Twenty-Four Years Ago This Week Jesus Lizard Singer David Yow Was Arrested in Cincinnati for Public Indecency

Makers of a new documentary about Dayton band Brainiac release footage of interview with Yow discussing his arrest after performing at Riverbend as part of the 1995 Lollapalooza tour

Jul 15, 2019 at 4:12 pm

click to enlarge David Yow in more recent (and less naked) years - Photo: Philip Markwick (CC-by-3.0)
Photo: Philip Markwick (CC-by-3.0)
David Yow in more recent (and less naked) years

This Thursday, July 18, marks the 24-year anniversary of the Cincinnati arrest of David Yow — singer for American Post Punk heroes The Jesus Lizard — on public indecency charges. Yow was accused of exposing himself on stage (something he was well known to do) during his band's afternoon performance at Riverbend Music Center as part of the 1995 Lollapolooza tour.

The Jesus Lizard played the tour's mainstage that year alongside acts like Hole, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Beck and Cypress Hill. On-the-rise Dayton, Ohio band Brainiac played one of the side-stages at Lollapalooza in 1995. Today, the makers of a new documentary about Brainiac — the acclaimed Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero — shared footage of director Eric Mahoney's interview with Yow in which he discusses his arrest. (Yow is interviewed about Brainiac in the film alongside fellow musicians like Fred Armisen, The National's Matt Berninger, Wayne Coyne and many others.)

In the clip, Yow describes being in court and having his case come up after numerous domestic abuse cases. He also mentions the then-somewhat-recent Mapplethorpe censorship fiasco.

The 1995 AP wire story about the incident says that Yow was arrested after the band's performance but was released on bail so he could play the next day in Detroit. The story said during the show "Yow yelled at the crowd to get naked and railed about the city’s reputation for censorship."

Way to show him, 1995 CPD!

Yow reminisced about his arrest in the liner notes for the 2009 reissue of Jesus Lizard's 1994 album Down:

So there we were on the 1995 Lollapalooza stage in Cincinnati, Ohio at about 4 in the afternoon.  And it was hot.  That’s probably why my pants were around my ankles.

No, dear reader, I’m only kidding!  My trou was down in something of a protest against censorship, specifically the banning of the Mapplethorpe exhibit in Cincinnati.  I had even said some shit along those lines during the show.  So many moments later, when my private parts had regained their coverage, our road manager came and told me that the D.A. was in the audience and that if he saw my cock again I would be arrested.   I kept my weenie hidden, but not long after we got off stage, two of the city’s boys in blue handcuffed me, tossed me in the back of their squad car and toted me off to jail anyway.

These cops were so condescending. While taking my mug shot, they kept saying crap like, “Woo!  Hey!  We haven’t had a rock star in here since Ted Nugent!”   A couple of them asked me for my autograph and I told them they could have it when I got outta there. They put me in the drunk-tank (thank you very much, I was not drunk) and made me surrender my wedding ring.  I think that’s what pissed me off the most.  What, am I gonna make a jailbreak with a white gold wedding ring?  Am I gonna hang myself with it?

They detained me for something like six hours, fined me $327, and then somebody picked me up to take me back to the Lollapalooza ordeal.  On my way out, one of the cops stopped me -- “What about that autograph?”  I grabbed the paper and marker from him and signed, YOU SUCK!  DAVID YOW.

A couple months later, I had to go to trial at the beautiful Hamilton County Courthouse.  Being as my name is Yow, I was at the end of the line, and witnessed domestic abuse case after domestic abuse case after domestic abuse case.  Several hours of white-trash drudgery later, the judge called my name and stated my charge: Recklessly and knowingly exposing his private parts.

I was flabbergasted to hear this room full of chaw chewing grease monkeys and black & blue women gasp in horror when they heard this oh so outrageously disgusting, perverted charge.  Honestly, they turned back and looked at me with their jaws on their chests.  I pleaded guilty and was banned from Hamilton County for a year.  Without me crawling their streets and lurking in their alleyways, all those good people of Hamilton County were safe to beat -- or get beaten by -- their loved ones happily ever after.