Table dancing for tickets

A teenage boy in Tennessee dresses in his mother's underwear to win a concert contest.

Published May 15, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Let's say you were a 14-year-old boy, and you loved your favorite rock band. What would you do for free tickets to their concert? Would you drive hundreds of miles in the dead of night? Would you stand in line for hours with your friends? Or would you show up at a radio station wearing your mother's bra and panties, then be told to put on a dog collar and table-dance at a local bar?

This might not raise an eyebrow in more liberal spots on the globe, but in the conservative state of Tennessee, the matter has ended up in the Knox County Circuit Court.

Attorneys for the boy say he was a victim of cruel sexual harassment, and is now in counseling. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the kid, asking for $3 million in damages from WXVO radio personality Sarah McClune, the station and its parent corporation (which boasts the unfortunate name of Dick Broadcasting Co., Inc.). Attorneys for the broadcasting company last week denied that the boy was mistreated, and that he asked for all of it.

Sound goofy? Here's how it went down: In February 1999, the young boy showed up at WXVO wearing his mom's underwear and hoping to win tickets for an upcoming Black Crowes concert. According to the boy's lawyer, McClune, known to Knoxville, Tenn., rock-radio fans as "Ripley," wouldn't give him the tickets unless he also put on a dog collar and allowed himself to be chained to the fence of a parking lot, where listeners were encouraged to come and heckle him. The impromptu transvestite was then allegedly taken to a video store, where he was ridiculed further, and then to a bar, at which point he was asked to perform a table dance.

The youth's lawsuit explained that the boy was left humiliated by the events of this day, and was undergoing care from mental-health specialists, in an "effort to deal with and care for his emotional distress."

Dick Broadcasting responded to these allegations, and admitted that yes, the station did in fact conduct a ticket giveaway, where the first adult arriving at the station wearing the undergarments of the opposite sex would receive free tickets.

But the DJ stated she didn't know the youth was a minor, and that he had signed a release lying about his age. And although he was told he could leave the station, he wouldn't.

"He asked what else he could do," attorney Daniel M. Gass told the court. "It was the disc jockey's impression that the person wanted her to talk about him doing something outrageous on the radio."

Wearing the dog collar was not sexual humiliation, says Dick Broadcasting, but a mutually agreed-upon fashion accessory. "He said that would be fine, and told the disc jockey to be sure to get his name right on the air," claimed Gass. "He appeared cheerful and excited throughout the events."

As the courtroom weighs both sides of this case, one question has not yet been broached. In all fairness, are the Black Crowes really worth all that?

By Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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