Nudist Club Reported Operating Here
Amarillo Globe-Times, September 16, 1982
by Joe Lackey, Globe-News Staff Writer

A group of Amarillo and Texas Panhandle residents are actively practicing a social philosophy in start-naked contrast to the generally traditional values of most of West Texas-organized nudism.
An organization called the Panhandle Bares organized here in January, and now includes at least 28 adult and eight or nine kids, according to a Billy Jack Huff, 50. Huff is being held at the Potter Country Corrections Center in lieu of $25,000 bail on a charge of aggravated rape of a child in an incident on August 30.
He also was charged on August 28 with indecent exposure in an incident involving a girl said by Potter County Sheriff T.L. Baker to be in the 10-to-15-year-old range. He posted $50,000 bail on that charge.
Huff, interviewed recently at the Potter County jail, discussed club activities in the 75-minute conversation, concentrating entirely on what he described as the positive aspects of organized nudism here, and the philosophy of nudism in general. He refused to discuss his own legal problems on the record, and defended the nudism activities here. He said it is not associated with the commonly-held public belief of sex orgies by nudist organizations.
He claimed the Amarillo meetings held by the Panhandle Bares have been problem-free and have had no relationship to sex. The theme of the club is a clean mind, and a clean body, he claimed.
The philosophy of nudism is based on health, sunshine fresh air, the beneficial aspects of sports, and the worth of exercise, he asserted, instead of sexual interests.
A house in west Amarillo has served as the meeting-place of the area nudists, Sheriff Baker said. The house was the residence of Joe McIllroy, who, according to Huff and Potter sheriffs officers, is a leader of the nudist organization.
McIllroy was charged on August 28th with indecent exposure involving a girl between 10 and 15. He is currently free on $10,000 bail.
Sheriff Baker, Chief Deputy Don Smith, and Sheriffs Investigator Shelby Vitatoe al made clear in recent interviews that the Panhandle Bares is not being investigated in connection with any potential criminal allegations. But an on-going investigation is trying to determine if specific club members may have violated penal codes involving minors.
The officials say they are not interested in investigating nudism in Amarillo as such. But they expressed concern over minors said to have attended club meetings.
Huff said during the newspaper interview that children attending club meetings range from age 2 to 15. He claimed children suffer no psychological ill effects from nudism, asserting small children blend in better and become more comfortable with nudism than adults do.
But Baker, Smith and other officials expressed concern over the ability of small children to emotionally handle nudism, even when it involves only nudism, and not other problems which might arise from nudist meetings where children are present.
They expressed concern, for instance, over what could happen at meetings of large groups of nudists when small children might temporarily play out of sight of their parents, and people who had entered a nudist club with more than nudism on their mind might have an opportunity to molest the children. The local group is a member of a national organization, the American Sunbathers Association, Huff said. He said group members pay no local dues because of City of Amarillo restrictions on clubs formally organizing in residential areas, but the Amarillo and regional nudists pay $10 a year to the national group, headquartered in Orlando, Fla. Huff said he resigned from local and national nudist organizations recently out of fear of embarrassing Amarillos nudists with his legal problems, but continues to support the philosophy of nudism generally.
The 50-year-old Huff said he became interested in naturism or nudism, on West Germans free beaches while stationed there in the military from 1964-67. He said he went back to West Germany in January 1968 and stayed another year, but has lived in Amarillo since 1943 except for his time spent in Germany.
Records show that Huff entered a guilty plea on charges of indecency with a child in 1976 here in an incident involving a nine-year-old Amarillo girl.
Huff said the Panhandle Bares has no officers because of not being formally organized as a club.
Amarillo meetings of area nudists feature swimming and table tennis activities, but not volleyball tournaments because of lack of a facility for use by the group, he said.
Huff refused to name other members of the local nudist group. He said most of them are on a first name basis only.
In this part of the country, the Bible Belt, nudism is not accepted by the majority of the people. They think everyone is out there for a sex orgy or something, but theyre badly mistaken, Huff asserted.
He said nudists in this area include a doctor, lawyers, two farmers, a physiologist, and students.
Most nudists, he said, are well-educated business and professional people. He said that description would fit the nudists of this area.
He described a large center for organized nudism 65 miles south of Dallas on Highway 80. The Ponderosa. Vitatoe also cited the nudist center as a main meeting place of Texas nudists.
Huff claimed that retired people live at the nudist center year around, and that it is frequent site for weekend get-togethers for nudists from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the rest of the state.
He said alcoholic beverages are allowed at nudist functions, but that moderation is required of nudists who drink.
Huff asserted that a screening process is used by the Panhandle Bares to prevent people with improper motives from infiltrating the club. He also said the organization has had no problems with drugs. Those people are not even interested in it, and were not interested in that kind of people, he said.
He claimed his legal problems stem from an effort by the Potter Sheriffs Department and the Amarillo Police Department to break up the local nudist organization. But local law enforcement officials said they have no concern over nudism itself, as long as laws involving minors are not broken.
The offenses with which Huff is charged occurred in the west Amarillo home where the nudist meetings were held, as did the incident in which McIllroy is charged, officers said. [McIllroys charges were dropped.]
After about 45 minutes had elapsed of Huffs 75-minute conversation with the Globe-News reporter, he suddenly asked that his name not be used in any newspaper article on the topic of nudism. Huffs name is used because of his failure to make the request in advance of the interview. However, all comments made by Huff after he asked his name not be used are not used, and are being protected as off-the-record remarks.

Here's a memo Lee Baxandall (the Naturist Society) wrote about Huff on December 19, 1989:

"Billy Jack Huff was the molester in the Panhandle Bares. He had a 1977 molest conviction, apparently as a nudist, and again committed a molest in 1982 at the home of Joe McIllroy. Huff went to jail, uttering his praises for the benefits of nudism all the way. A good example of the need to look further than the reassuring words.
With that molest situation behind them and assurances from Panhandle Bares in 1984 that they had indeed become a landed club (as I had repeatedly told them they must be, to be listed), they were in fact listed, evidently on my decision, in 1985. However it turns out that they were overly optimistic, never did get their club landed, and I am delisting them for not meeting our criteria."

lee baxandall