Andrew Martinez, “The Naked Guy”


Andrew Martinez, “The Naked Guy”

Martinez Residence: Le Chateau Student Co-op: 2545 Hillegass Ave.

A 1873 photo of UC’s first graduating class shows 12 men, formally dressed in suits and ties. Accepted standards of campus dress have varied since then, but it wasn’t until 1992, when sophomore Andrew Martinez began appearing nude on campus, that educators questioned whether clothing itself was essential to higher education.

Well-groomed, athletic, handsome, and soft-spoken, Martinez was taken by Henry David Thoreau’s writings while a Cupertino high school student. At age 17, wearing nothing but a backpack, he walked down Highway 9 with a sign reading “I was born naked and so were you.” When stopped by police he quietly obeyed their request to dress. Later, as a registered UC student living in Le Chateau, a Southside student co-op, he entered the dining room nude each morning, carefully placed a small towel on his chair, and sat down to read the newspaper and eat breakfast with fellow students. Campus police arrested him for indecent exposure during his second year at UC while he was taking a nude southside jog. After the county prosecutor refused to prosecute, he began appearing in the buff on Telegraph Ave., around campus, and in classrooms. Though earlier nudists had appeared on campus and around town, Martinez caught the public’s attention and became a national media sensation. Dubbed “The Naked Guy,” Playgirl profiled him and he was invited to appear on national talk shows. In interviews, he politely asserted that each person has the right to “define normalcy in their own terms.”

When UC banned nudity on campus the Naked Guy held his ground and appeared nude for the disciplinary hearing in which he was expelled. Martinez remained in Berkeley, hanging out along Telegraph Ave. and in People’s Park. When he attended a City Council meeting naked in 1993 the city adopted an anti-nudity ordinance. Martinez was soon arrested for public nudity and, after settling his legal problems, began wearing clothing. He travelled to Europe to study Judo but, on returning to Berkeley, aggressive bitterness and bizarre behavior set in. He was arrested repeatedly for various infractions and diagnosed as schizophrenic. For the remainder of his short life he moved back and forth between half-way houses and jail before taking his own life at age 34.

The spirit of Martinez remains active on the UC campus through regular student naked runs.

Contributed by Robert Kehlmann, 2014

  • Le Chateau Student Co-op, photo (2014) R. Kehlmann

  • First UC graduating class (1873),

  • Gypsy Love, an early campus nudist., photo Berkeley Barb, March 27-April 2, 1970

  • Martinez (left) with friends in Sproul Plaza (1993), photo Backwards from Ace

  • Martinez being arrested, Photo copyright Rory Merry

  • Martinez about to appear Cal expulsion hearing (1992), photo Deanne Fitzmaurice, SF Chronicle

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society