“Don’t look, Ethel!” Do You Remember, STREAKING?

Culture | September 19, 2017

A streaker ran across the stage flashing a peace sign at the 46th Academy Awards presentation.

Those of you who remember the spectacle of streaking, remember that it was widely recognized, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as the act of a person running nude through a public event, although the first documented incident in the United States occurred in 1804. As a rule, it was usually the amusing result of someone seeking attention for a particular cause. 

The act of streaking, as originally defined, was not, necessarily a hobby or popular activity. Streaking was first recognized in London, England, as early as the year 1799. The word, “streak,” was originally associated with the concept of something being done quickly; hence, running. At that time, as known in England, a streaker would perform by running, albeit fully clothed, through a well-attended event, for the purpose of drawing attention to a cause. Somewhere along the line, it was realized that streakers could draw much greater attention doing something more provocative; like exposing their most intimate body parts! Well, of course, whoever came up with that concept was a genius! Nudity gets attention! And, better yet, as a sport, there were no uniforms or equipment to buy… a streaker was fully equipped at any time and any place!

After streaking gained more notoriety and attention in the U.S., it was often the result of a prank or a dare. Sporting events were most definitely popular venues for streaking due to the simple fact that large crowds of people were usually in attendance. You know what they say… “the more, the merrier!”  

Streaking was such a popular craze during the 1960’s and 1970’s, that U.S. musician, Ray Stevens, wrote and recorded a song about it… The Streak. It was the lead song to his 1974 album, Boogity Boogity. The song ended up being so popular that it was a No. 1 hit on the U.S. Pop Music Charts and a No. 3 hit on the U.S. Country Music Charts that same year. The single, The Streak, actually ended up selling 5 million copies nationwide!

If you remember the song, The Streak, you may recall that it was about a news reporter covering multiple stories about streaker sightings. The reporter, while covering each incident, ultimately found himself repeatedly interviewing the same witness, whose wife was named, Ethel. Unfortunately, for some reason, Ethel was constantly in the path of the streaker. Some of the most memorable verses of the hit song include:

“Don’t look, Ethel!”

“… I’s standin’ over there by the tomaters…”

“… nekkid as a jaybird!”

“He goin’ give us a peak!”

“He ain’t wearing no clothes.”

“… didn’t have nothin’ on but a smile!” 

While the song implies that the streaker was a man, make no mistake my friends, streakers in the 1960’s and following, were not only men! Women also joined in the craze. As far as attention seeking is concerned, gender is neutral! Ultimately, Ethel succumbed to the temptation and ended up stripping down and joining the craze! You go, Ethel!  

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.