A new underground (or actually, above-ground) movement has begun, growing slowly, but steadily gaining momentum: Airport Nudity! Seriously, folks, it’s not a movement, but I think it would be cool if it were.
I read today on msnbc.com that Oregon resident John Brennan, 50, stripped at Portland International Airport on Tuesday night, saying that airport screeners were “harassing” him. He “disrobed completely” and refused to re-robe despite requests by the TSA screeners and police, according to the Portland Police Department summary report. He remained nude and “exposed to all passengers including children both inside and outside of the secured area,” which resulted in two screening lanes being closed and some passengers covering their eyes (egad!). Brennan said that he is a frequent flier and feels that TSA screeners were harassing him. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and indecent exposure.
Brennan was not the first passenger to strip in protest on route to the Friendly Skies. Last week, a woman at Denver International Airport was caught illegally smoking a cigarette at the departure gate and stripped naked in full view of everyone, although no security personnel requested that she do so. Hooray for free will! After stripping, she asked for a reprint of her boarding pass, her clothes piled at her side. According to Digital Journal (April 11, 2012), “A fellow passenger standing close by averted his eyes.” Maybe she wasn’t that hot? Oh well, we can’t all be sexy beasts.
Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson said it appeared she had some kind of a “breakdown” (aka, nicotine fit?) that had nothing to do with her being asked to snuff out her cigarette.
In November 2010, 52-year-old Oklahoma City resident Tammy Banovac, a retired surgeon who uses a wheelchair, attempted to clear security at the Will Rogers World Airport, donning only black bra and panties, a small white pooch on her lap.
(Caption says: "TSA making our airports into strip clubs
one search at a time", photo from youtube)
According to The Oklahoman, Banovac arrived at the airport wearing a trench coat, but disrobed when it came time to go through security. She said she opted for the half-naked look due to unpleasant “hands-on” searches in the past. She said she was usually “hand-searched” because she uses a wheelchair, but feels violated by more invasive searches she has experienced.
“If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault,” she told The Oklahoman.
Airport spokesperson Karen Carney told CBS affiliate KWTV that she refused to go through the metal detector after stripping of her own accord, which is why she was once again subjected to a pat-down.
TSA agents said they found traces of nitrate residue on her body, which Carney believes could be from medication, or from hunting, among other things. After over an hour of hand searches and questioning, Banovac missed her flight to Phoenix.
A TSA supervisor instructed her to leave the airport and return the following day. She did as instructed, returning the following day in bra and panties, but this time she passed the TSA test and was permitted to board her flight after putting on a shirt. In 1997, Banovac, under the name “Tammi Lynn Brewer” stripped down for Playboy too. You go, girl!
In November 2010, a college student stripped down to his Speedos at Salt Lake City Airport. When a TSA agent asked him what he was doing, he said, “This is a safety precaution, man. Just making sure I don’t have any trouble.”
The strip and questioning was videotaped and put on youtube (“TSA Speedo Protestor”).
When the agent demanded he put his clothes on, the student said, “I looked on the TSA website and it didn’t say anything about going through in a bathing suit.” He had written the words “SCREW BIG SIS” in giant letters on his back which can be seen in the video. Ultimately, the agents knuckled under and allowed him to remain in his suit. The student identified himself as “Jimmy” and said he stripped as a way of protesting against “ridiculous” procedures at U.S. airports.
That same week, a man in a swimsuit, boots and cap was seen walking around the same terminal, said airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann. The TSA took no action.
“He’s not a security threat,” said TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird. “We would have no reason to detain him.”
I have never been strip-searched or patted down at the airport, but I have experienced the “wand” passing up and down outside my body, and the new full body scan at both JFK and LAX. Not sure I would strip to express my displeasure at the invasion of our privacy and private parts, but I am in solidarity with those who do.