DEQUINCY, La. - When a satirical website reported the small city of DeQuincy, La., had banned twerking, some local residents thought it might be true.
City Hall got 40 to 50 calls about the ban Tuesday, and similar calls tied up two lines at the police station, Mayor Lawrence Henagen told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"We had quite a few calls laughing about it, seeing it was a joke," he said.
But he estimated that more than half thought there might be truth in the article posted at the National Report, even though it was clearly "baloney."
The article by Paul Horner of Phoenix, Ariz., quotes "Maynard Wilkens who is the Mayor of DeQuincy" as telling CNN, "Twerking is a defiant act against Jesus and his teachings. The rest of the country can keep their heads in the sand about this sexual act before marriage, but not the great city of DeQuincy."
It continues, "Bobby Joe Williams who is the sheriff in the town told reporters about the penalties for those caught twerking. 'First time offenders will receive a mandatory 30 days in the county jail. After that it will be a much harsher punishment.'"
City residents know that neither person exists, Henagen said.
"They know Maynard Wilkens is not the mayor and Bobby Joe Williams is not the sheriff. ... And anybody in Louisiana realizes we don't have counties. We have parishes," he said. And anyone who pays attention to government knows that ordinances cannot be passed by executive order.
Horner, who owns a web design business, does standup comedy and gets a share of ad revenue generated by his pieces at National Report, has written other spoofs about DeQuincy. Headlines include "Former Teacher On The Run After Criminal Actions & Telling 1st Graders That Santa, Easter Bunny And Tooth Fairy Do Not Exist" and "Small Town In Louisiana Arming Its Students & Staff With Hand Guns."
He said he first used DeQuincy in a satire about the drugs called bath salts than a year ago, after news reports speculated that a Florida man might have taken them before attacking and chewing on the face of a homeless man. He said he wanted to set that piece in "a town that was like in the middle of nowhere." A friend suggested DeQuincy.
Henagen said he'd seen news reports about Miley Cyrus' twerking on the MTV Video Music Awards, but hadn't paid enough attention to remember what the dance was called. "I didn't think it looked very appropriate, where she was at, but this was just my opinion," he said.
"I walked into the office yesterday and a lady asked was I banning twerking," Henagen said. "I said, 'Tell me what it is, and I'll tell you.'"
Such a ban might not seem out of place in a state where at least nine municipalities and two parishes have banned pants that ride low enough across the hips to show underwear. Some people have asked Henagen to propose a ban on low-hanging pants.
"But we don't really have that big of a problem here," he said. "Most of the time, you ask them, 'Pull your pants up' and they go on about their business."
As for twerking, he said, "I think that's a parent's job, not mine, to decide if appropriate for their kids to be doing that."
If he could talk to Horner, Henagen said, he'd suggest a visit to see DeQuincy's finer points, such as the Old Town Hall Museum, the Railroad Museum, and the Railroad Days Festival which brings 10,000 to 20,000 to the town of 3,400 in April.
And, "Pick another town for a while."
Horner said he'd already decided not to use DeQuincy as a setting again.
"It wasn't meant to do any harm to him," Horner said. "He seems like a nice guy."