Jump The World’s Greatest Streakers

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

Serial streakers, uncovered
by Brad Wheeler
The Globe and Mail
July 4, 2009

Exactly what motivates someone to strip down to a well-placed sock, burst onto a sports field and try to outrun the cops? A new documentary reveals all. Jump – The World’s Greatest Streakers airs Saturday (6 and 11) on CBC’s Documentary channel, previewing free this month for subscribers to digital and satellite services.

streaker-200You’re watching a sportscast when suddenly there’s a stop in the action and the crowd is aroused. You can’t see what’s going on, because most networks won’t show the farce playing out on field of play: It’s a "streaker" or a "jumper" or whatever you wish to call an uninvited guest thrusting themselves into the proceedings, usually by running around until security or police catch up to them.

These events are often impromptu – an in-the-moment prank instigated by booze – but there are those who take this fun seriously, or at least put some thought into it. Jump The World’s Greatest Streakers, a documentary directed by Montrealers Dan Emery and Jon Deitcher, and Vancouver-based Mathieu Wacowich, which airs tonight on Documentary, focuses on an eccentric Catalan who calls himself "Jimmy Jump," most recently noticed for his (fully clothed) stunt involving a flag and Roger Federer during the French Open tennis final in early June.

The documentary concerns itself with the hidden world of serial streakers, including Mark Roberts, a lark-loving Liverpudlian who’s gone naked at some 400 big-time sporting events over 16 years. I spoke to the run-amok Roberts about his full-monty motivations and why he gets shirty over guys like Jimmy Jump, who won’t take their pants off.

You’ve streaked at soccer games, Super Bowls, tennis matches and synchronized swimming competitions. I must ask: Why?

Everything I do is about fun. I think a lot about what I do, and I know exactly what time during the game to go on and what performance to do in order to make the crowd laugh. I like to think that I’ve never done anything in the past that’s upset the crowd. I’ve always said, if I get booed, that’s the time to stop.

You’re talking about streaking at moments that don’t interfere with the drama of the games. Montrealer Ron Bensimhon seems proud to have jumped in a pool during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games wearing a tutu, which had a distracting effect on one of the divers. You have a problem with that?

That was ridiculous. These athletes have trained all their lives for these moments, and for somebody to interrupt the most important point of an athlete’s life, I couldn’t believe it.

You also take issue with those who jump onto fields with their clothes on?

That’s not streaking. You have to be naked to streak. This character Jimmy Jump in the film, I believe he said I inspired him. I don’t want to inspire people to jump into games at the wrong time or cause trouble, though. He hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing, whatsoever, I don’t think. And jumping, I don’t know where that term came from. It’s not streaking – it’s invading the pitch, really.

You plan your capers carefully, what with the timing and some of hilarious accessories you wear, but you always get caught, right?

[Laughs] Well, the biggest thing with the crowd is to see how many policeman it takes to catch me. It’s all about the chase. In my earlier years, before I put on so much weight – I’ve got a bit of a belly on me now – I could leave the security and police for dust.

You’ve been banned from football games, correct?

I’m on my third or fourth football ban, and that includes international matches. If England or Liverpool play abroad, I have to hand in my passport to a police station to make sure I’m still in the country when the match starts.

You describe your shenanigans as ‘performance art.’ Have you suffered for your art?

Not really, quite the opposite. But I did lose one job. I was working in a bar in Liverpool and I went out for a cigarette, and there was a game on at the stadium. So I took a cab there, got in without a ticket, took my clothes off, jumped on to the pitch, did push-ups in the penalty spot, got arrested and charged and released at the game, and I was back at work in 45 minutes. I went in to apologize to my manager, telling him I got called away. He told me, "We know, we saw you on TV. You’re fired."

Does a ‘professional streaker’ actually make money?

I’ve done commercials, but with fines and expenses I think it’s cost me more than I’ve made over the years. But I’ve never done it for money. My whole point is to entertain.