From Academic Kids

Streaking is the practice of running around in public places nude. A streaker will enter a hidden or out-of-the-way spot, undress when and where nobody is looking, and then will surprisingly and unexpectedly dart as fast as he or she can across streets, malls and lawns completely naked, or, for female streakers, at least leaving the breasts and/or pubic area exposed.

Missing image
Liene Buldure, a Latvian streaker, in action during the soccer game between Latvia and Portugal in Riga, 4 September 2004.

The practice was developed in the 1970s as a shocking pastime. The fad soon became a symbol of the decade. Some streakers made it all the way back home without getting apprehended, but others would actually aim to see how long they could go about streaking before they got arrested (some jurisdictions would charge streakers with indecent exposure, but one town voted to pass a law specifically targeted at streaking).

The record for the most streakers at one time is held by the University of Colorado at Boulder, with 1,200 streakers simultaneously. Athens, Georgia claims to have organised 1,000 streakers, with the University of Maryland ranking third at 553 naked students streaking three miles in March 1974. The previous record was held by the University of South Carolina of 508 streakers.

Perhaps the most widely-seen streaker in history was in 1974 when 33-year-old Robert Opal 'streaked' across the stage naked on national US television at the 46th Academy Awards. Opal flashed a peace sign as he crossed the stage, and National Broadcasting Company cameras cut away to avoid full frontal nudity.

Recovering quickly after the event, host David Niven quipped, "The only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping... and showing his shortcomings."

When David Niven's 1974 Academy Awards brush with a streaker was voted the top Oscars moment by film fans in 2001, it might have been read as a mild indictment of the entertainment value of Oscar Night itself.

This sign of the times was chronicled by Ray Stevens, who profited off the fad with his song "The Streak". His novelty hit about the guy who's "always making the news wearing just his tennis shoes" peaked at #1 on the sales charts. Dialogue with a male witness, in a news interview format, was interspersed with lyrics about the exploits of a streaker. The song's catchphrase "Don't look, Ethel!" became a kitschy joke and an instantly recognized reference to streaking.

Starting in 1986, the streaking fad resulted in an annual event at the University of Michigan: the "Naked Mile" in which the last day of class was celebrated with a group streak across campus along an approximate 1 mile path. At the height of its popularity in the late 1990s, between 500 and 800 students would participate. However, due to town and University enforcement of public indecency laws starting in 1998, as well as increasing spectator crowds, videotaping, and photography, participation plummeted. In 2001, a mere 24 students participated, with similar turnout in recent years. See also Ann Arbor events.

Late in the 1990s, streaking returned as a retro fad. Its popularity was given a big boost by Blink-182, big fans of the pastime who often appear topless in publicity shots and at concerts. Their proclivity for exposed genitalia was publicized in their 1999 music video for "What's My Age Again?", in which they tear across the pavement with their pubic and anal regions digitally blurred out.

This prominent resurgence for the activity has led some to argue that streaking should be considered an art form in and of itself, with the activity undoubtedly inspiring many artists and free thinkers. Proponents of this theory have included the previously referenced Blink-182, and performance artist John Hassel, more popularly known as Bunboy.

In 2003 streaking came to the forefront in New Zealand when former All Black Mark Ellis, now a television presenter offered a monetary reward for anyone who streaked in front of Prime Minister Helen Clark. This is part of Ellis' National Nude Day.

In 2004, a Nike commercial for their "Shox" shoes centered around someone streaking at a soccer match wearing nothing but said shoes, and commentators comment throughout.

Hamilton College of New York has a Varsity Streaking Team, which claims an undefeated record, and received positive coverage in the New York Times in 2004.

Hamilton College was undefeated in their collegiate record until the Williams College Springstreakers soundly defeated Hamilton in the spring of 2005. 15 member of the Williams team made a full circuit of the Hamilton library the night before their final exams began, streaking about 200 people and giving the Hamilton team their first loss. It is unclear at this time if streaking will continue as a collegiate sport.

See also

External links

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