she was embarrassed at her first nude party. "I was ashamed of my body," she said. "But I got over that."
Naked Wade-In. The free-sex movement has been growing slowly in various parts of the country since March 1964, when Dr. Leo Koch, a biology teacher who in 1960 was fired by the University of Illinois for advocating premarital sex, and Jefferson Poland, a restless student who says he is studying to be "either a lawyer or an agitator," founded the New York City League for Sexual Freedom. Poland, who now attends Merritt Junior College in Oakland, took the offensive for nudism by wading naked into the ocean at San Francisco's Aquatic Park last August with two beefy members of the off-campus San Francisco Sexual Freedom League, Ina Saslow and Shirley Einsiedel. All were arrested. The girls got suspended sentences, and Poland was sent to jail for five weekends.