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Andrew Martinez:
Berkeley Icon Took It All Off for His Cause

‘Naked Guy’ Who Gained National Media Attention in 1990s
Dead In Apparent Suicide

BRYAN THOMAS / Daily Cal 25may2006

 

Andrew Martinez is shown in a 1992 file photo re-dressing himself under the supervision of UCPD Lt. Bill Folely. Martinez became notorious for attending classes naked.

Andrew Martinez is shown in a 1992 file photo re-dressing himself under the supervision of UCPD Lt. Bill Folely. Martinez became notorious for attending classes naked.

The UC Berkeley student commonly known as " The Naked Guy," who gained national infamy for attending classes nude in the early 1990s, died last week in Santa Clara County Jail. Andrew Martinez, 33, died in an apparent suicide early last Thursday, said jail spokesperson Mark Cursi. Martinez was discovered unconscious in his cell at about 11:19 p.m. Wednesday with a plastic bag over his head secured with a bed sheet, Cursi said.

Martinez, a Cupertino, Calif. native, had been in custody since Jan. 10 on three felony charges, two of battery and one of assault with a deadly weapon, Cursi said. Martinez had reportedly been dealing with mental illness problems.

In early 1992, then-sophomore Martinez began walking around Berkeley and attending classes wearing nothing but sandals. Following a report in The Daily Californian, Martinez gained national attention quickly with publicity in Newsweek and Time magazines and television interviews on CNN and a multitude of talk shows. He even appeared in a photo spread in Playgirl magazine.

In response, UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley created policies banning public nudity, leading to Martinez's eventual expulsion and arrest. Martinez showed up to his disciplinary hearings on campus nude.

"We never understood why he took it that far," said UC Berkeley alumnus Ted Stalcup, who was on the Cal Judo team with Martinez. "He said he was doing it to make a statement. We treated it as a personal quirk."

In a December 1992 interview with the Daily Cal, Martinez said the publicity had caught up with him and he felt increasingly strained by the attention.

"I'm stuck with this 'Naked Guy' thing," he sid. "It's kind of depressing that that's all I'm known for."

Friends say Martinez was trying to influence change and encourage acceptance of public nudity. Martinez participated with the nude performance group X-plicit Players in protest of the university policy banning nudity.

Martinez was known in high school for refusing to wear brand-name clothes. He first went nude when he was still in high school and walked down a busy road with a sign reading "I was born nude. So were you." He was arrested after walking for a mile.

Stalcup said as a freshman Martinez often attended class wearing shorts and sandals but no shirt.

"I know I'm not going to change the nation," Martinez told the Daily Cal. "I just want to show that someone feels this way."

But Stalcup said Martinez was not defined by his nudity and did not strive to make it an issue as much as the media did.

"He was a great guy. The naked thing was never an issue," Stalcup said. "He described himself as a militant nudist. In every other respect he was the nicest guy."

Stalcup said after Martinez's expulsion many of his friends lost touch with him and that he was surprised to learn of Martinez's mental illness.

"It's Berkeley; if someone's walking around naked, it's more of a crazy Berkeley thing than an early sign of mental illness," Stalcup said. "I was sad. There was obviously a really great person under there that could have been salvaged."

source: http://www.dailycal.org/sharticle.php?id=22284 29may2006

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