Pasco County is home to the world’s . And it all started with one man's skin condition.
On April 25, 1941, he and his wife founded Lake Como Club, the county's first nudist resort.
As the saying goes, the rest is history.
To help celebrate the 71st anniversary of nudism in Pasco, Patch checked in with Pasco County nudist historian Lee Gregory to find out more about the naturist community's beginnings, challenges, and accomplishments.
Patch: How did the naturist movement in Pasco begin?
Lee Gregory: Avery Weaver Brubaker—AKA "Bru"— had a skin condition and was advised by his doctor to get some sun and relaxation. The doctor recommended joining a nudist club. Bru was skeptical at first, but his wife, Dorothy, talked him into going. They loved it, and during the late 1930s Bru and Dorothy invited friends to go skinny dipping on Gasparilla Island with them. The concept of a nudist resort was born as one big happy family. Bru was the son of a Pennsylvania Mennonite minister. Bru's wife, "Miss Dorothy," was a legal secretary and American Sunbathing Association 1963 Woman of the Year. Together they created the Florida Athletic and Health Association/Lake Como Club on April 25, 1941, in Lutz for the promotion of outdoor health activities of members. From Lake Como Club sprang many of the naturist resorts and communities which exist today, numbering 12 here in Pasco County.
Patch: Who were the most notable people in the beginning and why?
Lee Gregory: Avery Weaver Brubaker, "Bru," founder of the Lake Como Club, the first naturist resort in Florida. Dorothy Brubaker, owner and strong leader of Lake Como until the 1990s. She believed in one big happy family as the theme motto to run things by. Arthur Cotterill— AKA “Cot” —defied a state law that required nudists to apply for county permits, submit to fingerprinting, list prior criminal convictions, provide character references and give the names of the applicant’s immediate family. The cost to the club was $4,000. Cot went to jail to protest this law. The Florida Supreme Court quickly overturned the law in 1962.
There are many names— my archives are very detailed on what people have done over the years from many different places.
Also the influence of national organizations like ASA, AANR and TNS that keep the nudist resorts to good standards of behavior as it is today at Lake Como Family Nudist Resort and other communities.
Patch: What challenges did naturists face as the community began to evolve in the early days?
Lee Gregory: We started clubs and failed clubs and people went to jail to stand up for their rights to be naked in their own spaces. Growth and change is always hard for any group and nudists are the same as everyone else. The change from being owned by a single proprietorship and now owned by a co-op who needs to get along and get the job of the business done is always hard. We do get the job done and even grow in the meantime.
Nudism tourism is growing and the resorts and communities of Pasco County are stepping up to the plate and building more RV spaces, condos and houses to accommodate all the new people from all over the country and beyond coming here to spend money. The wonderful thing is now our naturist spaces are protected so we can feel free and we do.
Patch: What do you think is the naturist community's greatest accomplishment in the past 10 years?
Lee Gregory: The realization that naturists can speak as a group and give back to the community in very large ways. We have donated 254 units of blood in Pasco County from nudists in the past three years. We donated thousands of dollars to needy children during the holidays. Naturists spend a lot of money and add lots of value to the local economy. We are showing the county what we can accomplish as a whole group by raising money for needy projects.
With the PANDA organization, we are advertising and showing European nudists the kind of choices they have here in Pasco County and the county is responding by recognizing the 71 years of nudist business. The Europeans are looking at us with great interest. There are 19 million registered nudists in the European countries we are advertizing to. We plan to bring jobs and tourist dollars to Pasco County. You can learn more about the organization's efforts at the PANDA website.