Streaking Anyone? Robert Opel at the Academy Awards

 

I remember when I was growing up in the seventies talk of streaking; and given the penchant of pubescent boys of lying about physical (and sexual) exploits, several of my classmates claimed to have streaked. I'm pretty sure their only streaking may have been running wet and dripping from the shower to their bedrooms. 

But given my sheltered upbringing, I knew nothing of the legendary Robert Opel Academy Awards streaking incident, not that the Academy Awards was forbidden television viewing in a household which banned Maude because the character had an abortion. 

(Little did the Catholic household I grew up in know that streaking occurs in the Bible See Mark 14:50-52 for the famous naked youth in the Garden of Gethsemane; also go here for more information. Of course, the blog urges one to run from temptation. I would rather run toward it.) 

According to Leigh Rutledge in The Gay Decades

“April 2, 1974 Having inexplicably fascinated the nation for roughly six months, the fad of “streaking” reaches its apogee with gay photographer and former advertising executive Robert Opel, thirty-eight, plunges naked across the stage during a live broadcast of the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Opel's “streak,” almost certainly the most witnessed stunt of its kind, occurs during the most popular part of the telecast, the announcement of the award for Best Picture, thus guaranteeing him an estimated audience of more than one billion television viewers worldwide.” 

 

Robert Opel streaking


Yes, this really happened; here's a link to the true story

But there's more, and it's even more shocking. 

Robert Opel was murdered by an intruder at his art gallery who demanded drugs and money in 1979. Opel was famous for publicizing the works of gay artists Robert Mapplethorpe and Tom of Finland. 

Opel was a well-known leatherman as well. 

 

Portrait of Robert Opel by Jack Fritscher, 1979


His nephew -- Robert Oppel -- created a documentary aiming to find out exactly what happened. 

The film, Uncle Bob (now on DVD), is an innovative fantasia filled with vintage clips, interviews, and segments with the young Oppel playing at being his uncle while re-creating his filmmaking, his TV appearances, and even his bloody death. 

Streaking, leather, nude young men in the Bible, the Oscars: what a gay combination! 

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The Good Guys Don't Always Win: Reflections on the Seventies Disaster Movie, The Towering Inferno

The Good Guys Don't Always Win:  Reflections on the Seventies Disaster Movie, The Towering Inferno

I remember my Dad taking my brothers and me to see the movie Earthquake and hearing the sirens from The Towering Inferno in the adjoining theater. Remember those seventies disaster movies? I wonder why they were so popular at that time, but when one thinks how they were made before the days of computerized digital special effects, the time and effort that went into making them is awe-inspiring. 

 

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