The History of Streaking
Let's throw any namby-pamby evolutionary theories aside. Let's say Louis Leakey was just some guy who really dug archaeology, and that Lucy was actually a malformed mountain gorilla who had never learned table manners, let alone walking upright. Let's pretend that Charles Darwin was actually the bass player in a popular beat combo called The Beagles, and we'll assume that the zero buttons on geologists' calculators are a little oversensitive. Above all, let's believe in the creation story for a moment.
God makes Adam for practice, then gets it right with Eve, having used a little less elbow skin and a few more fat cells. In His wisdom, He doesn't provide clothing, and spends quite a bit of time giggling as they wander about the Garden in a state of naive bliss. At this point, there are no security men to arrest them, and God finds it an hilarious distraction from the humdrum of Cricket in Heaven, where every ball scores a six while simultaneously removing the middle stump of Gabriel, and the innings have lasted several eons since the drinks break.
Eve gets bored, starts talking to snakes, and before you know it they've eaten an apple, attained free will, the ability to understand Neitzche, and questioned the need for Sport in Paradise. This, however, is the least of God's worries. Before He can say "collective unconscious" they've looked down, "and saw that they were naked, and were ashamed". This of course ruins the entire shebang, because they get embarrassed, cover themselves with fig leaves, and leave the field entirely.
God is understandably upset about this, and sets an angel to guard the gate lest they come in again and refuse to streak. He allows evil into the world as punishment for this "original sin", and subsequently calls off the Cricket game in disgust.
The Ancient Greeks were known for all sorts of bizarre practices, but they did also invent a lot of important things, like democracy, triangle theorum, and Socrates. One of their weirder ideas was a great sporting contest, held every four years, and combining all the best athletic and field events into one program. They then got the rich retail gods, such as Mac Donales, to sponsor the event. The contests were held in great stone arenas, and the athletes were invariably nude. The whole point of the exercise was to further human friendship, and to worship the gods through noble competition, but of course everyone just went along to compare penis size. This tradition became known as ogleocracy, an obscure word which is now only used on building sites and at strip shows.
Of course, Ancient Greece had its own larrikin element. As any student of Homer will know, Iliad is Greek for "buggerising about". It has recently been discovered that streaking was rife throughout this period, and hit its peak during Games years, although to streak engendered an altogether different activity to what we are used to. Stone tablets have been recovered describing such behaviour, though the translation varies with some scholars. Dr. Reginald Skedaddle has been criticised for his interpretation of one text, originally thought to describe planting barley, as such:
A disturbance brought proceedings to a halt, and there was much consternation, for a youth had run onto the field fully clothed, and was malarking about with great enthusiasm. Guards promptly detained and stripped him, much to the relief of arena management, however some of the ogleocracy had found the entire incident wholly amusing...
Classic scholars are quick to point out that malarking is actually the Latin word for cake mix, and therefore doubt the thoroughness of Dr. Skedaddle's research. Scepticism is widespread at the Doctor's own Heliotrope University. Professor George Meerkat, head of the history department there, has long been his scholastic nemesis. "Everyone knows Reg is just after a bit of attention and some free plonk if he can get it. The fact is, I could pull a better translation out of my graduate thesis."
Skedaddle is unperturbed by such criticism. "It has long been an established fact that the Ancient Greeks were a pretty strange bunch. It makes sense that their streakers should be clothed. It's a perfect act of rebellion in a society where nudity is a sporting fixture." He has, however, been unable to explain the frequency of clothing depicted on pottery artefacts and frescoes. "I guess they didn't want the Romans to know how strange they really were..."
"Many years ago there lived an Emperor who was so monstrous fond of fine new clothes that he spent all his money on being really smart..."
No, this does not refer to Elton John. We are talking Hans Christian Anderson (no relation to MacGyver's Richard Dean Anderson), and his wonderful tale of the first ever fashion victim and bedtime story streaker.
Like most of those obsessed with clothes, this once-upon-a-time Emperor was extremely gullible, and was liable to believe anything a tailor or fashion designer told him, such as how lime green was going to be the new black, and so forth.
