Essay: Public Nudity: Put A Sock On It!

I must say that I was slightly bemused by some of the reaction to my pic of the naked bike riders I posted as part of last week’s Ailsa’s “On Display” Travel Theme. What? Haven’t you people seen a naked person in public before?

Well, unless you live in Sodom, Gomorrah or San Francisco, you probably haven’t. Perhaps what I should have explained to the uninitiated is that here in San Francisco there are no laws regarding public nudity. If you’re walking down the street and you suddenly feel like dropping trou and strolling around in the all-together — go ahead!

Or let’s say you find that period between showering and leaving home to be bothersome, full of detail-laden questions like “What should I wear?” If you live in San Francisco the answer is, of course, nothing.

I know that totally flouts society’s conventions, but that’s just another of the perks of living in this weird, wacky city. But whereas we locals rarely raise an eyebrow at the unconventional, even the most hardened amongst us have to wince at the sight of someone who you think is wearing a very long fur coat until you realize he’s stark naked.

For years the whole public nudity thing was a novelty … naked person sightings, like Bigfoot, were rare. But about a year ago it seemed like the situation escalated, and suddenly every Tom, Dick and Hairy were strolling around wearing nothin’ but a smile, and maybe a fanny pack.

Naturally, following mounting complaints from both residents and tourists, local government got involved and it was up to city supervisor Scott (I kid you not) Wiener to start clamping down — and we all know how painful that can be, especially if you’re naked.

It gets crazier … Supervisor Wiener’s first action was to propose an ordinance prohibiting naked people from congregating in front of restaurants. The same ordinance would also require those of the naked persuasion to throw down a towel before sitting their butts in public places. This quickly became known as The Skidmark Law.

Undeterred, the nudies struck back by taking to the press to decry the stripping of their freedom of personal expression. Yet, in the meantime, they grew bolder, charging tourists to take their pictures, and wearing provocative ringed, er, “accessories” designed to exaggerate and enhance a man’s, let say, nether regions. Even their staunchest supporters agreed that crossed the line, but the nudists said it’s no different than wearing a scarf or a ring on your finger, and as such was another form of expression that was being threatened.

But it seems the end of public nudity in San Francisco is near; that ring thing might have been the final blow. Public support is at an all-time low – apparently even San Franciscans can get tired of seeing fruits and nuts. The legislative wheels are now in motion, and the buzz from City Hall is that it won’t be long before San Francisco passes anti-public nudity laws. And not a moment too soon, because it’s making San Francisco a laughingstock – that Skidmark Law thing really hurt!

Now I’m not the most showy of guys – I think I would still wear at least a loincloth if I were stranded alone on a desert island, but I have to say there’s something to be admired about that kind of blissful lack of self-consciousness. It’s not something I would do myself, mind you, and I don’t really see a reason for it, but what’s the harm?

And yes, while sometimes seeing a 300-pound guy wearing only a ZZ Top beard and cowboy boots can be a bit much on the eyes, that guy isn’t hurting anyone, and he probably feels happier in his natural state. And Lord knows this world needs more happy people. Hey, we live in an era of exaggerated self-expression, and if it’s okay to tattoo a cobra head on your forehead, or ram a railroad spike through your tongue, then what’s the big deal about public nudity?

My biggest problem with the nudists is the complete lack of imagination that goes along with the complete lack of clothing. C’mon, people, let’s show a little imagination and fashion sense here. If you’re trying to buck society’s conventions, at least have some fun with it.

To me, the logical solution would be to just hang a sock over it, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers used to do in their early days. You would technically still be naked, except now you’re leaving a little something for the imagination. The socks’ color and designs could reflect your mood; sad kittens if you’re feeling down, Spongebob Squarepants if you’re feeling wacky, conservative black if you’re going to a business meeting. Something made of fleece or wool will be perfect for those cold, damp San Francisco winters. Next thing you know, they’re all the rage at Walmart!

And say goodbye to those offensive rings. Wearing a Christmas-style stocking would give the less confident that exaggerated, enhanced look one needs when you’re strutting your stuff like the proverbial peacock — right down Market Street!

Or they could take Jerry Seinfeld’s suggestion of wearing a belt and fashion a pair of pockets on either side so you have something to do with your hands when you’re talking to someone. It also creates a handy place to store keys, money and cell phone if you decide to go sans fanny pack. Throw a multi-colored sock over that bad boy and you’re suddenly rocking the hip new look for 2013!

See? Now was that so hard? Problem solved! C’mon nudists – don’t be so small-minded! Get a little clever with it and we’re more likely to admire your unique fashion sense than glance away in horror.

