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See Paris, see nudists - and stay tuned

The Simple Life takes its cast to a nudist resort, where residents bare all, but button their lips.

Published March 25, 2004

Paris Hilton, top, and Nicole Richie donned French maid uniforms for their jobs at the resort.

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LAND O'LAKES - After breakfasting with friends Wednesday morning, John Mitchell strolled into his condominium, greeted his wife and experienced what many men only dream about: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie showering in his bathroom.

Nudity isn't exactly naughty where Mitchell lives - Pasco County's Caliente nudist resort - but even Mitchell was surprised he was sharing his soap with a pair of Hollywood celebutantes. And surprise turned to shock when the pair bounced into his kitchen wrapped in towels and teased the 69-year-old Navy veteran.

"They said, "How come you're still dressed?' " said Mitchell, who was Pasco County's Veteran of the Year in 2000.

By the time Mitchell had shucked his clothes, the damp-haired duo were saying their goodbyes and departing with two cameramen who had been filming them. They had a job to do at Caliente, supposedly serving as French maids to the resort's mostly naked clientele.

Such are the demands of reality television, circa 2004. The Tampa Bay area has been in a tizzy as Hilton and Richie film the second season of their show The Simple Life.

Hilton, an heir to the hotel fortune, and Richie, daughter of singer Lionel, are traveling the country, from Miami to Beverly Hills, in a pink pickup truck.

Stripped of their cash and credit cards, the pair are supposed to take odd jobs in small towns along the way. Episodes should air in the fall.

Filming last week at Weeki Wachee Springs and a ranch in Hernando County was disrupted when Hilton was pitched from a horse. TV crews descended on St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa to learn she had survived mostly unscathed.

Caliente, chock-full of nudists enjoying the warm spring weather, continued the show's fish-out-of-water premise.

On Wednesday, resort co-owner Tom Landers went through the motions of interviewing Hilton and Richie for jobs.

They were hired, and changed into French maid uniforms. Because the outfits appeared too long, someone snipped away material so the ladies could show more thigh. With two cameramen and a boom-mike operator in tow, they blended into the buff crowd.

The night before, the pair partied in the resort's nightclub till the wee hours and arrived at Mitchell's condo looking disheveled and tired. Adrienne Mitchell, John Mitchell's wife, was home alone when a knock came at the door.

"I thought it was a neighbor," Adrienne Mitchell said. "Nicole said, "We're down on our luck, and we need a place to shower.' "

After John Mitchell arrived, the pair emerged in their towels, asked for water and admired the couple's pet birds.

After Mitchell removed his clothes, camera crews filmed the retired sailor, with an American flag as backdrop.

The Mitchells learned extraordinary wealth doesn't always translate into extraordinary manners. Hilton and Richie left a sizable puddle on the bathroom floor.

In the wastebasket lay a silver necklace, with plastic pieces spelling "Punk Rock." The clasp had broken, but John Mitchell vowed to fix it.

Hilton and Richie were expected to spend the night at Caliente before resuming their road trip. After signing confidentiality agreements with the show's producers, Caliente staff wouldn't talk to reporters.

Mitchell was warned after talking with the St. Petersburg Times that the document he had signed included a nondisclosure clause. He had assumed the form merely gave his consent to be filmed.

Nevertheless, the couple's brush with celebrity left their building abuzz. "My neighbor said I should be honored they left the puddle," said Adrienne Mitchell, who joked about auctioning the towels on eBay.

Added John Mitchell: "Now everyone wants to come over to take a shower."

[Last modified March 25, 2004, 01:05:44]

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