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Anatomy of a Yonge-Dundas Streak

On Tuesday at about 1:30 p.m., Scott Pilgrim marched to the south-east corner of the Yonge and Dundas scramble intersection. With photographer friend Carl W. Heindl perched on the south-west corner pretending to take photos of the massive building now known as 10 Dundas East, and videographer friend Steve Rock hovering nearby too, Pilgrim quickly stripped down to his boxer shorts, waited for the cars in all directions to stop and the pedestrian scramble to start, then pulled down the shorts and bolted into the middle of the road, totally naked. For school, obviously.

The Guelph-Humber student had been assigned to do a self-portrait—due Thursday morning—and got to thinking about involving others in it after hearing from a class guest speaker, who’d made video self-portraits in which he cast other people to play himself. Pilgrim, finding more and more examples of self-portraits planned, but not actually shot, by the photographers pictured in them, got Heindl and Rock on board, and prepared for a Monday streak through one of the street-level lobbies of the Eaton Centre. That was the plan, at least, until they found a Bell booth set up in the area they’d planned to do it at.
“I slept fine Sunday night,” Pilgrim explained in an email to Torontoist, “but then when we couldn’t do it Monday and the due date was coming up, I just started kinda freaking out, worrying I was going to be arrested, and it just psyched me out. I think what did it for me—what really made me commit to it—was that I’d told way too many people about it going down…I literally had to do it, for the sake of my reputation.”
So: Tuesday. As he stood at the lights, Pilgrim says, “people clearly knew something was going down before I even stripped. I mean, I was sitting there on the corner for a minute just in my boxers and it was pretty obvious that Carl wasn’t just taking photos of the buildings by that point.”
In the time it took him to take those first few nude steps out, Pilgrim’s reputation nearly took a big hit anyway, as he stumbled and nearly fell over his boxers while he took them off. (“I almost bailed so hard, naked, in the middle of Dundas Square.”) That’s why his smile is so huge mid-intersection: “That’s a result of me not dying,” he explains. That, and, “I mean, I’m naked in Dundas Square and that’s pretty fucking hilarious.”
As Heindl quickly snapped a burst of shots—some of which are above—and Rock filmed, Pilgrim flew across the intersection, landing on the other side and picking up and quickly throwing on a long blue jacket and a pair of slip-on shoes that the guys had strategically placed there earlier. Pilgrim barely had time to register the stunt’s reception (“I heard clapping and cheering and that’s really it”), but Heindl got a wider view from behind the camera. “Early on, before the actual crossing light changed, Scott was just standing alone on the corner in boxer shorts,” says Heindl. “People just looked away. Thought he was crazy maybe. It was when the shorts dropped people started smiling, cheering, clapping.” The stunt, says Heindl, was “like this thirty-second mystery. A tiny chaos in everyone’s day.”
“The overall feeling was overwhelming and definitely invigorating,” says Pilgrim. “I’ve never really done anything like that before, so it was pretty crazy to just propose a ridiculous idea like running naked across the busiest intersection in Toronto.” Guelph-Humber: an A+ for this man, please.
Photos by Carl W. Heindl.


  • http://undefined CaligulaJones

    So…and old guy who flashes his dick to some school aged kids is a pervert who deserves to be locked up because he is dangerous, but this is…art? Or something?

  • Cobalt

    What filth!
    On the bottom of his feet I mean.

  • crickhopper

    Why didn’t he choose a longer getaway coat?

  • http://undefined Katie

    holy shit you really massacred our last name.

  • http://undefined Carl

    Well Caligula, I wouldn’t liken someone flashing for a thrill to get off by exposing themselves to children to us not targeting anybody, and shooting something as out of context as we could manage, solely for ourselves without any sexual attachment.
    But think what you like.

  • http://undefined EricSmith

    art? Or something?

    As projects go, it’s miles better than planting a fake bomb at the ROM and spouting pretentious gibberish about it.

  • Meg Campbell

    Thanks for alerting us to that error, Katie. It’s been fixed.

