[NOTE: This is the CENSORED version of this report, and is pretty much “safe for work” and family-friendly.]
Saturday, June 11 was “World Naked Bike Ride” day in San Francisco. As the title implies, it doesn’t happen only in San Francisco — it’s a global event, with rides in over 70 cities around the world.
Ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner is recently unemployed, so I got him a gig as the censor for today’s event. As an expert in penis-photographs, he definitely has the skills for the job! Throughout this censored version of the World Naked Bike Ride report, wherever you would have seen a wiener, you’ll see a Weiner instead!
Participants gathered in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco’s Embarcadero area. Anyone could join in — anyone who enjoys being naked in public, that is.
The main question gawkers ask is, “Why???” Well, in theory at least, there is a political dimension to the World Naked Bike Ride, which gives me an excuse to report on it. Luckily, the event’s main organizers have posted an FAQ page for the perplexed. The question “Why are you riding naked?” is answered with “To celebrate cycling and the human body. The ride demonstrates the vulnerability of cyclists on the road and is a protest against oil dependency.” In addition, the WNBR main page states, “We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the unique dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.”
Hmmmm. Seems the message is a little muddled. Several justifications are given:
1. “To celebrate the human body.”
2. To bring attention to how dangerous it is for cyclists on city streets.
3. To protest oil dependency and the oil-based economy.
4. To promote bike-riding and make a stand against the car culture.
But, as the sarcastic commentary about nuclear energy in the picture above shows, nuclear power is also no longer kosher. Yet if you eliminate oil/coal/gas and nuclear…all other energy sources combined account for only 19% of current global needs, so it’s not clear exactly what kind of serious viable solution they’re proposing.
Even so, I suspect there’s only one real reason motivating the World Naked Bike Ride: exhibitionism, or the desire to be naked in public. The rest of the justifications are just a political veneer.
Here’s something you may not have known: If you’re young, skinny, female and half-naked, people will want to take your picture. Learn something new every day!
A guy in all-body tiger paint seemed to be one of the ride organizers.
He happily posed for souvenir photographs with passing tourists.
But when he bends over, watch out! Ass cracks are ass cracks, with or without body paint.
During the pre-ride preparations, one of the riders stood off to the side to make a cell phone call. He was approached by stunned out-of-towners who had summoned up the nerve to ask him what the heck was going on. He nonchalantly explained.
Side note: notice the kid sitting behind the naked guy. No attempt was made, on the part of the participants, police, or public, to keep kids at a safe distance from all the full-frontal nudity.
While a few of the participants were somewhat demure about their private parts being exposed, or were at most faux-nonchalant, most of the rest made a point of exposing themselves as vividly as possible.
Several “participants” did not even have bicycles: They just showed up for the hour-long pre-ride preparation period because it was an opportunity to have a “valid” excuse for being naked in public.
These two guys, for example, showed up, disrobed, stood around for ten minutes posing naked for all the photographers, then put their clothes back on and left! Bicycles had nothing to do with it.
In what I hereby deem as “Worst Public Relations Decision of the Week,” the Nesquik Bunny showed up to hand out free chocolate milk samples to the exhibitionists, and posed for pictures alongside various bizarre characters.
The rest of the Nesquik team joined the fun. And no matter what he was standing next to, the Bunny always kept the same goofy smile, which made the proceedings even more surreal, if that was possible.
The legendary parrots of Telegraph Hill looked down on all the human flesh. “Squawk! Those flightless giant pink birds have lost all their feathers! Squawk!”
Here’s an only-in-San-Francsisco moral dilemma: A pre-op transsexual showed up for the ride. He/she thankfully wore shorts, but was “topless.” Now, it was pretty obvious that he/she had not yet undergone gender reassignment surgery, so was technically still biologically “male,” as the muscular physique revealed. But he/she was also either starting hormone treatments, and/or had small implants, because a modest pair of breasts was beginning to emerge. Bay Area Political Correctness dictates that one must always acknowledge and respect whichever gender someone declares him- or herself to be. But wider U.S. social standards dictate that (in the censored version of this report) I cover up any naked boobs exposed in public. Yet censorship is frowned upon according to S.F. mores, while the wider U.S. social standards would not regard this person as yet a woman. So I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t!
To censor, or not to censor — that is the question! (In the end, as you can see, I decided to not censor; if you’re open-minded, you can take this to mean that I too am open-minded and oppose censorship; if you’re more old-fashioned, you can take this to mean that I think men are men, regardless of what they think they are. Whew! Wriggled my way out of that one.)
But I’m not safe for long: I’m immediately forced to confront another moral dilemma: How to document the fact that kids were present at this event and witnessing all the full-frontal nudity? Even though there would be “news value” in showing such pictures, there’s also a taboo against having kids and nudity in the same picture. So, to be prudent, I deleted almost all images that showed kids witnessing the goings-on, lest I set off alarms with the Internet Police. (I was also compelled to do this in all my previous “naked San Francisco” reports, of which there have been many.) As a compromise, I show here a guy who brought his months-old baby to the event. Fortunately, the kid seemed far too young to have any awareness of what was going on.
As one point, an unfortunate accidental photographic alignment seemed to show the kid grabbing the ding-dong of one of the riders; but it was all a foreshortening illusion — they were several yards apart.
Sunny day + no clothes = sunburn! So before departing, the participants lined up in a sunscreen elephant-train, lathering it on each other.
Almost time to go! The organizers handed out route maps to the riders: at noon they were all going to start biking around the entire city for several hours, shocking passersby and changing the world! (Notice the cigarillo the guy is smoking. Health!)
Time to pose for one last souvenir shot, to satisfy all the rubberneckers.
And we’re off! After a brief whirl around the plaza and through the craft booths, the riders made their way to the Embarcadero to start their ride along the waterfront.
Some old-school San Francisco natives encountered the lead bike with its sign and gestured at it in disgust. “C’mon, you bozos! You can’t be serious!”
Even this passing tourist cast a jaundiced eye on the proceedings.
As you can see, it was very male-centric at the San Francisco edition of the World Naked Bike Ride. But that’s not necessarily true at many of the other rides in other cities. The London World Naked Bike Ride, for example, is not only ten times the size of the S.F. ride, but is almost half female. And elsewhere in Europe and Australia you’ll find the event to be more gender-balanced.
Were any minds changed by this “protest”? Probably not. Were viable solutions proposed? Nope. Did people “make a statement”? Well, sure, but if your statement is little more than “Look at me, I’m naked!”, then it’s not very clear what you have achieved.