Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Twelve Cops Required to Arrest Two Dancing Nudists

Above: Activist Gypsy Taub chats with the violinist for the performance.

Twelve Cops Required to Arrest Two Dancing Nudists

Nudist Activist Gypsy Taub staged a “Nude Dance Performance” in Harvey Milk Plaza on Wednesday, February 27 at Noon. The announcement on the Facebook page for the event, promoted as artistic expression, caught the attention of the press. The police were prepared in advance for the “lewd performance” as one journalist from a local tabloid called the event.

Upon arrival to the plaza several people noted the large police presence. The SFPD dispatched a total of twelve uniformed officers, including familiar faces that work the Castro neighborhood daily. There was also a paddy wagon parked on Seventeenth Street just past the F-Car trolley stop along with two other marked police vehicles, and two bicycle cops.

At the edge of the plaza just outside a vacant former clothing a store, a violinist played soft music, while a local television station interviewed Taub. Two uniformed police officers told the violinist that playing an instrument on the streets of San Francisco requires a permit. He was ordered to put his violin away or face citation.

A group of other uniformed officers leaned on a railing near the Pride flag and observed the plaza. Filmmaker Mr. Pam Gaypornmama was spotted in the crowd, and greeted warmly following the success of the location shoot for her new film “The Cover Up”, which took place in the same plaza the previous weekend.

The three other original litigants in the lawsuit to prevent the nudity ban were also in attendance with Taub. Rusty Mills was using a small camera to capture video from the sidelines, George Davis was wearing a rainbow stripe “cock sock” as he greeted his pals and Mitch Hightower, wearing a bright pink tank top, had his video gear in hand.

Taub and Davis stripped off what scant clothing they had on, and were joined by Woody Miller, who wore only lavender high-tops with checkerboard socks. Miller is a popular Castro neighborhood icon, urban nudist and long-time employee at Orphan Andy’s diner. The trio began dancing in an artistic fashion and Taub showed off iridescent wings that were part of her costume.

Very shortly thereafter, the dancing nude trio was approached by two uniformed officers and told they had “five minutes” to cover up or face citation. The group continued to dance as the violin player took his instrument out of the case, began playing again and was then joined by two other musicians with a guitar and drums.

The police stood by in small groups while the dancers continued their performance. A crowd of about eighty had gathered which included media people, nudist supporters and the curious with cameras.

At the five-minute mark, the police moved in and ordered the dancing trio to get dressed. Taub and Davis refused to comply stating that it was their “free speech right” to dance naked on the sidewalk. Miller agreed to comply with the order to cover-up and a single officer escorted him across the plaza to where his clothing was located.

Once Miller covered his genitals with a mesh thong, he was issued a written citation. Taub, who remained naked and continued to dance, had to be escorted away by multiple officers. Davis was put in metal handcuffs and also escorted away by several officers to the paddy wagon waiting nearby.

Miller showed off his citation to reporters in the plaza as the paddy wagon drove away and the remaining police personnel disbursed. Both Taub and Davis were taken to an undisclosed location, believed to be the Mission Police Station.

Note: Images in this post were provided by the photographers at the BNIP web site and have been used here with express written permission.  Thank you to our pals at BNIP, (

REMINDER: Enlarge the images by clicking on them.

Above: Two SFPD officers walk away from having just told a street musician that "playing an instrument on the sidewalk requires a permit".

Above: A group of uniformed officers observes the plaza from beneath the Pride flag.

Above: Activist Gypsy Taub speaks to a reporter from KTVU Channel 2 News.

Above: Woody Miller, (back to camera), chats with Mr. Pam Gaypornmama and Mitch Hightower prior to the start of the nude dancing.

Above: More police stand by on the sidewalk.

Above: A uniformed officer gives the group five minutes to cover up and disburse.

Above: Taub shows off her iridescent wings.

Above: Two cops watch while George Davis dances nude.

Above: The dancing nude trio is surrounded by cops, media people and nudist supporters.

Above: A view of the crowd in Harvey Milk Plaza.

Above: The violinist returns to play and is joined by other musicians.

Above: Taub is accosted by the police when she refuses to cover her vagina with clothing.

Above: Uniformed police escort Taub to a paddy wagon waiting nearby.

Above: Miller is required to provide ID and cover his genitals before being issued a citation for violating the public nudity ban.

Above: A Castro neighborhood police officer looks  less than amused by the artistic public nudity.

Above: Two uniformed SFPD officers are busy texting and writing notes during the arrests.

Above: Five cops escort Davis to a police van which had been waiting nearby for over an hour.

Above: Taub and Davis, both nude and handcuffed, were placed inside the paddy wagon and driven away.

Above: Several shutterbugs recorded the arrests on video tape.

Above: Miller shows off his citation in the plaza following the Nude Dance Performance.


  1. Well, I must admit it does give these public servants of peace an opportunity to look menacing and officious against completely vulnerable and defenseless nudists when faced with the constant threat of homicidal psychopaths dressed in full body armor sporting AK-47s with multiple magazines.

  2. "Taub is accosted by the police when she refuses to cover her vagina with clothing."

    Impossible. The vagina is an internal organ, like the prostate. Try covering your prostate with clothing, Bub, under threat of arrest. What? You can't? It's surrounded by other body parts? Too bad, Buster, you're going away!

    That exterior area of a woman's body, visible when unclothed, is called the pudenda; if it's unshaved and she's standing upright (as in this case), pubic hair often hides any anatomical details from view.

    If it's shaved, and she's in the same posture, one may get at most a glimpse of the outer labia (closed), or the upright legs may not allow even that glimpse.

    There is no vagina to be seen here, folks. If you think you've seen one in these photos or at the scene, you're suffering from hallucinations.

