Oh yes, they call him The Streak
He likes to show off his physique
If there’s an audience to be found,
he’ll be streakin’ around,
inviting public critique.
— “The Streak,” Ray Stevens
To this day, can anybody explain the streaking craze of 1974?
On college campuses, on sporting fields, and even the Academy Awards, the desire to doff your clothes and run bare-bottomed in public was the Me Decade’s definition of “letting it all hang out.”
And, of course, Palm Beach County couldn’t resist. Or at least the students at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton couldn’t. For a few days in March 1974, FAU was the streaking capitol of the county, joining other disrobing students that week at the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami.
Reporter Mona Ross filed this report from FAU:
“Clad only in socks and tennis shoes, about 15 male students were running around campus from midnight to 2:30 am, according to campus police. As many as 300 student observers gathered around the dorm area during the three-hour streaking.”
Reports said women also participated. FAU’s student newspaper put out a special one-page streaking edition, declaring its nude runners as the nation’s finest and singling out one dude who rode bottomless on a bicycle. But an accompanying editorial took a more sober view, noting that what was on display was decidedly “ho-hum.”
A student told The Post’s reporter that it began with a prank sign about the “varsity streaking team.” The midnight run was organized by a student identified by the Post only as “Turkey,” who “wore a red scarf around his mid-section.”
Another streaker apparently won a $100 bet by jogging naked through a women’s dormitory.
“I ain’t no exhibitionist,” one streaker told the Post. “I got my inhibitions like everyone else. But we were drinking beer and it was dark. You can’t see much in the dark, you know — just rears and elbows.”
And some of the streakers figured their posteriors were good for posterity. “Jesus, it was great. Will I ever have something to tell my grandchildren.”
The streaking wasn’t confined to FAU. A streaker was spotted briefly at Boca Raton High. And a Post columnist wrote about a guy named Jack, who streaked around Clematis and Dixie in West Palm Beach calling himself “The Downtown Development Authority Streaker.”
Palm Beach County State’s Attorney David Bludworth said he was seeking legal advice and needed a “streaking expert.” And a sheriff’s department spokesman warned that they weren’t going to tolerate too much nonsense:
“We’re a little bit alarmed by this thing,” said the spokesperson. “You know, streakers run from bush to bush and in Florida, the bushes are full of red bugs. The red bugs could mean an end to their streaking careers.”
At FAU, the fad faded pretty quickly. FAU campus police talked with the streaking leader, who decided he didn’t want to get arrested.
So, what possessed people to streak?
One student chalked it up to the pressure of exams. But Jack the Streaker had a more philosophical view:
“The country is in trouble — you know that. Watergate, energy crisis, all that stuff has depressed us. Streaking just had to happen. The people want it.”
In fact, he thought he was doing the city a service. “Downtown business hasn’t been so hot lately, you know. You’ve got to do things for your community.”
Then, according to the column, he stripped off his clothes, hummed “America The Beautiful” and took off on a lunchtime run in his birthday suit through downtown.