Nudity and tourism

Photo by Mike Koozmin/SF Newspaper Co. LLC

KQED's Forum weighed in on Sup. Scott Wiener's anti-nudity law Oct. 18, and I particularly enjoyed the attempts by all to avoid the use of the word "cockring." I taped a show for KPFA's morning mix (to air 7:30 am Oct. 19) and host John Hamilton told me that "cockring" wasn't on the FCC list of unacceptable words and it was ok to use it, but that's KPFA, not KQED. I also laughed at Michael Krasny confessing that he was beeing "lookist" when he said he'd heard that the men at Jane Warner Plaza weren't all that good-looking.

At any rate, here's the real story: A friend's mom was visiting recently from Switzerland, and what did she want to do in San Francisco? She wanted to go to the Castro and see the naked men. Of course.

You see the buses going down Market Street with all the tourists, sticking their cameras out the window to get a shot? It's a tourist attraction. 

Remember -- when the sea lions first arrived at Fisherman's Wharf about 20 years ago, and hauled themselves up on the docks, the city tried to get them to leave -- they were loud and stinky and unappealing. But they wouldn't go -- and after a few weeks, the merchants realized how good they were for business.

I asked the Convention and Visitors Bureau, now known as SF Travel, if banning nudity might be bad for the tourist industry -- and the local economy. The folks there haven't gotten back to me. But I don't know; maybe the city economist should study this nudity ban.


Tim has the tourists interests as his top priority. Bravo.

Those of us living here, Gay and Straight, are tired of seeing fat old hags who have no wiped adequately gracing our streets.

Posted by Mission Dog on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

No one forces you or requires you to look at anyone. One chooses whom they will look at, or not. So why do you not have the ability to do that?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

already seen the thing you do not want to see. Your argument is ridiculous.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

I live here... a block from the intersection of Castro and Market Streets. ... and I walk past the naked guys every day. I don't really want to look at them a whole bunch, but there are plenty of other things in this world that I don't want to look at either... much of it unavoidable, like advertising on every flat surface, homeless people in a wealthy country, and the list goes on.

Yet, somehow, I survive.

Live and let live. Those guys aren't causing trouble for anyone.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 12:14 am

What's wrong with this statement is that it puts a very high bar on what we "should" be looking at. Mission Dog's posting is mysogynist and chauvanistic. That is major discrimination and, right now, in this town, we have a high sensitivity level to any abuse, verbal or otherwise. Get outta town.

Posted by GuestAgain on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 4:23 am

Interesting Blog, Tim. I got a few chuckles from your imagery :)

But, honestly, when did you become so concerned about what's good for business in SF? It just kind of seems like that's usually pretty low on your list of priorities (maybe I'm being unfair to you?). You certainly have a right to your opinion though, especially as a parent. I'm not a parent, so the naked dudes don't warrant a lot of space in my head. If I did have kids, I'd probably have more of a problem with them.

In any case, I do have a comment and one other question. First off, I seriously doubt any tourists are vacationing here because of the naked guys. So I'm not sure your suggestion that the Castro nudists are good for business really holds any water.

And my question is, how is this different from flashing someone in the street? I'm not up on what laws are currently on the books, but isn't "flashing" considered a crime? I honestly don't know. But, if it is a crime, then how is this different?


Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

"So I'm not sure your suggestion that the Castro nudists are good for business really holds any water."

Some of the Castro businesses---including Hot Cookie---said they thought the naked guys are good for business, in part, because they attract tourists to the area.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

Thanks for your answer, Guest. I love those Cookies! Their panties are WAY too small in the crotch though :)

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

"If I did have kids, I'd probably have more of a problem with them."

Why? Don't you and others possess the parenting skills to teach your child about nudity in some way? If not, then one shouldn't be a parent in the first place because that's pretty basic. And what if you child happens to see him/herself (GASP!) nude? How do you explain that? (Gasp!)

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

Explaining nudity isn't the problem. Kids already know when someone's naked without anyone "explaining" it to them. Perhaps you meant teaching kids about why it gives some men an erection when they walk around naked in front of strangers? Sure, I could do that. But I couldn't really ever be really sure exactly what each of their motivations actually were.

