Nathanael Turner /New York Magazine
When New York Magazine came out with its recent package of San Francisco stories, the most intriguing part was the featured photo: Two nudists, a man and a woman, casually waiting to board a gleaming white Google bus. The jarring contrasts — between the nudists and the backpack-toting young man in front of them; between naked skin and the heavy steel bus — capture the sense of enormous change in San Francisco right now.
But, the real question: Is there a bus full of naked Googlers, and where can we get on it? Unfortunately (or fortunately), it was a staged photo shoot.
Local nude activist Gypsy Taub and her husband, Jaymz Smith, were happily at home in Berkeley when they got a call from the magazine. They arrived at the bus stop in downtown San Francisco to meet photographer Nathanael Turner, who said he thought nudists and buses were ideal symbols of the old and new city.
Taub and Smith, stunt nudity experts, wore clothing that could be taken off quickly. “The photographer said, ‘Once people start getting on the bus, get naked and jump in line and pretend like you’re getting on the bus,’” Taub said.
It took a few tries to get it right. They’d put their clothes back on and wait for the next bus.
“The drivers had mixed reactions,” Taub said. “They were mostly scared.”
But it was the Google-bound commuters who surprised Taub the most.
“They were quite uptight. Your average San Francisco bus — we would have gotten more of a reaction. People would clap or take pictures,” she said. “These buses, it was more like very uncomfortable.”
Jessica Powell, vice president of product and corporate communications at Google, said that this is not something Google condones.
“No, no nudes on the bus. It might interfere with the Wi-Fi.”