Band vows to defy city's on-stage suicide ban -- Despite city council's veto, Hell on Earth says it will still stage a suicide during Florida concert

By Gary Susman
September 30, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Hell on Earth Flier: RIS

Shock rockers Hell on Earth claim to have engaged in such onstage behavior as sodomizing skinned calves and feeding concertgoers smoothies made from pureed live rats, but now they say they plan to stage an assisted suicide during a concert in St. Petersburg, Fla. The city’s State Theater had canceled the band’s Oct. 4 gig, and the city council passed an emergency ordinance against the practice on Monday, but the band vowed it would stage the show as scheduled and broadcast the suicide, planned by an unnamed friend of the band, live on Hell on Earth’s website.

Even though the St. Petersburg city council was leery that the band’s claim was a hoax, it went ahead and passed a statute that makes it illegal to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes, and to host, promote, and sell tickets for such an event. ”While I still think it’s a publicity stunt, we still couldn’t sit idly by and let somebody lose their life,” council member Bill Foster told the Associated Press. A judge also handed down an injunction preventing the band from advertising the show and staging the suicide.

Nonetheless, Hell on Earth said in a statement on their website that they would go ahead with the show at an undisclosed location, in accordance with an oath frontman Billy Tourtelot gave to his terminally ill friend, a member of the Euthanasia Society. ”This show is far more than a typical Hell On Earth performance,” Tourtelot said. ”This is about standing up for what you believe in, and I am a strong supporter of physician-assisted suicide. This performance will go on in its entirety and it will be in St. Petersburg on October 4.”