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Old 02-19-2006, 09:54 AM
lyneday lyneday is offline
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Default Anti-lewdness ordinance started in Columbus, GA after Beastie Boy show 19 years ago

Posted on Sun, Feb. 19, 2006
Pushing the envelope
19-year-old law questioned after Mötley Crüe appearance
BY BRAD BARNES
Staff Writer


First comes the explosion, the flash and the flame.

As the eyes of 3,100 in the Columbus Civic Center adjust to the hot orange glow, the first thing they see isn't Tommy Lee or Vince Neil, or anyone from the rock band Mötley Crüe.

They see three women.

Leggy women, wearing fishnet stockings and long leather boots with 8-inch heels. Chains dangle from their bikini tops as they prowl the stage, circling each other. They crawl and gyrate in ways more familiar to patrons of a strip club.

The crowd eggs them on, and fans really scream when the band walks out. One of the girls, still on all fours, slithers up to guitarist Mick Mars and licks his pants leg.

Police officers are all around the arena, more than at any normal concert.

They know that this concert -- the first show on the second leg of Mötley Crüe's Carnival of Sins tour -- will test the bounds of the city's 19-year-old anti-lewdness ordinance.

• • •

No arrest has been made under the law in more than a decade. But in the late 1980s, Columbus had a starched-shirt reputation when it came to rock and rap acts.

It was adopted in 1987, just three weeks after a racy Beastie Boys concert that drew outrage from parents of concertgoers. The ordinance was designed specifically to prohibit "sexually explicit" presentations "harmful to minors."

Police here busted Bobby Brown for "hunching," or simulating sex with a woman on stage. LL Cool J, Gene Simmons of KISS and rapper Too Short also got popped for misdemeanors.

The high-profile arrests drew national attention, and in some cases ridicule. Time magazine and Rolling Stone wrote about the arrests and the ordinance. Rapper Ice-T canceled a concert here when he heard about the law. Then he wrote a song called "Freedom of Speech," in which he denounced the city in words that might have gotten him arrested if he'd performed the song in Columbus.

• • •

The Feb. 10 Crüe concert starts with a staple, "Shout at the Devil."

Then singer Vince Neil yells, "Come on Columbus, make some (freaking) noise!" Only he uses the other "F" word. Then he uses it again, and again -- maybe half a dozen times before the band rips into early classics like "Too Fast for Love," "Looks That Kill" and "Louder Than Hell."

Still, he drops the F-bomb as an expletive, an adjective or an adverb, not as a verb. If it gets no worse than this, police say, there's no arrest.

Then it gets worse.

The band plays "Girls, Girls, Girls" as giant video screens bracketing the stage flash footage of nude women. At least they look nude -- the camera cuts so quickly it's hard to tell.

The dancers are back, their hands caressing their bare bellies.

• • •

The show's sensual nature was no surprise to the audience, the Civic Center staff or anyone who'd seen Mötley Crüe's "Carnival of Sins" concert DVD or its 1980s "Girls, Girls, Girls" video.

On the DVD, the risque dancers were there for all to see. And in an interview weeks before the concert, when bassist Nikki Sixx was asked if the Columbus show would include those seductive sirens, he said, "Oh, sure."

It put Civic Center General Manager Dale Hester on the spot.

Had the band been arrested, it might mar the image of a city still trying to shake off those earlier busts.

Just having Clear Channel Entertainment call to book a high-profile act like Mötley Crüe was something to celebrate here.

• • •

"When you have a concert like that, and they want to come here, and I say, 'no,' " Hester says, "do you know how few shows would come here?"

He booked the Crüe, but spent the hours just before showtime urging them to clean up their act.

The band agreed the girls would wear leather tops instead of the barely-there pasties they wear at most concerts.

Hester also asked the band to ditch a segment of the show in which drummer Tommy Lee grabs a handheld camera and urges women in the crowd to flash their breasts, with the video patched to the big screens.

• • •

Two-thirds of the way into the show, the band breaks for introductions.

Lee gulps Jägermeister, a potent licorice liqueur, and passes the bottle into the crowd. "Pull and pass," he shouts, encouraging all to share.