  • http://undefined CaligulaJones

    Carl: not saying anything one way or the other, but either exposing oneself (potentially) to a young ‘un is either bad for them, or not. If the former, calling it “art” shouldn’t excuse it. If the later, swing it, man, swing it….I just would like to see the argument that artist cock is any less harmful than Old Man Jones (no relation) shaking it in the school yard.
    Personally, I’m of the “the more, and earlier, we see each other as we were born, the better” crowd. Also, “the law is an ass” crowd (no joke intended, really…)
    I mean, its not like this is Pure Magazine redux:

  • mccool

    Nope. It’s still wrong. (Last paragraph.)

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Sexual or not, let me get this straight… You’re advocating that this is appropriate behaviour in a public space? A space where there is often children?

  • Cobalt

    But come on, is it really any worse than the billboards in the square that are oozing with sex? What do the kids think of those?
    At least the nakedness in this stunt isn’t trying to sell you anything.

  • http://undefined Pan Von Sol

    Props to him for have the balls to do this during the winter months. Other men would have shriveled in cowardice.

  • http://undefined Pan Von Sol

    CTRL+F (or COMMAND+F) is your friend in a word processor or browser.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    I think you have your anti-billboard hat on a TAD too tight.

  • http://undefined Cobalt

    Hey I’m all for billboards in appropriate places like Dundas Square, even(or sometimes especially)the sexy ones.
    I’m just saying that they are far more sexualized then a naked guy jaunting across the street, and ultimately much more harmful to the kids. You are worried about the kids right?

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Sorry, I’m not following.
    So, in your mind, a swinging dick is equal to a non-naked ad on a billboard?

  • http://undefined Carl

    Most definitely not appropriate. But it’s not like society will come crashing down over 30 seconds of cold wang. Shame is human invention shared universally across most all societies that has done us well so far. I’m not trying to change any of that.
    I can say the removal of his clothes definitely reminds us of our societal constraints and key factors towards a peaceful, shared existence in overpopulated urban centres. For the final portrait he is centered, pale, frail against grey slabs and rivers of people all sharing a space, but totally ignorant to one another. For a few seconds everyone shared something.
    It may be cocky of us to impose this on bystanders for a photograph, yes. But you have to break some eggs to make an omelette, to be plain. The lasting photo of something that doesn’t usually exist in that space is worth 20 seconds no? We weren’t out to hurt anybody. We were making something, albeit having a little fun doing so.
    I walked through the crowd after, didn’t run. Obviously associated with him. Nobody reacted with anything more than a laugh, smirk, giggle or kept on moving.

  • Andrew Pulsifer

    It’s a pseudonym, right? When I saw the picture yesterday, I had to squint to make sure it wasn’t Michael Cera.

  • http://undefined buttlord

    Doing it when it’s cold out provides an easy excuse for having a little sissy wiener.
    Also this dude owns and there need to be more dicks swinging around out in the open. To hell with the uptight puritan pukes.

  • http://undefined scott pilgrim

    It’s definitely not a pseudonym, he asked me that in ther interview but it wasn’t mentioned in this article.

  • http://undefined Carl

    No, my friend Scott Pilgrim is coincidentally and unfortunately named similar to the upcoming blockbuster. :)

  • http://undefined Cobalt

    No I wouldn’t say they are equal, I would say a real live dick (swinging or not)is much less offensive than a giant sized billboard that uses sex, lust and our insecurities around our bodies to sell more clothing/gadgets.
    But it’s okay, you don’t have to follow that.

  • David Topping

    The typo on Carl’s name is my mistake–one letter off, but embarassing nonetheless. (Did I spell “embarassing” right just there? I can’t be sure! I’m on my phone.) Apologies to the Heindl family; we remain big fans.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    So, naked swinging dick

  • http://undefined Robsonian

    Dear Everyone,
    Sigh. Seeing a penis isn’t going to scramble a child’s brains.

