Will rock band Psychic TV make it to the PHX this Monday? If so, where will they play?
A victory for local transgender activist Michele de LaFreniere, and a huge disappointment for fans: That's my initial take on the news that Tom Anderson has cancelled the Monday concert of experimental rock band Psychic TV. Anderson says he wanted the band to play and that he wanted to welcome Psychic TV's trans and non-trans enthusiasts, but that his hand was forced because of threats of disruption, protest and possible violence. Currently, co-promoter William "Fucking" Reed is looking for a new venue for the act, which counts as its lead singer and guiding force the transgender rocker Genesis P-Orridge.
Reed told me that he and LuckyMan Productions have narrowed a new venue down to one of two places, and that "the concert will go forward." Anderson said that he would direct ticketholders to the new venue, whatever that would be.
"I've tossed and turned about this thing," said Anderson. "I've done what I felt I had to do. But I have the most to lose. It's my exposure, putting my employees into harms way, to operate a night that I know could turn into a physical fight. I'm not going to put my employees in that position, I'm not going to put me in that position."
Anderson cited statements made by De LaFreniere to local media vowing to protest the event. (S/he spoke to Channel 3TV about it on Thursday.)
In addition, Anderson said he had received anonymous e-mail threats, and that he had heard of plans to turn the concert into Scottsdale's 21st Century version of the Stonewall rebellion, the famous 1969 Greenwich Village incident that pitted gay/trans men against New York City cops.
"If it turns physical, it could turn into a flippin' riot," Anderson explained.
Anderson did not know that Psychic TV's lead vocalist was transgender until I told him this on Sunday. Initially, he reacted by telling me that he wanted to accommodate PTV's trans fans. (By no means are they all trans. I count myself as a fan, too.) Indeed, Anderson decided to roll with the punches, saying he would allow transgenders to use the men's room, and would supply security. But as the week went on, there was a definite ratcheting up of rhetoric by De LaFreniere and her followers. Anderson's attempts at appeasement were met with anger.
Personally, I wish Anderson had increased security, made sure there was a police presence, but not cancelled the event. I tend to think De LaFreniere would've had a handful of people there at most, and a police car or two would've kept them in line. Of course, it's easy for me to say that, I don't own the place. And then what if something ugly occurred? Anderson would be liable should a scuffle break out or something worse.
The irony that a local transgender activist has helped stop a visit to Scottsdale by the world's best known transgender rocker should not be lost on anyone. Also, Anderson was not going to bar transgenders from the club, just point them towards the men's room. (Later I heard he was going to let them use a third space. Hey, whatever!) Whose "rights" are being violated here? Anderson was damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Ultimately, he opted for the path of least resistance. Hopefully, another spot will pick up the act, and we'll all get to see it Monday without further hullaballo from the Rosa Parks wannabes.
Below is Anderson's press release on the matter: PRESS RELEASE FROM ANDERSON’S FIFTH ESTATE
Tom Anderson, owner of Anderson’s Fifth Estate, has decided to cancel the concert with the band Psychic TV for this Monday, August 27. Anderson said, “this act was booked by an outside promoter who has brought other bands to appear at Anderson’s Fifth Estate. The promoter did not inform me of the nature of the band. When I was informed by a New Times reporter earlier this week, I was clueless about the band and had no idea the frontperson was a transgender. When I was informed of the nature of the act, I tried to do what I thought was the right thing and not infringe on an entertainer’s right to perform. I believed that with all of the unfair publicity the City of Scottsdale has recently received, canceling the event would do more harm than good. I decided to extend my hand to the transgender community and allow the event to proceed. However, recent public comments by individuals who have their own agenda, threatening to picket the event and enter Anderson’s Fifth Estate in large numbers, and disrupt our business, with references to the Stonewall Inn riots in June of 1969, caused me to rethink the event. In addition, I was also concerned about exactly how Anderson’s Fifth Estate could safely accommodate our anticipated crowd, even on a temporary basis. After looking at the potential for disruption and after consulting with my attorney Chuck Kelhoffer, I felt I had no choice but to pull the plug on the event. I have notified the promoter that he will need to find another venue for the band.”