A little off my usual topics related to writing and publishing this time around because, apparently, there are other things going in the world (who knew?).
My wife, the beautiful Miss Rosie Bitts, is a burlesque performer, producer and teacher, an actress and a playwrite. One of the shows she puts on every couple of months in our area is called Naked Girls Reading. It was originated by Michelle L’Amour and Franky Vivid in Chicago and had been franchised to a number of North American cities and, recently, London, England. Rosie has put on three of these shows in our area so far (they are exactly what they sound like — naked women reading to an audience) while the fourth was scheduled for Sunday, May 15th.
Please note the words I chose: was scheduled. The show was cancelled. Why you ask? Because someone at the B.C. liquor board paid a visit to the venue and told them that if the event went ahead, they were at risk of breaking some liquor law or other and being shut down for two weeks. Naturally, the venue decided it was in their best interest not to lose two weeks of revenue for the sake of one event.
One of the cold, hard facts is that this establishment has a food-primary license which limits the type of entertainment they can have. If this was the end of things — a restaurant was going to have a few naked women sitting around reading erotic stories while families had dinner — I could understand why they might think they were protecting the “public’s best interest” by stopping the event (understand, but might not agree with — I’m all for nudity during dinner). However, not only were the Naked Girls not going to be reading erotica on this occasion (they have before, but this time it was Fairy Tales), the event was also being held in a private back room, to which you had to buy a ticket and could not do so unless over the age of nineteen. And someone would be working the door to collect said tickets and keep out minors and other undesirables.
So who exactly is the law protecting? The people who wanted to have a nice dinner and enjoy beautiful women reading Cinderella in the buff? Maybe they were looking out for the families who were absolutely desperate to sit in that back room after 8 o’clock on a Sunday evening (we all have our quirks and habits, don’t we?). We know a gentleman who used to own a restaurant and had a run-in with the liquor board. It was based around having a jam night. People got up out of the audience to perform with the band which, by B.C. liquor board laws, is not allowed under a food-primary license.
Please tell me exactly who that law is protecting.
Censorship is wrong. Telling people what to do in their own establishments is wrong. Go ahead, set some parameters about how it must be conducted, but what does the liquor board have to do with what goes on in a private room? As long as no one is being over-served or the place isn’t over-crowded (which is more about fire laws than liquor) keep your nose out of it.
To find out more about what burlesque and other performers have gone through because of censorship and misunderstanding, check out Rosie’s play she’s writing about exactly that… life imitates art imitates life.