Why No Nudity in Corvallis? Portland Gets to Have All the Fun

Invigorated by the notion of bicycling nude through the streets of Corvallis, in convivial solidarity, perhaps, with Portland’s recent participation in World Bike Naked Day? Don’t you dare! To paraphrase a Corvallis city ordinance: “Put some pants on, son.”

000nudeSection of the Corvallis Municipal Code specifically states: “1) No person shall, while in a public place or in view of a public place, appear in a state of nudity; 2) A violation of this Section is a Class C Misdemeanor.” The least serious of three classes of misdemeanor, it carries a maximum $1,250 fine. Still, a pretty hefty slap on your bare… wrist.

The history of nudity, of course, harkens back to the proverbial Garden of Eden, where the sly snake tempted Adam and his rib-originated mate with the delicious truth, and God reneged on his death threat after they dared call his bluff—all the while gloriously in the buff.

The history of nudity in Corvallis doesn’t go back quite as far. The infamous “Naked Ladies Cult” of Corvallis appears to have been a fanciful dramatization of the 1903 to 1906 Brides of Christ scandal, which rocked the town when huckster/prophet Franz Edmund Creffield—who formed his own religious cult after deciding the Salvation Army wasn’t holy enough for his taste, and later claimed to have caused the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906—got a few dozen local ladies to live with him in mutual religious fervor.

They were nicknamed “Holy Rollers” by townsfolk who witnessed them literally rolling around on the ground in religious ecstasy. Creffield refused to take a hint when a posse of local men, tired of his sordid corruption of their womenfolk, tarred and feathered him, then sent him packing. Undaunted, he reappeared in town the very next day, skin rubbed red, still stinking of pine tar and turpentine, and brazenly married one of his fervent flock, Maud Hurt.

Oregonians both young and old enjoying Portland’s naked bicycle ride

Oregonians both young and old
enjoying Portland’s naked bicycle ride

He was later charged with adultery for sleeping with Maud’s married aunt, Donna Starr. After a months-long manhunt, Creffield was found naked (of course) under the house of one of his followers. After serving 17 months in prison, he was released—an event he proudly proclaimed to his ecstatic followers a “resurrection.” The party didn’t last long, as Starr’s brother, George Mitchell, murdered Creffield on May 7, 1906. Mitchell was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and summarily released a few days later. What had apparently sent him over the edge was the fact Creffield had chosen Mitchell’s teenage sister, Esther, to be the “second mother of Christ,” a position deemed to include bearing Creffield’s firstborn child. A few days after her brother was released, Esther murdered him with a gun Maud Hurt had bought, ironically, with money she and Esther earned from witness fees incurred testifying at George Mitchell’s trial. Esther, too, was tried for murder, and she was also found not guilty by reason of insanity. She was, however, committed to an asylum. She was released in 1909, and committed suicide in 1914.

As for World Bike Naked Day, legend has it that its roots in Portland began in 2002, thanks to some visiting Canadians with a bold, fresh idea. The Portland Police Bureau, for their part, issued a press release before 2011’s barebacked bicycling bonanza, asking that riders “at least wear a helmet,” and warning participants not to cross the line from perfectly permissible nudity into “public indecency,” defined as “(a) An act of sexual intercourse; (b) An act of deviate sexual intercourse; or (c) An act of exposing the genitals of the person with the intent of arousing the sexual desire of the person or another person.”

Thousands of participants flood Portland yearly for the event, where the only fee for participating is $1 per piece of clothing worn. The event takes place concurrently in nearly a hundred cities worldwide, and while it was originally intended to promote independence from fossil fuels, more recently its focus is more about the ethereal joy, the sheer ecstasy, of cycling. Modern day Holy Rollers, if you will.

By Seth Aronson


Keep Corvallis Weird Planning Department Says Okay!

I see this bumper sticker all over town, but it seems like if we want to be PDX Weird and not Stepford Wives Weird, we need to step up our game. As many are painfully, and conversely thankfully aware, there are no strip clubs in Corvallis. Portland has one strip club for every 9,578 residents—that puts Corvallis down almost six clubs from where we should be! Hell, they even have a vegan strip club: how much more eco-organic-sustainable can you get?

Whether they like them, hate them, or just don’t care, it seems as if Corvallisites are split on the notion as to whether they’re banned here or not. Here to settle the score for good is Kevin Young, a city Planning Division Manager:

“There is no ban of such facilities in Corvallis. Depending on the type of use and zoning, such a use might be permitted outright under the Land Development Code. There may be other concerns with issues like OLCC licensing, health department standards that I am not aware of, but these uses are not prohibited by the Land Development Code.”

By Johnny Beaver