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 a hip new fashion look!
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.