A “crazed woman” who threw live crickets and worms all over a crowded subway car in New York claimed the bug-throwing was a performance art stunt gone horribly wrong and was subsequently arrested by the NYPD.
The self-proclaimed artist, 21-year-old Brooklynite Zaida Pugh, was charged with reckless endangerment, obstructing governmental administration, falsely reporting an incident, and disorderly conduct, sources told the New York Daily News.
In case you haven’t seen the viral video of the incident — which, it turns out, was filmed by Pugh’s friends — it is 18 minutes of mayhem: A shrieking Pugh in a turquoise onesie tries to sell crickets and worms to D train passengers, one of whom screams “this bitch got bugs in a bucket.” When a teenager hits the bug bucket, 600 crickets and worms go flying. Screaming passengers pull the emergency brake, causing the train to get stuck on the Manhattan Bridge for a half-hour, during which Pugh urinates on the worm-covered floor.
“She was banging on the doors and trying to climb out the windows. Everyone had crickets on their arms. My girlfriend was crying,” one passenger told the New York Post. “Then some men were trying to hold her down and she started trying to throw up on them.”
The arrest on Tuesday came shortly after a tearful Pugh recorded a Facebook Live video in which she apologizes for the stunt and claims to fear for her life. “There are people that really hate me … probably want me dead. That’s not the type of attention I wanted,” said Pugh. “I just really had a dream and I wanted it to go far. I wanted to spread messages out there, and I didn’t want it to happen like this.” Some netizens expressed sympathy for Pugh, while others accused her of being a selfish attention-seeker crying “crocodile tears.”
The “messages” she said she wanted to spread concerned how New Yorkers treat homeless and mentally ill people on the subway: “I did this to show how people react to situations with homeless people and people with mental health,” Pugh told Fusion. “How they’re more likely to pull out their phone than help.”
Art or not, the police say the stunt was downright dangerous. “She put people at risk,” Robert Boyce, the New York Police Department’s chief of detectives, told reporters. Passengers “could have had heart attacks,” he said, or been emotionally scarred by the crickets and the worms. It could’ve been worse, though: Pugh told reporters she’d originally planned to use hissing cockroaches instead of crickets. “I think it would have been way worse if I’d have the roaches,” she said, though it might have earned her epic fail of a “performance” a place in the cockroach art hall of fame.
The actress and performance artist has done more than 50 similar “pranks,” including pretending to stab a baby in a video that went viral, and which she claimed was meant as “a wake up call to everybody.” She did not specify what “everybody” needs to “wake up” from.
Facing an uncertain fate in NYPD custody, Pugh fears her future art career is doomed. “My dreams for being an actress or whatever, that’s going to go down the drain,” she said in her Facebook Live video. Maybe not, though: Comedian Eric Andre, known for his subway pranks involving dressing up as a centaur and dropping cakes on commuters, sent live rats running over Stacey Dash’s feet in a recent episode of his talk show. Perhaps Andre will hire Pugh once she’s out of jail.