Please, keep your pants on

When you literally make it your business to welcome people into your home, you expect to get some interesting questions.

More than a year ago, my husband and I decided to create the ultimate paranormal-themed bed & breakfast location in Tampa. Phantom History House caters to fans of the creepy, weird, paranormal, and quirky, but in an elegant, upscale way.

We have put a lot of time and effort into creating a space that is special, uniquely themed, and comfortable for everyone to enjoy. We put together a plan and evolved along with the business and the requests of our guests. We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way.

It’s been a blast and we’ve met people from all walks of life and from around the world. But sometimes an unexpected question sneaks into the regular roster.

How long have you wanted to run a bed and breakfast? For at least 20 years.

Is the place haunted? Probably so, but it depends on whom you ask.

Have you ever seen a ghost? Yes.

What’s your scariest room? People tend to have different opinions on this one.

Can I be nude in your library?

Wait. What?

No judgement here, but that last question has popped up, pardon the pun, in one form or another more often than either of us had ever expected. In fact, in all our preparation to open our paranormal B&B experience, we never once thought this would be a thing, as the kids say.

The haunted question? Sure, we expected that one. We have two antique urns in the house, after all, and we regularly have psychics doing readings in our library and paranormal investigators lurking about.

But the short answer to that last question is no, and not just because of the elevated paper cut concerns a library might impose during a clothing optional situation.

It’s more about creating an inclusive space and keeping with a theme.

We ask that our guests please refrain from enjoying the tickle of any alleged paranormal cold spots found in our public spaces on their genitalia. And we’d prefer that the antique chairs in our Potion Room avoided direct contact with anyone’s dangly bits.

Feel free, however, to drop trou in your bedchamber every time you close the door behind you. That space is private and reserved just for you!

Before you start writing that angry email to me, please understand I am not anti-nudity. And I am not a prude. Our space just isn’t set up for that activity.

Guests come and go throughout the day and sometimes neighbors pop over to check out what’s been freshly baked and taken out of the oven.

I’m guessing there’s also an additional licensure or something required to become a clothing optional destination. I don’t know the answer to that because that’s never been our business model.

By the way, clothing optional resorts are a fantastic way to embrace nature and to be free in all sorts of ways. In fact, I have experienced them, and despite the almost translucent shade of my very fair skin, I even participated once or twice – with the assistance of copious amounts of sunblock.

So, I can see the appeal. It’s freeing, and some forms of clothing can be restricting, uncomfortable and just better regulated to a heaping pile on the floor.

But no, sir, you may not plant your bare rump on our vintage chair while you boot up your laptop in our dining room.

While my references have pointed to the male gender thus far, I do understand that there are members of all genders who enjoy releasing their derrieres from the captivity of denim constrains among friends.

But so far in the young life of our B&B, it’s only been potential guests of the male persuasion who have asked if they’d be rebuffed if they roam our hallways, well, in the buff.

More specifically, it’s gay males, a population of which we are certainly a part. And granted, those requests come through one specific booking site that caters specifically to gay men. We’re gay men, so it certainly makes sense to put ourselves out in that market, so to speak.

But we are not strictly LGBTQIA when it comes to our guests. We’re open to everyone of all backgrounds and even some guests below the age of 21.

Travelers from all over the world have been to Phantom History House. We’ve had guests from as nearby as Brandon to as far away as Europe – Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.

Straight married couples, same-gendered partners, mothers and daughters and transgender guests have all been wonderful to have here, and we like to think that when they leave us, they’re more like friends than guests.

Most notably, however, they’re friends who have not shown their junk while they enjoyed extra cream cheese on their morning bagel or have had to be extra careful not to spill hot coffee on any excessively exposed, sensitive skin.

Again, absolutely no judgement on those who enjoy clothing optional spaces. Enjoy them, embrace them and celebrate the freedom they provide. There’s a part of our community who deserves to have that option and, fortunately, Florida weather makes those options even more attractive.

But as for our little creepy corner of the world, one full moon a month is plenty.

Steve Blanchard

February 26, 2024

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