Body Freedom Activist George Davis Delivers Naked Speech in Times Square, NYC
On Wednesday, August 4th, I went to see “body freedom activist” George Davis deliver a naked speech in Times Square, NYC. Davis is a nudist from San Francisco, where he’s been protesting ever since supervisor Scott Wiener proposed and successfully attained a nudity ban in the city.
Before the nudity ban took effect in the winter of 2013, a small group of nudists used to congregate regularly within a neighborhood known as the Castro. Davis is one of them, and he’s long been part of the political scene there. He ran for mayor a few years ago and now this year he’s running for district supervisor (akin to city councilman as he says) to replace Wiener. Every time you’ve seen news about naked protests going on in San Francisco, Davis was probably there.
Many of you may recall the controversy over the San Francisco nudity ban. Scott Wiener was the driving force behind the ban, but it was just barely passed by the Board of Supervisors with a 6-5 vote. It was clear in the naturist community that this ban was unjustified and unnecessary. Most people blame Wiener as an ambitious, anti-nudity politician out to make a name for himself and take away a traditional freedom while he was at it.
As part of his activism and campaign, Davis looked for a place to do a political naked speech. He’s given speeches in San Francisco, but this was no longer option as they told him they’d now arrest him. So he approached a few other cities – Chicago, Portland (OR), Los Angeles, D.C. They either didn’t respond or told him he could do it as long as he kept his clothes on. Portland and NYC are the two cities that would give him permission to do it. He chose NYC!
I went to see him speak at 12 noon in front of the bleachers in Times Square. Both NYPD and the Times Square Alliance were present. George also knew of Andy Golub’s public body painting and invited Andy to speak as well. A few reporters showed up from the NY Post, NY Daily News and AP. Just a little after 12, he stripped down and gave his talk. People’s reactions seemed to a mix of confusion, disbelief and amusement.
I took video with my phone from a distance, so I’m sorry for the bad audio. You can read a written version of his speech here on his website (scroll to the very end).
George Davis Giving His Naked Speech Times Square NYC & Andy Golub Body Painting (<- Link to view it on Vimeo.)
Ton has better audio of Andy’s speech on his video:
George talked about why he believes in body freedom and the benefits of public nudity. Then Andy stepped in to give his view from an artist’s perspective. He also announced that he’d be doing a body painting demonstration a few blocks down. As kind of funny coincidence, Ton Dou was in town and had asked Andy to paint him. Ton is currently working on a naked documentary of sorts and is known in the nudist community for his nudist-themed videos and music.
Eventually we all left the bleachers and went down to find Andy body painting. To my surprise, George stayed naked, and NYPD had no problem with it. I suppose they already knew of his plans, but I was a little surprised they didn’t make him get dressed after his speech.
So we walked through Times Square, George still naked, and I had the entertainment of seeing people’s reactions to a fully nude man walking down the sidewalk. I heard a lot of, “OH MY GOD!” But those were the tourists. The New Yorkers didn’t bat an eye of course. ;)
We found Andy in the pedestrian plaza. He was happily painting with his headphones on, which blocked out the Times Square noise, as well as the voice of a man loudly reading Bible passages just in front of him. You can see a bit of this at the end of my video above.
George and his friends and I hung around for a while with the crowd of onlookers. Since George was still naked, people assumed he was getting painted next, but there were no plans for that.
Ever since Andy started his naked body painting, there have been topfree women who put on some body paint and a headdress and do tourist photos for tips, just like the other Times Square characters. There were a few hanging around our area, and at some point George decided he wanted to get a photo with two of them. But I guess they’re not used to being outdone in the nudity sphere because when he approached, they ran away!
Once Andy was done painting, we took a group photo. A few of George’s friends stripped down for the photo, and I was topfree.
So ended an eventful afternoon!
In his speech, Andy mentioned how great NYC is for allowing this kind of freedom of expression, and I have to agree. The body painting was one thing, but for them to allow a guy to deliver a naked political speech, too, is pretty awesome.
In terms of George’s campaign and the San Francisco ban, I don’t think George is going to get elected and turn SF into the naked-friendly city it once was. He’s obviously very dedicated to his cause, but I don’t think people take him very seriously within the nudist community, nor in the SF community at large. At least he’s more peaceful than Gypsy Taub, another naked activist who’s been exacerbating rather than helping the situation.
Aside from his political campaigns, George has also been part of a lawsuit against San Francisco and SFPD for violating his and others’ freedom of speech. The suit was unsuccessful.
I do hope the nudity ban can someday be repealed, as there was really no justification for it.