Jurors in the trial of Kevin Michael Allin say impassively for more than an hour Tuesday as they watched a videotape of a lanky young man, wearing nothing but a small piece of cloth tied around his waist, shout obscenities and writhe on the floor of a dimly lighted stage.
The videotape, taken on Feb. 28, 1989, at the former Odd Rock Café on Milwaukee's South Side, showed Allin and his band, the Toilet Rockers, performing. It later followed Allin, who goes by the stage name G.G. Allin, to the club's basement dressing room, where he complained that the audience "wasn't into" his performance.
The camera zoomed in at the beginning of Allin's performance as he took the stage, turned around and defecated with his backside to the audience. He turned and banged on a drum set, then went to the front of the stage, picked up his feces and tossed them at the audience as people scrambled to get out of the way.
During the performance, Allin shouted at audience members and openly fondled himself to the accompaniment of an electric guitar, bass and drums. Toward the end of his performance, he ran into the audience, pulled a woman onstage and, after wrestling with her for a minute or two, threw her off the stage.
Allin is charged with abusive and indecent conduct, and provoking a disturbance.
Shane Lassen of Kenosha, who told the Milwaukee County Circuit Court jury that he had videotaped the performance, said he saw Allin give a similar performance in Chicago. He said that he knew just about everyone in the club that night and that "they knew what to expect" from Allin.
Public defender Peter Goldberg told the jury in his opening statement that Allin was "notorious" for performances like the one they had seen on tape and that he was "a well-known person in underground rock 'n' roll circles."
Goldberg said Allin's conduct could not be considered "abusive," because it was in the context of a form of art that the audience expected and had paid to see. "In that context," Goldberg said, Allin's performance "was not indecent."
Asst. Dist. Atty. Michael Steinhafel countered that Allin's actions "crossed the line" of indecent behavior. Allin, he said, "is not being prosecuted because of his music, his lyrics or his personal beliefs, but for his conduct."
Steinhafel said the evidence was clear that Allin "engaged in abusive and indecent conduct that tended to or did cause a disturbance."
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