Dr. Know: Nudist Colonies, Keys To The City, And Lost SCPA Students

The good doctor sleuths out a database of proclamations, mysterious sidewalk stickers, and Cincinnatians baring it all.
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Illustration by Lars Leetaru

I’ve only just learned that in the 1970s Cincinnati had a nudist colony! How was this possible? We’re the city that jailed Larry Flynt and raided adult movies during those years. It’s not that I wanted to go to a nudist camp, I just don’t understand how one survived in Cincinnati for so long. —THE NEKKID TRUTH

Dear Nekkid:

Anyone who has ever attended a nudist resort will affirm: The people you see there are mostly not the people you hoped to see there. Any man worried about experiencing a “guy problem” will quickly not worry. Contrary to most people’s imaginations—yours, perhaps—nudist facilities are attended by people who simply enjoy nature au naturale. Maybe that’s why Paradise Gardens, the “family nudist resort” in Colerain Township, never once got busted by Hamilton County’s famously aggressive authorities during its almost 50 years of operation. Strict membership screening and rules of behavior made the 34-acre resort attractive to families, couples, and even singles (kept to a limited number). Rather than any legal issues, declining membership was why Paradise Gardens closed in 2017.

Cincinnati old-timers will recall a popular downtown restaurant at Sixth and Vine streets called Paradise Gardens. It closed several years before the resort opened, so there were never any confused patrons arriving au naturale for lunch. That, without doubt, would have inspired a visit from Hamilton County’s finest.


At a recent benefit concert, I saw the famed pianist Emanuel Ax receive one of those Mayoral proclamations: “Today is Emanuel Ax Day in Cincinnati!” It made me wonder if the city has a database of every time this honor has been bestowed over Cincinnati’s 200-plus year history. Does it? —I DO DECLARE

Dear Do:

Your question sparks additional questions: When a celebrity or dignitary visits, do we trot out the old “I hereby proclaim today as [Your Name Here] Day in Cincinnati,” or do we instead give them a Key to the City? Is it legal to do both? Is someone insulted if we only do one? Oh, the pressure!

Not wishing to overly stress our Mayor’s office, the Doctor submitted your one question. We were assured that Mayor Aftab Pureval keeps full records of every Proclamation and Key to the City he has bestowed. Past honors, however, might require archival research reminiscent of that final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Cincinnati has presented proclamations and/or keys to a wide diversity of guests over the years: Rosa Parks, Dave Brubeck, Robert Redford, Jesse Jackson, Henry Kissinger, and even Lassie (in both 1967 and 2003). Sadly, a full database of recipients seems not to exist. Should one ever be created, we hope it notes that Cincinnati’s world-famous fugitive cow received the honor in 2002 and expressed no gratitude whatsoever.


At the main entrance to the School for Creative and Performing Arts on Central Parkway, there are several little yellow stickers on the sidewalk—tiny arrows coming from different directions that point to the front doors. Do SCPA students need help finding the entrance? The doors are pretty big. —ME AND MY ARROWS

Dear Me:

Books and seminars that teach methods and practices for being more creative invariably tell us to be eternally observant. Notice everything around you! Inspiration is everywhere! The Doctor congratulates you for your dedication to this fundamental practice. There is no better way to delight in the stunning variety of our fascinating world than to stare straight down at the sidewalk!

Rest assured, students and parents at the School for Creative and Performing Arts need no special assistance when arriving at their elegantly designed entrance. Not anymore, at least. The arrow stickers you observed (good eye!) were placed there in late 2020, when public schools began to reopen after the COVID-19 shutdown. Only one of the three sets of doors were unlocked, to better handle the flow of people as they suffered the various administrative indignities none of us wish to remember now. The arrows showed which doors to use.

The Doctor thanks you for reminding us to always be on the lookout for life’s little enchantments. Be sure to let us know the next time you happen upon an empty gum wrapper.

Dr. Know is Jay Gilbert, radio personality and advertising prankster. Email him your questions about the city’s peculiarities at drknow@cincinnatimagazine.com.

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