Freaks Unite – Update..

You may remember this post about The Great Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek‘s Monsters of Schlock show being banned by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.

Well, here’s their latest press release regarding the situation..

For Immediate Release – June, 19, 2008


Toronto, CANADA – Protect our freedom of speech and expression in Canada, and modernize a primitive Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC). That sentence alone has been the war cry and beckon call of awareness for acclaimed Toronto performance artists The Great Orbax and Sweet Pepper Klopek.

As per The Canadian Charter of Rights: “All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly without malice, judgment, or condition. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.”

It is the responsibility of the AGLC to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society (including the AGLC), may consider being unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. Artistic freedom is good public policy, but this is reckless disregard for the basic artistic freedom.

Embryo of the story: The Great Orbax Sideshow troupe arrived at ‘Better than Fred’s’ concert venue in Grande Prairie, AB recently for a sold out show booked several months in advance. The Alberta liquor commissioner called the venue at 4:30pm on Friday (the night of the show), and proceeded to point out this AGLC board policy: “Any entertainment that has the potential to be considered bizarre, grotesque or offensive must be referred to the Board for approval before being provided. This includes entertainment involving live animals, but excluding magical acts.”

The board then refused to grant permission for the show and the bar was threatened with a $10, 000 fine and possible loss of their liquor license if the inspectors deemed it to be grotesque by their standards. The show had been advertised through print, web, and radio ads for one month in advance and at a cost of thousands to the venue, which have still not been recouped.

‘Twister’s Night Club’ in Fairview, AB, was also threatened with the same consequence if they were to allow the show to perform the following night. The issues the liquor board had are with three stunts in particular; The Human Blockhead, the Cinder Block Body Break, and the Staple Gun Playing Card Trick. All played with comedic effect and professionalism.

Subsequently, after considerable fan protest had been made to the AGLC, the licensees who had booked shows for the end of the month of April in Banff, Calgary, Cold Lake, and beyond, cancelled all shows after the AGLC threatened to fine the venues and/or revoke their liquor license should the Great Orbax be allowed to perform.

This matter is not limited to our show, and regardless of whether or not we are allowed to play in Alberta again, this law can censor and affect all artists. From horror to hip hop, the AGLC currently has the right to determine what the public should be allowed to experience, and no group of people should be able to make that decision.” – Burnaby Q. Orbax

As of this press release date the Great Orbax Sideshow has limited access to licensed venues in Alberta, with each show requiring explicit approval from AGLC executive staff.

To interview The Great Orbax, and/or book him for the performances in question, please contact: David Daniloff at: 416-530-2442 – or:

To interview Barry Gross, head of the AGLC, please call: 780-447-8600

To interview Robert Pape, the AGLC rep in Grande Prairie, AB, please call: 780-832-3000

To interview John Kriska, venue owner where the ban originated, please call: 780-447-8600

For additional info, updates, and education, please visit: and

15 thoughts on “Freaks Unite – Update..

  1. Human Blockhead?

    The AGLC got upset about the Human Blockhead?

    If I have to choose one act to bring to a venue, that act would be the Human Blockhead because it’s very portable, appealing to just about every audience and I can easily get permission to perform it from even the most strict of venues. I’m amazed that the Human Blockhead still amazes audiences after so many decades and the rise of the internet.

  2. This just seems plain fucked up to me. How an official body like the AGLC can use such underhand tactics (effectively blackmail) as this to remove the artistic freedoms of performers and the rights of citizens of a civilized country to observe the artistic installments, acts or performances they wish is beyond weird. Surely there are legal issues here? Freedom of speech/activity etc.

    Not being from Canada (UK citizen) I can’t say I understand much about the legal system or rights and freedoms of citizens in Canada but surely this is encroaching on something here? There would certainly be an outcry here if something along these lines happened in England. Seems to be a huge case of beauraucrats over-stepping their duties and certainly powers.

    (sorry for the ramble, stuff like this just gets me annoyed)

  3. As an Albertan this makes me cringe. We aren’t all as close minded as this. In my opinion if you don’t like it, don’t go. It’s that simple.

  4. God damn it… Why is there so much hate? I seriously dont understand why the government wastes its time banning shows when they could be dealing with the major problems. We are all dying of cancer due to the massive quantities of pollution our cities produce and they sit around telling us what we can and cant do when it is blatantly against the canadian charter of human right and the american constitution. Big Cooperation is finding new ways to fuck us over–be it with toxic food, or ridiculous unproportionate inflation. Fuckin government has its priorities all wrong. :’(

  5. It’s just the part of the government that regulates alcohol-serving establishments attempting to “do it’s job”, not the entire government that’s in on this.

    Pregnant women, those with delicate sensitivities and those with heart conditions are usually warned (especially just prior to the show) to pass on said show.

  6. ‘There would certainly be an outcry here if something along these lines happened in England.’

    Would there? I hope so.

  7. Oh how proud I am to live in this province…..

    Ps. Some one needs to invent an internet sarcasm detector

  8. Arts and performances are meant to evoke emotions, otherwise there is no point in them. Even if the majority of people hate it in my opinion it has still served it’s purpose because it has provoked an emotional response. In nearly all cases therefore there will be haters when it comes to arts etc, it’s kinda part and parcel of it. When we are dealing with anything linked in with this community it is usually safe to say that it isn’t considered ‘normal’ in the ‘civilized’ world, but we can do these things because of our rights for freedoms and that should be respected.

    We just have to worry when the haters of these ‘bizarre’, ‘grotesque’ or ‘offensive’ shows get in a position of power to remove the rights and freedoms of other adults (you could understand if it had been at a public venue, but hardly at a bar) by imposing their views and beliefs on more open-minded adult individuals.

  9. Roo, This is the sort of thing I read Modblog to learn about! Keep up the good work. :)

  10. I personally know at least a couple other performers/performance groups who’ve been impacted by the Albertan Thought Police.
    Absolutely absurd.

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