“I Fought The Law”: Photographer Olivia Locher Translates Bizarre Laws To Film

Published November 3, 2014
Updated March 6, 2018

In her series I Fought The Law, Olivia Locher casts a humorous glance at the American legal system and its eccentricities.

While the law is often equated with all things rational, every state has a couple laws on the books that belie just about any sort of logic. Photographer Olivia Locher has taken advantage of these odd pieces of legislation, imagining through film what criminals and illegal acts would look like if these laws were actually enforced. More of Locher’s work can be found on her website.

I Fought The Law Photo Series

Source: Wired

In Ohio, it is illegal to undress in front of a portrait of a man. This likely stems from the old belief that people’s souls could be trapped in their portraits. But the question remains: how would you legally obtain proof of someone’s guilt unless they were doing the disrobing in front of a public portrait? If you intend on breaking this law, don’t leave behind any witnesses.

I Fought The Law Tea Cup Wine

Source: Wired

In Kansas, it is considered unlawful to serve wine out of teacups. It’s difficult to pin down exactly how this came to be, but some sources think it was because children were mistakenly being served alcohol in this manner.

Illegal To Tickle Women In Virginia

Source: Wired

This one is a little bit of a stretch, but it’s written in Virginia state law that it is illegal to tickle women. In Locher’s mind, this absurdity can best be expressed by a photo of a man tickling a woman with a feather duster.

I Fought The Law Foot Tapping

Source: Wired

In New Hampshire you could be reprimanded for tapping your foot or nodding your head to the beat of music in a restaurant, tavern or café. This is one whose exact historical basis is hard to come by, but googling “foot tapping” brings up unspoken codes for public bathroom sex, so that could have a little something to do with it.

Ice Cream In Your Back Pocket

Source: Wired

Forget about putting it there for later; you can’t keep ice cream in your back pocket in Alabama (as well as some other states). Why? Horse thieves used it as a tactic for luring their maned prizes away from their owners so they could take them after having been “lost”.

I Fought The Law Car

Source: Wired

Oregon law says that you may not test your physical endurance while driving a car on the highway. However one defines “physical endurance”–let alone testing it–one would assume this was enacted for safety purposes. Neighborhood pedestrians, beware: apparently there are no rules in place about testing out your endurance in residential areas or non-highway roads.

Olivia Locher Fought The Law

Source: Wired

A couple of states (Nevada and Iowa) are rumored to have regulations on where a man with a mustache may legally kiss a woman. And no, it’s not in public.

Hawaiian Coins

Source: Wired

In Hawaii, corporeal currency stashing is so pervasive that it’s illegal to put coins in your ear. There’s talk that the reasoning behind this law has to do with the rarified status of Hawaiian coins. In 1900 when Hawaii became part of the United States, the previously used Kingdom of Hawaii coins became harder and harder to find. Another theory is that putting a coin in your ear is an inconspicuous signal that you have drugs to sell.

Apple Pie Wisconsin Law

Source: Wired

It’s been said for years that in Wisconsin it is illegal for a restaurant to serve apple pie without cheese on it. (This image by Locher is interestingly the only photo that shows what the strange law requires instead of forbids.) This doozy stems from a temporary 1935 law which stated that a restaurant was required to serve a small amount of cheese and butter with meals (effective from June 1935 to March 1937). This was Wisconsin’s first law with a sunset provision, or a legislated ending time.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Kelly, Erin. "“I Fought The Law”: Photographer Olivia Locher Translates Bizarre Laws To Film." AllThatsInteresting.com, November 3, 2014, https://allthatsinteresting.com/olivia-locher-i-fought-the-law. Accessed June 15, 2024.