First there was the sleepwalking defense — and now it’s, “C’mon! I’m an actor, this is for my craft!’’
Wannabe thespian Jerry Saint Florant insisted to a Manhattan judge Thursday that he was just trying to play a “bad guy’’ when he groped a woman during a creepy audition-gone-bad last year.
Florant, a self-described Internet pastor, said he was answering a Midtown audition call when he burst into the room at Nine9 the Unagency and immediately jumped into a character he thought would be interesting, considering his other profession.
“I thought the whole room was filled with people who were going to watch me act,” Florant said. “I just winged it.’’
The alarmed crowd of about 30 actors — including a 10-year-old child — watched in horror as Florant lifted up one woman’s dress, rubbed his hands on her thighs and growled, “What if this was a rape scene?
“I can’t act like a nice person because that’s just who I am, so I had to come out of my character and prove I was an actor,” he said.
The victim tried to push him away, so he yanked her feet and she fell from her chair.
“I just really wanted to give a good impression,” he told Judge Curtis Farber at the non-jury trial in Manhattan Criminal Court.
Florant also ripped picture frames off the walls, broke props and tossed another woman, who was auditioning for an MTV reality show, against a wall.
The bizarre rampage only ended when a woman finally maced him.
“I said, ‘What are you doing? I’m acting! I’m acting!’ ”he recalled yelling at her.
The crowd fled the room, and a small cluster even barricaded themselves in an office until police arrived.
“I was hoping they’d say, ‘Thanks, Jerry, wonderful, you got the part,’ but instead I got pepper sprayed,” he sniffed.
It was the New Jersey man’s first audition. He said he applied to the acting agency, which has recruited talent for shows like NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” according to the company’s Web site, and was invited to the audition.
Assistant District Attorney Danbee Kim argued in closings that, “Everything the defendant testified to defies common sense.”
The judge swiftly found him guilty on all seven misdemeanor counts, including attempted forcible touching, attempted assault, sex abuse and other charges.
He faces up to six months in prison.
His lawyer, Carl Wingate, declined comment.
The case comes about two months after a man was acquitted of sex abuse — arguing that he had been sleepwalking when he molested his roommate’s girlfriend.