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Ojai's Pastie Lady takes her activism elsewhere

She heads to Oregon, looking for less hassle and greener mind-sets.

May 11, 2008|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

After a year of near-naked environmental activism in Ojai, the Pastie Lady has decided to hit the road for greener pastures.

Jennifer Moss, 32, caused community strife and gained local celebrity for the bike rides she took daily through the center of town, clad only in a hemp G-string and pasties.

But last week, she said she'd grown tired of police harassment in the Ventura County city of 8,000, and moved to Ashland, Ore.

She said the Ojai area was not the environmental Shangri-La she envisioned when she arrived a year ago. People use pesticides on crops, she said, and herbicides to get rid of bamboo on the Ventura River.

"Police attention was part of the reason I left," she said. "But the No. 1 reason I left Ojai is they are not conscious enough about the air, the soil and the water. Either you get it or you don't."

Moss, who calls herself "Earth Friend Jen," had touted various environmental causes during her streaks through downtown. She's passionate about water and thinks everyone should wear clothes made of hemp.

But she'd been ticketed for traffic violations several times and had twice been cited for public indecency. The Ventura County district attorney's office declined to prosecute either case, said Bruce Norris, Ojai's police chief.

"They just don't believe they can get a conviction on the nudity issue," Norris said. "There are constitutional issues about why a man can run around with no shirt on but a woman can't."

Moss said she was always within the law because her skimpy outfit covered key areas. In Ashland, she said, she will no longer have to worry.

The city's laws do not prohibit public nudity, which she recently confirmed during a visit to the local police station. Moss said she celebrated by stripping off all of her clothes and doing a headstand right outside the station. Then she rode naked through the center of Ashland, even though it was chilly out.

"This town is known for performance art. And even though it's not the status quo to ride around naked, it's been done before," Moss said. "So it was no big deal."

As word leaked out in Ojai about Moss' departure, almost everyone had an opinion.

"Good riddance!" one anonymous poster wrote on a local news website.

"I think it's terrible she's been driven out of town," wrote another.

For the police chief, her move will have one concrete benefit: Police will no longer have to waste time responding to complaints.

"I hope she finds real happiness up there," Norris said.

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catherine.saillant@ latimes.com

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