Friday, July 29, 2005

Lake Geneva teen to plead no contest to disorderly conduct charge - THE JANESVILLE GAZETTE

By Chris Schultz
Gazette Staff

LAKE GENEVA-Kerry Lofy, the senior who wore a black dress to this year's Badger High School prom, won't have to pay a $249 disorderly ticket that he received for the dancing he did in that dress.

In a written agreement between Lofy's attorney, Erik Guenther, and City Attorney Michael Rielly, Lofy agreed this week to plead no contest to the disorderly conduct charge. According to the stipulation and order signed by Lake Geneva Municipal Judge Henry A. Sibbing, the charge will be dismissed if Lofy behaves himself until the end of September.

The school suspended Lofy for three days after he wore a black spaghetti-strap dress to the prom, despite faculty and administration warnings.

The police-school liaison officer issued the ticket because of Lofy's alleged dirty dancing, not because he wore the dress.

Guenther had argued that the ticket violated Lofy's right to free expression.

Lofy is exercising his right to free speech this week working with an MTV crew that's putting together a half-hour documentary and re-enactment of the prom and the events leading up to it.

Lofy is playing himself. He has said he's not being paid, but he hopes he can gain exposure and experience in acting.

MTV has said that the series, called "High School Stories," will begin airing in mid-November.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

MTV crew films dress segment in Lake Geneva

By Chris Schultz
Gazette Staff

DELAVAN-The camera focused on a young man and woman as they browsed through the racks of women's dresses.

The young man occasionally held a dress up to his shoulders, as if it was for him and not the young woman.

Kerry Lofy of Lake Geneva and friend Jill Doherty were at the Goodwill store at 1402 Geneva St. in Delavan on Tuesday afternoon re-enacting the shopping trip they took to buy the little black spaghetti-strap dress that he wore to prom. The re-enactment was for a half-hour MTV documentary, "High School Stories."

If fame is measured in 15-minute increments, Lofy, a recent Badger High School graduate, can trace his quarter-hour to the day he and Doherty found that black dress at Goodwill.

Lofy, who was on the Badger track team, wore the dress, a blond wig and open-toed shoes to the Badger prom in May against the school administration's orders.

Lofy's dress and his dancing at the prom earned him a three-day suspension from school and a $249 disorderly conduct ticket.

MTV touts the series as a look at high school students' antics and pranks across the country, including "true-to-life re-enactments." Last week, Lofy's attorney, Erik Guenther of Madison, said he had heard MTV would be in Lake Geneva on July 27.

Instead, the crew arrived late Monday for initial interviews. MTV is big on security. Earlier, MTV denied a newspaper photographer permission to shoot the videotaping. Asked her last name, the producer, Ann, smiled and said it would be better not to say.

Cheryl Lightholder, manager of communications for Goodwill's Milwaukee headquarters, was there to make sure everything went well.

Lightholder said MTV contacted Goodwill last week. The music television station worked out a location agreement to use the Delavan store.

Customers in the store shopped in the background, but no one seemed overly curious about the cameras and light.

Later that night, Lofy said the experience of being taped in the re-enactment was interesting, as well as time-consuming.

"I thought it was cool," Lofy said. "It was also a little boring."

Lofy said MTV isn't paying him. Instead, it's an opportunity for public exposure and experience in video work and acting.

Today, the crew was heading to an Illinois high school to re-enact the prom, he said.

Shooting will wrap up Saturday, Lofy said. The next season of "High School Stories" will air starting in mid-November, he said.

First denied access to the prom, Lofy put a suit on over the dress and made his way into the dance.

Although the school suspended him because of the dress, police have said that Lofy was ticketed for his dirty dancing, not for the dress.

Guenther, Lofy's attorney, said he is not challenging the three-day suspension, but the ticket violates Lofy's right to free expression.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Doug Moe: Prom drag means fun for MTV - THE CAPITAL TIMES

By Doug Moe
July 15, 2005
I IMAGINE school administrators in Lake Geneva are not exactly thrilled to have a crew from the MTV series "High School Stories" coming to town early next month.