  • http://undefined Carl

    bravo! :D

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Apparently a less than symbol broke the comments?
    So naked swinging dick is less than a woman in a bra on a billboard? Which is situated in a way that you have to look up at it as opposed to being right in front of you. Gotchya!

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Streaking isn’t a new concept nor is it profound. Don’t pretend it’s an avant-garde gesture to express the constraints society puts on the human body. Gimme an f`n break.

  • Kevin Bracken

    Hahaha this is awesome. Way to go all around.
    And to the detractors: haters gonna hate.

  • http://undefined CaligulaJones

    Er…yeah. Or, say, cutting up a cat?
    My point, again, is that something is either dangerous to society (and therefore requires legal and social sanction), or it isn’t. That it is called “art” shouldn’t protect it.

  • http://undefined Cobalt

    Yup. I’m glad that’s cleared up.
    Still, gotta love those American Apparel ads. Yum!

  • http://undefined CaligulaJones

    A penis in general, or an artistic penis? A penis in a sex education book, or a penis in a hardcore porn book? A penis on a nude beach, in a changeroom, or attached to an old smelly guy pulling his pud on the park bench?
    So, yes, Carl will get an A no doubt. He already has the boilerplate reaction to the reaction ready. And that, is of course, the Art. Like the guy who wanted to dump a ton of cheese on a house:
    or a flying banana:
    or, the ubiquitous “crucifix in a jar of piss”:
    He’d probably get an A+ if he only used taxpayer’s money somehow…

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Those ads should be banned. They give me the creeps. lol.
    I do hear what you`re saying, I just think it`s a bit of a reach to compare the two.

  • Darren

    If my 10 year old niece came face to face with this man’s crotch I would have beaten him to a pulp and taken the camera and placed it on the photog ‘where the sun don’t shine’
    And if you think I’m kidding, come find me and I’ll show both of you. You disgusting piece of filth need to get real f’en jobs where you earn decent money for decent work.

  • http://undefined Jeanne

    Yeah, it is rather short, isn’t it!

  • http://undefined antiboy

    YES! that’s what i’m talking about.
    the only appropriate response is a violent one.
    because violent bashing someone’s face in will make your 10 year old niece that much more well-adjusted.
    kudos to you, uncle!

  • http://undefined Andrew Pulsifer

    I wouldn’t say that’s unfortunate at all! But, I suppose it’s up to him.

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    Okay okay enough of me playing devils advocate. At the end of the day it’s pretty funny.
    I’d like to know more about how Scott sees this as a self portrait, besides the obvious how does this relate to your self being? Or maybe more precisely how are you going to sell the idea to your prof?

  • http://undefined torontothegreat

    You may want to actually read the article rather than fixate on the photos
    They are both students. Don’t worry they’ll be in the workforce soon. Not as miserably as you I hope.

  • http://undefined buttlord

    What’s it like being the most unfun person wherever you go?

  • http://undefined Darren

    I did read the article, hence why I told them to get a real job. I wouldnt do my job if it was miserable, and I dont recommend anyone does.

  • http://undefined Darren

    And what made it seem like I would resort to violence in front of children? The few times I have been viuolent were justifiable. This guy should have got a beat down by the cops or whoever was there. The nudity here is totally different then say PRIDE, since the public didnt choose to go to a place or take their children to a place where they would see nudity.

  • http://undefined Marc Lostracco

    Nudity ≠ sexuality.

  • http://undefined aswilliamson

    This is awesome. I was a student at Guelph-Humber. I bet this was for a class taught by Mark Lipton! I am pretty sure they did get an A+ if so.

  • http://undefined spacejack

    . . .

  • Adam M.

    These photographs are testaments to the beauty of the human spirit.

  • http://undefined ked

    I agree with cobalt here. I believe this guy naked is far less sexualized and I would argue “damaging” to a 10 year old niece than than a sexy jeans as featuring a half naked women.

