Skinny Dipping

Go Jump in the Nake

Just in time for National Nude Day (July 14), we take a trip to Emerald Lake, also known as Houston’s only nudist beach.

By Catherine Matusow July 9, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Image: Shutterstock

If you’d been at the Emerald Lake Resort on, say, a sunny Friday this past May, you might have found us thrilling to a white heron flying by the Kingwood area establishment, even as we soaked away our stress in the hot tub. You would have enjoyed the lovely view of the lake, not to mention the lovely day. Indeed, you might have gloried in the afternoon, as we did, sharing laughs and a few beers with a girlfriend who—

Okay, you would have seen us naked. As jaybirds. Nude. In the raw, the buff, the altogether.

This is not the way you normally see us, of course. But we didn’t care. July 14 was rapidly approaching, which is to say Bastille Day to some, National Nude Day to others, and Christmas, perhaps, to Frenchmen for whom au naturel is more than a brand of aromatherapy. 

We hadn’t arrived at this chutzpah immediately. It had gradually descended on us upon witnessing the husband’s reaction to our invitation to come with us. He is deathly afraid of heights, and yet, he said, he’d sooner parachute from a plane than accompany us to Emerald Lake. Moving down the list, we invited a number of girlfriends, all but one of whom begged off because of pregnancy scars or overly enthusiastic shaving practices that would leave them too, er, exposed.

In short, the pervasive fear among our set emboldened us. What was so terrible about being naked? It was a question we asked half-rhetorically, half to the sole girlfriend intrepid enough to accompany us, and the answer was revealed within a half-second of arriving at Emerald Lake. 

“Mind if I join you, ladies?”

He was from Lake Charles. His head was bald, his shoulders were tan, and, well, we decided not to travel south just to complete the description for you, dear readers.

No, we didn’t mind if he joined us, we lied. Nake Charles slowly climbed into the tub, thereby providing us with a reason to examine a nearby grove of pine trees. 

Emerald Lake advertises itself as “Houston’s only nude beach,” to which Houston has mostly responded so what, it seems, judging by the low attendance numbers on the day we visited. In any case, there was no beach to speak of, owing to the recent floods. Nake Charles assured us that it was very nice, however, otherwise why would he have RVed here 30 times in the past year? “If it’s over 50 degrees, I’m out here,” he said.  

Also: “Nobody bothers you here.” And: “I’ve only seen or heard things really late at night.” Rather than tell us what those things might be, however, Nake Charles launched into an excited description of the evening’s entertainment, specifically a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Guests had been invited to come in costume, he said. This seemed a bit incongruous, we told him. Nake Charles agreed.

Besides the hot tub, there didn’t seem to be many amenities at Emerald Lake, although we conceded that the bareness was theme-appropriate. We took note of the receptionist (Bulgarian, clothed, seen-it-all attitude) and a common area that offered weight machines, TV, microwave, mismatched dishes and a hot tub. Elsewhere on the grounds were a pool, an RV park and yet another hot tub.

A few of Emerald Lake’s rules: always carry a towel to sit on, no overt sexual activity, don’t be creepy. (Nake Charles recalled a couple of people kicked out for staring.) We saw nothing untoward. Indeed, we can’t remember being called ladies so often.  

“Did you ladies leave a pair of Ray-Bans at the hot tub?” inquired a nude 50-something, once we’d decamped for the pool’s edge. No, we hadn’t, came our reply. The man had broken our concentration just at the moment when we’d almost ginned up the courage to throw off our towels and dive in before the dozen naked souls, ranging in age from 2 to probably 60, around the pool.  

“Huh,” he said. “Those are nice sunglasses. I’ll have to take them to the lost and found.” He turned and left, and for a moment we watched his butt go. Then we untoweled, fixed our eyes on the pine grove, and took the plunge.

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