Complaining that the pricing policy at a nudist camp in Topanga Canyon takes the shirt off men's backs, a Pasadena man on Wednesday sued the camp for sex discrimination.
Alejandro Crespi, 56, alleged that Elysium Fields violates the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act by charging men more than women to cavort in the nude on its secluded seven-acre grounds.
Crespi said he filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court because he "got fed up having to pay more money than women taking the same workshop or seminar that I was."
He complained that Elysium Fields operators charge a $175 yearly fee for men but assess women only $125 in hopes of getting a better balance between the sexes. He said about 60% of the facility's estimated 2,000 members are men.
"It doesn't make any difference to me if there's a gender balance," said Crespi, a law-book salesman. "I don't count noses to find the exact number of women when I'm there."
Crespi fleshed out his lawsuit by attaching Elysium Fields' catalogue to it. It lists massage workshops that cost $15 for men and $10 for women; a seminar on "How to Give and Get Love," costing $15 for men and $8 for women, and a class in "caressive touch," which costs men $12 and women $9.
Although the suit asks for unspecified damages, Crespi's lawyer, Los Angeles civil rights activist Gloria Allred, said their main goal is to obtain a court order blocking the double standard for nudists.
Last year, Allred represented a child who sued a West Los Angeles hair salon over its policy of charging boys more than girls for haircuts. The salon eventually agreed to set prices according to the length of hair, not sex.
"We will reveal the naked truth about discrimination against men," Allred said Wednesday.
But Elysium Fields' attorney, Stephen F. Rohde, said the nudist's suit is cheeky.
He said the business-oriented Unruh Act may not apply because the seven-acre Topanga site is run by a nonprofit educational corporation. Anyway, Rohde said, courts allow sexed-based pricing where there are "compelling" social reasons.
Rohde said a male-female balance is needed for Elysium Fields' educational programs to be successful.
"Otherwise, you could just go to the YMCA," he said.