A week after announcing plans to host an on-stage suicide by a terminally ill euthanasia advocate, Florida industrial rockers Hell on Earth have lost their booking at a Ft. Lauderdale venue.
David Hundley, owner of the State Theater in St. Petersburg, said on Wednesday that he would not host next Saturday’s show. Unclear whether the planned suicide was a publicity stunt or an “illusion,” Hundley said during a press conference that his concern for what effect the stunt might have on young fans forced his hand.
“We deal with a lot of kids here and we don’t want their parents to think that their kids are ever at risk,” Hundley said during the news conference.
Another local venue, Club Venom, also rejected the booking. Singer Billy Tourtelot claimed that the heat about the suicide show has caused the band to lose most of the bookings on their upcoming U.S. tour, including an October 12th show at the Metro in Chicago. A spokesperson for the Metro said the band was never scheduled to perform at the club. An October 15th booking at The Pound SF in San Francisco was also allegedly canceled, though the venue’s Web site never listed the band as a featured performer.
Last week, the group announced that an unnamed member of a right-to-die group would commit suicide onstage during their October 4th show. Tourtelot said that he was not angry with Hundley – who had booked the band numerous times in the past – because he felt the venue owner had been pressured the city and the Florida Governor’s office.
Tourtelot said that the show, and the suicide, would go on as scheduled at an undisclosed location – or locations – within St. Petersburg city limits and be broadcast live on hellonearth.net. “The only problem is the government violating our first amendment rights,” Tourtelot says. “This person will be doing this themsevles, with no physician on hand. The band might not even be on the same premises, we might be in two totally different places. This person wants to make sure we don’t go to prison.”
As Hundley was puzzling over whether to cancel the concert, city officials were working to rush through an emergency ordinance that would prevent this type of public suicide, according to St. Petersburg Police spokesperson, Bill Proffitt. “Had they not canceled the show, we would have had to pass that legislation,” Proffitt said. Tourtelot has declined to give the name or the condition of the person planning to commit suicide, but said a plastic bag over the head was one of the methods being considered.
According to Proffitt, the Police Department has not yet decided how it will proceed if the suicide does take place, as promised, from within city limits and on the Web.
Hell on Earth have built a reputation as media pranksters and attention seekers, with Tourtelot claiming that they’ve mixed rat milkshakes on stage. The band’s Web site reports that police investigated a recent band press mailing that included individual pieces of candy corn in little plastic baggies typically used by drug dealers.
Tourtelot again denied that the suicide was a publicity stunt and expressed confidence that he and his band are on solid legal ground. “We have legal representation and this is not illegal,” he said last week. “I’m definitely not assisting in any suicide. What I’m doing may be immoral, but it’s not illegal. I’m taking a stand and I won’t let this type of government strong-arming take place.”