SF's Top Eccentrics - Owen Dias a.k.a. Powell Street's No Sex Guy

Categories: SF Oddities

(Photo by Mai Le via Flickr)

You thought we were out of freaks. You were wrong. Here's one more SF staple that didn't make it into the print version of Lauren Smiley's "Nonconformity Still Reigns!"

The Proselytizer: Owen Dias
Costume: A suit, hat, and a hand-painted sign that features the words “No Unlawful Sex” and a whole lotta fine print
Territory: Powell Square

By Lauren Smiley

Just feet from a gay pride flag flapping in the breeze, Owen Dias squats on the fire hydrant in Powell Square five days a week like Dorothy landed in Oz. In a city renowned for free love, the first topless club, and a mayor beloved despite his adulterous sex scandal, a man with a “No Unlawful Sex” sign is mostly dismissed as an oddity.

But Dias has returned five days a week for 22 years, sitting in his natty suit and top hat through the taunts that he’s a repressed gay, through the invitations to hook up, through the on-line claims they’ve got him into bed.

“No sex!” he calls to harried passerby. “No sloppy seconds!”

Owen and his sign define unlawful sex as anything other than a “virgin man and a virgin women” in marriage (read: he or she who has masturbated or looked upon another in lust is no longer a virgin). If you’ve had any other type of nooky, he says the only way you can get right with the Lord is to stop having sex for the rest of your days.

“I’ve never had sex in my whole life,” the 71-year-old boasts in his round, rolling accent that sounds vaguely like he’s from the Louisiana bayou. “Never masturbated in my whole life either. Since I came out of my mother’s womb.”

Growing up in Belize, Dias says the calling came to him while he was working on a ‘61 Rivera in his auto body shop in Pasadena in 1974. He stopped working on cars that very day to start spreading the word, there, then Hollywood and Long Beach before he made his way to the debaucherous city by the bay.

So, does he actually believe he’s made a dent out here on the kinky desires of San Franciscans? “My work is not to make ‘em [do it], my work is just to tell ‘em. I’m a messenger.”

A chunky teenage kid with braces snapped a photo. “It’s hilarious,” the kid said, “and true.” Dias was obviously pleased: “A young kid that thinks it’s also true.” Of course, the kid also announced he was from Maryland.

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