One of the town of Quartzsite’s most noted residents, Paul Winer, has died in his sleep after a lengthy illness at the age of 75.
Winer was well known as the much-loved owner of the Reader’s Oasis bookstore, who would usually be seen in the nude with just a little ‘pouch’ for modesty. As ‘Sweet Pie’, he was also a boogie-woogie piano player and possibly the first legally nude performer in the United States.
They don’t come much more unique than Paul. As a rebellious child, he took to wearing as little as possible, and had a penchant for the outrageous as he took to van life in the 60s and 70s.
Wearing only his long hippie hair and beard, he would travel as the ‘First Male Stripper’ to venue after venue, performing from the piano, doing comedy, singing obscenities and showing everything – literally – to his audiences from the stage.
Contains repeated, graphic nudity and strong language. Viewer discretion advised.
This often got him into trouble. Winer challenged state obscenity laws, claiming to have won 68 court cases against him, including a lengthy federal case in Vermont in which he was backed by the ACLU and which paved the way for nudity in performance in the United States. Male stripping emerged shortly thereafter.
When Winer became a parent, he settled in Quartzsite, where he sold books and t-shirts at the famous flea markets. He’s been there for the better part of 30 years now, with a sprawling 180,000+ title bookstore, including space carved out in the middle for his piano. Lucky visitors to the Oasis Bookstore could be treated to a boogie-woogie performance by Paul, and thousands of them left with photos taken next to him.
In the last year, Winer’s health took several turns for the worst after cancer, according to the Desert Messenger. Messages of condolence poured into Quartzsite on social media from the town’s many visitors, who recognize Winer as a staple of the town who fit in perfectly.