Sunday, August 19, 2018

Not Wikipedia: The Astronomer-Nudist of Black's Beach

As long as we are talking about academia in San Diego county and it's still summer, the subject of Lloyd Johnson and his unique website seems fitting. Johnson was an adjunct professor of Astronomy at a number of community colleges in the area; he may have burnt out and quit in 2011*, his Rate My Professors pages end that year. Whatever the case, his 1990s website Nudism Resources by Lloyd (warning, page background is a repeated nude shot of him freediving taken from above) used to be linked to his professors' page at Cuyamaca College back when it was much smaller than it is now, a former "technology annex" of Grossmont College slowly becoming a free-stranding institution.

The URL of the site ( gives away Lloyd's true love, Black's Beach. The beach (named after the family that owned the land) has been quietly nudist since May of 1974, though a New York Times article from 1976 was noting that tourists from NYC were showing up in San Diego just for Black's Beach - the word had gotten out. Johnson had this to say about the beach circa 2006:

As of July 2006, I have been to Black's thousands of times. There has been recent change, just after July 4, 1999. Signs were posted stating that nudity is illegal. These signs are sometimes missing, due to theft, but the law can still be enforced.  Put your clothes on when on the city beach, which begins somewhere south of the trail head, perhaps 100 meters.  In the past there have been cones with a sign marking the nudity line.  As of May or June of 2003 lifeguards have not been putting these markers up.  Instead there is a square, yellow post with the letters T P C B, marking the boundary for Torrey Pines City Beach.  The yellow post has been missing since about November 5, 2005, but there have been orange cones there lately. New visitors planning to spend time south of the Burro Trail, should locate the northern-most "nudity prohibited" sign and keep it in mind when going for a walk. The southern boundary is marked by a very unofficial sign against the cliff, indicating the boundary between the city and state beaches.  Beyond is the city beach, Black's Beach, where nudity is prohibited.  The rock is near, on the nude side of the boundary.  The post and cones mark the point where you should dress.

The clothing optional tradition is alive and between these boundaries.  However, it is not actually Black's Beach, but rather Torrey Pines State Beach. We still call it Black's. The boundaries for the clothing optional area of the beach stretch from Mussel Rocks in the north to Salk Institute Road in the south.  Salk Institute Road does not actually reach the beach, but the boundary is where it would reach the beach, if it was extended.

The beach is at the base of a cliff, which tends to isolate it. The hike down, and especially the hike up, is "challenging." Children often manage it better than adults.

The beach itself is very flat. The beach can be very wide at low tide and very narrow at high tide. I've been there twice when the tide was all the way up to the cliff. Check the tides before you go and if it gets above 6 feet in the winter, there will be little or no beach left. You can also get an indication of the weather and surf from the Scripp's Pier Cam. It shows an area just south of Black's Beach. Check my weather page.

The waters can be hazardous. Rip currents and sting rays are the most common problems. I see lots of sting rays and guitarfish. Many of my friends have been stung. I have been stung once. Rip currents can take you way out. I managed swim back to shore against a ripe current at least once, but it was tiring. If you find yourself in such a current, don't try to swim against it. Swim parallel to the coast, then swim back. Lifeguards are present, making patrols, but they have only a few posts on the beach. Black's Beach is a pack it in, pack it out place. You will find no trash cans. Fortunately we have a beach cleaning team. These guys go to Black's nearly every day. They arrive early, walk the whole length of the beach, typically filling a dozen grocery bags with trash. They carry it up the trail to the dumpster, then come down to enjoy their clean beach. If you figure out who these guys are, don't offer them your trash. Don't use them as an excuse to litter. Carry your own trash out. Do thank them for sparing your eyes of the horror of a littered beach.
There are out houses at the top, courtesy of the glider port.  There are no toilet facilities on the beach.  Some people pee in the same place as the dolphins.  Others climb a little ways into a canyon.
There is a constant parade of tourists, especially on weekends. Single men tend to be shunned and single women tend to get more attention than they want. I do see single women there and I also see children there. It is easy to fall prey to gawkers. If you follow some simple guidelines, you can avoid those problems. 

Besides being a nudist beach/climbing expedition, Black's Beach is a great surfing area (thanks to a submarine trench offshore) and was known for that in the 1960s before it became a nudist beach. He also has pages on San Onofre beach, Rincon beach (only a partial-nude photo of Lloyd on the sand), Silver Strand beach (all words, no photos; he was not impressed. To be cute he used the Periodic table symbol "Ag" [short for argentum, its Latin name] in the URL.)  And we should mention his "No Disclamer Needed" disclaimer link at the top of the welcome page.

This website is a time capsule for how frameless personal websites looked like from 1995 to 2007, especially if the owner knew how to make webpages and digitize photos. It's also a window into a San Diego community that is rarely heard from. As Indiana Jones once said, "It belongs in a museum!"

The site used to have a photo of Lloyd Johnson standing full frontal, and for a long time as a joke I would take the chorus of Ogden Edsl's "Dead Puppies" and sing "Lloyd's, Lloyd's johnson, dum-dum-dum, Lloyd's, Lloyd's johnson, dum-dum-dum, Lloyd's johnson has a kink." I'm still amazed that he was brave enough to link his private page to his Cuyamaca instructor's page, especially in an era when professional bluenoses like Rebecca Clark were on the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Governing Board.

Thanks to Eric Barbour for pulling the site out of the murk using search engine voodoo.


* Truth is always stranger than fiction - Lloyd is still out there, running a diving business in Hawai'i. Eric did some looking and found that somebody else was running another website at that address in the 1990s, so the website I remember was taken down by Johnson in 2001 and when he could get an address with "Black's beach" in it, he just rebuilt he website over there, probably the same day. To make matters weirder, there are two commingled websites at the older version whose intro page is and the newer page which lacks that fork. Some of the pages are shared between the websites, which can be distinguished by their tab markers: the newer website is called "Black's Beach Bares" the older "Nudism Resources by Lloyd."



    Someone else appears to have owned this URL in the oldest capture from 1998. But since 2001 Lloyd appears to be the owner. No doubt some Web archaeologists will be amused by his site centuries from now--after all, how many other sites about a single isolated nude beach are there?

    1. If that's true then this was not the site he was linking to in the 1990s - he probably took all his content from his other site and dumped it into this URL.

    2. It may be surprising that there's a web page about it but it should come as no surprise at all that there is a Wikipedia article, 13.5 kb in length and with ten photographs. One of the most recent edits is by administrator and former arnitrator GorillaWarfare who removed a comment about access to the beach as not exhibiting a neutral point of view. Just the sort of thing Wikipedians love to spend their time on.

    3. I was not surprised that there is a website for nudist beaches in Southern California, the Internet is full of niche topics, it's that he was gutsy enough to link it to his instructor's page in the 1990s. As for Wikipedia blowing nearly 14 kilobytes on Black's beach and then fighting over it, totally de rigure for the same website that had a war over calling the town "Freistaat Danzig" or "Gdańsk", never taking into account the Kashubians, who call it "Gduńsk."

  2. Compare his crude HTML site to the one for Florida's Haulover Beach:

    1. The original was done in the 1990s when the standards for a private page were "Can you read this and the photos aren't incoherent? If so, you have a page." Why the page was never rebuilt from the ground up is known only to Lloyd.