Click to read about the best places to eat on campus, freshman packing tips, and how to keep in touch with friends.

Poker with a twist of paradise

Do you want to get naked?

If yes, then Paradise Lakes, a clothing-optional resort located in Lutz, has the event for you.Paradise Lakes invites all University of South Florida students 25 years of age and younger to a strip poker party and barbecue. Bulls in the Buff begins today at 3 p.m. with free admission to the resort.

Many young men on campus think the event is a great idea.

“$1.50 drafts? Yeah, I’m there,” said Morgan Landreth, a junior majoring in English. “I’m interested, actually. Poker and I are good friends.”

While the lure of cheap beer, free food and poker hooks the interest of many, young men such as Landreth had better plan on bringing a date; single men are not allowed. The event is only open to members of the resort, couples and single women.

“How does that benefit me if there are no guys?” asked Jada Tucker, a junior majoring in journalism. “I don’t understand. What are they encouraging or insinuating?”

According to Joe Lettelleir, the 59-year-old owner of Paradise Lakes, the resort tries to keep a balance between the number of single men and the number of single women.

“Curiosity seekers turn out to be gawkers,” Lettelleir said. “It makes it hard to be comfortable.”

The practice is common in the industry and is an attempt to make everyone feel at ease.

Unaccompanied men need to obtain a membership to attend events such as these.

“We don’t want prurient interests – and no gawking,” Lettelleir said.

Gwynn Miller, a junior majoring in history, thinks the rule is a good idea.

“I wouldn’t want to go to some clothing-optional club with a bunch of guys who just want to see me naked,” Miller said. “Going there would be an experiment, and I would want to feel comfortable experimenting.”

Miller said she would go to a resort such as Paradise Lakes to be free – not to meet guys.

“I wouldn’t want to meet a guy naked,” Miller said. “How awkward would that be?”Jasmin Goldstein, a freshman, said she is very comfortable being nude.

“I don’t mind at all,” she said. “We’re not supposed to wear clothes, anyway. That’s how we were made.”

Still, the nudity does make some students uncomfortable.

“If I had a boyfriend, I might consider it – but with clothes,” said Diana Lea, an international studies major. “The nudity puts me off.”

Rachael Baldwin, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, said: “I would probably be uncomfortable if I was the naked one, but I wouldn’t mind (going). I’d probably get a kick out of it.”She said she also thinks the no-unaccompanied-men rule is practical.

“I think it’s a good rule, because you could be getting some freaks in there, a lot of tacky men,” she said.

Gay couples are welcome, and the resort has a few gay members. Lettelleir said that the resort is happy to accommodate everyone but stresses that Paradise Lakes is not a gay club.

“They are held to a higher standard here,” Lettelleir said. “Women can hold hands and dance together, but men cannot. We don’t allow it.”

Miller is offended by the rule.

“It bothers me when two girls can get it on and it’s no big deal, but two guys can’t get it on and it’s a big deal,” Miller said. “I just think that if you can watch two girls get it on then you can watch two guys get it on.

“If you’re going to have one stereotype for one gender, you have to make it fair for the other gender as well,” she said.

The Oracle attempted to contact Lettelleir a second time for his reaction to these concerns, but the phones calls were not returned.

Kristy Lucas, a senior majoring in public relations, came up with the idea for the event and is interning at Paradise Lakes this semester. She said the goal is to introduce the resort to the younger generation.

“(The event) is not a sexual thing at all,” Lucas said. “No one judges you. It’s just a nice place to go and hang out.”

She said she hopes that the event will draw around 100 young people.

“Texas Hold’em is really popular,” she said. “We have a nude, clothing-optional twist to it.

“Some people are completely naked, some people are fully clothed, and everybody is just really open,” said Lucas. “You don’t have to be naked. Don’t feel like they’re going to take your clothes at the door.”

Guests are encouraged to wear as much – or as little – as they prefer.

Specials for the evening include draft beers for $1.50, a free barbecue and a strip poker tournament with prizes awarded to the winners. Paradise Lakes is also offering its poolside rooms, which normally run $84 for weekend nights, for only $40.

“We’re trying to prevent drunk driving,” said Lucas, referring to the special price for the accommodations. Her suggestion is to stay the night for the party and then “go skinny-dipping.”Lucas said that this event is just the kickoff for more events to come.

“Paradise Lakes has shuttle buses. They have a party bus we’ll be taking to Ybor,” Lucas said. “These are just some of the things we’ll be doing.”

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Paradise Lakes is one of five clothing-optional resorts in Pasco County, which is known as the “nudist capital of the United States.”

The Paradise Lakes Web site describes the resort as a “72-acre, luxury, clothing-optional resort, located just north of Tampa.” It was founded in 1981. Promotional material states that Paradise Lakes is North America’s largest clothing-optional resort with more than 4,500 members and 80,000 annual visitors. Others in the area include the 200-acre Lake Como Resort and a large, clothing-optional housing development called Caliente.

Amenities at Paradise Lakes include a large pool, Hemingway’s Restaurant, the Key West Bar and a nightclub called L’Attitudes. Also on site are the Lakeside Spa and Fitness Center, Salon Paradise and Paradise Lakes Boutique. The resort offers many accommodations that vary in size and price, as well as the renting and selling of on-site condominiums.

Bulls in the Buff is open to members of the resort and students under 25 years old. Admission to the resort and the barbecue is free. You must be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol and 18 years of age or older in the nightclub.