Kiwi student crucifies penis

Gross-out contest winner horrifies New Zealand.

Published February 23, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

A Christchurch student who stapled his penis to a crucifix then set it on fire during a televised pub promotion -- How far will you go? -- did not breach the norms of good taste, according to a controversial ruling by a New Zealand television authority.

To demolish his pub rivals, Thomas Hendry stapled his staff to a crucifix 18 times with an industrial-strength stapler, then drenched it in cigarette lighter fluid and ignited it in a meat-cooking blaze.

Trader McKendry, the Christchurch tavern that sponsored the contest, gave Hendry a whopping jackpot of about U.S. $245 in cash and the same amount in a bar credit.

"The stunt was unusual and macabre," the Broadcasting Standards Authority conceded, but the footage shown on state-owned television's "Havoc 2000 Deluxe" show fell just short of breaking broadcasting boundaries.

The organ ordeal was videotaped in its excruciating entirety and subsequently broadcast by Television New Zealand (TVNZ) reports Agence France-Presse. Audiences were warned repeatedly that the upcoming footage was "graphic and disgusting," but the cock-crippling clip was actually edited so extensively that it was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the genital torture.

For months, TVNZ has been under fierce attack from Prime Minister Helen Clark who has accused the network of being shamelessly ratings-driven.

Two viewers did complain, but the decency watchdog defended itself by asserting that the pecker-pulverizing act was within the periphery of its good taste because the network edited some of the most explicit aspects of the stunt.

How much wounding can a poor weenie endure? Hendry evidently heals quickly because he's already contemplating a repeat performance of his sausage-slaughtering ritual.

The next annihilation will be slightly less severe: Hendry concedes that he'll use fewer staples and have a bucket of water ready to put out the flames quickly.

By Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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