Screencapped from a montage on Funny or Die
Howard Stern fans like to give him free publicity. One tactic, "Booey Bombing," involves getting behind reporters and yelling "Baba Booey! Howard Stern's penis!" Yes, it's annoying for newscasters because it's a violation of the unspoken divide between important TV business in the foreground and the anonymous rabble bustling around in the background. Maybe you find it annoying because it achieved peak cultural penetration in a 13-year-old episode of Family Guy. But annoying or not, theoretically no one could be arrested for it, until someone was in March of this year.
Yesterday, a judge in New York actually used his valuable time adjudicating a case of yelling "Howard Stern's penis" on TV. And it turns out it's legal.
Granted, it wouldn't be funny, and arguably shouldn't be tolerated, if the TV report were on the disappearance of a child and some lunatic interrupted the reporter in the middle of asking the public for help. But inevitably what's being reported on is some fluffy red-carpet bullshit. See for yourself:
Yesterday, a judge in New York heard a Booey Bombing case in an actual court with a gavel and a black robe and everything. Tax dollars were spent. The arresting officer testified. In the end, the defendant, Joseph "Joey Boots" Bassolino, aided by a team of three lawyers, got his case dismissed. Afterward, I talked to Boots to find out how it all unfolded, along with what drives him, and what the future holds for the hobby of Booey Bombing.
VICE: How are you?
Joey Boots: Still on cloud nine.
That’s great to hear. What was the case you were in court for?
What happened was, back on March 10 at Union Square in New York City, there were two news vans, one from WABC and one from PIX 11, local news outlets. WABC went on at 4:00, and I did a Booey Bomb, jumped behind a reporter, and yelled, “Baba Booey” and added onto that “Howard Stern’s penis.” And that, the reporter got really pissed and got cops. And the cops came and asked me to stop, so I was like, “No. I don’t have to. It’s totally legal what I’m doing.” And the cop acquiesced.
So another newscast was going on at 5:00. The van was right next to them at 5:00, at the top of the hour. By now, an undercover cop was there that I didn’t know about, watching for me to do it. And I did it. I just went up and said, “Baba Booey,” as I walked by, and four or five cops came up and took me down to the police precinct, and charged me, and gave me an appearance ticket for disorderly conduct.
Joey and his disorderly conduct ticket. Screencapped from YouTube
And I assume you didn’t just pay the ticket.
No. In May I had my first court appearance, and they offered me a plea deal, an “ACD," which is an adjudicated compensated dismissal. That means, if I’m good for six months and I don’t get into any trouble, they’ll dismiss the case.
Did you take it?
I turned that plea deal down. First of all, I can’t promise I’ll be good for six months. But also it’s a matter of principle. I wanted to show that what I did was not illegal, so I chose to have a trial, which was today. I had three attorneys with me, a crack legal team. They were the best, man. I love ‘em. So we went in and had the trial, and when the cop was testifying, the judge was like, “What’d he say?” and he was like, “Howard Stern’s penis. Baba Booey.” And the judge was like, “Do you know what Baba Booey is?" And the cop was like, “No.” And the judge smirked before he looked back down at his papers. So I’m assuming the judge was a Howard Stern fan. Not he they gave me any leeway—it’s just that he knew. He didn’t question me, like, “What is it?”
Do you think maybe he had googled it beforehand?
He might have done that, sure. But then the judge told the cop that my actions didn’t meet the requirements for a charge of disorderly conduct. He goes, “What the defendant did might have been inappropriate, but it was not illegal,” and then he said, “Case dismissed.” Total vindication there.
Vindication just in your case, or for other people who shout, "Baba Booey"?
My lawyer told me today that we set a legal precedent. Yelling “Baba Booey,” and “Howard Stern’s penis,” is completely legal. We actually set a precedent today. It might sound silly, but "Baba Booey” and “Howard Stern’s penis” are and always will be protected speech, so long as we have our constitution.
Did they say what they thought “Baba Booey” signified, or what the rationale for the charge was?
You would have to talk to my attorney. She can explain it to you better.
I got on the phone with his lawyer, Marsha Mozammel of the law firm Imbesi Christensen. Here’s her answer to this question:
Marsha Mozammel: The premise of disorderly conduct is that you are engaging in behavior that is causing alarm of causing panic, and that this is going to be a physical nuisance or something of that nature. They tried to state that when Joey yelled, “Baba Booey” behind the reporter he was causing a scene, or a ruckus, which cast a bad light on his intention.
Back to my conversation with Joey.
So the cop didn’t argue for disorderly conduct very well.
No, he was a stumbling, mumbling mess. He didn’t even sound confident in what he was saying. His sergeant was there, and he was instructing him what to do. He seemed like a rookie to me.
Well, it still could have gone a different way, so I can see why you’re in a good mood.
I have so much more energy. I just want to go out, find a news van that’s doing a live broadcast, and drop the Booey Bomb on them this week. If I don’t do it this week, I’ll be very disappointed in myself.
Why does Booey Bombing appeal to you so much?
I’m a member of Howard Stern’s Wack Pack. I’ve been on the show numerous times. I’m well known in the Howard Stern community. So it gives me joy. It gives me pleasure when people appreciate the funny things that I do, like the Booey Bomb, or seeing me on camera. It just gives a lot of people a lot of pleasure and a lot of happiness, and that helps me, man. You know, it’s almost cathartic for me to do this.
Why do you need catharsis though?
I was in the military six years, and I live with PTSD. I’m depressed a lot of the time, and just doing these types of things and getting adulation from Stern fans really makes me feel good as a person. It makes me feel like I’m doing something better for the world and the community at large by doing my Booey Bombs.
Now that you know the law is on your side, do you think you might push it further, and maybe add something other than “Howard Stern’s penis”?
For a while I was also throwing in "Jimmy Kimmel’s sphincter,” because Jimmy Kimmel played two of my Booey Bombs on his show. So I figured I’d pay a little homage to Jimmy Kimmel. He’s very good friends with Howard Stern, so I figured, Lemme throw him into this and see what happens. It went over pretty well a couple times.
That’s pretty good. Anything else?
Well, a couple times I had a giant rubber dildo, and I was just waving that in my hand, but I dropped that.
That’s too bad.
Yeah, but something else might come up. I dunno. Maybe something about Robin Quivers. I always try and mix it up a little bit. But I always stay with my core, which is "Baba Booey. Howard Stern’s penis.”
Yeah. If that’s what your gut tells you to do, then you’ve gotta follow that.
Yeah, man! And I love the fact that “Howard Stern’s penis” was uttered in a court of law. It was actually taken down on the record and everything. Hearing the cop say that to the judge was hilarious.
You should frame a copy of the court report.
Yeah, most definitely. We’ll be doing that in the future.