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NSFW: Buff to Breakers - By jkukura - May 24, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

NSFW: Buff to Breakers

(Photo by Joe Kukura)

This past Sunday’s annual Bay to Breakers footrace drew an estimated 50,000 people to the streets of San Francisco. As is the custom in recent decades, a handful of runners chose to wear nothing but their race bibs and a smile, with their junk, boobs, and rear ends in full public display.

This SF Weekly reporter encountered fewer than two dozen naked runners this year, and the practice seems less in vogue than in previous decades when nudist colonies were still popular. In an era when “naked” is more of a chalupa type than a Bay to Breakers costume, most people seemed content with a tight, sexy outfit.

It’s impossible to know exactly how many people still run Bay to Breakers buck naked, as there are no official statistics. But Bay to Breakers’ reputation as a “naked race” seems more notorious than its actual track record does.

Still, naked die-hards remain in the mix. Many understandably declined to give their names or consent to being photographed with their cash and prizes flopping around. But I spoke with about a dozen to find out why they run naked as jaybirds.

(Photo by Joe Kukura)

“I’ve always wanted to do it,” says a woman in her early 30s who gave her name as Fos, and carried a vagina-themed sign that read “Stroke the Furry Wall.”  

“But I thought that I would wait until I got fat and middle-aged,” she added, “because then it would be much funnier.”

Fos did not wait until she was middle-aged, but that did seem to be the most common demographic for those who did. (Asked about her sign, she said, “It’s basically a testament that people shouldn’t wax their pubic hair.”)

Some race traditions lack any consensus explanation for their origin, like tossing tortillas at the Start Line or dressing up like Elvis. But we do know how the naked thing started. It dates back to 1983 when a guy named Ed Van Sicklin tore off all his clothes at the Start Line. The crowd went nuts at the sight of Van Sicklin’s nuts, and a San Francisco tradition was born.

SF Weekly tracked Van Sicklin down back in 2010. “It was a total lark,” he told SF Weekly at the time. “It was one of those things where you get a hair up your ass to do something and don’t let yourself back down.”

From this, a group of nudists formed a naked running team called Bare to Breakers, in 1993. A contingent of naked people was too much for SFPD, and they were promptly arrested for nudity in Golden Gate Park. Their charges were all dismissed in court — their attorney was actually named Will Stripp — and some of these nudists will still strip today.

“I moved here in ’97, and I’ve done it every year,” says naked runner Charley, whose baloney pony was flopping in the open, as was his partner’s. “It’s so much more fun if you can go naked. We’re in probably dozens — or maybe hundreds — of people’s family albums.”

(Photo by Joe Kukura)

It is technically legal to run Bay to Breakers naked. Though nudity was prohibited at the race in 2009, the 2012 nudity ban authored by then-Supervisor Scott Wiener has an exception for “appropriate venues.”

These “appropriate venues” include large public events like the race of the Folsom Street Fair, as if anything there could be described as “appropriate.”

One of the more prolific nudity activists who fought for that exception is George Davis, a “naked Board of Supervisors candidate” who ran against Wiener in 2014 and was spotted at this year’s race with his junk jiggling in broad daylight. “Why would you label it as ‘junk’? It’s a body part,” Davis says, dressing me down. “‘Junk’ really should be dropped as a colloquialism. It’s also called ‘family jewels,’ a perspective that [gives the penis] more value.”

The naked runners all seemed deliriously happy with their situation, but a few reported the occasional unsolicited grope or ass-slap.

(Photo by Joe Kukura)

“Mostly people slapping my butt,” said naked dude Tom. “I had this one guy who was handicapped, in a wheelchair. He goes wham! and hits me. He rode off real quick, and looks back at me with this giggle, and I could see he was mentally challenged. But he was having a great time.”

Based on a day of nude-runner analysis, it is fair to conclude that the Bay to Breakers naked population is predominantly male, Caucasian, and over the age of 40. These findings will surprise no one, but one unexpected factor did stand out — guys who run Bay to Breakers naked skew uncut.

“I’ve seen more uncircumcised dicks today than in my entire life,” said one female naked runner, who gave her name as “Dana Slayonce.”