Long-time Quartzsite resident Paul Winer died the evening of May 7 at his home. He was 75 years old.
Winer was best known as the owner of Reader’s Oasis Books in Quartzsite, where he gained notoriety as the “naked bookseller.” He was also a professional entertainer and musician. He was even an artist, drawing a comic strip on local events entitled “As the Crow Flies.”
Paul and his wife, Joanne, were also involved in community affairs. Tributes to him have been made on social media, with many people stating he will be missed.
Winer was a larger-than-life character in the small La Paz County town of Quartzsite. Also known as Sweet Pie, Winer could often be found walking around town nearly nude. He told his story to Someplace Magazine, an online journal, in 2015.
"I've been naked in public now for 55 years," he told them. "I went to a nudist park once — my whole life I’ve only been to a nudist resort or park once — and decided that is not where I belong. I’d rather be where there’s a variety to people. Once everybody is naked, it’s the same as wearing a uniform. They only talk about why they’re naked, where they go naked, who they’ve met naked, where they’re going next to be naked. I find that quite boring. It’s like going to a tailgate party before a football game — all people talk about is football. Naked is just the way I’m dressed."
The website said Winer performed as a musician in the 1960s, playing boogie-woogie and blues piano as well as performing comedy routines. He moved to Quartzsite with his wife and daughter two decades ago so that his daughter could be closer to her grandparents.
In 1995, at the age of 8, his daughter, Celia, died of a viral heart infection, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Winers created Celia’s Rainbow Gardens in Quartzsite Town Park in memory of her. The Quartzsite community has contributed much to it over the years, and visitors have come to it from all over the country. Many visitors state they find the gardens very peaceful and comforting, which is what the Winers intended.
Winer said he stayed in Quartzsite because the "town was so good to us."