Rob Halford’s Anger Over Public Indecency Arrest
Rob Halford has told the story of his 1992 arrest for public indecency in a washroom and revealed how he remained angry that gay men were made to “live in fear” at the time.
The Judas Priest singer was closing in on his departure from the band when one of his trips to a well-known location in Los Angeles' Venice Beach where gay men hooked up went wrong.
“I’d been in there 10 minutes when a good-looking, muscular guy came in, walked past and glanced in my cubicle,” Halford wrote in his memoir Confess: The Autobiography (via Rolling Stone). “He smiled and gave me a nod. Wa-hey! I’m in here! I thought. I slipped my hand inside my cycling shorts and began fondling myself. Getting ready. … He turned around to face me, reached into his shirt – and pulled out a badge. ‘You’re under arrest for public indecency,’ the cop said.”
The singer continued: “A million thoughts raced through my mind. This is it! I’ve fucked up! It’s going to be in the papers! I’ve lost everything! And yet, at the same time, I felt oddly calm.”
Halford was led to a nearby building where “five or six” other men were also under arrest and waiting to be taken to a police precinct. After being processed and put behind bars, the singer explained: “I was staring forlornly at the floor when a pair of police feet appeared in front of me. The cop leaned down, pulled my baseball cap off and stared at me. I saw a flicker of recognition. He put my cap back on, leaned down and undid my cuffs. ‘Follow me.’”
The cop had indeed recognized the Metal God and asked him how he came to be in his predicament. “‘I’m a fucking idiot,’ I admitted," Halford recalled. "He shook his head. ‘I can’t believe that you’re here. Let me see what I can do.’” Back in the cell, a number of cops came to take a look at Halford while showing the devil-horn hand signal. “I did the same back and stuck my tongue out. It passed the time."
Eventually the friendly officer told him his arrest would be kept out of the press and set him free. Halford wound up with “another federal offense” on his record after pleading guilty and paying a fine, although he didn’t have to go to court. “How did I feel?” he wrote “Stupid and ashamed, but also angry – that, this late in the century, gay men still had to live in fear like this. I always call this arrest my ‘George Michael moment,’ after he did the same thing in Beverly Hills six years later. The only difference was that George wasn’t so lucky with the newspapers.”
Confess: The Autobiography is on sale now.