Nonconformity Still Reigns!

The top eccentrics of San Francisco, and that's saying something.


"After a stressful day at work, I just want to get naked and relaxed," says Lloyd, who works as a security guy by day. In uniform.

The second reason is to exercise their right to disrobe, since California law condemns only nudity that is interpreted as lewd and offensive. Though the two are often questioned by befuddled police, Rusty has been arrested only once, at Halloween two years ago, and was never charged.

"If a week goes by and we don't do it at all, we feel kind of guilty, like we're letting people down," Rusty says. He's the shorter of the two and walks with his hands perpetually clenched, flexing the arm and pec muscles he sculpts four times a week at the gym. He cordially answers the man: "Well, why are you clothed?"

One lady riding by in a pickup truck yells the obvious: "Hey, that guy is naked!" Bar patrons point and smile. One man with a pack of friends outside Badlands bar blurts out, "That was unnecessary!" Rusty has seen parents cover their children's eyes.

After one round of the neighborhood, Rusty's skin pocks up in goosebumps. It's time to slip on his emergency G-string and dart into the crowded 440 Castro bar to warm up. Lloyd follows suit with the one he's stashed in his crown. "I hate wearin' em," he groans. Ironically enough, the biggest prude in the state is the liquor code.

The Good Samaritan
Dane Johnston
Territory: Castro Street
Costume: Scruffy black jeans, T-shirt, bushy beard, unkempt hair — all part of his "protest against imagery"

In the 15 years Dane has called the Castro home, the spindly six-foot-two, 150-pound toothpick of a man has been on a quest to cure the neighborhood of its pretension. He'll follow people walking with their noses in the air, mimicking them. When one idiot kicked him awake and said, "It's time to go to work," you better believe Dane followed the man to his bus, ranting at him the whole way.

Dane first became homeless when he moved from his native Nebraska to Oregon, where he started hustling in a gay park. He eventually made his way to the Castro, where he took up residence in the parking lot next to All American Boy, befriending owner Tim Oviatt, who let him use the store as a mailing address and a place to store his stuff. Dane carved out an identity as unlikely guardian of the block: breaking up fights, picking up trash and injured birds, turning in lost checks to banks (one of which wouldn't let him in because of his appearance), or reporting a dead man in front of the Castro Theatre (for which he says he was then arrested as a murder suspect). Homeless by choice, he says panhandling stresses him out, so he subsists on $5 to $10 a day given by his stalwart supporters.

Dane's mouth and boisterous voice earned him a lot of enemies and quite a few nights in jail, but many changed their minds after his big moment in 2006: A driver had a seizure at the wheel, torpedoing down Castro Street, smashing into another car, and sending a row of cars up in an apocalyptic blaze. While most people stood by in shock, Dane lunged into the flames to help pull an unconscious man from a hit BMW to safety.

Now 41, Dane says he has mellowed with age, yet he still embarks on many a rant, often hilarious, many times spot-on social critique: "The other half of the world doesn't have water and their river is infected," he says. "And [some people in the Castro] are like, 'Oh, I had to look at a homeless person today. My quality of life is affected.'" The Classic or the Imposter?

Gregory Jacobs
aka Bushman #2 of Fisherman's Wharf
Territory: Currently a patch of sidewalk across the street from Joe's Crab Shack along Jefferson Street
Costume: "The Worlds Famous Bushman of Fisherman's Wharf" baseball cap, leafy branches as a prop

As Gregory Jacobs tells it, one night 25 years ago he was entering his home drunk when some birds rushed out of a bush, scaring the bejesus out of him in a reaction he figured was priceless. He decided to turn his "aha!" moment into a living by shaking two bunches of branches at unsuspecting tourists walking along Fisherman's Wharf. He brought on a friend, David Johnson, to do the scaring while Gregory distracted people and afterward made them pay up. But the two had a falling-out years back, the business partners turned to rivals, and Gregory moved down the street.

It's a great tale — if you believe Gregory. The other version is that Gregory is really Bushman #2, brought on as an apprentice by Johnson — the truth according to many folks at the wharf and a 1999 Chronicle article. Johnson is the Bushman featured in YouTube videos, on the Wikipedia page, and named in numerous complaints, including a claim filed against the city this year after a spooked Michigan woman fell and broke her wrist. Johnson is the one who prevailed in the 2004 trial where jurors found him not guilty of being a public nuisance.

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