Attire-optional has been taken to a whole new level. New York City has been causing a stir this summer with its new no-clothing hot spots. With hundreds turning out to sport nothing but their birthday suits at these in-the-buff events, cities from Boston to LA are debating if they should follow suit.

So what are these latest take-it-off trends? And can baring all lead to better sex for you?

For the last couple of years, we’ve heard about nude yoga. Offered in major cities globally from Montreal to Sydney to London to Washington, these naked sessions are all about letting go, finding a deeper truth, and accepting the body as a temple. While a thrill for the occasional “peeping Tom” attendee, the turn-on for yogis has been about celebrating their spirit more than anything. Wildly popular, it’s only natural that other activities are daring you to disrobe too.

Restaurants, like the Mercantile Grill in Manhattan, are offering private, naked dining. (No worries, anybody who handles your food is required by law to remain clothed.) Comedy clubs, like the People’s Improv Theatre, are hosting events titled “Naked Comedy Showcase.” Companies are selling rental space for dinner parties with a strict no-dress rule. Organizations, like The Naturist Society, are sponsoring celebrations dubbed “Nude Recreation Week.”

And that’s not the half of it. Public nude or clothing-optional beaches, resorts, and retreats can be found worldwide, in places like France, Denmark, Jamaica, Brazil and Hawaii. Depending on the venue, you have the opportunity to do almost everything in the nude -- from hiking and kayaking to sailing and beach volleyball to swimming, sleeping, hot tubbing and whale watching. Nude holidays are among the world’s fastest growing vacation sectors.

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Given our society’s issues and rules with the nude form, many aren’t sure if they should be more “eeuwww” or “ooh la la” on these get-naked opportunities.

If it helps your comfort level, and in light of the current Olympics, consider that the ancient Greek athletes were active naturists. Human beings the world over and throughout time have loved taking their clothes off and living in their natural state. Today’s fun, relaxing -- and oft very chic (think Brigitte Bardot) -- nudist activities want us to embrace our original state of being.

So what are the benefits of naked ... anything?

Stripping down:

— Is the great equalizer. Everyone is “one” sans clothes.

— Cultivates body acceptance or a reclaiming of one’s form.

— Makes for a better tan.

— Let’s you truly feel the skin you’re in, especially during an enjoyable skinny dip.

— Is exhilarating, allowing one to celebrate their body.

Sounds great, huh? But before you drop your drawers to bask in the woods or hit the water, realize that there are rules to abide by (and these are just the major ones) ...

Do not engage in overt sexual activity. Nude isn’t lewd, so take your exhibitionism elsewhere. You must have a person’s consent to take photos. Gawking is impolite. Advances are unwelcome and unwanted. Get dressed before you leave. Know the law.

It can’t be stressed enough that nudist/naturist activities are not catalysts for sex parties or orgies. Yes, you may see someone who appears turned on, but this is not necessarily a sign of sexual arousal per se. And even if the individual is sexually aroused, he or she may not always realize it. The experiences naturist activities provide are meant to be transformative and empowering or natural and nonsexual in bringing you back to Mother Nature.

That is not to say, however, that taking the leap with one of these activities can’t boost your sex life. By being exposed in the rawest form, you can become more comfortable with your body -- more at ease in sharing it with your partner. These novel activities, especially when done with your lover, can heighten your sense of adventurism and conquests, making your naked selves feel sexier and more titillated in your own bedroom.

For those of you willing to go there, keep two things in mind: First, if you’re going to hang out at one of these venues, take the plunge. Take it all off, lest you’ll look silly for being the only one clothed -- plus risk getting labeled as a nuisance voyeur.

And second, don’t forget your clothes. You’ll eventually need to put them back on. Plus, leaving your clothes behind may lead to unnecessary worry. Read on:

Fearing that a couple had committed suicide or drowned, British authorities recently launched an $18,000 police search after finding two sets of clothes on an abandoned beach. They later learned that the clothes had been forgotten by yogis, out for a midnight yoga session on the beach.

In the Know Sex News …

Abstinence-Only Failing in Kentucky. The abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in Kentucky, which have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, have had gruesome results. The state’s teen birth rate is 19 percent higher than the national average, with a teen birth rate of 49.2 per 1,000 for females ages 15-19.

AIDS Takes Toll on Black Americans. If blacks in the United States were a nation, they would rank 16th in the world in the number of individuals living with AIDS, according to the Black AIDS Institute. Nearly 600,000 African-Americans are living with HIV in the U.S., with up to 30,000 more becoming infected every year. Experts say better education is needed, especially when it comes to teens.

Men in Vietnam Need More Sex Ed. According to the General Statistics Department, less than 11 percent of Vietnamese men participated in applying family planning methods last year. The rate of men using condoms is low at only 10.1 percent.

Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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