Key West has nude bars and parades, why not a nude beach?

KEY WEST, Fla. — The come-as-you-are island city of Key West features a nude rooftop bar, guest houses with clothing-optional pools and the 10-day, world-famous debauchery known as Fantasy Fest, where body paint passes as clothing.

On the island's public beaches, though, going au naturel has been illegal since 1983.

That might change soon. A group of naturists is campaigning to amend the city's nudity ordinance to allow a section of city-owned beach to go nude. City Commissioner Bill Verge plans to propose at this week's city commission meeting an Oct. 6 referendum. Advocates say the change could bring more tourists to the cash-strapped city.

Monroe County Commissioner Sylvia Murphy liked the idea when it surfaced in April. ''No one visiting us [from other countries] understands why we are such prudes,'' she said.

But the city, which has ultimate jurisdiction, has been pretty straight-laced when it comes to nude beaches, despite its free-spirited image.

Key West outlawed public nudity 26 years ago after Pier House, a Key West hotel, instituted a clothing-optional beach for its guests.

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