Sandstone Retreat

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Sandstone
Intentional Community
Nickname(s): Sandstone Ranch
Sandstone is located in Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Sandstone
Sandstone
Location within Los Angeles County
Coordinates: 34°4′3″N 118°37′20″W / 34.06750°N 118.62222°W / 34.06750; -118.62222Coordinates: 34°4′3″N 118°37′20″W / 34.06750°N 118.62222°W / 34.06750; -118.62222
Country  United States
State  California
County Los Angeles
Establish 1969
Founded by John and Barbara Williamson
Area
 • Total 6 ha (15 acres)
Elevation 519 m (1,702 ft)
Time zone Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

Sandstone Retreat was a clothing-optional, open sexuality resort for swingers located at Sandstone Ranch, a 15-acre (6.1 ha) estate in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu and the Pacific Ocean.

The community’s beginnings are based on the philosophical ideals of John (July 31, 1932 – March 24, 2013)[1] and Barbara Williamson. John was an engineer by training, and a former project manager with Lockheed Aircraft who worked on the design and management of missile support systems, including development of the Polaris missile.[2] In the early 1960s, he opened his own electronics company, but later sold it to purchase the property at 21400 Saddle Peak Road, a cluster of well-maintained buildings on a 15-acre hilltop site in Topanga Canyon in 1968,[3] and founded the Sandstone Foundation for Community Systems Research, Inc. in 1969.[2] Barbara Williamson, née Cramer, was a former insurance sales representative[4] who had met and married her husband in 1966.[2] The Williamsons believed their venture was about exchanging partners for sex and setting society free,[1] and that monogamy was sexually unsatisfactory and preventing people having full lives.[5]

The retreat offered members and guests over the age of 18 the resources of a spa with the addition of several large open communal sleeping areas, both indoor and outdoor, and communal bathrooms. Prospective members were interviewed on a daytime visit to determine suitability.[6]

The retreat was managed by a residential community consisting of up to 20 persons, a self-selective job. At its height in the late 1970s, it welcomed such members as Daniel Ellsberg, Anthony Russo, Betty Dodson, Max Lerner, and Dr. Alex Comfort, as well as a variety of major and minor Hollywood celebrities, educators, attorneys and just ordinary folk.[7] The Williamsons sold the resort in 1973; reputedly never profitable, it finally closed in 1976.[2]

The retreat was the subject of a documentary called Sandstone (1975). It is mentioned in the 1973 edition of More Joy of Sex, by Dr. Alex Comfort (it was omitted from later editions),[8] and treated in the book Thy Neighbor's Wife (1980) by American author Gay Talese, who first set foot in Sandstone in 1971[1] as part of his preparations for writing, and lived at the retreat for several months.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c William Yardley "John Williamson, Co-Founder of the Sandstone Retreat, Dies at 80", New York Times, 4 May 2013
  2. ^ a b c d Obituaruy: John Williamson, telegraph.co.uk, 30 May 2013
  3. ^ Kevin Roderick & AP "John Williamson, founder of Sandstone nudist and sex retreat was 80", LA Observed, 3 May 2013
  4. ^ Ferderber, Skip: Times Staff Writer (April 6, 1972). Los Angeles Times, ed. "Sandstone: Close-up of a Unique Life-style". John Williamson at Homestead. 
  5. ^ "John Williamson: Free-love pioneer", The Independent, 8 May 2013
  6. ^ Hatfield, Tom; Rimmer, Robert H (December 12, 1988). Sandstone Experience (in English). Random House Crown. p. 184. ASIN 0517518791. ISBN 978-0517518793. OCLC 1176055. 
  7. ^ Richler, Mordecai (April 28, 1980). New York Magazine, ed. "Thy Neighbor's Wife (Book Review)". Bad Vibrations. Google Books. pp. 46,48,49. 
  8. ^ Comfort, Alex; Raymond, Charles; Foss, Christopher (1974). More Joy of Sex - A Lovemaking Companion To The Joy Of Sex (in English). Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 159-167. ASIN B000FMOPMC. ISBN 978-0671221249. OCLC 43004433. 
  9. ^ Frayser, Suzanne G; Whitby, Thomas J (June 15, 1995). Studies in Human Sexuality: A Selected Guide (in English). Libraries Unlimited. p. 663-664. ASIN 1563081318. ISBN 978-1563081316. OCLC 246859790. 

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