Sonny Hennegan’s nude two minute romp across the student union shocked the city of Lake Charles and the campus of McNeese State in the spring of 1974. Streaking was a new college fad in far off California and Minnesota. But how could such deviant behavior have reached conservative Louisiana so quickly? When Sonny’s front page backside cracked a wicked smile to readers of the next student newspaper, university officials could hardly contain themselves. Streaking was an intolerable offense, they announced.
Within two days, a dozen defiant exhibitionists had followed Sonny’s lead, to the delight of the student body. The stage was set for large scale confrontation with authority.
On a warm Thursday night, as hundreds of college women returned to their dormitory, the assault on propriety was unleashed by the uncovered. At two to three minute intervals, the mostly male streakers dashed across the dormitory parking lot, turned left at the bayou footbridge, and disappeared into the darkness. A huge crowd gathered, mostly the female dorm residents in pajamas and gowns.
Campus police were on the scene in minutes. The streaking has ended, their bullhorn bellowed, and everyone must return to dorm rooms.
Just when it appeared the show was over, student body presidential candidate Joe Bonesio arrived. Joe never missed an opportunity to further political ambitions, and he quickly seized control. Pulling aside the police, Bullshit Joe somehow convinced them the offenses could be overlooked. Turning to the crowd, he announced the compromise he had gained. If the women would climb down from ledges and awnings, the police would find another crisis that demanded attention far across campus. Following wild cheers from the lusty crowd, Joe then offered free beer that had mysteriously been iced down in the back of his car.
As police cars faded from view, the streakers returned. For a solid hour, the women of McNeese enjoyed beers and rears, with rock music booming from the custom stereo of Joe’s Toyota.
In the election the next month, Joe Bonesio received overwhelming support from McNeese’s on campus women. Sonny Hennegan is rightly remembered as the most famous streaker in south Louisiana history. But for one night in April, the hero was Joe Bonesio, the man who talked off the police and brought back the butts.