    Real interesting that a Google News search on "Gypsy Taub" found only one newspaper article announcing this event before the fact – the Examiner article calling it a "lewd performance" – and (as of Friday morning, March 1) zero newspaper articles reporting the outcome. Sure seems like the mainstream press has gone in the tank.

    Of course, if such mere public nudity were "lewd" in itself, Wiener's anti-nudity law need never have been passed. California state law already penalizes lewd (i.e. crudely sexual) public nudity; it just doesn't presume that all nudity is sexual and thus lewd... as the Examiner apparently does presume.

    I've been blogging on the San Francisco anti-nudity law myself for a little while. If you'd like to go take a look:
        1. The Importance of Self-Ownership
        2. The Unmarked State: Signifying Nothing?
        3. Stay Free, San Francisco!

  3. And as for that violinist getting told by two uniformed police officers that playing an instrument on the streets of San Francisco requires a permit:

    I sure hope their saying this got captured on video, along with their faces, nametags, and badge numbers.

    Because either there's another huuuuge free speech issue rolling down on the City and County of San Francisco (will Judge Chen try claiming that music as well as nudity is "not inherently expressive"?!)... or the officers misstated the law.

    Every citizen (or tourist or other passer-through) in San Francisco is entirely free to carry a harmonica, ocarina, penny-whistle, kazoo, Jew's-harp, comb with wax paper, baby's rattle, dried gourd with seeds, matchbox, or other noisemaker in their respective pockets, and at High Noon today pull them all out for an impromptu jazz session all over the streets of San Francisco. First Amendment, freedom of speech and association. Tell me how that's a crime.

    It wouldn't be entirely unreasonable to require a permit to play an instrument on the streets of San Francisco and ask money for the performance (i.e. street busking). Then the city-and-county would just be trying to get its cut of, or control over, even the tiniest commerce. But here was no hint of money being asked for this performance, at least by the violinist from the public. That leaves no basis for the police to have demanded he show a permit.

    And in fact San Francisco Police Code (found via Article 15.1 "Entertainment Regulations Permit and License Provisions", Section 1060.1 "Permit Required" makes clear in section (d) that this does not refer to street performances: "Any place or premises where a Place of Entertainment Permit, Limited Live Performance Permit, or One Time Event Permit is sought must conform to all existing health, safety, zoning, and fire ordinances of the City and County of San Francisco, and must have a valid permit to operate (formerly referenced in this Article as a public eating place permit) from the Department of Public Health." (Even the One Time Event Permit presumes "premises.") How could that possibly apply to the streets?

  4. And finally... to gain a full realization of the enormity of what those two officers claimed, and its implications... notice two of Article 15.1's Definitions:

    (g) "Entertainment." Any of the following, except when conducted in a private residence:
    (1) Any act, play, review, pantomime, scene, song, dance act, song and dance act, or poetry recitation...
    (2) The playing or use of any instrument capable of producing or used to produce musical or percussion sounds..."

    [Both of these specify "on premises," but if the police can ignore that for the street violinist, they can ignore it for street poets, street singers, and street dancers.]

    (s) "Live Performance." Any act, play, review, pantomime, scene, song, dance act, song and dance act, poetry recitation, fashion or style show, or the playing or use of any instrument capable of producing or used to produce musical or percussion sounds, including but not limited to, reed, brass, percussion, or string-like instruments.

    [Full quote, and notice the absence of limitation.]

    If the two officers' interpretation is allowed to stand, not only street violinists are subject to arrest.

    Anyone without a permit on the streets of San Francisco who bursts out into song, or dances a little soft-shoe, or recites a bit of Whitman or T.S. Eliot, or declaims "Once more into the breach!" where he or she can be seen and heard by the police, is as subject to handcuffing and arrest as the violinist would have been, or as Gypsy Taub and George Davis were – by those two officers' interpretation of the law.

    Do you know, I begin to think it's quite important to free speech and movement that somebody ought to look them up and set them straight – and set the rest of the SFPD straight, if need be — about human and civil rights as recognized in this country.

  5. wow, it is hard to believe it is happening in the 21st century in the most liberal city in USA

  6. I'm sorry, it's "what used to be the most liberal city in USA". Gavin Newsom is no longer Mayor (though he's now Lt. Gov of Cal). You know the only other city in the state to ban nudity? Berkeley. Oh, the irony.

    Both cities (as I noted elsewhere) may be standing on thin legal ice.

    Quoting Justia's Professors Grossman and Friedman from 2011:
         "The California Penal Code has two... provisions that are... relevant to the current controversy:
         First, section 318.5 expressly grants localities the right to pass ordinances that regulate the 'exposure of the genitals or buttocks of any person, or the breasts of any female person, who acts as a waiter, waitress, or entertainer . . . .'
         Second, section 318.6 gives localities the power to regulate 'topless and bottomless exhibitions in public places' occurring within 'adult or sexually oriented businesses.'
         These two provisions were enacted in 1969 to permit cities to regulate nudity in restaurants and 'adult' establishments. The California Supreme Court had earlier held that the state had preempted the whole field of control of sexual activity in public places; the two provisions were meant to give back to localities the power to regulate live performances and restaurants — a power that the court had taken away. It has been interpreted broadly to give localities the power to regulate or even ban all public nudity."

    Interpreted broadly so far, yes. But in fact written narrowly, to allow regulating only nudity in businesses, not out on the streets. There's an old and solid legal maxim relevant here, "Exceptio probat regulam de rebus non exceptis - The exception proves the rule in cases not excepted." (If the sign says, "Park closed from 10 pm to 6 am by law," that proves the park is open at all other times, so you can't be punished for being there at 9 pm or at 7 am.) Those suffering legal penalties under city laws against public nudity on the streets have every right to object that California did not actually give back localities this authority and that such a "broad" interpretation takes individual rights away.