Paul Winer, Quartzsite’s ‘naked bookseller’, dies

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.


  1. Blake Brintz

    Weenie man passed away.

  2. Rick Spurgeon

    Kelli’s favorite place there…????

  3. Ray Cornelius

    Marilee Cornelius and I bought many books from him. His music was great.

  4. Ambrose Buford

    The book he sell was best in Quartzsite do to his caring and freedom.

  5. Laurie Cotten

    Rest in paradise Paul ????

  6. Debra Vitali

    Met him once years ago when I lived in Parker. Very unique individual. Sad to hear of his passing????

  7. Carol Wilson

    Beyond sad. Quartzsite will never be quite the same. RIP Paul.

  8. Gayle Prentice

    We lost a very important guy from our community today, smart, passionate, kind, talented, and friend, God Speed Paul, it was our pleasure to have known you,.❤ JoAnne, we are with you ????????????????????????

  9. Julie Munson

    This world has lost a truly unique individual. He will be missed.

  10. Angelina Castro

    Regina Baldenegro awwwww

  11. Anthony Lane

    Blake Brintz damn he was a legend haha

  12. Jill Brintz Lane

    Who knew?! Wow!!
    Sad to hear of his passing.

  13. Melanie Sarino

    Rest in peace, sir! I visited your bookstore several times and you were so intelligent, kind and compassionate. Condolences to your family.

  14. Ron & Ann Lazenby


    Paul was unique. We are honored to have known him.

  15. A wonderful man, and. great musician! I was honored to have him play at my club, on his last tour, to his old stompimg grounds “Salisbury Beach” Massachusetts! Wearing only his pouch, he thrilled the Beach crowd , 2 summers ago! May God bless him…

  16. Rest in peace Sweet Pie. You were a legend and will live on in our memories

  17. Sad to hear of the passing of “Sweet Pie”. In 1970-ish, I drove 104 miles round trip to Springfield, MA on a work night to hear him play his honky tonk piano and see his loose fitting loincloth flap in the breeze as he bounced around on his piano bench. He had such an entertaining show, was a great songwriter, and a piano playing style reminiscent of Chico Marx. He always cracked me up and I still treasure my Sweet Pie album that I almost sent to Jay Leno when he mentioned “Pie” on The Tonight Show one night. Glad I didn’t.
    Now you are free! R.I.P.

  18. Paul has been part of my family since 1979.. He would spend his Sundays with us always entertaining with his wild stories and he had many.. I also got the pleasure of booking him in Canada and meeting his wife and daughter.. We lost touch for almost 25 yrs but I tracked him down and I was able to visit him in the hospital in Yuma.. He wanted me to hear his newest songs and I had the pleasure of having my very own show. Our family is very sad of his passing and we are sure he is tickling the ivories with the angels and naked too.. May God Bless you.. Always in my heart.. The entertainment world has lost one hell of a great entertainer.

  19. An Icon has passed, and will be missed. A good entertainer. He and his wife did much for the community.

  20. Met Paul on our first trip to Arizona, went to every concert for all the years we went south , visited his bookstore ,helped serve food at the annual picnic at Cecilia’s Rainbow Gardens , he and Joanne were strong suppers of Quartzite !! I am so happy that we got to meet these amazing people! Loved to hear Paul play and sing , a natural entertainer , Paul will be missed ! My husband and I send our condolences to Joanne .???? The Shewans from Vancouver Island

  21. Paul put on the best concerts! We will truly miss him!

  22. I knew Paul shortly after moving to Quartzsite in 2001. I was very impressed with his shop, his love of books and people. He was the conversationalist, and an even better storyteller. I had the pleasure of visiting a Vermont country store with him when he read to a meeting of Rotary from his own work. I also felt closer to Joanne and Paul when visiting Celia’s Garden. Many were the contributions from Paul, not the least of which was his ability to put weary travelers at ease, welcoming them to his shop and to Quartzsite. I will never forget his kind heart and his thorough idealism. A refreshingly unique individual. I hope your sorrows and struggles are long forgotten now, Paul. And I am enjoying your lost tapes CD! Thank you!

  23. What a sweet and gentle man. Great bookstore.

  24. Richard Reschenthaler

    Visiting from cold Edmonton Canada in March. My friend in Parker Arizona brought me to his store. Right away Paul and his wife were super friendly. He performed a great song called Drinking hits the spot and I made a video of it. It’s a cherished memory. Rest in Peace

  25. Stopped to see Paul last week and was shocked to find out he had passed on. We had great talks over the years. I usually found something counter cultural to buy. I still have the board game “Weed” that I purchased from him a number of years ago.
    Rest in peace old friend.

