New TV documentary checks the bare facts on sports streakers
By Nelson Wyatt, The Canadian Press, Thu Jul 2, 2009
MONTREAL - Quaffing pints and being inspired by streakers usually means someone ends up running around naked.
But filmmakers Dan Emery, Mathieu Wacowich and Jon Deitcher didn't whip off their clothes and head to the nearest sports stadium when they saw Jaume Marquet burst onto the field at the 2004 Euro soccer final between Portugal and Greece.
They made "Jump!," a breezy look at the world of professional streakers that has its broadcast premiere Saturday on CBC-TV's Documentary channel.
"I don't know if I could bring myself to do it," Emery said with a hearty laugh when asked if he's ever streaked.
"We've looked at it from every angle, we've discussed it from every possible viewpoint. I guess the only thing left to do is whip off our clothes and get out there and try it for ourselves. Maybe you'll see us one day soon running across the screen promoting our movie."
Emery and his pals were in a Vancouver bar when they saw the TV footage of Marquet throwing the FC Barcelona flag into the face of Luis Figo, the Portuguese star player who had defected from the team a few years earlier.
"We'd never seen something like this happen on live television," recalled Emery, who is from Montreal. "We thought it was hilarious but there were other people in the bar who were booing and jeering the fact that this guy had run on during this critical moment in the game."
The juxtaposition in the reactions struck a chord with the trio and although they didn't start thinking about the possibility of a film at that very moment, it certainly planted the seed.
Eventually, the trio did a short film profiling Marquet but that led to a deeper examination of the phenomenon in "Jump!"
The filmmakers found that professional streakers - who are also known as "jumpers" - are a definite subculture.
"We're talking about people who are going one step beyond what the typical drunken college student might do on a $10 bet," Emery said.
"We started to find that there were people out there who took this quite seriously and saw this as an opportunity to use mass media as a way to spread a message or maybe to advertise a product or a website or just to promote themselves."
While the film maintains a lighthearted tone, it examines the history of streaking, the tactics and etiquette as well as the somewhat lucrative "renegade" marketing trend it helped to create.
Whereas streakers used to just flash skin, they're just as likely to serve as human billboards now for companies like the GoldenPalace.com online casino.
The film mainly focuses on three jumpers.
Besides Marquet, who was tracked as he prepares for a stunt at the largest soccer match in Spain, there's Ron Bensimhon, a Montrealer who grabbed headlines worldwide for diving into the swimming pool at the 2004 Summer Olympics wearing nothing but a tutu.
Also profiled is Mark Roberts, a Briton who holds the record for most streaks at international events, including the NFL's Super Bowl.
Emery said the jumpers were happy to co-operate with the film.
"If you think about it, at the end of the day a big part of this is exhibitionism," he said. "For them, it was a great opportunity to tell their story."
Bensimhon, who now lives in Israel, says a jump has to be carefully planned, have a message and be entertaining.
"It has to be cool, it has to be funny," he said. "A good streaker has to be an artist."
He acknowledged fans were likely more entertained than sports promoters, who he says have cracked down on stunts.
Bensimhon hasn't streaked since the 2004 Games but insists he's not retired.
"No, no, definitely no," he said. "If you streak every two days, the impact is never going to be there."
Bensimhon said he is mulling over another streak but hasn't decided where it will be.
"I think my next attempt will be a big personality," he said. "Maybe Obama."