Thursday, May 25, 2006

More on "The Nake Guy": His Brief Life and Death

Nudist activist, Andrew Martinez aka Berkeley's "Naked Guy", died
Friday night.

Following is a brief bio from Wikipedia:

Andrew Martinez (c. 1973 – May 18, 2006), nicknamed The Naked Guy,
grew up in Cupertino, California. After graduating from high school,
and before moving to Berkeley, he walked down Highway 9 in the nude
for about a mile and a half before police responded. This was his
first time walking nude in public. A star defensive lineman and
straight-A student at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Martinez
was a popular -- if nonconformist -- figure on campus.

Martinez's was first arrested in the fall of 1992 for indecent
exposure while jogging naked near southside dormitories at 11 on a
Saturday night. The charges were dropped, but he was arrested again
when he showed up at his court date naked. Three months later, he was
expelled from UC Berkeley for violating a campus code of conduct.

While attending classes at University of California, Berkeley he
gradually began to take more and more clothes off while he attended
classes until eventually he started to go naked. He staged a nude-in
with the X-plicit Players, a performance art/activist group in
Berkeley that has done many public nude events.

At 6-foot-4, with an athletic physique and handsome face, he gained
instant fame on campus and beyond. He appeared in Playgirl magazine,
on national TV talk shows,in dozens of newspapers, and was parodied in
the feature film PCU.

UC Berkeley eventually kicked him out, after issuing its "Policy
Statement Concerning Public Nudity and Sexually Offensive Conduct" on
December 7, 1992. Martinez continued living in Berkeley, and was
arrested for public nudity by the city of Berkeley. He fought the
charges, and won. For many months, it was legal to walk around nude in
Berkeley, until the city later passed a law against it. His actions
were widely covered in the media.

Later life

Martinez continued with his academic and athletic activities, however,
for about two more years. He competed in judo and was writing a book
until his mental illness threw his life into disarray.

Doctors were never able to give Martinez an exact diagnosis, and he
struggled for years with his medication. After his days as the Naked
Guy, Martinez spent the next decade bouncing among halfway houses,
psychiatric institutions, occasional homelessness and jail, but never
getting comprehensive treatment.

On Jan. 10, 2006 he was arrested after a fight at a halfway house
where he was living and charged with two counts of battery and one
count of assault with a deadly weapon. He was in maximum-security
custody in Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose.

On the evening of his death a guard checked on him at 11 p.m. and he
was fine, but a few minutes later other inmates reported hearing
sounds coming from his cell. An officer returned at 11:19 and found
Martinez unconscious. The 33-year-old Martinez was found with a
plastic bag cinched around his head. He was taken to Valley Medical
Center, where he was pronounced dead on May 18, 2006.

"He was a person with tremendous gifts and charisma who could have
been a great asset to our society, but instead I feel like society --
me included -- failed him," said Martinez's best friend, Bryan
Schwartz, a civil rights lawyer in Washington, D.C. "He wanted us to
question the things we take for granted about Western values, he
wanted to us challenge the norm."


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