Jimmy and the adrenaline jones
Since the World Cup Final at the latest Jimmy Jump has become the most famous streaker on the planet. A meeting with a man who has one mission only
The pass, the pass is missing. This is the most decisive thing, everything else can be arranged. "No pass, that is a problem" says Jimmy Jump. He is 35 years old, ten-days-beard, sparse hair. Most of the time he is grinning, but right now there is no reason to do so. The Spaniard hardly greets, here in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of Commissioner Street Police Station, Down Town Johannesburg. A quick shake hands and he walks on. "He is far too excited" says Alex, his best friend, "ask me if there is something you would like to know".
Collective taxis are passing by in a rush, dozens of people are cueing up behind a slightly shadowed glass. Paying parking tickets, filing complaints. For 27 hours Jimmy Jump was locked up here in a cell. Not an extraordinarily long period of time for someone like him, two days of prison are rather the norm than the exception.He had been prepared for worse.
A person who is running 70 meters over the pitch of the Soccer-City-Station of Johannesburg only minutes before a World Cup Final takes place, who wants to touch the World Cop Trophy in front of 85000 spectators in the arena and hundreds of millions in front of their TV, such a person has given up control, control about himself and about the situation. Precisely that it is the thrill of what he calls “to conquer ground” - to jump over barriers. And no one is as famous for that, as addicted to it as Jump is, the one who is called Jaume Marquet Cot in real live.
That is how he experienced his show at the World Cup Final:
"I want to start running! At last! Only five minutes until the players enter the ground.I made my way to the perfect place. I had a ticket for the grandstand, most expensive category. But now I am standing at a corner, maybe in the fifth row, only a view meters away from the corner flag. Right beside a tunnel, a spot hard to view, this is where the marshals enter or leave; the strategically perfect place. Nobody checked my ticket precisely; I half ways covered it with my fingers and went through. One last SMS to Alex:“I want to jump now.”
A roundish man is driving Jump and his friend Alex in a red Ford Focus through the curvy streets of Down Town looking for the pass.A policeman, even if he hardly looks like one – that friendly is he treating Jump. In the past hours they had long discussions about soccer. He knew Jimmy, the world`s most famous streaker. And the way he was grinning and holding his back on the way to the car he looked more like a fan than like a keeper of peace.
At a Bruce Springsteen concert ten years ago Jump experienced the desire to storm the stage for the very first time. Out of league, he began to sneak into cinemas and to enter big parties without paying. It is a hobby like a kind of sport, always looking for the next bigger challenge. Like that Jump has been entering the athletics grounds and stages of Europe since 2002. First of all the matches of the football club Barcelona where soon he was recognised because he wore the "barretina" when running across the pitch – the red cap with the black edge considered to be a symbol of Catalonia. 2004 in Portugal during the European Cup he threw a Catalonian flag at the face of Luis Figo, the traitor now playing in the jersey of Real Madrid. Samuel Eto'o, back than still playing for Barcelona, first of all resisted as Jump was trying to put him the red cap on the head. At the next game, however, Jump tried again. And Eto'o let it happen. He never looked that puzzled again.
Similar things happened to the finalists of the Rugby World Cup 2007 in France, Roger Federer at the French Open, and water-polo players – and only a couple of weeks ago to the Spanish participants of the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo in front of an audience of 100 million people watching TV. Jump had entered the arena without entrance card and then joined the artist Daniel Diges. Apart from Lena´s victory this was one of the most discussed subjects of the day. In Norway he wore the red "Barretina" as well.
Is he, consequentially, to be considered an activist for Catalonian interests? No, says Jump, he would be an activist for freedom, freedom of all people. 2008, at the European Cup Semi-finals between Germany and Turkey, he supported Tibet´s fight against Chinese suppression with a T-shirt, but that was a single action as well.
All he really wanted was to bring joy to the people, to share that feeling of freedom that he experiences on the field. He does not want imitators, he says, one is quickly facing the threat of a criminal record. The childless single never acts naked, no way – he is no naked streaker, he does not want to pique anyone. And, in contrast to other streakers, he never wears T-shirts with logos of sponsors.
A couple of days ago he even resisted this offer:a company had offered him 30000 Euro if he would storm the World Cup Finals wearing their company logo on his cloth. For obvious reasons the organisers of sporting events do not like people like Jump. The people, however, do like the non-commercial piracy against the more and more commercial show business – up until now he has 115000 fans on Facebook, more than the Spanish goal keeper Iker Casillas. Hundreds of thousands have watched his videos on YouTube.
