Dougies Cross to Bare
Five schoolgirls, a throng of hecklers, no cops and not enough blood.
That’s the final tally of Dougie Rosenbrook’s crucifixion, which happened just after midnight on December 29 in Case Park (see last week’s cover story). People who showed up expecting a freak show got what they were looking for, but those hoping to see a Mel Gibson-style gorefest went home grumbling.
Turns out, Dougie’s version of Jesus is a big wuss.
Two hours before the event, Dougie was suited up in a jockstrap covered by an open-backed hospital gown as he opened the door of his Quality Hill apartment for two women, Michaela and Rachel, dressed as Catholic schoolgirls. They had come bearing a case of Newcastle beer. Dougie was already wearing a crown of barbed wire and drinking a Budweiser.
“How are you gonna drink Bud doing something like this?” Michaela squealed. “Drink something good.”
Dougie insisted on wearing a barbed-wire suit even before he’d planted the cross in Case Park. Digging a hole while wrapped in barbed wire was a more authentic echo of Jesus’ pain, he said. Michaela and Rachel took on the task of wrapping Dougie in coils of barbed wire, wrangling the dangerous spikes while sharing one pair of gloves between them.
The cameraman for the evening, a middle-aged guy named Jim Hennequin, was filming the scene. He suggested that Dougie clip the pointy spikes of the barbed wire that were digging into his skin the most.
“No,” Dougie said. “You know why? Because that’s what a pussy would do.”
At 11 p.m., Dougie loaded himself into Rachel’s car and sped off to Balanca’s, where he claimed that the rest of the schoolgirls were meeting him. After fighting with the woman at the door, who wanted to see some I.D. – a wallet was not part of his couture – he entered the dark bar. It was just the right scene: wall-to-wall mohawks, piercings and mascara. A woman in black-and-white striped tights and coils of bright-red Raggedy Ann hair posed near the door. Cameras immediately started flashing. Dougie was accepted like a rock star.
Only Mercury Mad (formerly the lead singer of Vibralux) was unimpressed. The statuesque singer sneered as Dougie passed by. “You see enough people bleeding and pissing on each other that when you see a guy with barbed wire and he’s holding the crown off his head, come on,” Mad said. Sure enough, Dougie traipsed around the bar with the crown of thorns lifted away from his skin. “The head is where you bleed from first,” Mad declared.
Only a few schoolgirls richer at 11:45, Dougie climbed into a car and drove back to Quality Hill, pausing briefly to pick up two water-filled Wiffle bats that were freezing in the cooler of the Peanut on Ninth Street and Broadway.
A crowd was forming in the dark along the wall of Case Park’s scenic overlook. Schoolgirl Rachel waited among them. “People here think he’s not doing it and they’re gonna bounce out,” she reported from her cell phone.
Dougie, meanwhile, was retrieving his cross from his apartment. Accompanying him were two women dressed as schoolgirls, who hoisted the heavy, walnut-stained cross on their shoulders and maneuvered it into the elevator, with Dougie barking orders and trailing behind.
As Dougie strode through the park toward the overlook, schoolgirls and cross following behind, the crowd caught sight of him. A great cheer went up. Dozens of camera phones snapped open, and little blue lights twinkled in the darkness. It was 12:20.
Dougie led the women and the cross to a grassy spot just behind the overlook’s retaining wall. The crowd followed, some jumping down off the wall for a better view.
“This is silly,” someone said.
Dougie had brought the shovel to dig his own hole but realized he needed help. One of his friends, a young guy named Guffey, took on the task. When the cross was planted, Dougie laid out ground rules. The crowd surged closer.
“Every girl gets three strikes,” he said. “Nothing in the face.”
Dougie originally wanted to be nailed to the cross, but Jeremy Upshaw, a piercer from Freaks on 39th Street, researched the anatomy of the hand for Dougie and determined that he couldn’t nail Dougie to the cross without being arrested for mutilation. Dougie didn’t want some amateur doing the hammering, so he settled for no nails.
He stood against the cross, arms outstretched.
And it began. As the five schoolgirls took turns with the Wiffle bats, they resembled little kids beating a piñata. Where the plastic met metal, the sound was like hitting a chain link fence. Dougie howled. The crowd went crazy.
“Beat him like the bitch he is!” a sweet-looking blond woman screeched.
“Fuck you,” he hissed at her. “Has anyone been keeping time?”
“Jesus didn’t keep time,” someone yelled back. “You’ve still got 72 hours to go.”
But Dougie had warned everyone that the show would go on for no longer than two minutes, and he stayed true to his word. “We’re done!” he yelled. “You’re grounded,” he said to the schoolgirls.
The crowd was audibly displeased.
“Show’s over,” Dougie shouted. “Bye, y’all,” he said, his voice dripping with hatred.
“That was weak!” someone yelled.
A sporting chant went up from the crowd. “Blood makes the grass grow – kill, kill kill! Blood makes the grass grow – kill, kill, kill!” It caught on, reverberating across the park.
Dougie looked around, bewildered, a performance artist unused to a mocking audience. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” he bellowed.
A bald guy’s heckling rose above the chants. “I came to see nails drilled in your hands,” he said.
“Hey, fine,” Dougie snapped back, pointing to his barbed-wire coils. “Wanna try this on?”
The bald man shook his head and walked away.
“Eat a dick!” Guffey yelled in defense of Dougie, who by now had shouldered his own cross and was walking slowly away. A woman who had arrived with Guffey asked, “Shouldn’t we cheer for Dougie? Isn’t that what he wants?”
But nobody cheered for Dougie, who narrowly avoided being hit by a white van and a blue Toyota Rav 4 as he crossed the street back to his apartment building.