The handheld camera comes out and pans the crowd. A woman lifts her shirt.

"I didn't encourage that," shouts Lee, laughing -- the fans' first clue that the band is perhaps a little uneasy tonight.

Lee then deals with it head-on.

"They told me tonight I can't do the (breast) cam," he says, pacing the stage. The crowd boos.

"We're Mötley (freaking) Crüe," says Neil. "We do whatever the (freak) we want."

"Who in here is under 18?" Lee asks, peering into the crowd. "I'm this close to taking a chance."

He launches into a soliloquy on the female breast -- and how everyone once was weaned on one.

"Everyone with a badge and a gun needs to chill the (freak) out," he says.

• • •

The police expected as much, and they intended to be more lenient that night.

"With Mötley Crüe, their fan base is primarily in their 30s and 40s," said police Sgt. Dean Walton, who was in the vice unit working at the event. "This is really an adult show."

Were there minors in the crowd? Maybe a few, police admit, but not many.

The language from the stage didn't bother Capt. Lem Miller, who heads the off-duty police detail at concerts. Whether the lewdness threshold has been crossed is Miller's call.

"It's a 20-year-old ordinance," he said. "The part about the language I don't think applies any more."

The law certainly was enforced more stringently when it was new. KISS' Simmons was arrested because an officer said he mooned the crowd. Others there said he simply was adjusting his leather pants while off on one side of the stage.

• • •

Lee still is standing center stage, holding the hand-held camera.

He drops another F-bomb and booms, "We're doing it."

He points the camera at two women who laugh and wiggle out of their shirts. He pans to another who flashes. And another.

"We'll do a quick one tonight," he says, pointing the camera down. " 'Cause if I'm going to jail, I want to get it the (freak) over with."

• • •

"Tommy Lee, he wanted to get arrested," Hester said later. An arrest would have gained the tour added notoriety.

In the end, the only arrests were three misdemeanors issued to folks in the crowd. One fan was arrested for possession of alcohol. Another for possession of marijuana. And a 22-year-old woman was arrested when police saw her bare her breasts.

Lee and the rest of the band were "damn close" to going too, Miller said.

The shoddy camera work may have saved them, said Capt. J.D. Hawk, head of the police vice unit.

"Some of the worst stuff was done off stage and projected on those screens," Hawk said. "If he'd had a decent camera or a better video screen, we might could have made a case. But there was too much assuming we would've had to do."

The breast-baring incident at the Crüe concert was very close to the sort of performance that spawned the anti-lewdness ordinance.

In early 1987, rap-rockers the Beastie Boys came to Columbus' Municipal Auditorium, the old city arena replaced by the Civic Center.

"That came at the time when rap was the emerging music," said Mike Blackwell, one of the concert promoters. "I'd done Run-DMC, and Whodini, and Big Daddy Kane, and the Fat Boys, all in the mid-to-late '80s.

"The Beastie Boys jumped out there with a road case and hooked up an air tank," Blackwell said. "We didn't have a clue that they had a 20-foot inflatable (male sex organ) in a road case."

Walton remembers police being more alarmed by other spectacles.

"They openly suggested girls remove their tops and show their breasts," the police sergeant said. "They never advertised the concert as an adult concert. There were 10- and 12-year-olds there. One of the girls who took off her shirt was 15."

Parents exploded in outrage. Columbus Council reacted quickly.

In 1987, it adopted the concert code. Restricted to events in city-owned venues, it prohibits minors at performances that present nudity, simulations of sexual intercourse or masturbation, pictures or replicas of sexual organs, the repetitive use of four-letter sexual words or portrayals of sadomasochism.


LL Cool J was the first to be arrested. Gene Simmons was second. Bobby Brown's 1989 arrest drew the most notoriety, including a mention in Time magazine.

The national exposure that followed Bobby Brown's arrest was "actually enticing the groups to come here," Walton said.

Former Civic Center manager Tony Ford remembers a comedian coming to town just to get arrested.

The Mötley Crüe concert has garnered no complaints from anyone who was there.

"Nobody that went to that Mötley Crüe show was shocked at what they saw," said Charles Huff, a local concert promoter who attended out of curiosity. But were the Civic Center to bring Mötley Crüe in again, Hester would keep the minors out.

