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Nude Pageant

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A family-oriented nudist resort in Roselawn, Indiana, the Ponderosa Sun Club offers camping, swimming, tennis, volleyball, horseshoes, and shuffleboard on its 88 wooded acres. Visitors must follow a strict set of rules and maintain decorum. Clothing is prohibited. So are cameras. "A public erection is not acceptable," according to the club's Web page, which also assures nervous would-be nudists, "You are judged by your personality--not by your body."

But twice a year, on the third Sunday of July and then August, the club breaks its own rules. Out go the kids. In come the cameras. Clothing becomes optional. Bodies are conspicuously judged. And while public erections remain verboten, who's going to complain at an event called Nudes-A-Poppin?

Scarlett Schmitt-Cox, whose family founded the club 35 years ago, describes the event as a "nude beauty pageant." Visitors pay $40 for the privilege of photographing, videotaping, and ogling competitors for such titles as Miss Nude North American, Miss Nude Entertainer of the Year, Best Breasts, Miss Hot Legs, and Miss Hot Buns. (Men also compete, but in fewer numbers and categories). Winners take home trophies and prize money. Anyone can enter, but many work as erotic dancers. "The more titles they get," says Schmitt-Cox, "the more money they make and the more it helps their career."

The Nudes-A-Poppin held in August, shown here, drew 107 female contestants, 50 male contestants, and about 6,000 gawkers. Porn industry celebs in attendance included Ron Jeremy, Adara Michaels, and Houston. One visitor from Chicago noted that many club members had donned clothes for the event. "Because of the cameras," says Schmitt-Cox. "A lot of people who are nudists wouldn't want their pictures all over."

--Tori Marlan

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Marty Perez.

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