If I were to explain it as, "Well... they're naked because it makes them feel relaxed." that might actually be the truth for some of the naked guys. But it probably isn't true for all of them. That's an educated guess on my part, but I'm basing it on my experience that, when a guy is half-hard, there's something more going on than just him "feeling relaxed".

I could go on, but I won't because you're not really interested in having a discussion. You gave yourself away when you suggested I'd make a bad parent because I won't accept strange men's dicks in my kid's personal space without question, lol. You just like to provoke anger and hostility from people. That's fine. I enjoy that too sometimes.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 10:03 pm

I'm sure these naked dudes would love to know they're being compared to sea lions.

Posted by The Commish on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

The comparison is quite apt.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

Only if you live in the castro neighborhood can you appreciate what a failed social experiment this has been. I don't know where to begin but let me just say one of the architects of this experiment has a website where, for a price of $19.95, one can view "risky public sex" for thirty days. To my knowledge 99% of these "nudists" don't live in the Castro neighborhood but are only using it for their platform because it is San Francisco's most tolerant district. These same "nudists" wouldn't dare walk around naked in their neighborhoods or in the Mission or Hunter's Point. The media should stop making this about genitals because the issue is much bigger including the fact that these naked guys are confrontational, obstinate and rude. The Castro neighborhood has spoken: We want them out. Supervisor David Campos says he has no problem with public nudity and therefore I believe he should invite them to go around lower 24th Street. Our district would be happy to give his district our "nudists," and he will find out firsthand why our neighborhood does not want these guys. As for tourism, people should come to the Castro to learn about Harvey Milk and Nobby Clarke and the Ohlone Indians, not to see some sagging white butts. And speaking of our Nativ Americans, should we not all agree that there is somethign to be loathed about a small group of people invading another group's community and changing the demographics altering the social, economic and cultural fabric and telling that group of people how to live. Give me a break. The Castro neighborhood wants the naked out guys now!

Posted by Guest proudwomyn on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

Do we really need to ban nudity citywide to get the naked guys out now?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

Exactly. So in some puritanical people's minds, there's a need for a city-wide law that applies to approximately ten people at the most? (Today there were only 3). I'd love to know what other major cities have created a reactionary law for 10 people?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

It is puritanical to want to ban casual nudity.

Creepy compulsive cock ring exhibitionism on every warm day does not comport with community standards as they stand now.

I don't think that we get anywhere closer to changing community standards pursuing the course of action that the urban nudists are.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

"Creepy compulsive cock ring exhibitionism..."

What's "creepy" about cock rings? Sounds like you have issues. If you don't like seeing a cock ring, look the other way. No one forces you to look at it.

Oh the "community standards" nonsense.

In the name of "community standards," don't be surprised when some prudes say that two guys kissing in the Warner Plaza or down Castro is "creepy, compulsive and exhibitionism." Will you be in favor of banning two guys kissing too in the name of the code "community standards?" (Nudity has existed in the Castro for decades by the way so that should already be part of "community standards"). Or when some people say they don't want their children to see two guys kissing in the Castro or anywhere else in the City because of "community standards" and "decency." You think that scenario can't happen here? It's just a matter of time at the rate things are going (backwards). Will some supervisor create a city-wide ban for anything, someone, somewhere doesn't like to see?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

These aren't nudists - they're exhibitionists who get off on forcing people to see them naked. Ask any REAL nudist the difference - they'll tell you quite clearly these are fetishists who've hit upon a weak spot in the law and are exploiting it to the utmost - aided and abetted by people like you and Tim.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

The naked guys force no one to look at them. A person (any person with an engaged brain) chooses who they will look at and who they won't. This is pretty basic stuff. If you don't have that ability, tough luck.

I choose who I look at. My friends say the same. I choose to look at the naked guys. I choose not to look at baby strollers, for example.

