Excerpts taken from "TEAM Naturist" article printed in 27.2 Nude & Natural.
Nicky Hoffman Lee - Nude & Natural Publisher and Managing Editor
NICKY HOFFMAN LEE was introduced to Naturism through Bonnie. “Bonnie and her sister Peggy were my neighbors and we’d gone to high school together. Peggy had worked for Lee and Bonnie was currently working for him when the three of us took Lee up on an offer to go on a nude cruise in 1982. There was a group of us that went, staff members and their friends, and the nudity didn’t bother me,” Nicky said.” I was with good friends and felt comfortable and we had a lot of fun.”
Hired on April 1, 1985, Nicky started in the mailroom and handled all of Lee’s correspondence but, “in an office this small, at some point everyone has done a little bit of everything,” she said.
Nicky blossomed in such an environment and as Lee entrusted her with more responsibility, her interest in business grew, as well as her commitment to TNS. “My husband was never thrilled with the idea of naturism, and he had to hire extra help whenever I went to a gathering. At the same time, the kids were grown and I started working on a bachelor’s degree and as it happens, Bob and I grew apart to where we no longer wanted the same things.”
While planning for a new future, Nicky wasn’t prepared for the news that Lee had Parkinson’s. “All of us were concerned about Lee but those of us who’d been here since the beginning also worried about the future of TNS.”
When Lee started shopping around for a buyer of TNS in 2001, Nicky, Margaret and then-editor Judi Ditzler stepped up to the plate. “Who better than the people who’d already been working there? We knew the ins and outs like the back of our hands. And while no one can replace Lee, we all studied under him and know his vision and goals.”
While the first five years have been rough, Nicky confirmed her decision when she and Margaret bought out Judi’s share of the business in 2005. “I can get caught up in a good book, and I enjoy time with my grandchildren, but this is where my passion is, here in this office, carrying on Lee’s work.”
Mark Storey - Nude & Natural Consulting Editor
MARK STOREY joined TNS in 1988, and began writing for N magazine in 1996. He has helped organize four TNS Festivals, two clothing-optional jazz festivals, a naturist-related film festival, and a theatrical production about nude beaches. Storey is the author of Cinema Au Naturel: A History of Nudist Film (2003), editor of Theatre au Naturel: A Collection of Naturist Plays (2005), and co-author of The World’s Best Nude Beaches and Resorts (2007). He devotes much of his time to writing and editorial assistance for N magazine, and to serving on the boards of the Naturist Action Committee and the Naturist Education Foundation.
“I like to view myself as one of TNS’ top fans. The people associated with TNS, N, NAC, and NEF are fabulous to work with. I’ve learned much about the naturist community and its history through them, and about the many values of being and appearing fully human among friends, family, and others.”
When not writing for N or teaching philosophy at Bellevue College in Washington State, Storey enjoys clothes-free kayaking in the Puget Sound, free-hiking in the Cascade Mountains, and skinny-dipping in Washington’s many inland lakes.
Bonnie Case - The Naturist Society's Membership Manager
WITHOUT BLINKING, Bonnie Case can say exactly when she started at The Baxandall Co.
“June 6, 1977,” she said. “My sister Peggy was working for Lee and she was leaving to start a family. She recommended me, and Lee hired me as a data administrator. I worked four days a week; two days for the Baxandall Company and two days for the Free Beaches Documentation Center, which was the forerunner to TNS.”
Her primary responsibilities were to take orders, process memberships and prepare envelopes for mailing out the magazine, all things she continues to do today. “Back then, every order had to be typed by hand, every envelope that left the office was hand-typed. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I was set up with a CPT,” Bonnie threw up her hands and laughed.
With family photos dotting the walls and an oldies station on the radio, Bonnie is perpetually in a good mood, regardless of the hour. “I was raised on a farm and I’ve always been a morning person. I usually come in at 7 AM but I’d start at 5 AM if I could.”
For her, naturism is about letting people enjoy life in the ways that make them happiest. “In 1982, I went on a nude Windjammer cruise with Lee and Johanna and some others, and I had a blast. It was my first trip to the Caribbean, my first time snorkeling; it was a lot of firsts for me and I had such a great time, I’d hate to take that away from someone else.”
Carmen Hamm - Nude & Natural Advertising Manager
CARMEN HAMM, who oversees advertising, came on board in October 2002.
Born in Wisconsin Rapids, Carmen graduated high school and joined the Army, where she served four years. Stationed in Hawaii as a pre-press specialist, she enjoyed the camaraderie of her fellow soldiers. “It’s very similar to working here,” she said. “Everyone works together as a team and we see each other through the good and the bad, whether it’s a business or personal matter.”
Carmen later attended technical college and married. When her husband got a job in Fond du Lac and she worked in Neenah, the couple moved to Oshkosh. “It’s halfway between the two cities and that’s how we ended up here.” When TNS hired her to work with advertisers, create ads and do artwork, she was thrilled. “I was a computer imager before I came here and this job lets me be a lot more creative.”
Her office is a work of art, where family photos, colorful handmade drawings and other artwork decorate all four walls. “Obviously, I enjoy art but I also love to rollerblade and go biking, anything outdoors.”
Nichole Smith - Nude & Natural Layout and Design
THE NEWEST, and perhaps quietest, TNS staff member is Nichole Smith. She first became acquainted with TNS when she worked for an Oshkosh printer. “A co-worker told me TNS was looking for free-lance help and so I did that for two years before joining the staff fulltime in June 2006.”
“To me as an artist, nudity is a form of free expression and so I came in feeling unbiased about Naturism.” She glances at a print of Renoir, her favorite artist, that decorates her office. “I view the body as an art form.”
In her free time, Nichole likes to work on her personal artwork and shoot pool. On weekends, she frequently visits her hometown. “It’s a lot nicer to live and work in the same city but I’m close to my family and we spend a lot of time together.” Not only is her family important, but so is religion. “I’m not a regular churchgoer but I do evaluate my life and the decisions I make as to whether they are in accordance with God’s wishes. And I have no conflict between Naturism and God,” she said.
Margaret Thornton - Nude & Natural Publisher
MARGARET THORNTON started working at the Baxandall Co. in November 1971. “I was the first person Lee hired when he took over the business after the death of his father. Lee continued to run the business of selling marketing materials for propriety schools and colleges, but he had a lot of other interests as well, and started a quarterly magazine calledThe Green Mountain Quarterly. Each issue was devoted to a different topic; the fourth issue was about skinny-dipping and out of that grew what is now The Naturist Society.”
“Lee sold me on Naturism because he operated with the idea that it was a freedom people should have, that it was clothing-optional, and there was a choice involved. Whether someone chooses to exercise that freedom is up to them, but I feel strongly that they should have the right to decide.”
Margaret felt so strongly about the tenets of naturism that she became a partner in TNS in 2002. “I don’t understand why people are offended by something when they are not forced to be part of it. You may not like what occurs at a rock concert so you don’t go; you don’t try to shut down the concert.”
Michael Cooney - Nude & Natural Photographer
A special thank you to Michael Cooney for his generous donation of photographs for use in N magazine.
MICHAEL COONEY was not interviewed for this article, however if you would like to read more about Michael's adventures as a naturist photographer click HERE to read his profile as featured in 27.3 issue of Nude & Natural magazine.
Click HERE to view the photos taken by Michael and read the Naturist Odyssey in Quintana Roo article.
Click HERE to see additional photos taken by Michael.
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