Sunday, July 20, 2008

Naked guys in the Castro

Okay, this is one I don't understand. Maybe someone can answer some questions for me about this.

A little over a week ago, we met four friends for dinner. After dinner, Chip and I took one of the guys on a kind of quickie walking tour of the Castro, as he had been in the Bay Area for a few months, but still had not spent any significant time in the neighborhood.

As we were walking on 18th Street from the Edge toward Castro Street, we encountered two nude men walking down the street in front of us. They were wearing shoes and party hats, but nothing else.

Now, if this were the weekend of the Folsom Street Fair or the Castro Street Fair or Pride or Halloween, it might conceivably make more sense. But this was just a Friday night, nothing special about the day or the date.

Then, when we were walking in front of the Starbucks on 18th near Castro, we saw a third naked man in shoes and a party hat sitting on one of the benches. Apparently, this was not a coincidence, as the other two naked men came up and joined him.

Our theory was that it was tourists who maybe thought this was just what you do (or can do if you so choose) when in San Francisco -- you know, visit the site where
Harvey's camera store used to be, go to Alcatraz, drive down Lombard Street, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, get naked and hang out in the Castro, visit Coit Tower, go to the Haight and listen to the Grateful Dead, just a typical trip to San Francisco.

That was odd enough as an isolated incident, yes?


This afternoon, just a couple of hours ago, Chip and I were driving to the grocery store, and a naked man walked out into 17th Street near the corner of Sanchez Street. He walked up to the yellow line in the middle of the road and stood there, almost as if he were planning to direct traffic. A blue car heading in the opposite direction slammed on his brakes and started honking at the naked guy.

I was looking around for any additional information -- evidence that he had come out of the apartments at the corner, anything that looked like a clue. All I saw was a dirty pair of brown pants and a yellowish box (it might have been a cigarette box) lying in the gutter near the corner of 17th and Sanchez.

As there was not terribly much to be gained from sticking around, we just kept driving down 17th and went to the grocery store.

So here are my questions: Do naked men roam through the Castro all the time, and I've just never noticed during the last eighteen-odd years? Does this actually happen fairly routinely, but my schedule has just been out of sync with the naked men, so I keep missing them? Have we just suddenly gotten some kind of karma that puts us into the paths of naked men wandering around the Castro? Is anyone else seeing naked guys strolling around the neighborhood? Or is there just something in the air lately that's turning men into exhibitionists all of a sudden?

Inquiring minds want to know.

[UPDATE February 2009: While flipping channels recently, I caught a few moments of a Public Access Channel show talking about nudist tours of the Castro District. So this is possibly what we saw. Given that someone commented on seeing almost exactly the same things a few days after us, that might give some support to the nudist tour theory.....]

[UPDATE January 1, 2010:  Okay, now I'm curious.  Suddenly, in the last 24 hours, there has been a sharp increase in views of this posting.  The overwhelming majority of them are coming from Google searches on the term "[the] naked guys of castro street."  So where is this very specific and often-repeated search term coming from?  What has popularized this exact phrase?  Inquiring minds just don't know when to stop asking questions.]


Anonymous said...

Apparently, the naked men in the Castro is a new trend. My sister and her girlfriend who live in the Castro saw their first naked man in January this year. I'm visiting and tonight while strolling the neighborhood saw the follwing: 1) from across the street, a guy sitting at the Starbucks on 18th, lounging (at first I thought he had on a Speedo, then realized it was just really dark pubic hair) 2) two men coming out of a card store on 18th with only party hats on, and 3) a man at the Citibank ATM on Castro, answering questions about why he was out (un)dressed as he was. Four in one night without even trying, all before midnight. My question is: how do they do this without facing arrest? Most states don't even allow nude swimming, and these guys are casually strolling the city streets!

Rusty said...

I'm one of those naked guys. We've been doing this for about three years -- I guess you've just not been around at the right times. Public nudity is legal in San Francisco, and that's why the police generally leave us alone. We see this activity as a civic duty -- to reduce the level of prudishness in American society. Western Europeans are far more rational about such things than Americans are. It's long past time that America start focusing its attention on *real* problems, not imaginary problems dreamed up by neurotic busy-bodies. My group aims to make nudity so routine that even the nuttiest prudes hardly notice it anymore.

Waldo said...

Sounds like a luxury item for really attractive men to say to the world, "Notice me"

Anonymous said...

I'm split on this issue, just today (August 4, 2009) I saw two nude men walking down Castro, smooth, older men, bodies were nice but could have been much better...I would have loved my picture with them (and still do) but here is my concern: Since I started coming to the Castro in August 2007, it felt like home to me and still do because it represented how fun and progressive we can be, I see lots of families with KIDS now in the Castro and when something like this happens (men walking around naked) I wonder how this will affect people's view of us as a community. Don't get me wrong I love nudity, I wasn't entirely grossed by these men who looked "decent," enough to be naked, but take the hint! Set some limits!!!

Down In The Valley said...

In today's sfgate are some picture of them being this one which has the naked men of castro street in the picture description...

Xenia said...

This is what made me do a search on the naked guys of castro...the best of end year takes in the San Francisco Chronicle

Jonny said...

I was in the Castro last night and photographed about 4 of them. Unfortunately I made a bad decision to post the pictures on facebook and offended many friends and family.

NIC1138 said...

The trend continues in 2011.

B. said...

Was there 3 days ago ... Still "up" and running !