Swindled by two conmen into buying a fabulous new material which only stupid people are unable to see, he cheerfully feigns admiration for thin air, afraid to admit that he himself cannot see the garments made for him. His councillors, similarly worried, all agree that he looks absolutely spanking in the new clothes, and they arrange a spiffing parade so that all may admire the design. Everyone else doesn't want to look dumb, so they cheer him from the streets and windowsills, wondering if their neighbour can see the clothes, and comparing penis sizes.
Finally a child cries: "Hey, I can see his doodle!", and they all suddenly realise she's right, bursting into a Mexican wave of laughter. The Emperor keeps a stiff upper lip, and a flaccid lower body, and continues his royal streak down the cobblestones, unwilling, as most fashion victims are, to admit he has been duped.
"It'll come back next year," he says.
This Irish folk hero was one helluva guy. Given the choice between long life and fame, he chose fame, like you do. He became a renowned warrior and magician, taught by wise men and trained in war. By seven he had killed the neighbour's dog, earning the name Cu Chulainn, which means "Cullan's Hound", or, in Cullan's dialect, "Bastard kid next door". He went on to kill three giants, cutting off their heads in a beserk fury and speeding home in a chariot, like you do. Faced with the warrior doing donuts outside the gates of Ulster, the Queen decided to calm him down, lest he attack the city in his fury. She led her ladies down to greet him, all completely naked, and when he gallantly closed his eyes, as beserk warriors are wont to do, the guards grabbed him and threw him in the icy lake.
Obviously it was a very Irish thing to do, and it is possibly the only time in history where nudity has been used to calm down overexcited wild men. And the only time security ignored a herd of streakers and carried off the clothed guy. Of course the rest of Ulster was cheering its head off, hoping for a repeat performance during the drinks break.
One of the most famous true streakers, Lady Godiva stripped and frolicked for a noble cause. Having pleaded constantly with her husband, the Earl of Mercia, to reduce taxes, he finally declared that he would do so if she rode naked through the local Coventry marketplace. Then he sat back for the afternoon, thinking he'd fooled her up really well with that corker, when whoomfar! Past she galloped clad only in her hair, much to the delight of the townsfolk. Naturally, the Earl was not entirely happy with this, but reluctantly kept his word, removing all taxes save those on horses, most probably out of jealousy.
Another version has the townsfolk kept indoors, except for Peeping Tom, who was struck blind for looking at the aristocratic streaker. Yet another version has the partially sighted Tom promptly scoring a double century after Godiva is led from the scene to a waiting paddy wagon, but this story has only been heard in blind cricketing circles, and fairly late at night.
By March 1974, US university students were tired of phone booth cramming, pole sitting, and goldfish swallowing, as, indeed, were the phone booths, poles and goldfish. In what we in the industry call a bloody great coincidence, around the same time students became excited at the idea of co-educational colleges. So excited, in fact, that they decided to run around naked in public. Naturally, thousands of people saw the sense in this, and followed suit, to the point that young people were parachuting nude, conga-lining nude and skiing nude at every opportunity. Streaking became a full-blown fad, and went on to become a much more interesting trend than, say, the Rubik's cube, if only because you didn't have to take a streaker apart with a screwdriver to get him to work.
The craze spread across the world, and soon began to invade sporting fixtures, where the opportunity for maximum exposure proved too good to resist. In the process, it became a mainstay of popular culture, and created deep seated desires for nude running in even the most upright of people. While the craze peaked in '74, it was never entirely stamped out, and has continued to appear occasionally ever since. This may prove that the entire population of the Western World is as depraved as has always been suspected. Or it may simply be that we need unprovoked nudity in order to prevent full blown nuclear war (have you seen any Indian or Pakistani streakers lately? Exactly). Wimbledon streaker Melissa Johnson has been credited for re-igniting interest in recent times, and the response is the same as it's always been.
Everybody loves a streaker.
* Note: This entire history has been completely made up, except for this last bit
* Another note: The hokey altered clipart pics are relics from the original Streakerama site, first started in 2000. I was going to take them down but I thought I'd just leave them. They're silly and kind of amusing.
Available from Amazon.com:
Being Naked: Attitudes Toward Nudity Through The Ages
by Susan L. Stanton
Is it immoral to be nude in a mixed gender situation? Being Naked contrasts modern and historic views toward nudity, as well as offering the author's views on the topic.
This article was originally written in 2000