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33 Days: Death of a Gay Streaker

February 5, 2011

Robert Opel was the notorious man who, “got a laugh by stripping down and showing off his shortcomings” at the 1974 Oscar telecast. Five years later, the photojournalist and art dealer, famous for bringing the works of Mapplethorpe and Tom of Finland to wider attention, was murdered during a botched robbery of his gallery. According to WFMU’s “Yes, They Called Him the Streak” here’s how the tragedy events went down:

July 7th, 1979 a guy named Maurice Keenan entered the gallery with Robert E. Kelly demanding money and drugs. Two people, Anthony Rogers and Camille O’Grady, were with Opel at the time. They recalled what was said. Keenan shouted at Opel, “I’m going to blow your head off.” “You’re going to have to. There’s no money here,” Opel responded. A handgun was drawn and all three were tied up in the back of the gallery. In a matter of moments, Robert Opel was murdered – shot in the head. The killers ominously told the two witnesses, “If you see us again you’re dead.” They made off with five dollars and a camera.

I’m not sure what made Nivens so huffy. Is there a better place for gay male to streak than the Oscars? That said, there are those who suggest the whole thing was staged to capitalize on the whole streaking craze. The 70s were so weird. Being naked in public for brief moments was a “craze”. Must have been all the drugs. At any rate, hopefully, Nivens didn’t have anything snarky to say about Opel’s death.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stacey permalink
    February 6, 2011 11:32 am

    Wow. This was totally not the way I thought this story ended.

  2. evmaroon permalink
    February 6, 2011 2:12 pm

    That’s a horrible story, Snarky! I had no idea he was murdered. And I’m not the least bit surprised that Niven was huffy. That guy woulda been miffed if the streaker had been Loni Andersen.

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