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Nudist resort enjoys the public spotlight

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 9, 2003

LAND O'LAKES -- You couldn't pay to get that kind of decent national exposure.

There on the screen was Paradise Lakes nudist resort bartender Chris Jacobsen. On national television, warbling on a Karaoke machine.

He was naked, of course. The naughty bits were blocked out for the prime time audience of Fox TV's The Pulse national news magazine program.

"Chris!" the Thursday night crowd crowed at Paradise's L'Attitudes night club, where Jacobsen was pouring beers, gin and tonics and bourbons.

Later Jim Carpentier appeared. He's vice president of the Lion's Club and a middle-aged retired Army staff sergeant. On screen he was wearing his yellow Lion's vest. But little else.

"Jim!" the crowd yelped.

The jovial nightclubbers at L'Attitudes were nothing if not supportive of their friends' 15 minutes of trouser-less fame.

"You're famous!" joked a male nudist who approached Carpentier at his seat on the corner of the bar. "Nice to know you."

Fox took a light-hearted look at Paradise, comparing it to a rustic nudist campground near Naples called Southern Exposure.

Paradise acquitted itself well as an upscale destination in the nudist world. Its 80,000 annual visitors make it one of the world's most popular nudist resorts.

In addition to the Karaoke, the producers crammed the show with scenes of manicures, body toning at the health spa, tennis and night clubbing. Film crews descended on the Land O'Lakes resort in early February.

To the Swinging Sixties soundtrack of the Austin Powers comedies, Fox jokingly placed objects, including a fuzzy TV microphone, in front of people's privates.

Nudists said the program confirms that nudism has lost much of its stigma from its volleyball-in-the-buff days.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, most Paradise guests approached by the media would have withheld their last names. Now they proudly disrobe on national TV.

"We have no double life. My whole family's been down here," said ex-Chicagoan Joe Adamik, drinking and cheering in L'Attitude's bar as his wife, Sandra, sang Karaoke on Fox.

Shortly before 10 p.m., with The Pulse host Shepard Smith announcing "safe to look up now," the segment ended to applause.

The DJ's music thumped back to life. The crowd, many wearing lingerie or tropical wear, drifted back to the dance floor. Disco lights painted colored patterns on sandaled feet.

Carpentier ordered another round of bourbon and Coke and lit a cigarette. Jacobsen hosed Coke and tonic water and club soda into ice-filled cups.

"Every day's a holiday here," Jacobsen said as he mixed drinks next to a topless female bartender. "It's a dream job."

-- James Thorner covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4613. His e-mail address is thorner@sptimes.com.

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