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SF's Most Notorious Nudist Stakes Her Claim to History 

Wednesday, Dec 2 2015
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"Naked people don't bother me, and they feel like nice people," he said as his mother hoisted him up to the microphone.

Next, Taub's older son, Nebo, announced: "A naked person is like a dressed person. There is no difference."

Finally, Taub's daughter, Inti, delivered the coup de grâce: "If God wanted us to go everywhere wearing clothes, he should have made it so we were born with clothes."

Twenty minutes later, Taub, in sandals and a shift-like dress, took the floor.

"Nudity does not harm children," she began. "Have you ever seen a child cry because they saw a naked person? What do children do when they see naked people? They laugh. It makes them happy, it doesn't traumatize them."

She went on to note that "our bodies are sacred, and an attack on our right to be nude is an attack on sacredness, beauty, love, freedom, art, and creative self-expression." She cited the Declaration of Independence's guarantee of "unalienable [sic] rights," and asserted that body freedom was one such right.

Then, she yanked her dress over her head and stood naked under City Hall's pitiless fluorescents. She gave the audience behind her a girlish wave.

"Attacks on body freedom are unconstitutional and un-American," she continued, as a committee member advised her that nudity was prohibited inside City Hall, and a sheriff's deputy closed in. "Down with Scott Wiener and his Fascist legislation! We refuse to go back to the Dark Ages of body shame and sexual repression!"

She continued shouting while the deputy escorted her out.

That moment was a turning point in Taub's career as a public figure. Although the nudity ban passed 6-to-5 the following month (eliciting another naked fracas from Taub and cohorts), she had demonstrated that an ex-stripper could go commando in City Hall and cause a sensation without "having to shake [her] ass in someone's face."

She had also introduced San Francisco to her three children, who, alongside their mother, would caper through the city like a feral Von Trapp family. But just who was this slim, intense woman whose naked body would soon become criminal? And why was she doing this?


She was born Oxane Taub. Her father was a physicist and an amateur inventor, her mother a seamstress. When Taub talks about her childhood in Brezhnev's USSR, the country takes on the bucolic charm of a Currier & Ives print.

Summers were spent in a rented country house surrounded by meadows and lakes. There were wild berries to pick and mushrooms to forage. The village mothers made soups and salads, fresh preserves and pastries — hearty Slavic meals washed down with industrial-strength tea. Neighbors talked deep into the night. Everyone knew a good joke.

Taub calls these the happiest summers of her life, and also some of the most soulful. She was a serious girl who wrote poetry and daydreamed about a world where people loved each other and celebrated life — an idealist, even in the ruins of the Cold War.

"I was always interested in consciousness," she says. "As a kid, I spent hours thinking about eternity and endlessness and life after death. I didn't want to believe this is all there is."

The good times ended when she was a teenager. The Soviet Union's "Era of Stagnation," a period of political inertia and economic decline, finally took its toll. Meat shortages swept the country. Tractors broke down and stayed that way. Men drank in the streets. A chill fell over Moscow's brutalist housing blocks as the state veered back towards Stalinist repression.

"When I was 12 or 13, my parents told me that we're being lied to about everything," Taub says. "We're not the freest and best country in the world. We're oppressed."

Taub's home life mirrored the country's deterioration. Her father grew moody and violent. Her mother was constantly "on the verge of an emotional crisis." Taub buried herself in schoolwork to avoid going home.

"I can't say the government made my life hell," Taub says. "My family pretended to be happy when they weren't. All of my problems came from them."

Decades later, Taub uncovered the reason for her mother's neuroses: She'd been prostituted and raped by her father — Taub's grandfather — from the time she was a child.

Taub claims that she, too, was repeatedly raped by her grandfather, although the evidence she offers is memories recovered during LSD trips. She experienced visions of her grandfather molesting her with his hands, she says, followed by three men raping her until she blacked out. After using the psychoactive substance ibogaine last year, Taub says she "communicated" with her dead mother and forgave her for not keeping Taub safe as a child.

It's tempting to chalk these up as drug-induced fantasias. Except, for Taub, they're deadly real, and a kind of Rosetta Stone that deciphers her entire life. She admits as much, noting, "Without psychedelics I wouldn't be alive." When she's done with America — which may be soon since, as she says, "there is no freedom in this country" — she plans to open an ibogaine clinic in Portugal (where drugs have been decriminalized) to treat heroin addicts and child abuse survivors.

Taub weathered her family's misery until she moved to America alone at 19, ignoring her parents' warnings that émigrés "get murdered as soon as they get off the plane."

Although drugs didn't bring her to the U.S., they've been a cornerstone of her life here, more so even than nudity. One day in Boston, a friend who was tripping on acid told Taub how "mind-opening" psychedelics were. They aren't addictive, he said. You don't lose your mind, you find it — a seductive slogan to a self-loathing girl barely out of her teens.

Taub was intrigued. Shortly after, she and her boyfriend ate mushrooms while watching TV. They "laughed [their] asses off," she remembers. It was an innocent introduction to what is now one of the most autodidactic obsessions of her life: consciousness expansion.

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Jeremy Lybarger

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