Posted: Jul 26, 2011
|Under a cloudless sky, a parrot squawks poolside as a Simon and Garfunkel tune plays on the radio. A few people float lazily in the pool's refreshing water while others lay out on beach chairs, soaking up the 90-degree rays.|
For residents and visitors at Davidsonville's Maryland Health Society, one of the county's two nudist clubs, cooling off means slipping out of a pair of Bermuda shorts rather than into them - but being naked can also mean being hot when the sun's at full blast and your skin is in the line of fire.
On those days, the pool gets full attention at the club, where it's hip to be bare.
On Thursday afternoon, the thermometer on the MaHeSo clubhouse wall pointed to the high 90s. That day, about six of MaHeSo's 105 members were on the campsite's 93 acres. And they were all at the pool.
Teasa McClure, the pool's lifeguard, has been living at MaHeSo full-time since 2008, when she became the caretaker of one of the club's founders. She said most members stay only for the summer, spending most of their time at the club, but working a few days a week as well.
"It's more like an extended weekend," she said. McClure said club members stay cool by spending time in the clubhouse, and enjoying cocktails in the afternoon.
"I guess after a while you just don't think about being nude. It's just a club with no clothes," she said. "And it sure is great in the water."
"No tan lines," added a man who goes only by "Bogart," and calls himself the "resident hippie" of the camp.
McClure said she goes through a lot of sun block during the summer. But other patrons said after so many years of going nude, sun block isn't necessary.
"I hardly ever use sun block. I use more when I ride the motorcycle than when I come up here," Bogart said.
Because membership is relatively small, the club is a tight-knit group, but MaHeSo President Mike Transparenti Sr., said the campsite also plays host to visitors from England, Germany, Belgium and New Zealand. This year, two couples from Florida are spending the summer here, he said.
Visitors must make reservations to come MaHeSo. After someone has visited three times, he or she can apply to become a full member. The seven-member Board of Directors, headed by Transparenti Sr., must approve the application.
"We voted in eight or nine new members this season," he said. "They get to know each other."
Transparenti said the board votes in about 90 percent of applicants.
Transparenti said he spends a lot of time at the club, and although he's retired, running MaHeSo is like a full-time job. He's been coming to the campgrounds with his wife since 1996.
"It's like running a little business," he said, chuckling.
But, he has help. Members of the club also volunteer to keep MaHeSo up and running.
"Without our members volunteering to take on a lot of the responsibilities and do a lot of the work around here, we wouldn't be able to run the place," Transparenti said.
Although the only other nudist club in the area is Pine Tree Associates in Crownsville, there are several traveling nudist groups, which have memberships but not fixed locations, Transparenti said. These groups sometimes use MaHeSo's grounds for events.
"Some of them also rent a bowling alley, so they can do nude bowling," Transparenti said.
Next weekend, MaHeSo will host one of these groups, the Potomac Rambling Bares, for a birthday party. The Potomac Rambling Bares has used MaHeSo's facilities for the past four or five years, Transparenti said.
MaHeSo also hosts events of its own. Every year in September, MaHeSo holds the Barely Formal. Photos from past Barely Formals decorate the walls of the clubhouse. A lot of ties and top hats, but not much else.
Transparenti said the club also has an annual Halloween party. How do nudists do Halloween costumes?
"You can either dress down or dress up as much as you like. And how much people dress down later in the evening depends on how warm it gets," Transparenti said.
The clubhouse is the hub of the campgrounds, where people get together, he said. Besides a sitting area and a big-screen TV, the room also includes DJ equipment, put in use for the club dances.
This weekend, the club will have a trivia night for members, and last weekend's cookout boasted 210 guests. But Transparenti said the best events at MaHeSo are the ones that are unplanned.
"You never know when a bunch of people are going to get together," he said. "A lot of times things turn out better when they're spontaneous."
At 82, Irmi Spieker is one of the oldest members of MaHeSo. She's been coming to the grounds since 1974. Spieker said she loves having spur-of-the-moment cookouts with friends.
"It's really like a big family," she said.
She enjoys walking MaHeSo's trails, but in the summer, she mostly sticks to the pool.
"Every day as long as it opens," she said. "I'm never losing my tan."
Spieker said she has seen the club grow over the years. But she and other members want to keep it small.
"We don't want a huge, huge place. We want it to be low-key," she said. "It's a wonderful life."
By KATIE MORITZ, Staff Writer
Capital Gazette Communications Published 07/23/11
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