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Nudist Camp to Drop Low Prices for Women

September 28, 1986|MAYERENE BARKER | Times Staff Writer

A Topanga Canyon nudist camp, facing a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by a Pasadena man, has agreed to stop charging men higher prices than women.

Attorneys in the case said the camp, Elysium Fields, will change its policies as of Oct. 1 when it will begin charging men and women equal fees for membership and for its workshops and seminars, which include such topics as "Releasing Your Romantic Radar" and "Massage Magic."

The agreement settles a lawsuit filed Sept. 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court by Alejandro Crespi, 56, a law-book salesman who said he quit Elysium Fields because the nudist camp's pricing discriminated against men. Elysium charged men $175 and women $125 in annual membership fees and discounted fees paid by women for the other camp activities.

'Truly Delighted'

"I am truly delighted," Crespi said at a news conference. "Elysium responded essentially by giving me everything I asked for by establishing a fair pricing system."

Elysium Field's attorney, Stephen F. Rohde, said the policy of lower rates for women was established in 1967 by camp founder Ed Lange in response to "decades of sexual discrimination against women."

"First, the earning capacity of women was less than half that of their male counterparts," he said. "Secondly, women bore the brunt of the irrational attitudes toward nudity, which Elysium was seeking to eradicate."

The lower fees also were designed to achieve a gender balance at Elysium, where about 70% of the 1,400 members are men, Rohde said. As a result of the settlement, the annual membership fee for both sexes will be $170 because a lesser fee would cause a financial hardship for the organization, he said.

Other Legal Fight

Rohde said the camp might have contested Crespi's suit by arguing that lower fees for women are justified because they encourage an individual's right to freedom of expression. But, he said, the camp is already involved in a 16-year fight with local officials and nearby residents who are trying to close the camp.

Feminist attorney Gloria R. Allred, who represented Crespi, said she has no objection to the camp's policy of nudism.

"Although some people may feel that no nudes is good nudes, I disagree," Allred said. "In this case, the courage of a nude male in exposing what he believes to be the bare facts about sex discrimination has resulted in the stripping away of a sexually discriminatory practice, and we can look forward to a future where equality is more than skin deep."

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