The MTV show, which is subtitled "Scandals, Pranks & Controversies," is interested in the case of Lake Geneva Badger High School student Kerry Lofy. Lofy was a senior last May when he attended the school prom wearing a black spaghetti-strap dress and a blond wig.

School officials called the police, and Lofy was escorted from the prom and issued a $249 ticket for disorderly conduct.

A Madison law firm, Hurley, Burish & Milliken, offered to represent Lofy for free if he wanted to fight the ticket.

At the time, one of the firm's attorneys, Erik Guenther, issued a memorable quote: "The only thing that Mr. Lofy did wrong was wearing a purse that didn't match the dress and open-toed shoes before Memorial Day."

It was Guenther who told me this week that MTV is interested in the story and coming to Lake Geneva. He said there is a pretrial motion hearing in the case scheduled for July 27. Guenther said that while Lofy feels his First Amendment rights were violated, he is not interested in a civil suit against the school, but would like to have the disorderly conduct ticket dismissed. If it isn't, Guenther said, they will go to trial.

A dismissal of the disorderly conduct ticket would not stop the MTV show, which I must admit I was unfamiliar with until Guenther mentioned it Wednesday.

I did a little research on "High School Stories" and learned it debuted in February of last year.

At that time, the producer, Marshall Eisen, said criticism that a MTV show about high school pranks might glorify the pranks and encourage copycats was off base.

"Ultimately, with each of these stories, everybody gets in trouble," Eisen told the New York Daily News. "You see what seemed to be a harmless prank go awry. ... There is a moral to the story, and the point is that everybody's actions have a consequence."

Allow me to translate that quote: "We may be glorifying the pranks, but this is a great idea and a hit series on MTV is a gold mine."

Even for adults, "High School Stories" can take them back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when the pressure was on every senior class to out-prank the one that came before.

In the first episode, four high school seniors from a school in Maine are suspended for stealing a 70-pound statue of Colonel Sanders from in front of their town's Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.

The kids might have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't seem like a good idea to take pictures of themselves with the statue and then have them developed at the local Wal-Mart.

Just last month, a MTV crew was in Greensboro, N.C., to recreate a cross-country track meet for "High School Stories."

In the meet, the boys teams went off about 10 minutes ahead of the girls. The route went past some woods and was marked by dividing tape. One of the trailing boys was inspired to move the tape on his way by, resulting in many of the female runners getting lost in the woods and the race being ruined.

The girls actually took it pretty well. On hearing MTV was coming to re-enact the prank, one of the racers, Liana Blue, said, "That's freaking awesome."

Certainly the Lake Geneva incident has the potential to make fascinating TV. An Associated Press report in May gives you an idea of the possibilities for the re-enactment:

"Lofy says he is not gay but went to the prom with a gay friend who did not have a date. He had been warned by school authorities not to wear the dress. He was turned away at the door when he showed up in the dress, blue earrings, platform sandals and a necklace, and carrying a purse.

"He returned an hour later in a leisure suit and was allowed to enter. During a risque dance routine that caught the attention of the 400 people there, the 6-foot, 185-pound Lofy ripped off his clothes to reveal the dress, according to the police report.

"He was escorted from the building by a police officer and served with the ticket when he showed up for school Monday."

It's not hard to figure how the MTV folks heard about this dust-up in Lake Geneva . Lofy and his dress made it into newspapers from England (the Times of London, no less) to Australia.

Guenther, the attorney, said that even NBC's "Today" show expressed interest, but that Lofy didn't want to miss school and a track meet that was scheduled for the day when "Today" wanted to tape a segment.

It's clear in talking to Guenther that he sees some humor in the case, but the attorney also feels censorship is a slippery slope. He says the case law supports his client, and if you try to stop someone from wearing a dress to the prom, what kind of free expression gets shut down next?

Guenther said Lofy is planning to attend college in Colorado, where he will study ski hill management. The lawyer hopes to send his client west with a clean record, and the promise not to wear open-toed shoes before Memorial Day.