In 2008 I went to San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair with my then-girlfriend and saw the oddest instance of public nudity I'd ever come across. It was a guy in a mask who was naked from the waist down and sitting motionlessly in a doorway, ostensibly unperturbed by the thousands of people milling around about him. I was confused as to why someone might wear a T-shirt and socks but no pants or underwear, but the man himself didn't seem unsure of a thing. He didn't even move when another, younger man came out of the door he was obstructing, forcing the resident to quietly step over him as if he were the one doing something strange.
"People can just be ass naked like this in broad daylight?" I asked my girlfriend, who was born and raised in San Francisco.
"Of course," she said. "This is San Francisco. Who cares?"
Four years later, San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener cares. Wiener, despite his name, is ready to bring an end to much of his city's public nudity, saying that it's gotten out of hand. Last year he passed the disgustingly named "skid mark law," which forced nudists to put barriers between their asses and public benches, in the hope that it would deter some of the naked folk. Alas, it has not.
"It's only gotten more extreme and over the top," Wiener told the San Francisco Chronicle. "A lot of people in the community have reached the end of their rope."
According to residents, the nakedness problem is particularly bad at Jane Warner Plaza at Castro and Market streets. Every day the area is overtaken by nude men, some of whom wear special "genital-pleasuring jewelry," and the cops are powerless to stop them:
[Wiener] said he has seen the naked guys publicly wearing genital jewelry designed to stimulate arousal. He's heard reports from others that the naked guys have publicly engaged in sexual touching and charge tourists $5 to take pictures with them.
The Mission Station police who patrol the area have said they've received an increasing number of complaints about public nudity, but that they can't do anything about it unless there's associated lewd behavior. Currently, San Francisco bans nudity only in parks and restaurants and on port property.
Under Wiener's proposed new law, which has the support of Mayor Ed Lee, nudity would remain legal at San Francisco's many street fairs, festivals and parades, meaning my masked friend could keep on keeping on at Folsom Street. The crackdown would only impact citizens interested in ambling around the city naked whenever and wherever they please, which really isn't an unreasonable restriction to place on adults. People of San Francisco, I welcome you to join the rest of us in putting on some goddamn pants.