Changes on horizon?

The chance that Mötley Crüe might have wanted to be arrested isn't what kept the police cuffs in their cases.

More at issue was that the band openly touted its concerts as bawdy affairs.

"You don't invite the devil in your den and then act shocked when he shows up," Miller said. "In my opinion, it wouldn't have been a righteous arrest."

The Mötley Crüe concert is bringing to a head the debate over the 19-year-old ordinance.

Police and Civic Center officials are planning to meet in coming weeks with city attorneys and other officials to discuss whether changes are in order.

Opinions are wide ranging.

The Civic Center managers would like to revise it for the times.

"Man, it is the 21st century," Hester said. "The language and the way people dance now has all changed... . I don't want people to get arrested in Columbus, Ga., because they say a word or do a dance.

"I'm not going to bring in explicit shows here. I'm not going to look for that kind of entertainment," he said.

Had it been a movie, the Mötley Crüe show likely would've carried an R rating.

"I don't think I've brought any bad entertainment to town," Hester said. "I would bring Mötley Crüe back. I would bring 'em back with a different heading on the ticket."

End of ordinance

Police want the ordinance to go away altogether, saying it's too strict and calls for judgments that are difficult for officers to make on the spot.

The local ordinance, which contains language from landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases, has not faced a major legal challenge for potential violations of First Amendment or free speech guarantees.

However, such challenges typically analyze questions like: How many uses of a "four-letter sexual word" defines "repetitious?" What defines "sadomasochistic abuse?" Would the provision for scantily clad women also make criminals of circus performers or female wrestlers?

Promoters like Blackwell and Huff also want it gone.

"If I'm a promoter, I should have the opportunity to book the show if I want to," Huff said. He typically shies away from booking blue acts, but supports the rights of a promoter to book them. "The consumer determines what he wants to go to."

Blackwell's case is more personal.

To date, he is the only concert promoter to be arrested under the ordinance, for a show that featured rappers NWA and Too Short.

Too Short dropped a string of profanity directed toward the police when he took the stage. Fifteen minutes later, when his opening set was done, officers took both the rapper and Blackwell to jail. "The police chief came up to me and said, 'Mike, you've got to go, too.' "

Doing away with the ordinance, he said, would open the door to more top-tier rap acts -- which, generally, contain more explicit lyrics than rock or country shows.

"There was a package back out in December that was Young Jeezy and T.I. together," Blackwell said. "I was interested in bringing that, but I didn't want to face the lewdness ordinance."

Promoters, the police and Civic Center officials think the ordinance makes Columbus seem out-of-touch.

Before the Mötley Crüe concert, Miller researched about 10 other cities where the band had played. "I couldn't find anywhere in those cities where they'd been arrested," he said. "We would've gotten a black eye and looked like a damn podunk town."

But at least one civic leader stands by the need for some form of anti-lewdness ordinance. "In Columbus, Ga., we need something there. We have a fairly conservative population here," said Carmen Cavezza, who was city manager for seven years through 2004. He is now executive director of the Cunningham Center at Columbus State University.

Making any change could be a battle.

Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff, whose 18-year-old grandson attended the Crüe show, thinks the ordinance is working.

"It must be effective, because we haven't had that many problems with lewdness," he said. "Everybody that comes in here is aware of the ordinance."

He likes the fact that the police have some discretion in the rule's interpretation, too.

"Common sense will dictate when an arrest is made," he said. "That's the one thing I'm not willing to take away from the police -- their discretion."

COLUMBUS ANTI-LEWDNESS LAW

Sec. 14-97. Sexually explicit presentations harmful to minors.

(a) Definition. The term "harmful to minors" means that quality of any description or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sado-masochistic abuse, when it:

(1) Predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful or morbid interest of minors;

(2) Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors; and

(3) Is utterly without redeeming social importance for minors.

