It's both a surprising twist in the long narrative of Bay Area kooks and political dramas and an inevitable "of course" that an incident involving an unhinged attack on a national political figure in SF should somehow circle back to Gypsy Taub, but it has.
We learned Friday that David DePape, the suspect in the attack that seriously injured Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, formerly lived with Berkeley-based nudist activist Gypsy Taub as well as her three children in the last decade and a half. And Taub's widely covered nude wedding outside City Hall in 2013 featured a clothed DePape serving as best man.
Taub, 53, has now clarified in an interview with the Chronicle that she and DePape were romantically involved in what sounds like an on-again, off-again relationship that began over 20 years ago, when DePape would have been around 20 years old and Taub around 31. This was a jailhouse interview, since Taub remains herself incarcerated at the California Institution For Women in Corona, in Riverside County, after a 2020 conviction for a confusing case in which she formed an inappropriate relationship with a teenage friend of her son. (Taub blames corruption in the U.S. legal system for her conviction, and said the charges stemmed from posting "non-sexual lover letters and music on blogs" directed at a 14-year-old whom she encouraged to run away from his mother.)
Taub says she met DePape in Hawaii in 2000, and said that he was a "shy and sweet" who "didn’t know anything about politics." As SFist surmised last week, he is hardly the picture of a right-wing radical, despite the parallels between his actions and the January 6th insurrection — he was reportedly shouting "Where's Nancy?" and carrying zip ties. Taub says he was a fan of Obama and had agreed with many of her progressive viewpoints — and she says that they never argued about politics during their time together.
But where mental illness and the extreme vitriol of today's politics collide is where we likely find DePape and his motives. Taub says that both she and DePape are/were "against the shadow government."
"I don’t think he became a Trump supporter," Taub tells the Chronicle. "He was against the government, but if anything he was opposed to the shadow government, against the people who really run the government and use politicians as puppets. Like Trump was a puppet."
Here's where the conspiracy theories of the far left collide with the far right and conspiracists in general. Talk of a "shadow government" is hardly the purview of just one end of the spectrum — and Taub says that she and DePape shared the view that 9/11 was an inside job.
The timeline of their relationship includes some periods between 2000 to 2009 — a time in which Taub's daughter Inti Gonzalez describes DePape as the "man of the house" and her "stepfather." (Somewhere in there, another man fathered at least two of Taub's children, Inti, who was born in 2000, and Nebo, who was born several years later.)
Taub says that she broke up with DePape for about a year and a half in 2009, during which time he lived on the street and became increasingly paranoid. And after they got back together sometime in 2010, Taub tells the Chronicle he believed he was "Jesus for a year."
Two years later, Taub, then 44, met 20-year-old Jaymz Smith at a Rainbow Gathering in Montana, brought him back to the Bay Area, and recruited him into her activism at the time protesting San Francisco's nudity ban. She and Smith were married outside SF City Hall in December 2013, and it's not clear how much longer that relationship lasted — because Taub tells the Chronicle she broke up with DePape "for good" in 2015. (She separately told the New York Times that her romantic relationship with DePape only lasted "a few years," and he was mostly a roommate and caretaker for the kids.)
Since then, she says, DePape has been seen getting free meals at the McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley, and she gathers he "completely lost his mind."
Inti Gonzalez, who says she's stayed in touch with DePape since he left their home, tells the New York Times, "There is some part of him that is a good person even though he has been very consumed by darkness." But, she adds ominously, "the monster in him was always too strong for him to be safe to be around."
The Chronicle reported last week and as the Times further reported, DePape's online blog presence in recent years was a chaotic mish-mash that one could say paints a picture of unmedicated mental illness, blending day-to-day political items — like encouraging Trump to choose Tulsi Gabbard as a running mate for 2024 — with images of faeries and Holocaust denials.
So yes, for now, neither Republicans nor Democrats really have to take responsibility for his actions and they can pass all of this off as lunatic behavior — except for the fact that hundreds of people chanted "Where's Nancy?" at the Capitol, and right-wing media (and social media) have vilified Pelosi relentlessly for over a decade, creating bait for the unhinged.
Top image: Nude activist Gypsy Taub being arrested by San Francisco police officers as he protests San Francisco's new ban on nudity at San Francisco City Hall on February 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. At least four nude activists were arrested as they protested San Francisco's new ban on nudity in public places. The measure proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener was being challenged by activists who called the ordinance unfair because it grants exceptions for nudity at permitted public events. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)