  • http://undefined andrew

    Darren, you’re proposing that someone should have assaulted him? It’s at worst a summary offense under Section 173 (1) or S.173 (2), but the Crown would have a damn hard time proving intent on either. From the NS gov site: “Section 174 of the Criminal Code provides that everyone who, without lawful excuse, is nude in a public place is guilty of an offence punishable on summary procedure. This Section also states that no proceedings may be commenced under this provision without the consent of the Attorney General.”

  • http://undefined ked

    aww man that should of been sexy jeans ad not as

  • Darren

    Its less “proposing” and more “wishing that”

  • rek

    And the photo project is pretty interesting too.

  • http://undefined Simon

    Hate to disappoint you folks, This isn’t an art thing, it’s not a prank thing, it’s gorilla advertising for the upcoming “Scott Pilgram” movie, starring that guy from super bad who’s name escapes me presently…
    they did a similar thing with “that girl emily” or something like that, in NYC, Boston, etc.

  • http://undefined Simon

    It’s Guerrilla advertising for the up coming “scott pilgram” flick. this guy is a paid actor.
    It’s effective, if unimaginative advertising. Scott Pilgram is based on a comic book by a local toronto author.

  • http://undefined rocketeer

    Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but the man needs a trenchcoat.

  • http://undefined rek

    1. Guerrilla, not gorilla.
    2. That’s not how guerrilla advertising works.

  • http://undefined Pan Von Sol

    I thought This was what Gorilla Advertising looked like…

  • http://undefined ReluctantTorontonian


  • http://undefined rupert

    Penises don’t threaten people. People threaten people.

  • http://undefined McKingford


  • rapi

    everybody lighten up…this is just a dude in the nude…take a look around him, dundas square…THAT’S what i call atrocious.

  • http://undefined Greg Smith

    `This guy should have got a beat down by the cops or whoever was there.`
    Darren, have you become a hyper-conservative caricature of yourself? It would have been so much better to see you disagree vehemently with this without calling for immediate, violent state (or, failing that, at least mob) repression of this brief, innocuously exuberant moment of artistic expression.

  • Darren

    Its NOT art brief or not brief. What is described as art is trumped by the law. Streaking is illegal, so it is not art. Thats a finite and decisive point right there.
    So its illegal, and he should be charged.
    As for the violence, its not only ‘conservatives’ who think someone merited a beating

  • http://undefined elliot

    “Streaking is illegal, so it is not art”
    i spot a troll.

  • http://undefined Darren

    Yeah, if the only factor in your search is for someone who says the obvious.

  • http://undefined andrew

    Darren, that’s not very persuasive: an act can be both criminal and artistic – your statement merely indicates your belief that an act being considered as an offence under the CC changes it from being artistic. I don’t believe – as far as I know – anything in the Criminal Code states that an act that is criminal cannot be art. What Pilgrim did does in fact contravene the CC, but as you may note from my previous reply to you, being charged and prosecuted for it requires the consent of the AG. That’s a heck of a lot of bother for a summary offence.
    I am very disturbed that you continue to advocate that Pilgrim should have been assaulted. You stated earlier you weren’t proposing he be assaulted, but wished he had been assaulted. You now state that he merited a beating. From your earlier comment where you framed it specifically “If my 10 year old niece came face to face with this man’s crotch I would have beaten him to a pulp…” But I think we can assume from the photographic evidence that no person, minor or adult, was close to his crotch. Are you seriously advocating that Pilgrim merits an assault because he could have been viewed by a minor? Would this be so offensive if it was a sculpture of Pilgrim naked, or a photograph?
    I have paraphrased you that you are advocating violence – if you were not, you would have retracted your statement. By stating you are wishing somone had beaten him, and that his behaviour merited an assault, you are advocating it. You’re just being coy about it, which is reprehensible. Have the strength of your convictions, and write exactly what you mean. Otherwise you are trying to persuade someone to do something you will not – in this case, state that Pilgrim should have been assaulted.

  • Darren

    You need me to be more clear? What other language do I need to write that in? My earlier comments on this said more then enough. This person does not warrant further attention.