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The naked man on the side of the road

By SUE CARLTON, Deputy Floridian Editor

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 1, 2001


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[Photo: AP]
A replica of Michelangelo's anatomically correct masterpiece is wrapped with a piece of cloth after its owner received complaints from Lake Alfred residents.
From an interview broadcast on WFLA-AM 970's morning radio show Wednesday about a controversy in Polk County's Lake Alfred, population 3,890.

Chuck Cole, manager of a shop that installs outdoor fountains and ponds, received complaints after he placed a replica of the David, Michelangelo's classic sculpture, near the road outside the business. What follows is a transcript of a conversation among two WFLA radio personalities and Lake Alfred barber Jeanne Johnson, who objected to the sculpture.

In response to the complaints, Cole tied a cleaning rag around David's waist. He has since moved the 600-pound piece so it no longer faces the road.

"I really didn't want to upset anybody," Cole says. "These are our customers."

Talk show host Jack Harris: With us is Jeanne Johnson, who is -- you're a barber and not a hairstylist, is that right?

Johnson: That's right. . . .

Harris: What's the complaint?

Johnson: Well, basically, it's 'cause I have girls . . . Well, I tote a lot of girls with me. So I have them from (ages) 3 to 13. And when we were yielded there at the stop sign, that's all you hear out of these children, especially the 13-year-old . . . "There's a d--, there's a penis.' You know, and then you get the little kids laughing and a-giggling. The older girls want to know why it's so small. They've learned in school if it's out, it needs a rubber on it.

Harris: Oh. My. Well, that's a very graphic explanation of it.

Johnson: Pretty much.

Harris: Have they ever been to a museum of any kind?

Johnson: No sir. I haven't either.

Harris: Because museums are filled with this kind of thing, which -- generally people encourage their kids to go to cultural events like that.

Johnson: I work six days a week. And we do live in Lake Alfred . . . you know? What we look at is raccoons and rattlesnakes.

Co-host Sharon Taylor: So I guess you didn't get a chance to explain to them this is really just a replica of a very famous statue.

Johnson: Right, which I don't know too much about it, either. To me it was a naked man on the side of the road.

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