"Gosh! The day before yesterday I was sitting together with my old friends, 20 years ago we finished high school together. Most of them live quite an ordinary life now, family, children, and house, some of them kind of nostalgic. came to the conclusion not to jump at the World Cup. I was well aware of the punishment I would be facing. Four years ago I was at the Finals of the African Cup in Egypt and I decided not to jump. 2005 I attended an important tournament in Abu Dhabi; there, however, I would have been facing one week of jail. Nobody can take that. Johannesburg seemed to be too risky as well. But the lads looked at me in such a puzzled way: what are you doing here? They asked me: why are you not in South Africa? I got up and I called Alex, he was in Rome at that point in time.A couple of hours later we sat in the airplane, first class, I always sneak in there – almost always there is a free space, someone is always missing.I entered the country dressed as a pastor to be waved through quickly. I am quite sure that FIFA hands on my data to the authorities in some countries.
Well the pass, the pass has to show up again. On Tuesday a summary court in Johannesburg had sentenced Jump to pay a 2000 Rand fine. A little more than 200 Euro, only 27 hours of prison. That was all. He was lucky – he had to pay much larger sums already during his career. At the behest of FIFA South Africa had established summary courts during the World Cup which worked until late at night – for thefts in hotels or on the streets you got several years of jail within a day. With the jumpers the judges were more gracious: one man which used the Semi-finals between Germany and Spain as his stage had to pay a 300 Euro fine – Jump would not have been surprised if it had been a 1000 Euro fine. He was very concerned, even before the Finals Alex, this brother in mind, got the contact data of specialised lawyers. Everything that remains is the search for the passport. A staff member of the organisation committee had confiscated it said Alex. And in the meantime no one in the police station was able tell where it possibly could be.
"The fence is only one meter high. One leg over it. Drat! The marshal sees me, leg back. First of all playing ignorant, the Dutchman next to me is constantly talking to me anyway. Originally the plan was to jump during the match, either at the beginning of the first or the second half. But now that – that hat to be a sign. A South African flag which they hung up next to where I stud fell to the ground. The marshal turns around, lifts it up. He is not looking.
The visit of Booysens-Police Station a couple of blocks away only takes ten minutes. Somehow the passport ended up here, nobody can reconstruct precisely how. Jump leaves the building and the grin is back. A few meters down the road there is a little cafe, plastic chairs, tee out of paper cups. All of a sudden he starts to talk in his broken English. It quickly becomes obvious that he never cared a lot about authority.He attended a private school in Barcelona.As a teacher complained he would wear tennis socks under his school suit he dropped his trousers."Take the door and leave" the teacher shouted angrily. Jump lifted the door out of the hinges and went. That was his last day at the private school.
"Run, jump over the boards. Do not turn around, always focus the Trophy. Suddenly the stadium becomes noisy, like it always does when a person jumps. I feel strong and I am afraid at the same time. You never know what will happen in those moments. Jacket off, on the T-shirt it says “Jimmy Jump against Racism”. A couple of hours ago I have been to the house in Soweto where Nelson Mandela once lived. It is unbelievable what he achieved in the fight against racism. I want to support the course. Take the red cap out of the back. Put it on. And another one, for the World Cup Trophy. Of course I do not want to steal it. How should I manage to do that anyway in a stadium with 85000 people? I only want to put the cap on it, as a symbol of freedom. Show, that the Trophy unites the people – that it is there for everyone. A few more meters, I can feel the gold at my hand for a very brief moment. There the security arrives. Ouch! A good punch, against the neck. I fall, seven of them carry me away. It feels good.I am laughing."
There are not many of his kind says Jump, maybe four worldwide. Many cross the field once – and never do it again because of high lawyer fees, the hours in jail or because it was simply all about a lost bet. With Jump it is different: First he was working in the sales department of a candies company and after that as a real-estate agent. Normal jobs. But since the year 2007 all he has done is jump.
"People always think I am earning a lot of money doing that" he says, “but that is not true. Some private individuals pay for my journeys because they like this modern type of piracy. They do not expect advertisement for that.. I make ends meet somehow." In the meantime he is selling T-shirts on a homepage. And he wants to support other non-commercial streakers, the first donors have already paid into the "Jimmy Jump Freedom Foundation" – in South Africa the Spaniard already paid the fines of four others who trespassed the barriers.
"They carry me into the cell in the stadium. I am still laughing. They treat me good; some of the policemen seem to know me. Some were laughing when they saw me. There are other prisoners in the cell as well. There is no screen in the cell here but you can hear how the match outside is blowing hot and cold. With the others it is probably the alcohol, in my case rather the adrenaline: whatever it may be, all of a sudden everybody is singing. Alex managed to find the cell. One of the FIFA wants him to be arrested as well – because of complicity. The police do not listen to the man. Alex has helped me out many times, and he will manage to do so this time as well."
In the evening Jimmy and Alex are sitting in a steak restaurant in the north of Johannesburg. The pressure is decreasing. Jump briefly mentions that he definitely wanted to visit the Kruger National Park, at least one day of Safari. But then he moves on to a subject that is really important to him. "How is that new Club in the German League called again? It is from Hamburg I think; I heard good things about it."
At FC St.Pauli they had better be prepared for a visit soon.