The Legend of Hippie Hollow: Sheriff’s Offhand Remark Helps Cement Austin as a Naked Gay Destination.

by Dennis Paddie

People, I guess everywhere know that there’s a nude beach in Austin. And that there’s a day when all the gay people are there and it’s called a splash day, I suppose.

Hello. My name is Dennis Paddie. I was born in a little hamlet in Arkansas called Sardis.

I came to Austin in 1965 to train for the Peace Corps. And in the course of living here over the late ’60s, I was part of the first gay hippie commune in Texas, and I would say one of the first in the south. We just sort of washed up there. And most of the people were close friends of mine from UT, but the house had gas and water, but no electricity, therefore, no air conditioning. It was a really hot summer and the mosquitoes were bad. Along with the rest of the hip community, we started going to the lake at night to swim naked and then cool off and come back in and we could sleep.

That was a cunny thing, being nude in nature and all that. And so it bled over from the nighttime into the day. Everybody in town that was in the hip community, as it were, was going out there. And so we knew that we were sort of skating on thin ice by getting naked in the daytime out there, but we went ahead anyway. It must have been 1969, one Sunday afternoon, hot and humid. And there were 50 or more hippies out there on the… If you’ve ever been to Lake Travis, it’s a series of ledges and it was full. Well, you went around two of the points to the nude beach, so they called it, beach. And so there was this gaggle of people there. And we had heard rumblings from around town that people were upset about us being out there… our being out there naked.

And we were sort of wary, but you go. I mean, we were just kids and we went ahead. And so sure enough, here comes the sweating deputies. They were all suited up with their guns and their tight pants and shirts and everything, and were not happy to be out there running, chasing us around. I didn’t have any clothes on, but somebody threw me a pair of cutoff blue jeans, and I slipped them on. And they arrested 40 or 50 people that afternoon, but I didn’t get arrested.

And then… that sheriff… there was an election and another guy named Raymond Frank was elected. And there was a pressure put on him from the Baptists to go to do something about those naked hippies out at Windy Point on Lake Travis. He said, famously, and was quoted in the newspaper, “I’ve got better things to do than chase a bunch of naked hippies around Lake Travis.” And from that remark came Hippie Hollow. That’s how it came to be called Hippie Hollow. There was a section of Hippie Hollow. It wasn’t officially designated, but it was for gay people. Gay people gravitated toward it because of the license involved, I suppose.

People, I guess everywhere know that there’s a nude beach in Austin. And that there’s a day when all the gay people are there and it’s called a splash day, I suppose. Austin attracts people from all over the world now, and one of the things they want to do is go to Hippie Hollow. Whether they’ll see any naked hippies running around, I don’t know anymore. But back in the day, certainly you wouldn’t have any trouble finding a naked hippie because they were at – a gay hippie! We were all out there.

That part of the legend of Austin is very important to me. Any place that has a legend like that, you should just see it. If you come here in wintertime, you should go out there because it’s a beautiful place. I would think that if you knew something of the history of it would make it more amusing. It’s a funny story, I think, anyway, you know. The tradition of being naked in nature is a really big part of Austin’s history.

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