Though he appears nearly naked from time to time, Joseph Gottschalk is legally covered.
Joseph Gottschalk causes controversy by choosing to wear the minimum amount of clothing required by law while bicycling. The thong-clad Gottschalk was riding in his neighborhood near Southside Lions Park on Saturday.
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"Don't they call that a thong? I think it's disgusting," said Norm Sutton, 66, of the undressed man who rides his bike around Southside Lions Park.
San Antonio Park Police have received several complaints over the past month about a man who cruises on a bicycle wearing only shoes and a thong a swimsuit or undergarment that doesn't cover the buttocks.
"This is unique, let me tell you. Normal general public doesn't do that," said Park Police Capt. Raymond Castro. "But he's within his civil rights and legal rights to wear his thong."
According to state law, no offense is committed if the man has "his anus and genitals" covered, Castro said. Which the thong does, if nothing else.
Gottschalk, 52, an unemployed truck driver who dabbles in carpentry, is aware of his rights and compares riding nearly naked to driving the maximum legal speed limit.
"It doesn't take much clothing to take care of the requirement," he said. "I call it exhibitionism.
"We all claim to believe in the value of personal liberty, but we don't," he said. "No one person has the right to outrank the law and tell me what to wear."
Ed Mitchell, 63, a retired Bexar County deputy who frequents the park, shook his head at the fine line that keeps Gottschalk from going to jail for indecent exposure or disorderly conduct.
"That little bit he's got on, a fig leaf would probably cover more than that," he said.
Ivonne Castoreno, 33, said Gottschalk keeps to himself, but she changed her walking schedule after seeing him a couple of times. Her 13-year-old son was with her.
"What disturbs me is that he's doing this by a public park around small children," she said. "Look at this guy you know, he's not hiding much. Keep it in the bedroom."
Gottschalk has been contacted by police at least 20 times in the past four years regarding his lack of attire.
When asked about the criticism, he raised his arms high and averred that seeing the human body is not traumatic.
"I am a person. How could it possibly harm anyone child or not to see a person? It can't," he said.
Gottschalk, who is divorced, has four sons, ages 14 to 25.
"They consider me to be a mild embarrassment, but they love me," he said.
Some at the park near Hiawatha and Pecan Valley streets just smiled.
"He comes here often wearing the same black thong," said Marisa Ayala, 26, who like many others in the area enjoys walking in the park before the heat of the day sets in. "He doesn't look like he bothers anybody. He's just riding around."
Betty Seibold, 57, who lives down the street from Gottschalk, said she's seen him mow his lawn and wash his truck in the skimpy attire.
"From an artistic perspective, he's attractive looking," said Seibold, a retired schoolteacher of 32 years. "He's in good shape. His behavior may seem strange to us, but we are all a little strange in different ways. We are all eccentric."
Just before getting back on his bicycle, Gottschalk clipped on his cell phone.
"I am sane," he said. "Heck, I am better than sane. I basically love life. ... You gotta find some humor in life."