This article first appeared on VICE US in 2013. Yes that was a long time ago, but thankfully crucifixions are few and far between.
On Easter Sunday, as a publicity stunt for some website called Battlecam, a guy dressed as Jesus was crucified in Beverly Hills.
I was sent a press release about it a couple of weeks ago and assumed it was going to be fake, as Battlecam is the same company that recently released videos of an assisted suicide and a naked fat guy attacking a member of the Phelps family. Which rank, respectively, as the second- and third-fakest-looking things ever made (the first is that new Oz movie) and fooled approximately no one.
But I figured I'd head down anyway, 'cause what else is there to do on Easter?
When I arrived Jesus was in makeup.
His name is "Mr Eyelidz," and he's a user of the Battlecam site, which I don't understand even after visiting it and reading the company's press releases. It's described as both "an internet-based live and interactive reality television channel" and an "anti-social networking site." From what I can tell, this means they're a social network where people do "edgy," Jackass-type stuff live on webcam, sometimes for money, usually just for attention.
Mr Eyelidz told me he had previously done things on the site like smash flaming beer bottles on himself and pierce his eyelids (hence the name). He said he was being paid for the crucifixion, but said he wasn't allowed to say how much. A couple of people commenting on the Battlecam site put the amount at $10,000.
It took place in a storefront window so that people could watch it from the street. It was also livestreamed online and broadcast on some local TV stations.
For reasons that were never explained, noted statutory rapist Joey Buttafuoco was there. At one point, he went on camera and said some stuff about the Battlecam crucifixion being important because it helps to protect the First Amendment. So maybe he was there for political reasons? That would be fucking amazing.
They were having issues with their livestream, so the run-up to the crucifixion went on for-fucking-ever. They had people do various stunts on camera. Like this guy, who is snorting a line of crucifix sawdust. Awesome, bro.
When the crucifixion finally started, they had Eyelidz walk down the street carrying a cross on his back. I think they were expecting a crowd to turn up and watch. Except only about five people showed, and all of them were invited into the studio. The presenter kept lying and saying on camera that there was a big crowd gathered outside.
Also, I'm not really sure why they did the crucifixion on Easter Sunday, rather than Good Friday. Maybe Eyelidz couldn't find anyone to cover his shift at Hot Topic. IDK.
Then a choir of little people, who for some reason were dressed as department-store-makeup-counter workers, serenaded him.
This was maybe the most awkward thing I have ever had to sit through. They sang "This Little Light of Mine," which was hiiiiilarrrrrious, obviously. Because they're little people! But they're singing like regular-size people! Gold!
It was so uncomfortable. That song has what, like, ten words in total? And they just kept singing it over and over and over. It felt like they were singing it for an hour. And everyone just stood there laughing at them. I felt so bad for them. At the end, someone suggested they should form a band and call it the Trolls. Like, this is something that was actually said to their faces. Grim.
The entire thing was a bit sad to watch, really. You could tell they really wanted people to be offended by it. But, as far as I could tell, nobody really gave a shit. There was no online backlash. Nobody turned up to call them sinners. Nothing. I was the only member of the press who even bothered to cover it, which makes sense. It's 2013. Mocking Christianity is about as hip as mocking Justin Bieber.
At one point, Joey Buttafuoco went on camera and claimed there was a religious protest down the street being held back by a police line. There wasn't. :(
And then the first nail went in. They weren't hammered in, in the traditional crucifixiony way. They had a body piercer put them through by hand, using a needle to guide them. Judging from Eyelidz's face, that didn't make it any less painful.
That blood all over him is fake, BTW.
Pretty sure the nails were real though...
It was kinda miserable. It was clear he was in A LOT of pain.
The crowd in the room, who had previously been cheering and laughing, stood around silently, looking concerned.
The woman in gray is his wife. As soon as she saw the pain on his face, she started crying and had to be held by one of the presenters. It was horrible.
Then the second nail went in. The "medic" (I'm not sure if he was a real doctor, or what. He had A LOT of tattoos) seemed worried.
At this point, Eyelidz started to shake a lot, and his breathing became weird. People looked concerned.
They then made a half-hearted attempt to convince the viewers that they were hammering nails through his feet, too.
They cut to a prerecorded shot of some nails being hammered through some fake feet. But they messed up the timing and, in the grand tradition of Battlecam, fooled nobody.
The original plan was to leave him on the cross for several hours, but they took him down after several minutes instead, which really brought home how tough a son of a bitch Jesus must have been.
Once he was down, he was visibly distressed and started shivering uncontrollably. His wife, still crying, put a coat around him.
When the medic asked him to say something, he said, "I'm surprised I've got it in me to make sound. My body is in shock."
He told the medic he'd had to concentrate really hard to remain conscious on the cross.
After about 30 minutes, his wife had stopped crying, and he was able to walk into the next room to be interviewed.
When he was asked for his thoughts on the experience, he said, "I wanna tell the viewers to make their own name on Battlecam. They could be the next me. They've just gotta think of something to outdo me."
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.