South African Steven Cohen, 51, shocked Parisians and visitors alike when he took to the Eiffel Tower to dance with a rooster that was tied to his privates. The result of his actions was a sexual exhibitionism conviction.
In response to the conviction, Cohen told the Agence France-Presse that “shocking is the first level we break through to get into understanding what is underneath the appearance of things.”
The Parisian court that convicted Cohen decided to go pretty easy on him. There wasn’t a penalty imposed because he didn’t actually commit a sexual act in public. Also, not one person filed a complaint against him, not even a single nun.
The following Reuters story explains the entire incident:
(Reuters) – A South African performance artist who tied a live rooster to his penis during an impromptu open-air show near the Eiffel Tower was found guilty on Monday of “sexual exhibitionism”, but the Paris court did not impose a sentence, prosecutors said.
Last September Steven Cohen danced on the tourist-filled Trocadero Plaza dressed in a corset, high heels, long red gloves and an elaborate feathered headdress with a rooster attached to his penis by a ribbon.
Against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, and under the amused and perplexed gaze of tourists, including a group of nuns, the spectacle lasted only a few moments before police arrested Cohen, dragging him across the plaza, rooster attached.
Cohen’s lawyer told Reuters she was “relieved”.
“This is a rather measured decision,” said lawyer Agnès Tricoire. “In my opinion, this case should never have gone to court.”
In a March interview with Le Figaro daily, Cohen said authorities had “no understanding of what art is, what performance is”.
“If I’m found guilty … I will see it as a failure of French justice,” said Cohen, who has lived in France for about 10 years.
Prosecutors had asked for a 1,000-euro ($1,400) fine.
Cohen is known for “interventions in the public realm”, according to his biography. Wearing an illuminated chandelier tutu, he once walked through a squatters’ camp in Johannesburg while it was being demolished.
The Paris piece was a reaction to an increasingly homophobic, xenophobic and anti-Semitic world, Cohen told the newspaper.
“In showing the most intimate part of me, I’m saying: I’m male, I’m Jewish, I’m queer, I’m white,” he said.
He said the rooster, named Franck, was not harmed during the performance. The animal was chosen “because it’s the emblem of France”.
(Reporting by Chine Labbe; Writing by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Andrew Roche)