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About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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29 Responses to Essay: Public Nudity: Put A Sock On It!

  1. I love San Francisco in all its wonderful wackiness. Living in the either miserably hot or numbing cold Midwest (depending on the day), I could foresee whole product lines, from down-filled warmers to slide on ice packs (which would need to be re-sized shortly after installment). I’m either a marketing genius or a complete pervert. This post under “Writing” caught my attention, but I love all the highlighted work of artists, so I’m following. Thanks!

  2. Angeline M says:

    Gotta be thankful for the Skidmark law at least. I think those Puritans just ingrained their mores into almost everyone; those who didn’t drink the kool aid came to San Francisco. I love that City by the Bay!

  3. Betty Kelly says:

    Excellent writing and for stating the issues quite frankly. I never knew you had such talent in writing. Keep up that good work!!!!

    Love, Mom

  4. I think I was a San Franciscan a long time ago, even though I’ve never been there. Once, as a joke, I crocheted a c**k-warmer for a boyfriend during a particularly long, cold Toronto winter, and stuck it on an especially attentive looking branch on the Christmas tree. He refused to wear it even under his clothes in public, however, because the wool itched and was a thick enough material to look suspiciously like “padding,” a masculine ego no-no. Maybe I should have made them in quantity and mailed them to San Francisco for those cold, foggy days that come along now and again!

    • hahaha … thanks for sharing that funny story, victoria. guys are all about how they’re perceived and enhancing your package is definitely not advised.
      you know, if you pack them up in time you could have them on the market for Christmas!

  5. Northern Narratives says:

    What a shame if the nudity is no longer alllowed. We need somewhere in this country where we can let out hair down (and everything else) 🙂

  6. viveka says:

    Everyone is happy in their own believes … at home. I wouldn’t like to see naked people walking around on streets … in public. Otherwise they can do what ever they want to do. I would find offensive and I’m very broadminded and open minded. It has do with respect against others.

    • Hey Viveka … yes, I consider myself very open-minded, but I’ve never gotten used to seeing naked people strolling city streets. Like I said, I know it’s a unique form of expression, but I just don’t see a reason for it. To each his own, I guess.

  7. adinparadise says:

    Brilliant and fascinating post, Stephen. The sock idea would give all those ‘Mother Grundys’ something to keep them busy, knitting away at multi-coloured covers for the offending “big boy.” 😆

  8. Pat Bailey says:

    This is priceless, Stephen. I have tears running down my cheeks (facial, the other ones are covered right now). Very creative writing. You put the picture of the man with the Statue of Liberty hat next to your personal statement – can I assume that this wasn’t a self-portrait? I usually comment on men’s ties. I like the idea of the cover because I could then say “nice sweater”. Opening small-talk would be difficult when standing next to someone who is nude. Reminds me of the joke about the Scotsman who was standing on the corner, waiting for a light next to a woman he didn’t know. A strong gust of wind came along and blew her skirt up. He said “kind of airy, ain’t it”. and she said “what did you expect, buster, feathers.”.

    • LOL X 2!!!! omg, pat, now I’m the one with tears running down my cheek! you’re too funny, mate! “What did you expect … feathers?” AWESOME!!! I gotta remember that one for my next party.
      And no, that’s not a self-portrait. My butt’s not that bony!!! 🙂

  9. Reblogged this on home clothes free and commented:
    Tis writer says to nudists “Put a sock on it” be creative in response to impending San Fran nudity ban

  10. sassycoupleok says:

    As nudist we want to state that all “True Nudist” know to carry a personal towel or cloth to be used anywhere your going to sit. That is one of the first rules of going nude. Besides cleanliness, it’s a matter of respect for others who will sit there later. There shouldn’t have to be a law for this!

    • Hi! Thanks for reading. It’s surprising that there was a need for such a law, but I don’t think many of the nudists here in SF adhere that strictly to the tenants of true nudism … hence the need for a towel law.

  11. I suggest that those that Put a Ring On It were not nudists, as-it-were, but are exhibitionists.

    I know that in the minds of the textiled populace, these are one-in-the-same, but ♫ one of these things is not like the other ♪.

    The difference is the motivation. Thank you for the invite to participate in fashion, but when speaking of the ranks of naturist/nudists and exhibitionists, putting something flashy on ones member while trying to simply enjoy one’s liberty would likely change one’s membership from the former to the latter.

  12. Madhu says:

    A man called Wiener in charge of clamping down on nudity…seriously? 😆 Just imagining the possibilities for that sock idea. One of my travel mates on this trip to Japan was a young girl who manufactures socks. Passing this link on to her 😀

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