How, in the name of all things just, is this not a criminal act?
by Louise Livesey // 1 May 2008, 11:37
EDIT: Johnny Vegas has now apparently started legal proceedings over the article by the Guardian, one assumes for defamation but that's not clear at this point. He's appointed a firm with a history of pursuing cases against internet publishers (Schillings). So please mentally insert the word "allegedly" before relevant portions of the story below as demonstrated in the first view paragraphs below. Thanks.
Johnny Vegas, during a stand-up show, *allegedly* "fingers through her clothes" a young female audience member whilst hundreds of people find it *allegedly* funny. Can Vegas spell "sexual assault" because I *allegedly* can.
Here's the brief details:
- Vegas *allegedly* came on stage admitting he had no material and was there to "get laid"
- He then *allegedly* opened with a ramble about how he *allegedly* liked to tell lap dancers that there were "nothings"
- Next he *allegedly* fixated on a young woman (18-19 years old) on the audience and *allegedly* declared he wanted to be "inside" her.
- He then *allegedly* cajoled her into being carried onto stage by six *alleged* "pall bearers" (apparently this is linked to the Shakespear's Sister song Stay in the act) during which he *allegedly* repeatedly encouraged one "pall-bearer" to finger her.
- Once on stage, lying on the floor, the girl was *allegedly* obviously nervous and shaking/giggling and he *allegedly* told her to lay still or he'd kick her.
- He *allegedly* repeatedly pulled her skirt up and she repeatedly pulled it back down.
- He then *allegedly* fingered her "through her clothes" and squeezed her breasts.
- He then *allegedly* straddled her and *allegedly* kissed her, open mouthed, for an *allegedly* extended period.
He then *allegedly* asked that the curtain be brought down, it wasn't, but Stuart Munnery, who had been on beforehand, came on and *allegedly* shielded Vegas, still straddling the girl, with a long coat to obscure what happened next from the *alleged* audience.
Vegas was an *allegedly* special unannounced guest as part of Stewart Lee's *allegedly* "10 funniest comedy acts" tour (although I suggest this may cast a pall over the whole series).
Luckily *allegedly* not everyone was so amused. Mary O'Hara was at the show and writes for the Guardian about it.. Responses on the blog accompanying the article are, unsurprisingly, victim blamaing (like Carefree, EricConway (who maintains that the girl probably really enjoyed it) and musicandmayhem (who thinks she probably liked the attention and notoriety) but again not all and I think Islingworld's is worthy of mention - although they left rather than stopping Vegas's behaviour.
There is more discussion of this at NotBBC which included someone describing tabloid journalists as "nasty tabloid slags". A lot of the comments, however, are thoughtful and show an audience who is now feeling rather bad at not responding appropriately. Meanwhile Chortle ignores entirely this aspect of Vegas's performance and only just stops short of declaring it a tour de force and the Evening Standard's reporter was more concerned about the possibility of physical damage from Vegas straddling her than the sexual assault. The Times awards him three stars out of five despite commenting the show was bigger on sexual harrassment than comedy.
So there you go, if you want applause and praise for sexual crimes, make sure you do it on stage in front of hundreds. Presumably otherwise it's just not cricket.