Narrator: It’s Christmas time… in Florida… a time when neighbors get together to share some holiday cheer. But at this Christmas party, some might say they share too much.
Woman: Frank’s already naked.
Narrator: Marion Higgins doesn’t worry that her guests are stripping – all the way down. In fact, she encourages it.
Marion: First of all, get comfortable.
Narrator: Like most of them, Marion lives here because she doesn’t want to wear clothes. And she doesn’t expect others to wear them either.
Marion: I live nude. I sleep nude. I go to the restaurant, I go visiting, the neighbors, my friends… Whatever I do in this community is nude.
Narrator: Marion lives in Lake Como, a place where clothing isn’t just optional, it’s actually discouraged. Lake Como is one of more than 250 private clubs in North America where nudists can enjoy their favorite pastimes in their favorite state—buck naked. In some places here, they are even required to. But there’s more to it than skinny dipping.
Woman: Any work that I do—anything.
Santa man: It’s more like a religion to me, more than anything.
Woman: We do our housework in the nude, clean the cars in the nude.
Lee: We will be nude as often as we can to enjoy that activity—whatever activity that is.
Narrator: Even if that activity is one few would try wearing protective gear.
Gerald: I’m hoping to see an alligator down in this area.
Narrator: But if you’re like Gerald Petroff—and want to live your life naked—the only way to do it is to live a life apart. In order to spend their lives without clothes, nudists must form their own communities—and keep them well out of sight.
Man: We have 200 acres, with swamps, forests surrounding us. And areas where we don’t, we have a fence…to separate us from the neighbors.
Shawn: Good evening, Lake Como. Shawn speaking.
Narrator: This isolation works two ways: it protects nude residents from prying eyes, and neighbors from any unwanted exposure.
Shawn: We are not clothing optional.
Narrator: Set apart from what they call “the textile world,” the people of Lake Como create a tight-knit community of their own.
Gerard: I think nudist communities are very much communities, almost extended family. Everybody tends to know everybody.
Narrator: But like any group of outcasts, they’re cautious about outsiders.
Gerard: We pay attention to who we admit. We don’t want to admit into our group people that really are inappropriate—voyeurs, or, or people that are here for the wrong reasons.
Man: We do a criminal background check on new members as well as a reference check. And if we have any doubts about them we don’t allow them admittance.
Narrator: Newcomers are also watched closely and schooled in the taboos unique to this society.
Marion: We teach them no gawking, no inappropriate behavior and no touching.
Man: With children, we have a zero tolerance. If an adult spends too much time even talking to kids, that person’s asked to leave.
Man, VO: Drinks, cookies, bug spray!
Narrator: The people of Lake Como know that their chances of winning over the textile world are slim.
Marion: If they just accepted us for who we are and forget what we’re wearing or not wearing, I think that would be a nicer world, but I know that’ll never happen.
Narrator: Until it does, they are happy finding refuge in their life apart.
Marion: When my children and my grandchildren come and we walk around nude, I am so proud. My heart sometimes feels like it’s going to burst.