Monday, December 29, 2014

The TSA and the Easter Bunny

Once a clown, always a clown.

The TSA and the Easter Bunny

(Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)
(Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)

Sometimes you hear things that go on in this city and right away you ask, 'They're not from around here, are they?'

Val Baul got herself arrested at the Philadelphia International Airport in February for cracking a confetti-filled egg over the head of a TSA agent.

She's a former traveling clown and community radio DJ who goes by the name Anythinggal online and often can be seen around her town in a large, pink bunny suit.

Her town, you may gather, is not Philly. It's Roeland Park, Kansas.

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The flame-haired, free-spirited 35-year-old had flown to Philadelphia over Valentine's Day weekend to attend the wedding of a friend from her days with the circus, she told me by phone the other day.

Sometimes Baul wears the full bunny suit in public, sometimes just long bunny ears. She had on just the ears for her flight to Philadelphia, but at the airport in Kansas City they set off the whole-body scanner.

So she decided to skip the bunny outfit when flying back home, but was carrying a gift from a friend -  an Easter basket filled with molds for making gelatin bunny heads and several eggs that had been emptied and re-filled with about an ounce of yellow and blue paper shredded into confetti, then secured with tissue paper.

 Let's let her take the tale from here:

"I go through the scanner and on the other end I've got a bag, a megaphone, my purse and the basket of eggs and I'm trying to put my shoes back on. This woman comes up over my shoulder and says, 'What are those?'

"Well, they are eggs filled with confetti," I said.

Go on.

"I said, 'You want to see? This one's kind of broken. You're the winner. Here we go - smash!'

"And I smacked it on her head."

Once a clown, always a clown.

Baul turned around and went about gathering her things. She was surprised, she said, when she turned around to see the TSA screener still standing there, the cracked egg still resting on her head.

Thinking she hadn't quite used the egg correctly, Anythinggal picked it off the woman's head and crumbled it in her hand so all the confetti could come out, then sprinkled that on the screener's head.

"You shouldn't have done that," the TSA officer said.

Quickly they had company, several TSA agents, one of them saying something about how Baul had just assaulted an officer.

"It's a confetti egg. Are you serious?"

The TSA folks asked for her boarding pass and ID and she started get a little nervous, which typically makes her start laughing. This might not have played well, but maybe it didn't make any difference. A police officer approached and asked her what she did for a  living.

"Actually officer, I put on a bunny suit and crack people over the head with confetti eggs," she replied.

Her next vistor was a woman, with handcuffs. Baul was detained for three hours, and apparently made some noise as she got more and more agitated. She was charged with harassment. She had to spend the night with friends until she could fly home the next day. This time she wore a full bunny suit and carried the confetti eggs through security without incident.

A TSA spokesman tells me Baul's account is accurate. The agency won't say more, given the pending trial.

When it was time to show up in Philadelphia for her hearing, Baul decided she couldn't afford another flight, or the drama, so she drove 22 hours. I forgot to ask her what she wore.

In Municipal Court she learned she could pay $200 and plead no contest, but since the TSA had contacted her March 17 about potential federal charges of interfering with the screening process stemming from the egg incident, she decided she had to plead not guilty to the charge of harassment.

 "I was 'Dude, like I’m gonna fight it.' "

She might need a clown lawyer.

Daniel Rubin Inquirer Columnist
About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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