Chus Martinez On Streaking!Posted: November 28, 2012
Streaking is the act of taking off one’s clothes and running naked through a public place. The word is recorded in its modern sense only since 1973. Before that, to streak in English since 1768 meant “to go quickly, to rush, to run at full speed”, and was a re-spelling of streek: “to go quickly” (c.1380); this in turn was originally a northern Middle English variant of stretch (c. 1250).
The term “streaking” was popularized by a reporter for a local Washington, D.C. news station as he watched a “mass nude run” take place at the University of Maryland in 1973. That nude run had 533 participants. As the collected mass of nude students exited Bel Air dorm, the reporter, whose voice was broadcast live over the station via a pay phone connection exclaimed… “they are streaking past me right now. It’s an incredible sight!” The next day it was out on the Associated Press wire as “streaking” and had nationwide coverage.
Streaking is distinct from naturism or nudism in that streakers usually intend to be noticed and may choose a place with a large audience for their act, regardless of the risk of arrest (sometimes even intending to be remanded into police custody), whereas naturists and nudists generally prefer to be left in peace. It is also distinct from “flashing”, in that the intent is generally not to shock or traumatize a victim. Streakers may streak only once or a few times, possibly as a result of a dare, or may streak so often it can be considered a hobby. The most public form of streaking is running naked before huge crowds at sporting events. However, many streakers seek quieter venues, such as a neighborhood at night after most people have gone to bed.
Anonymously posted fliers proclaiming “Go Naked Week May 1–7″ began appearing on University of Delaware campus bulletin boards in March, 1970. Events included the student newspaper’ The Review’s front-page photograph of a nude couple strolling hand in hand on the Mall, naked pyramid competitions between fraternities, and other, less documented, occurrences. As this was the week of the Kent State shootings, the University was temporarily shut down by its president, Edward Arthur Trabant, under the twin pressures of fully clothed anti-war demonstrators and naked heaps of the apolitical in front of Memorial Hall. Nevertheless, this led to a proposal in the Delaware State Senate to “shut down University funding due to the naked hippies protesting the war.” The bill did not pass.
The high point of streaking’s pop culture significance was in 1974, when thousands of streaks took place around the world. A wide range of novelty products were produced to cash in on the fad, from buttons and patches to a wristwatch featuring a streaking Richard Nixon, to pink underwear that said “Too shy to streak.” The prominence of streaking in 1974 has been linked both to the sexual revolution and a conservative backlash against feminism and the campus protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Perhaps the most widely seen streaker in history was 34-year-old Robert Opel, who streaked across the stage flashing the peace sign on national US television at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974. Opel’s run across the stage occurred with host David Niven mostly between him and the camera, so nothing below the waist was visible to the TV audience; a brief blurred view of Opel’s genitalia at the edge of the frame was obscured by the overscan on most contemporary TV sets. Niven quipped, “Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” It seems that Opel’s appearance was facilitated as a publicity stunt by the show’s producer Jack Haley, Jr. Robert Metzler, the show’s business manager, believed that the incident had been planned in some way; during the dress rehearsal Niven had asked Metzler’s wife to borrow a pen so he could write down the famous line, which was thus not the ad-lib it appeared to be.
3 Responses to Chus Martinez On Streaking!
Michael Roth | October 7, 2012 at 1:08 am Give yourself 5 minutes of streaking a day and you’ll have a happier, more successful life!
Michael Roth | October 7, 2012 at 1:09 am Streaking is the only spectator sport I watch!
chusmartinezproject | October 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm Streaking is the only sport in which all the participants and all the spectators come out as the winners! It is communudism in action!