Total Bummer: Annual Amtrak Mooning in Laguna Niguel Suffers from Crackdown (With Photos, NSFW)

Take THAT, British archers, er, Amtrak...
Take THAT, British archers, er, Amtrak...
Paul T. Bradley

There's an annual Orange County wildlife spectacle rife with enough tradition, mystery, and lore to intrigue even the most seasoned of naturalists. Swallows be damned, we're actually talking about the Annual Mooning of the Amtrak in Laguna Niguel. That's right. Just off of the 5, at the Mugs Away Saloon on the first Saturday after July 4th, folks gather to moon trains all day.

It is possible that this tradition harkens back to the Siege of Constantinople in 1204, where the Greeks exposed their bare buttocks to the Crusaders upon repulsing them from the city walls. Or perhaps it's a tribute to the Battle of Crécy? When King Edward III of England prepared to take the city of Crécy and several hundred Norman soldiers exposed their backsides to the English archers. We kid, of course. This quaintly crass tradition began like many a harebrained happening -- with the promise of free alcohol.

Unhitched cabooses. Total Bummer. And so on.
Unhitched cabooses. Total Bummer. And so on.
Paul T. Bradley

"Lucky," a biker and longtime attendee set us straight: the tradition started 31 years ago when a Mugs Away patron promised a free round to anyone cheeky enough to bare backside to a passing Amtrak train. It just took off from there. He should know, he runs one of the several websites dedicated to the event.

"Early in the 2000's it really became popular, two to three thousand people would come out here and they were all just good-spirited, regular people," Lucky explained. "But," he continued, "Around 2007, 2008 -- it just became a total Mardi Gras situation." He's not sure if it was the cops or the city council, but things definitely took an ugly turn soon thereafter.

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"Oh yeah, they came out in riot gear a few years ago" explained another longtime mooner who wished to remain anonymous. "Lots of knuckleheads started coming out here and causing trouble and the cops had no choice but to end it all," he said. He pointed up the street to the dozen or so county sheriffs on hand to keep order, "Those guys used to have a blast on this detail -- watching the girls get naked and all. So, it can't have been all their fault." He estimated (which we later corroborated with other sources) that the event reached a peak of eight to ten thousand people in 2008. Even the Girls Gone Wild folks on hand.

Much like the dwindling Capistrano swallow populations of recent years, mooners were few and far between this past Saturday. There was perhaps a midday maximum of fifty or so, but most trains saw merely a dozen or less rear ends. Far from the heyday, when, as many of the longtimers recalled, people would camp out all weekend.

Impressively legible for cheeky monkeys; it supposedly spelled out "UR A PERVERT".
Impressively legible for cheeky monkeys; it supposedly spelled out "UR A PERVERT".
Paul T. Bradley

What we saw, having spent most of the day there, went like this: a few bikers would stand around outside, milling about. Then, someone with the train schedule clearly memorized (both Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink) would scream out "Train! Come on everyone! Train!" and a few more people would run out of the bar and drop trou by the chain link fence. Most trains, which came roughly hourly, would slow down or honk horns. After the train passed, everyone would amble back into the bar.

It comes as no shock to outsiders that some Southern Californians gather to show their bare asses to trains. "Shitting on public transportation...that's only once a year there? I thought you guys did that every day," ribbed one of our oh-so clever New York associates upon hearing about our journey to Orange County.

All in all, it seems like good harmless fun, carried out by some truly good-natured bikers and locals. As long as everyone behaves, it shouldn't be all that big of a deal, right? This is America after all, isn't it? Few of the attendees could answer the other most plaguing question we had all day: WTF?

We moseyed up to a group of younger guys here for the first time to ask that very question. "I don't know, man...I saw it on the news last year and knew I had to be here. It's like a local thing. Maybe we'll see some chicks," answered Mike, a UCI sophomore. "Bummer, looks like there's only dudes running up there now," another remarks. Sure enough, a handful of pleasantly soused guys ran up to moon a northbound Metrolink.

"Aw dude, I can totally see that guy's balls," bemoaned one of the bros. Yup, and so could we. Such a sight signaled that the hour of our departure had arrived -- time to turn back north to the more temperate climes of LA-proper where more modest Angelenos only show nether-parts to strangers within the confines of proper monetary exchange.

At this point, we've run out of synonyms for "butt." This is one occasion where online journalism fails to capture the true majesty and mystique of bikers bearing buttocks and scrotal sacs to trainloads of total strangers. Perhaps we'll find proper inspiration in due time. Until next year, Laguna Niguel, when we hope Lucky gets his wish and the well-behaved crowds return in fesse, er, force.

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