"Come on down, kids," Seth Windsor yelled to students today as the teens filed into Cardinal Gibbons High School in southwest Baltimore. "We're trying to save your lives."
Mr. Windsor, 25, and fellow rock musician Spunky Boston, 23, came to the all-male Catholic school to talk about AIDS and safe sex. Wearing glaringly bright tights, capes and other strange garb, the long-haired members of the Florida rock group RI$K were not well-received by school officials, who tried to keep students away.
"Remember the risk," the two exclaimed to about a dozen students who ventured over.
"As long as we're here, they'll still get the point," Mr. Boston said. "They're be talking about it."
School administrators who kept the rockers off school property and kept students away from them "are sticking their heads in the sand and thinking [AIDS] will go away," said Mr. Boston, as the group's major song, "Remember the Risk," blared on a boom box.
"AIDS knows no religion," Mr. Boston said.
"I think it's good," said an 18-year-old student who called himself Ernst. He was one of the few at Cardinal Gibbons who approached the rockers as they stood on the sidewalk along Wilkens Avenue.
Two youngsters, ages 10 and 11, also walked over and took AIDS awareness pamphlets with condoms attached. Asked what the material was about, one said, "I don't know."
"The earlier you learn the safer you are," Mr. Boston said.
Principal Donald DelCiello was upset the students were ambushed by weird-looking rock musicians. "We deal with this on a moral, religious and spiritual basis," he said.
"This is not the approach we want," Mr. DelCiello said. "Not on the sidewalk. This is grandstanding."
At Frederick Douglass High in West Baltimore, the zany rockers had more success. They handed out dozens of pamphlets instructing students how to put on condoms correctly and how to take them off.
"Most teens practice unprotected sex," said Kenyetta Ellis, 16, as she gladly took a pamphlet.
But the rockers' approach and their get-ups bothered Shemirra House, 17, a Douglass student in ROTC.
"People are going to think it's a joke," she complained. "They're not going to think about AIDS."
Classmate Kenneth Jones, 18, disagreed. "They're just trying to get a message across," he said.
AIDS, safe sex and teen pregnancy already are topics of discussion at 10 public high schools in the city, where condoms and birth-control pills have been dispensed to students at clinics since October 1990 with little fanfare, school officials say.
Mr. Boston and Mr. Windsor, along with fellow band member Shane Stevens, are financed by Rock Against Aids, a new non-profit group based in Fort Lauderdale.
Last month, which was AIDS Awareness Month, the group sent the rockers to schools in the Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Atlanta areas.
The band members had approached the Broward County, Fla., school system about doing an assembly and performing their music, but schools officials turned them down, Mr. Boston said.
"We've given up going to the school systems," Mr. Boston said.
They also planned to visit Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore this afternoon, then schools in the District of Columbia on Monday. They also are to travel to Chicago.
The band, which also has cut an album to be released nationwide this spring, will keep visiting schools "as long as we can," Mr. Boston said. "Then we'll do it at concerts. We'll give out thousands at concerts."