Hey Ace, whatever happened to the “naked guy” at the Phish concert? Did they kick him out? (It was freezing that night!) Give him a jacket? Give him backstage passes?—Phishin’-in-Charlottesville
Although you’d think that streaking and the Phish live concert experience would go together like milk and cookies, the appearance of the naked guy on stage during the notorious jam band’s December 5 concert at the JPJ Arena was anomalous enough to become Internet legend.
The anonymous nudist immediately spawned a Twitter trackback at #nakedguy# phish, and questions regarding his ultimate fate have spread like wildfire across the Phantasy Tour Phish forums, which serve as the band’s de facto message boards. Some claim that Naked Guy was arrested; others say that Phish singer and guitarist Trey Anastasio and bassist Mike Gordon intervened on his behalf. After a great deal of forum surfing—accompanied by a bag of Bugles corn snacks, frequent slouching, and tangential thoughts about different ways to spell “phish”—Ace dug up the name of the Naked Guy, one Matthew Steven Rooks.
A cursory scan of Rooks’ Facebook profile indicates him and Naked Guy to be one and the same. Evidence to this effect includes:
• A statistically significant spike in friend requests noted on Rooks’ news feed immediately after December 5;
• Multiple posts from friends and admirers to his wall along the lines of “Happy New Year Naked Guy!” and “Naked Guy, how do you feel about…”;
• Finally, Rooks’ membership in Facebook groups “Vote Hemp,” “Glassblowing,” “Fans of ‘The Naked Guy’: Phish 2009-12-05,” and “Shut Up, The World Won’t End in 2012.”
Another Naked Guy-themed Facebook group, “Interview with The Naked Guy from Charlottesville,” features a Q&A with Rooks himself. During the transition between songs “Divided Sky” and “Ya Mar,” Rooks, a 21-year-old Richmond native, slipped past a distracted security guard, stripped, and hopped the railing onto the stage. He eluded capture for 45 seconds, enough time to kiss Anastasio on the cheek—allegedly, with his permission. Afterwards, he claims, there was “[no] jail…the cops were really nice and let me off with an indecent exposure charge without a court date, just a fine.”
Why did he do it?
“I felt like everyone wanted me to,” he says, “and I wanted to make everyone smile.”
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 21 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to email@example.com.