Streak! The Man Who Can’t Keep His Clothes On – Review
Streak! The Man Who Can’t Keep His Clothes On
Channel 4, Thursday 14 Feb, 10PM
The phrase “pinnacle of his career”, when used to describe somebody like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, might bring to mind the writer’s seminal novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Yet when a documentary crew apply the very same term to the working life of prolific streaker Mark Roberts in Streak! The Man Who Can’t Keep His Clothes On, it can only be used to refer to that magical moment when the serial exhibitionist began windmilling his knob in front of a crowd of thousands at the Super Bowl.
Nobody can take that memory away from Mark, not even the bailiffs who keep attempting repossess his belongings because he has failed to turn his streaking into a fulltime career, and has inexplicably taken out high interest loans instead of finding a proper job.
Unbelievably, Mark used to get paid to streak at major sporting events around the globe, but work has been slim as of late, and with two kids in his life, he has to look towards the future.
“I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children,” he insists, as footage of him slapping his buttocks together appears on screen. “I want to be a great role model.”
Putting this into to practice, however, is trickier than one might think, as Mark has over the years developed an insatiable appetite for undressing in public. He speaks about his perverse hobby as if it were an art form, even though the only message he appears to be saying to the world is: “Look at me. I’ve got my knob out!” He’s obviously an attention seeker, which is perhaps why Channel 4, on hiatus from mercilessly ridiculing gypsies, have given him the time of day.
According to the programme’s narrator, it’s hard not to admire Mark, and yet I found that he exhibits very few admirable qualities, at one point calling a woman answering phones for the bailiff company “a fucking bitch”. It’s also difficult to find his streaking very amusing after you’ve heard him failing to grasp the concept of debt.
“I’ve paid 140 odd quid of [the debt], so I was down to 420,” he says. “Now we find it’s 690! Hang on. How can that be?”
And contrary to Mark’s opening comments about wanting to be a role model for his children, the programme is really about his supposedly final streak: the grandest and most astonishing display of public embarrassment that he can muster. This takes him to Spain, and then finally back to the UK where he hopes to bear all during The X Factor live final.
The documentary crew are quite kind to Mark throughout this, sympathising with his employment situation and debt problems, but occasionally goading him into making a bit of a fool of himself. There are actually a few tender moments in which Mark talks about how he suffered a string of abusive stepfathers growing up, but these are largely pasted over in favour of more clips of our hero waving his wang about on a building site as joyous music plays.
If one were to witness somebody doing the same in the flesh, you’d naturally presume that they were having a mental breakdown, but here it’s supposed to be funny. The documentary team have actually done a fairly decent job at putting the programme together, but Mark’s not the sort of figure you can feel comfortable laughing with—or even at for that matter.
With no money and no prospects due to his criminal record, Mark’s not the clown he seems to believe he is. Hearing his story just made me feel depressed.