  26. Paul played at my College in Maine. We booked him in the coffee house.

  27. I met Sweet Pie while in college in Burlington, Vt in 1970. He was late night DJ at UVM radio station. I was high as a kite and heard music coming from a building on campus at 3 AM and went up to the room it was coming from and there was Paul in an Indian mirror print dress. We became good friends. On his 1rst album, he paid tribute to me on the back thanking me for my help; I stuffed his pipe full of hashish.durring the live recording.
    I was telling someone about him this past Thanksgiving and went on line to see what he was up to and found out he had died. He was one if a kind and will be missed

  28. I met Sweet Pie back in 1973 at Yale Univ. and was blown away by the man, the piano player and the character… He’ll be remembered by everyone he met… Thanks Paul… Thank you.

  29. I met Paul in 2002 by accident during a road trip through the desert when I stopped in at the bookstore. What an interesting person!!. I stopped by there in April 2019 and couldn’t find him (the store was locked but there were books outside, as if someone was there recently). I guess I barely missed him, and I wish I could visit one more time.

    I don’t know who’s running the store now, but I’ll be there October 9th 2020.

  30. I saw Sweetpie with my friend Paul in a little pub on Staniford Street in Boston in the early 70’s. He sure could play a piano and was humorous.

  31. I met Pie in the early 70.s in Wilmington, Vermont at a club called “Fat City”. He inspired me to teach myself boogie woogie piano. Sorry to hear of his passing.

  32. Rickey Boggiatto

    Saw Paul 3 years ago and we reminisced about him playing at the beach in Salisbury Massachusetts. I bought his piano bag and a dvd if him playing. That’s all any of us have is memories
    You will be missed my friend. You are now with your daughter

  33. Goodbye, Sweet Pie! Today learned of your passing when researching the RV show, making early plans for 2022. I well remember Friday night after work with the toolroom guys at the Blue Moon – beer, burgers, pool and you on stage in the background. You put on a great, if “somewhat indecent” show. Your piano boogie-woogie was the best.


  35. Nada & Laird D.

    Back a few years ago my hubby & I were brought to Paul’s Bookstore in Q with our Az friends from Salome. I was far warned of his Scantly dressed up ways but was Not Prepared for the Most Interesting Gentleman that he was. Today we were talking of him to a friend & I brought up his store in Q on my phone. That was when I read of his passing of last May. ????
    Thank You Paul for your Very Interesting conversation and Mini Concert you gave us. Your Music Education & Concert stories were Very Unique just like yourself. I’m So Glad I purchased 1 of your CD’s that day & Got photos with you. Such a Pleasure & Knowledgeable man You were ! Today I used the Bread cookbook I bought from your store unbeknown of your passing until later on.. You Are Sadly Missed by The Many who’s paths met yours & are better for it I’m sure with their Own Memories & Conversations.

  36. A little insight to Paul’s background…….Paul was my 1st cousin…He was born in Hawaii and I in Massachusetts (6 hours apart)……We both graduated from Lynn English High School…..His love was piano and he copied the style of Little Richard and Fats Domino and his second love was poetry.

    His first marriage was to a girl named Lassie and they both lived in Cabot Vermont where Paul published his first book pf poems “The Keeper’s Hill.” This book was published by the Cabot Press in 1965. If you are able to obtain a copy of his poems, I am sure you will appreciate his reflections of rural life even in the 60’s. There were only 400 copies published of which I have number 219.

    He was indeed the most unique and talented person one could meet in their lifetime.

    Rest In Peace my dear cousin.

  37. I’ll always remember this man. I still pull up his music on my Ipod.He had so many stories and intelligent conversation. I went with my roommate Manasha Bilsey to a bar on Millbury street Worcester Ma It was one hopping place once that g-string sat down on that upright piano bench. I’ll never forget him staying at our place after the show. I think we stayed up all night talking. You’ll never forget him if you met him. RIP my friend

  38. oh how sad is that .yes I met him I think the first time about 20 years ago . driving grandma ( tiny)/ back up north from Yuma we stopped in , I did get a picture with him then but unfortunately I lost it but, I was able to come back through another time and see him again and I believe maybe it was 2012 , and got another picture which I do still have to stay put away I’m going to have to find it , maybe I’ll post it on here or Facebook or something , I bought every Ann Rule book that he had, that I hadn’t Read yet. I mean what a banging body For.75 though . and I just want to say thank you for Paving the way for the male strippers . may he rest in peace

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