Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Naked City revisited

Of the several hundred posts in this blog, I've received the most comments on one called “The Dark Sideof Naked City.” I wrote it during my exile years from late 2003 to the summer of 2009, when I lived and worked apart from my family. At the time I wrote it, I was working in Normal, Illinois, had an efficiency apartment in nearby Bloomington, and would drive back to Elkhart on my Wednesday-Thursday “weekend.” The route I often used took me past the Sun Aura Resort, an adults-only, clothing-optional resort. I never drove into it, as the resort was some distance from the highway, I was curious. It seemed strange that such a place would exist in northern Indiana. There was even a second nudist resort, the Ponderosa Sun Club, across the highway.

But it was the Sun Aura Resort that piqued my curiosity, with its numerous signs. So I looked it up on Google, and learned that it had a long and varied history, beginning in 1933, when Chicago lawyer Alois Knapp, “the father of nudism in America,” founded the Zoro Nature Park, or Club Zoro. I don't know the meaning of the word Zoro, but is was also used in a San Diego nudist park. Knapp was the proprietor until the mid-1960s, after which it was taken over by Albin and Mary Drost, who, in 1968, passed it on to their son Dick, who renamed it Naked City.

Nudist colonies have a reputation for being prudish—almost puritanical—about sex. But Naked City celebrated sexuality, with its Miss Nude Universe and Miss Nude Teeny-Bopper contests, and the Erin-Go-Bra-less dance on St. Patrick's Day.
One commenter, writing under the name of Westflyer, said, “In the 1970s and '80s Dick Drost's Naked City, actually a small tacky surreal collection of plywood and tin-foil structures, represented a cross between a blue collar strip joint and a beer chugging stop for long distance truckers. During the summer months strippers turned nudists paraded around a crude stage while men howled their approval as they quaffed liquid courage and added to their already exploding stomachs.”

Obviously the place appealed mainly to men, though some women seem to have enjoyed working and visiting there. But, as I wrote five years ago, the place had a dark side. Dick Drost had a thing for teenaged girls, and in 1985 he was charged with molesting a 13-year-old girl and showing obscene materials to minors. He pled guilty to ten sex-related misdemeanors and avoided prison by agreeing to stay out of Indiana for ten years. He moved west and promptly created Naked City Los Angeles, or NCLA, in Homeland, California. And according to one of the commenters, that was destroyed in a brush fire, and he relocated to Palm Springs. One anonymous writer said he died in a California state nursing home.

Drost was a bizarre character—a quadriplegic from muscular dystrophy who apparently had a group of female admires who tended to his every need, including the sexual ones. (As one commenter wrote, “His equipment worked just fine, the ladies just had to do all the work.”) In a clip from the 1976 movie “Miss Nude America,” he speculates about becoming President, or head of the Soviet Union or China, though he made it clear he wasn't interested in becoming mayor of Roselawn. According to the lawsuit Naked City, Inc. v. Aregood, Drost ran for Governor of Indiana in 1975 (the election was in 1976, so he may have filed for his candidacy in 1975 or the statement was in error).

The lawsuit, which went nowhere, alleges numerous raids against the property and illegal wiretapping and filming, along with illegal seizure of property. It also alleges that the charges Drost pled guilty to were without merit, and that his guilty plea was made only “because of the severe oppression against him...” Nonetheless, he did plead guilty.

And it seems almost certain he was. One woman wrote, “I, unfortunately, worked for Dick for a couple of days before I realized I had to get out of there.” Another woman, who, at the age of 16 was at the Roselawn Naked City with her recently-divorced mother, wrote, “after he figured i was comfortable working nude it moved on [to] being a personal assistant and helping Diane take care of him and eventually working the front counter checking in people and being up front with the 'adults' pretending I was 18 they knew how old i was, end of summer it moved on to sleep with me or you get to be on the street. needless to say that wasnt EVER going to happen.”

Her comment reads like a stream-of-consciousness narrative and ends with, “its too bad i was too young to realize what was happening till it was too late. it wasnt all bad i made some good friends there. My interactions with that man and his sick girlfriend ruined a perfectly good time in my life and today if that bastard was alive id sue him for everything he he has. im not sorry to hear hes dead but i def know know if theres a hell hes getting what he deserves for what he did.”

I don't know where Dick Drost's soul has gone. He surely had personal demons of his own. But I hope the woman who, at 16, had to deal with Drost's unwelcome advances, has found some peace and happiness.



Anonymous said...

Hi Steve :) Too bad you didn't make a little stop at Sun Aura. You would have had something to compare it to if you ever do get to visit. It has changed considerably since the era you have written about in your blog. Maybe stop in and check it out if you are in the area. It is quiet through the week and the Fall is coming so the crowds won't be as large as they can be in the summer. Now would be a nice time to visit. I think you would be pleasantly surprised. It's "clothing Optional" ,adults only.Hope to see you hop the slow train to Sun Aura resort very soon :)

Anonymous said...

My parents were members of Naked City. I saw many sexual abusive behaviors there. Women and girls were raped there and Dick Drost operated child prostitution and child pornography ring out of Naked City. Dick Drost allowed anyone who paid at Naked City's gate to enter the camp where they were allowed to photograph, gawk at, follow, rape and molest any woman or girl they encounter. When I was eight-years-old my parents fled Naked City and join the Ponderosa Sun Club also in Roselawn, Indiana. On my first day at the Ponderosa Sun Club I was sexually harassed and threatened with rape and chased from the playground. At the Ponderosa Sun Club I was sexually harassed, sexual abused and raped by nearly every male member of the Ponderosa Sun Club. Something needs to be down about the risk to children in nudist camps.