[artist id="872"]Erykah Badu[/artist] was willing to bare it all for her "Window Seat" video. But when the singer and a small crew took to the streets of her native Dallas on St. Patrick's Day to shoot the provocative clip, they did so without an official permit and, they said, with full knowledge that the guerilla adventure could land them in jail — for up to a year.
"They definitely did not get a permit," Dallas Police Department Senior Corporal Janice Crowther said of the video, in which Badu slowly strips out of her clothes until she is standing naked near the same spot where President Kennedy was gunned down in Dealey Plaza in 1963, and then is shot herself by an unseen sniper. "To shoot that video they would have had to get a special events permit from the events office and it would have had to specify what type of filming they were doing, what subjects they would use and any traffic control they would need."
Crowther said such a shoot would also typically require a police officer to be standing by while filming was going on. Not only did the Badu video not have that police presence, but if an officer had been on site, Crowther said they would not have allowed it to go on.
"That's more than likely why they circumvented the permit," she said. Directors Coodie and Chike of Creative Control told MTV News that they did not apply for or obtain any permits for the shoot and kept a keen eye out for any police while filming.
"What was crazy was the fact that ... it's a high tourist area, so there was patrol cars all day, and I [was hearing] sirens, looking up and seeing some kind of sherriff's car or something," Chike recalled to MTV News on Monday. "So I was like, 'This is gonna be interesting.' Her contingency plan was get arrested — she was big on doing it."
"We had bail money and everything," Coodie chimed in. "I think she really wanted to get arrested and even make a bigger message. You know what I'm saying?"
As soon as it wrapped, they said, Badu was hustled into a van and whisked from the area.
"And then people were like, 'I'm calling the police!' " Chike said.
"It was nothing but two or three people, it was nothing that crazy at all," Coodie said. "There was that one lady, though, that was really crazy, she was like, 'That was so offensive!' "
A spokesperson for Badu's label had not responded to MTV News' requests for comment or details of the shoot.
Had Badu been spotted by an officer, she could have been arrested for a class B misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure, which carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail term of up to 180 days, or both, Crowther said. But, considering that there were children present during the shoot, Crowther said that charge would probably have been bumped up to a Class A enhanced indecent exposure charge, which pushes the fine up to a maximum of $4,000 and up to one year in jail, or both.
Because there were no officers who witnessed the nudity in the shoot first-hand — which Crowther said likely took less than 90 seconds to complete — it's unclear what, if anything, Dallas police can do about it.
"No charges have been filed thus far," she said. "We need a witness to testify to prosecute a case, but people were probably so shocked, and it happened so fast, that we don't have any record of anyone calling 911. We have not had any witnesses come forth to press charges."
If a witness does come forward and lodge a complaint, however, it's still possible that Badu and her crew could face some police sanction, according to Crowther. If a police officer witnessed the shoot and comes forward, the charge could be stronger.
What do you think of Erykah Badu's "Window Seat" video? Should charges be pressed for her public indecency? Let us know in the comments below!