Nudist resort basks in publicity
By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
LAND O'LAKES -- Hot off a positive story in the Wall Street Journal, Paradise Lakes, Pasco County's mecca for globe-trotting nudists, stars this week on a national Fox-TV news program.
A camera crew representing The Pulse, Fox's 60 Minutes-style news magazine, wrapped up its filming on a cold Saturday in early February.
It wasn't the most fitting day for frolicking nude, but enough hardy souls turned out at the heated pools to provide film fodder.
The show includes interviews with Paradise Lakes guests and co-owner Joseph Lettelleir and airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursday on Tampa Bay area affiliate WTVT-Ch.13.
After years of relative obscurity -- at least outside the close-knit nudist world -- Paradise has leapt into the spotlight.
The Jan. 17 story on the front of the B-section in the Wall Street Journal, the country's second most widely circulated newspaper, noted the affluence of many visitors to Paradise.
The resort attracts an estimated 75,000 customers a year to its walled compound on Brinson Road west of U.S. 41. It prides itself on its upscale accommodations, including a health spa, restaurant, five swimming pools and night club.
Inspired by the Journal, The Pulse hammered a similar theme, that nudism extends beyond mom-and-pop campgrounds stocked with countercultural coots. The segment's title when it airs Thursday is "It ain't your parents' nudist colony."
"Nudism no longer means hippies in fields in sleeping bags around a bonfire," said Deb Bowen, Paradise's marketing director.
In fact, when Fox filmed at the resort, the clientele was warned in case they didn't want their posteriors preserved on tape.
"Everyone was very cooperative," Bowen said. "We do have lots of doctors, attorneys and politicians who do come here."
With such national print and broadcast exposure, Lettelleir basks in the glory. About five nationally circulated magazines, including one devoted to conventioneers, have inquired about articles.
A big airline -- Lettelleir wouldn't give the name -- is considering using Paradise in a promotion touting Florida destinations.
"It's good for Pasco County, good for the overall community and good for us," Lettelleir said.
-James Thorner can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4613. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
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