One wonders how the prudes get through their day looking at things they don't want to see. It reminds me of this prude who was clearly repulsed by a gay bar's flyer on a pole near Castro/Market. She looked repulsed by seeing models in underwear on the flyer. Did she stop looking at it? Hell no. She kept looking at it and looking and looking with her mouth wide open for about 5 minutes. I felt like asking her: If you're so repulsed by it, why do you keep looking at it? Loon.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 11:53 pm

you cannot argue that away by simply saying "don't look". It's too late for that.

The point here is that something that is normally only visible if you actively seek it out, e.g. by going to a strip club, is now out on the street being imposed on everyone.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 3:33 am

"But if the sight of something offends or disgusts you then you cannot argue that away by simply saying "don't look". It's too late for that."

Sigh. You could say that about anything. I don't particularly care to see someone vomiting on the street and when I fleetingly see that happening, I look away and that's the end of it. If you can't handle fleetingly seeing something you don't want to see, a therapist can help you with that. S/he will likely tell you "well every day people fleetingly see things they don't necessarily want to see" and they just deal with it, and no one creates a ban for that.

If we had idiot busy-bodied politicians creating bans for everything that anyone didn't like or didn't want to see even fleetingly, the society would be shut down entirely.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

If you "choose" not to look at baby strollers, then in making that "choice" you first had to see it to know it was there to therefore "choose" not to see it. An "engaged brain" is exactly that, engaged. You can't unsee something that has been seen, even if you can choose to no longer look at it, it's done. That is the point, people don't want that "choice".

Posted by Guest on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 2:36 pm


Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

I'm reading what community standards are, not justifying them, just calling it as I see it. It is not like you can argue your way to changing community standards. That has to be done in ways that are effective.

It was not kiss-ins that gave LGBT freedom to be affectionate in public. We got those freedoms after a 30 year person to person coming out campaign where people got used to LGBT and over time learned that we are no threat to their values.

This is not a civil rights struggle, it is a fight for a non-essential freedom.

"Community standards" is the legal test that distinguishes obscenity from pornography. It is an appropriate tool to distinguish casual public nudity which people tolerate, barely tolerate, from creepy compulsive exhibitionism in inappropriate contexts.

Given the existing legal climate, denying that there is opposition to the urban nudists invites backlash not just against the urban nudists, but against casual nudity in general. The urban nudists appear selfish in their denial that their conduct is not welcome in a neighborhood commercial district. It appears that they will double down on that selfishness, that lack of concern for anyone but themselves, and ruin it for casual nudity citywide.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 5:54 am


That should be LGBTQ or GLBTQ. Why do you discriminate against those who call themselves queers and leave the "Q" off? You're showing yourself for who/what you are.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

Why do you discriminate against the intersex and two-spirited persons amongst us? You're really showing yourself for who/what you are.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

Why do you discriminate against those who call themselves "questioning" and leave the 2nd "Q" off? You're showing yourself for who/what you really are.

Posted by Snoozers on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 10:00 am

Why are you leaving off the IE - those people in the Castro who are engaging in "indecent exposure", under the terms of California law.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 10:30 am

I prefer the term, "Consciously Exposed", rather than the more judgmental and reactionary term "Indecent Exposure". So you should be referring to them as "LGBTQITSQCE" and not your bourgeois label "LGBTQITSQIE".

Posted by Snoozers on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

LGBTQITSQIE ignores the growing number of asexual brothers and sisters. We stand with them in their struggle for liberation. And thus LGBTQITSQIE becomes LGBTQITSQIEA.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 21, 2012 @ 11:17 am


So it should be


You are all so narrow minded as to exclude this important group.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 21, 2012 @ 11:59 am

So would the asexual amongst us object to a physical pass made at them in a singles bar or not know enough about "what hit them" to form a full opinion?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 21, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

You'd have to ask lilli, although he's more of a situational asexual than anything else.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 21, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

"I'd love to know what other major cities have created a reactionary law for 10 people?"

Berkeley banned public nudity twenty years ago, solely to deal with the Naked Guy.

One person.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

their fellow citizens and stopped.

