6

Freaks, geeks, and other outlaws

Alberta’s liquor-licence handbook limits the “bizarre, grotesque or offensive”


 

Calgary clothing designer Danika “Demonika” Challand knows fashion. And if anything is out of fashion in 2011, it’s censorship. In March, Challand, the impresario behind the Demonika’s Symphony of Horrors burlesque cabaret show, had to work around good-taste guidelines enforced by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

Inspectors who read about the event in a newspaper visited an adults-only Edmonton venue, the Starlite Room, which was preparing to host Challand’s celebration of carnival acts, fetish wear, and horror movies. After negotiation, and some reining-in of near-nudity, the AGLC gave its imprimatur and the show went on. It doesn’t always. In 2008, freak-show performing duo the Great Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek trekked to Grande Prairie, Alta., only to find a “cancelled” sign on the venue door as a result of a last-minute inspector visit. “We stayed and watched something the commission has no problem with—ultimate fighting,” says Orbax, who is a University of Guelph physics instructor when he’s not having nails driven into him or cinder blocks smashed on him. The fights were fun; losing weeks of work and thousands of dollars wasn’t.

Alberta appears to be alone among provinces in having liquor inspectors make value judgments on entertainment, as opposed to pure health and safety policing. Its liquor-licence handbook says “any entertainment or games that may be considered bizarre, grotesque or offensive” must have advance approval. The rule is an AGLC regulation, not part of the Liquor Act. “The board didn’t sit and create this policy on a whim,” insists commission spokesman Christine Wronkow. “It was adopted [in 1996] based on public feedback and stakeholder consultation.” With presumably no more than a glance at the Charter of Rights.


 

Freaks, geeks, and other outlaws

  1. This is not the first time the AGLC has overstepped its boundaries.
    In 2008, AGLC attempted to institute a scanning system that would allow bars to scan and catalogue citizen ID's in the hope of categorizing the different types of individuals the site was hosting. If for whatever reason you were placed on this 'blacklist' you could be denied entry to any licensed establishments. Despite going into it knowing full well it was a violation of Canadian Human Rights, they tried anyway. Fortunately, it was quashed, but not before several sites purchased the system and software.
    In response, AGLC introduced " Best of Bar None" (check out their site bestbarnone.ab.ca). It is equally vague about its intentions, but it is clear it is not within the scope of where a government based institution should be focused.
    The AGLC is deplorable, and should be reprimanded for its history, and replaced with a more reasonable organization that is more committed to its assigned mandate.

  2. This is not the first time the AGLC has overstepped its boundaries.
    In 2008, AGLC attempted to institute a scanning system that would allow bars to scan and catalogue citizen ID's in the hope of categorizing the different types of individuals the site was hosting. If for whatever reason you were placed on this 'blacklist' you could be denied entry to any licensed establishments. Despite going into it knowing full well it was a violation of Canadian Human Rights, they tried anyway. Fortunately, it was quashed, but not before several sites purchased the system and software.
    In response, AGLC introduced " Best of Bar None" (check out their site bestbarnone.ab.ca). It is equally vague about its intentions, but it is clear it is not within the scope of where a government based institution should be focused.
    The AGLC is deplorable, and should be reprimanded for its history, and replaced with a more reasonable organization that is more committed to its assigned mandate.

  3. Overzealous and overprotected for sure. But, meanwhile, here in Manitoba, we could use a bit of that non-governmental protection. Imagine, the Casinos of Winnipeg, presenting a tribute to Conway Twitty by his son Michael Twitty & grandson Tre Twitty. Saints preserve us!

  4. Overzealous and overprotected for sure. But, meanwhile, here in Manitoba, we could use a bit of that non-governmental protection. Imagine, the Casinos of Winnipeg, presenting a tribute to Conway Twitty by his son Michael Twitty & grandson Tre Twitty. Saints preserve us!

  5. The AGLC needs to give their heads a shake. They should not be allowed to make moral calls or judgments about the entertainment that ADULTS ARE WILLING TO PAY TO SEE.
    What is more confusing is the fact that these forms of entertainment are perfectly fine and legal in a family forum where alcohol is not served. Therefore circus's and county fairs, as well as the famous Fright Night's in Vancouver will give these guys hosting positions, but the AGLC sees it as being their place to protect alcohol consuming adults from great entertainment that their kids are able to see.
    So kids, go and record all these great shows for your parents so that they can sit around with their friends and drink a beer while watching the Great Orbax staple cards to Sweet Peppers face.

  6. The AGLC needs to give their heads a shake. They should not be allowed to make moral calls or judgments about the entertainment that ADULTS ARE WILLING TO PAY TO SEE.
    What is more confusing is the fact that these forms of entertainment are perfectly fine and legal in a family forum where alcohol is not served. Therefore circus's and county fairs, as well as the famous Fright Night's in Vancouver will give these guys hosting positions, but the AGLC sees it as being their place to protect alcohol consuming adults from great entertainment that their kids are able to see.
    So kids, go and record all these great shows for your parents so that they can sit around with their friends and drink a beer while watching the Great Orbax staple cards to Sweet Peppers face.

Sign in to comment.