*Allow us to set the scene.
In March of 1987, the city of Columbus, GA passed a “Lewd Law” following a Beastie Boys concert that left the town’s parents clutching their pearls. Local news reports claimed that the rap trio invited girls from the audience to dance in cages, “bare their breasts and to have sex with members of their road crew.” Parents also complained that the Boys altered their “Fight for Your Right” lyrics to refer to oral sex.
And the huge inflatable Beastie penis they had as a stage prop didn’t help.
Nearly a year later, on January 25, 1989, Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” tour made a pit stop in the same city. Sure enough, the former New Edition standout became one of many entertainers passing through Columbus to be arrested and fined for “lewd acts” on stage.
This was Bobbbbay’s lewd act in Columbus that night.
This dirty dancing bit with an audience member that seems so benign now (and really, even back then compared to what groups like 2 Live Crew were doing on stage) was a violation of new local Ordinance No. 87-32, which prohibits performers at an event attended by people under age 18 to show nudity or sexual pictures, use ″four-letter sexual words or simulate sexual acts.
Brown was arrested for “simulating sexual acts” and was taken into custody during the concert. He reportedly paid a $652 fine at the county jail and made it back to the arena in time to pick up right where he left off – minus the “simulated sex act” of course.
This “lewd” ordinance is still on the books today in Columbus. Kiss member Gene Simmons and LL Cool J have since been arrested under the same law.
Here’s the “Roni” portion of his 1989 concert in Philly, where no such ordinance exists.
His performance of “Roni” on “The Arsenio Hall Show” was very TV friendly, as he sang to various ladies (and one excited little girl) while moving up and down the aisles of the audience.