Sunday Conversation: Fred Everson, controller Emerald Lake nude resort
pMontgomery County is home to many cool places, sites and events, but in one corner of the county about 20 minutes from the heart of The Woodlands is a little known resort where visitors shed their clothes and enjoy the Southeast Texas sun and warm temperatures au naturel—Emerald Lake Naturist Resort and RV Park.
In operation for more than 20 years, Emerald Lake is a family-friendly, nudist resort affiliated with both the American Association of Nude Recreation (AANR) as well as Wisconsin-based The Naturist Society. One of eight nudist resorts or clubs in Texas, Emerald Lake has a devoted membership hailing from all over the Greater Houston Region and also welcomes visitors and “snowbirds” from far flung locales such as Montana, Canada and the Upper Midwest.
Fred Everson, controller and manager of Emerald Lake, sat down with The Villager for our Sunday conversation which coincides with the celebration of Nude Recreation Week (July 9-15th) at beaches, lakes and resorts across America.
Everson said one of the biggest myths facing nudism is a perceived connection to sexuality, which is not accurate. Emerald Lake has a strict behavior policy and is considered family friendly, important tenets required of any resort affiliated with AANR or The Naturist Society. Those who visit the resort enjoy the freedom of not wearing clothes and range from young adults to retired folks.
The resort has 30 full-time residents, about 15 part-time residents and is visited by hundreds of tourists each week during the peak months of May through September—primarily visiting from Friday through Sunday. The resort is 25 acres in size, with the lake occupying about 10 acres. There is a small bed and breakfast with four rooms, a swimming pool, hot tub, a gaming room, a palapa and a bar. There are several dozen RV spots with electrical connections and scores of camp sites - both rustic and refined. Visitors can ride Jetskis around the lake, use the paddle boats or kayaks or just lounge on the small sand beach.
QUESTION: How did you become involved in nudism and find yourself managing a nudist resort?
EVERSON: I got here in 2013, and I know it was in operation about 10 years before then. I heard it was a really beautiful place. As soon as I found out it was under new management in 2013, I said, ‘I’ve got to check this place out.’ The thing I like about living here it, it is like a neighborhood of back in the 1950s. In the ’50s, you knew everyone who lived on your street. Nowadays, if you live in an apartment building you seldom even know the people living next door to you. There is a community aspect here, there is a lot of volunteerism, if something needs to be done around the clubhouse, people will pitch in. I got started in nudism when my girlfriend took me to a beach in New England. For the first five minutes, I was nervous, but then some of her friends came over and invited us to play volleyball.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the history of Emerald Lake a bit; when was it founded and how has the resort changed over the years?
EVERSON: A lot of people know of it, but not where it is. That is maybe one of the reasons were a bit more tolerated—we don’t make a big deal of it. The owner has spent a lot of money sprucing this place up since he bought it. The resort has been around for at least 20 years. The lake was formerly a gravel pit when TxDOT built Highway 59; when they were done, it filled up with natural spring water.
QUESTION: What is the biggest misconception about nudism? How do you educate people on what nudism really is and what it involves?
EVERSON: Some people equate nudity with sexuality, and that is not the case. In face, in most nudist (resorts) most people are more prudish than in a (clothed) campground. (Nudism) Is sensual, but not sexual. We have very strict rules (on behavior), we have complaint procedures—you can get warnings or tossed out forever depending on the behavior.
QUESTION: The resort name has “naturist” in it, which is another word used for nudism. Is there a difference between naturism and nudism, or are they synonomous?
EVERRSON: Naturism is more for people who like to be nude on public lands. Nudists tend to congregate more inside fences where they feel safer and more secluded. The naturists are more into the “natural” aspect, so to speak. It is real subtle differences; some people are both and some people are just one or the other.
QUESTION: There is a growing movement of body positivity and acceptance of diverse body shapes and sizes going on in America; does nudism play a role in that? If so, how?
EVERSON: Nudism has a lot to do with having a positive body image. There is even a group—WINR (Women in Nude Recreation)—that is specifically devoted to (body positivity). A lot of women are very sensitive about their body issues. I hate to use this slang, but if you put 10 pounds of dirt in 5-pound bag, that is kind of like (wearing) a swimsuit. A woman looks a little smaller when she is nude, and people don’t notice as much because everyone is nude and are all sizes and shapes. Sure, we have a couple of “Barbies and Kens” here, but they are few and far between. Most people you meet look like anyone on the street. People get a lot more comfortable with themselves when they see someone who looks like them. You get the full spectrum here of the sizes and shapes (of human bodies), and everyone is respectful. There is no ogling.
QUESTION: What are guidelines or proper, respectful nudism on public lands—like skinnydipping at secluded pond or a remote beach?
EVERSON: A lot depends on the state (you’re in), Vermont (for example) does not arrest anyone for (simply) being nude. Galveston has a section of beach which has a nude section, you can drive there in a four-wheel drive. It is more tolerated than legal. It is common sense…if you get to a section of beach that is remote, off the beaten path, as long as there are no families there ahead of you, you’re probably not going to be bothered. If you do (sunbathe nude), keep a towel handy and cover up if necessary. Be respectful.
QUESTION: Texas has the third most nudist resorts or clubs of any state in the country behind only California and Florida; is there a particular reason why nudism is so popular in a state most view as conservative?
EVERSON: (The) Climate…most of the clubs in Texas are open year-round. People call and ask me what the weather is like here, I tell them, “It is August about eight months a year, then September for two months and December-like for two months.” From a political standpoint, I think Texas tends to be like how America was in the mid-1800s—more libertarian that straight Democratic or Republican. We have laws and such, but we’re not going to micro-manager your life. It’s more of a live and let live attitude (in Texas).
QUESTION: The only fully legal nude beach in Texas is in Austin—Hippie Hollow. The beach is part of the Travis County public parks system; do you see that model being copied anywhere else in Texas in the future?
EVERSON: It is actually run by the county. I’d like to see it (modeled elsewhere). It is the only park in Travis County where they charge a premium (fee) to get in. Hippie Hollow (user fees) subsidizes a lot (of the Travis County) parks system. I don’t see any reason why they (couldn’t) do it elsewhere. It is policed, they are checking it out regularly. Dallas would be a great place (for a similar) beach with all those lakes.
QUESTION: Without going into too much detail for privacy, who are your normal patrons and members?
EVERSON: We’re more representative of the general population. People have all different reasons for why (they are a nudist), for most of them it is about comfort and it is a great equalizer—you can’t tell if someone makes $100,000 a year or $15,000 because you’re nude. A lot of nudists tend to be computer programmers or work from home. I’d say 70 percent of our visitors live within a two-hour radius. In the winter-time, we tend to get a lot of Canadians and people from Montana. There is a (nudist club) in Houston (Healthy Hides of Houston), they are “unlanded” which means they don’t have land, they travel around, and sometimes host events here.
QUESTION: What does the future hold for Emerald Lake?
EVERSON: We are still growing, still looking for ideas. The owner is pondering expanding (the resort).