Call It Not Knowing How To (be) Vague

Posted: June 12, 1990

What's the big deal over 2 Live Crew? Why are they getting busted?

Let's face it. Rock and soul music has always had sexual connotations, has always been threatening to strait-laced moralists.

Why, the very name "rock 'n' roll" is a euphemism for "doing it."

And from Chuck Berry to Elvis Presley to Jim Morrison on down, many's the performer who has felt the need to act out that expression.

Clearly, social mores are changing. Even the president's friend Michael Jackson, his sister Janet and Irish post-modern artiste Sinead O'Connor can now rub themselves on stage without rubbing the law the wrong way.

And while Prince and Madonna don't leave much to the imagination as they act out fantasies before intimate gatherings of 20,000 people, they have so far avoided arrest. Probably it's because they keep their private parts covered and keep their language vague, ambiguous.

Others who aren't so artful in their innuendo have not always been so lucky - especially in some smaller towns.

Here's a Rogues' Gallery of those arrested in recent years:

* March 31, 1990: Sebastian Bach, lead singer of the New Jersey band Skid Row, is arrested in Salt Lake City after a concert for using profane language, ''thrusting his pelvis toward the crowd," and having "grasped his groin."

* March 25, 1990: Thomas Lee Bass, aka Tommie Lee, the drummer for Motley Crue, is arrested for dropping his pants and baring his bottom at the Augusta- Richmond County Civic Center in Augusta, Ga. The gesture is the standard capper to his extended solo. Lee forfeits $1,600 bail when he doesn't make his court date.

* Jan. 26, 1989: R&B hotshot Bobby Brown is arrested for violating a Columbus, Ga., anti-lewdness ordinance. According to the cops, Brown pulls a woman out of the audience, begins dancing, and then simulates intercourse with her. Nailed in mid-performance, Brown is immediately taken to jail, posts $600 bond, and then returns to finish the concert. He is later fined $652.

* July 2, 1989: Rap performer Too Short and concert promoter Mike Blackwell are arrested after a show at the Columbus (Ga.) Municipal Auditorium for violating the city's lewdness ordinance. Short is charged with using four- letter words, while other acts on the same bill, Eazy-E and NWA, are not arrested, though they used much of the same language as Too Short.

* June 18, 1989: Too Short and NWA are arrested at a Cincinnati concert for using foul language.

* February 1988: Gene Simmons of Kiss gets nailed in Columbus, Ga., for having "dropped his pants," exposing his rear to the audience. The promoter says it was an accident.

* June 1987: Rap star LL Cool J is arrested for simulating intercourse with a fan at the Columbus (Ga.) Municipal Auditorium.

* February 1987: At a performance in (where else?) Columbus, Ga., the Beastie Boys unveil a 20-foot model of a penis and invite members of the audience to have sex with the trio's road crew. The city fathers respond by drafting an anti-obscenity ordinance.

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