(b) Admission to certain performances; selling tickets prohibited. It shall be unlawful to knowingly admit minors under the age of 18 years to performances conducted in the facilities of or on the property of the consolidated government in which live sexually explicit presentations of the following nature, which are harmful to minors, are rendered or to sell tickets to such minors for such performances:

(1) Nudity involving the showing of male or female genitals or buttocks or nipples of female breasts;

(2) Simulations of acts of sexual intercourse or masturbation or the showing of erections of the male penis, regardless of whether or not performers making such simulations and showings are clothed or unclothed;

(3) Pictures or models in conjunction with performances for the purpose of portraying sexual organs or sexual conduct prohibited in the foregoing paragraphs;

(4) Use of four-letter sexual words, particularly such use which is repetitious in nature or designed to sexually stimulate the audience; or

(5) Portrayals of sado-masochistic abuse involving torture or whipping or other assault of one person upon another, particularly where one or both or all parties are clad in undergarments or other thin attire, or masks or costumes, or where the victim is physically restrained in any manner.

(c) Exhibitions; objectionable language. It shall be unlawful for any person to exhibit himself or herself to an audience attended by minors under the age of 18 years in the manner forbidden in the foregoing section or to actively use before such audiences objects or pictures or language forbidden by the foregoing section, and it shall be unlawful for any person to direct or manage or promote a presentation forbidden by the foregoing section before such audiences.

(Ord. No. 87-32, ßß 1--3, 3-17-87)


http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradent...n/13907616.htm
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Old 02-19-2006, 11:32 AM
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Chicka B Chicka B is offline
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Default Re: Anti-lewdness ordinance started in Columbus, GA after Beastie Boy show 19 years ago

Ok I just read that whole thing, I'm so proud of myself. Hah, anyway wow. Is it really that big of a deal? I mean, the inflatable penis was fake! I guess it's pretty bad about the underage girls flashing, but still. They're just boobies. But for real now, I don't see how all that is "harmful to minors" it's not hurting them, or showing them what they don't know already. And where they parents at! It's the band's show and it's all in entertainment, if the parents don't like it then don't let the kids come. I don't know that was a long time ago. Thanks for that by the way, it was very interesting.



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Old 02-19-2006, 12:17 PM
lyneday lyneday is offline
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Default Re: Anti-lewdness ordinance started in Columbus, GA after Beastie Boy show 19 years ago

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicka B
Ok I just read that whole thing, I'm so proud of myself. Hah, anyway wow. Is it really that big of a deal? I mean, the inflatable penis was fake! I guess it's pretty bad about the underage girls flashing, but still. They're just boobies. But for real now, I don't see how all that is "harmful to minors" it's not hurting them, or showing them what they don't know already. And where they parents at! It's the band's show and it's all in entertainment, if the parents don't like it then don't let the kids come. I don't know that was a long time ago. Thanks for that by the way, it was very interesting.

It's the point that no one was expecting that to happen so there were alot of minors there. Things were alot different 20 years ago than they are now. Sex wasn't as openly discussed on the radio or seen on TV as now. Even though minors may experience certain things, parents like to try and keep the purity of childhood.
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Old 02-19-2006, 12:30 PM
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Chicka B Chicka B is offline
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Default Re: Anti-lewdness ordinance started in Columbus, GA after Beastie Boy show 19 years ago

Quote:
Originally Posted by lyneday
It's the point that no one was expecting that to happen so there were alot of minors there. Things were alot different 20 years ago than they are now. Sex wasn't as openly discussed on the radio or seen on TV as now. Even though minors may experience certain things, parents like to try and keep the purity of childhood.
Oh yeah, I didn't know they weren't expecting it to happen. I thought maybe the parents would see how they did concerts before that or something, but that was 20 years ago and they didn't have the internet right? I can understand how they want to keep their kids innocent, but the Beastie Boys have changed since then. I didn't know they started that whole thing though! I've never even been to a concert before.



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Old 02-20-2006, 01:17 PM
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Default Re: Anti-lewdness ordinance started in Columbus, GA after Beastie Boy show 19 years a

why couldn't the beasties bring some of that lewdness over here?
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Old 02-20-2006, 01:42 PM
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Default Re: Anti-lewdness ordinance started in Columbus, GA after Beastie Boy show 19 years ago

it was only a manli wang for god's sakes...



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