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In the News: Once reclusive nudists opening up to outside world
Posted on Sunday, October 15 @ 11:24:27 EDT
Topic: Nudist Info
Once reclusive nudists opening up to outside world
AccessNorthGa.com

The Associated Press - DAWSONVILLE, Ga.

Tucked away along a windy north Georgia lane, Dawsonville's nudist resort was once little more than a few RV sites circled around a foot-deep pond so secretive it was called "Hidden Valley."

Times are changing, and the little enclave where folks can bare it all is starting to bare itself to the outside world.

Neighbors and local business owners are now encouraged to stop by for a free visit at the 108-acre property, which was turned into a clothing-optional resort to encourage more visitors. Annual fundraisers for local charities draw hundreds of motorcycle bikers and joggers to its gates.

The new attitude is reflected right down to the name of the resort, which dropped the word "hidden" from its modest welcome sign three ...




years ago.

"We're no longer hiding," said Joe Lettelleir, owner of the newly-branded Paradise Valley Resort, who proved his point by taking a cross-country trip on a bus that dared onlookers to call a toll-free number for more information.

Once remote enclaves, nudist resorts are beginning to shed their secretive pasts. The rustic rural mom-and-pop nudist campgrounds scattered across the nation are being joined by glitzy resorts built alongside interstates and key highways. Today's resort owners are joining chambers of commerce, sponsoring charity drives and hosting civic events.

"Once upon a time, people built walls. And the feeling was we've got to have walls, we've got to be obscure," said Erich Schuttauf, executive director of the American Association for Nude Recreation.

"That really left people wondering what happens behind those walls. Folks didn't realize, it was basically just a club, what a swim and tennis club would resemble," he said. "When they began to open up to the community more, people realized that."

Owners regularly look to one of the oldest nudist spots, the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort and Spa in Kissimmee, Fla., as a pioneer of this openness.

For 20 years, the resort has hosted an annual July open house to welcome neighbors. More recently, it's sponsored a yearly chamber of commerce event and annual "Body of Art" show featuring about 25 artists and their nudist artwork.

"By opening up to the public, we demystify what we have," said Dean Hadley, the resort's manager. "A lot of people don't understand what this is all about. By demystifying it, people understand us better _ and people don't think we're a bunch of crackpots."

One way to do so, a group of residents at Tampa's Paradise Lakes Resort decided five years ago, was to form the world's first nudist Lions Club. Members meet twice a month at the resort's restaurant and raise more than $10,000 each year to buy eye care for the needy and give to blind charities.

"We've got to raise money from people who don't have pockets," laughed the civic group's 71-year-old president, Bob Moore. "But when it comes time to give us money, they go home and find the money!"

Massive construction projects also reflect the more open attitude. The sprawling Desert Shadows Inn Resort and Villas in Palm Springs, Calif., built a "Bridge of Thighs" that links two parts of the resort across a major road, serving as a very public reminder to passing drivers.

At Dawsonville's Paradise Valley, contractors are pounding away at the first phase of a $30 million project to construct 152 condos and 40 townhouses, mostly for residents of nearby towns looking for a scenic weekend getaway.

The resort's handful of full-time residents say their neighborhood offers what "textile" communities can't: A close-knit haven. Members gather each Saturday for theme parties at the Bare Cheeks Lodge. On weekends, the Valley's three pools are standing-room only, and the diner (motto: "No top, no shoes, no problem") is packed.

Neighbors not only know each other, but they share quirks, like Mr. Ed, a friendly orange cat that wanders from house to house, feeding on gourmet cat food and grilled salmon that residents prepare in advance for him.

Gary, the Valley's resident pastor, has married at least 25 couples, many who first met at the resort. Lounging shirtless on his couch, he recalls moving to the resort 10 years ago and never looking back.

"I've got safety, contentment and happiness," said Gary, who prefers not to use his last name. "And I've got naked people. Some pretty. Some not."

On The Net: paradisevalleyresorts.com


 
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