Because you can doesn't mean you should.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

It would be nice if their fellow citizens respected their right to be nude rather than hate on them and bully them.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 9:59 pm

There is no "right" to be nude in public. Nudity is not prohibited by CA or SF law, yet. That does not mean that community standards includes permitting exhibitionism in a neighborhood commercial district on every sunny day. Given that there is no affirmative "right," pushing the exhibitionist envelope invites a backlash and you will see your "right" and the lack of prohibition of the conduct of others evaporates into thin air.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 6:00 am

When it's not prohibited by the law then someone does indeed have the "right" to do it, regardless of your semantics game. I think your hobby is arguing with people and I'm done with you. I'm not into constant dysfunction.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

No. Rights are explicitly carved out at the highest levels law and are not subject to legislative or judicial review except in extreme circumstances.

The right to free speech, practice of religion, due process, equal protection under the law, etc. They are sacrosanct under the law.

There is no right to be nude, that is why there are many ordinances and statutes that prohibit nudity and why the courts are okay with that.

Keep on keeping on with the creepy compulsive urban nudism and you'll see how far your "right" to be naked gets you, selfish jerks, and how much you are appreciated by casual nudists.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 20, 2012 @ 7:48 am


"Right" to be nude in public. That makes as much sense as rapists arguing their "rights" for freedom of expression.

I think some of these commenters never heard George Carlin's bit about 'Rights' ;)

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

to involve you in my fetish, whatever that fetish might be?

Could I see you on the street, then toss a leash around you and make you crawl around on all fours on broken glass while singing the international?

It's cool that others involve you in their fetish, why can't I involve you in mine?

Posted by matlock on Oct. 19, 2012 @ 6:30 pm


Matlock, you were always my favorite attorney!

Excellent argument!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

What impeccable logic, the same that holds that allowing same sex marriage will lead to people and animals marrying each other, dogs cohabitating with cats.

Where will it end I ask, where WILL it end? And isn't ANYONE thinking about the CHILDREN?

Posted by marcos on Oct. 28, 2012 @ 7:12 am
Posted by lillipublicans on Oct. 28, 2012 @ 8:29 am

"Guest proudwomyn" can only speak for herself and not "we." I'm in the Castro neighborhood and I don't want the naked guys out.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

This article strongly supports the naked guys:

google: Naked muchachos in San Francisco

It's on

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

"To my knowledge 99% of these "nudists" don't live in the Castro neighborhood but are only using it for their platform because it is San Francisco's most tolerant district."

I've been hearing that lately from the rabid right-wing. They keep putting that out there. But what difference does it make where they live? What does that have to do with anything?

We currently don't have a law that bans a person from going from one neighborhood to another neigborhood (or city for that matter) for the day or for a few hours. That's legal. It sounds like you want a ban for that though. Yet another ban. Can't go from one neighborhood to another and hang out there. How would you know where the naked guys live unless you've personally asked them and I doubt that you've done that. Your hate (for them) would prevent that.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

So good, one couldn't be a regular citizen and not want to see these people in action? It has to be "right wingers" who are opposed to this.

This is like new agers and UFO cultists who accuse "right wingers" of being closed minded because the true belief is so ridiculous.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

i love the nude guys. we are born naked. that is natural, as is masturbation, defectation, urination, menstruation and even flatulance. it is only from your rigid religious institutions do we make these shameful. in europe, everyone walks around naked and no one feels any shame. germans even carry little bags to carry thier waste after they defecate on the streets. it is common in sweden for people to pass gas and everyone understands it is natural and it hurts no one. i am so sick of the right wing in this city. san francisco has a long tradition of a place where people can do what they like. when i got here in the 1970s everyone was having sex in the streets and it was common to see people masturbating on many corners. everything changed with bad scott wiener the right wing guy got here. now he wants to turn california into another place like the midwest where everyone is uptight and stupid and goes to church and everyone has hangups abuot being naked or having sex or urinating in the streets. it is my right to defecate in the street damn it. you don't have to look if you don't like it!

Posted by Guest ms dolores heights on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

That's certainly a frontier I haven't considered. Guess I'll need to ask my German friends, who evidently "carry little bags to carry thier waste after they defecate on the streets." I never noticed Germans squatting and shitting in the streets when I was there but perhaps I overlooked it.

Posted by Troll II on Oct. 18, 2012 @ 8:33 pm