SASKATOON — A Saskatoon events centre could face fines or other sanctions from the provincial government for hosting the famous Chippendales performers, an all-male erotic dance show.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is investigating the Odeon Events Centre after a provincial inspector visited the Chippendales event on March 17. The long-running and popular show, while featuring buff and scantily clad men, does not feature full nudity.
SLGA declined to detail the aspects of the Odeon event it is concerned with, but did say it continues to review the situation. The Odeon said it broke no provincial laws and only offered a fun night of entertainment that doubled as a fundraiser for breast cancer research.
No sanctions had been issued to the Odeon as of Monday, said David Morris, an SLGA spokesperson. He declined to say what the inspector was looking for at the Odeon.
“I can’t speak to that specifically because we don’t provide details with respect to a current inspection or investigation,” he said. “We had an inspector there and we’re investigating the situation.”
The provincial Alcohol Control Regulations state that liquor permit holders cannot allow “any nude activity or entertainment or any activity or entertainment that consists of a striptease performance or wet clothing contest.” Rulings from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Licensing Commission have stated that the “nudity of an entertainer during a performance is not required to establish that a striptease performance took place.”
Morris could not say if Chippendales performances are considered stripteases. “I wasn’t there and can’t comment on that,” he said. “That’s something that will be determined … A (permit holder) that doesn’t follow the rules can be sanctioned and that determination is still being made.”
Chippendales dance troupes perform in cities across the world and have appeared 15 times in Saskatoon in the past 25 years, said Darren Minisofer, general manager for the Odeon. He said the show is professional and popular, but it does not feature full nudity. The SLGA did not receive complaints in advance of the show.
“It’s a theatrical show,” he said. “There is no nudity. We followed the liquor licence to the letter of the law.”
Minisofer said the provincial legislation is archaic and unfairly targets legitimate business owners offering entertainment.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “You can’t have a theatrical show without SLGA showing up … Are we under Stalin here? It’s Big Brother watching over us.”
The show, attended by 500 people, raised funds for breast cancer research and was promoted by local radio stations. The Odeon made no attempts to hide the event from scrutiny or skirt provincial legislation, Minisofer said.
He questioned the SLGA focus on adult-themed entertainment in bars while other events or groups — such as the new lingerie football team in Saskatoon, nudity in theatrical plays or bikini shows — are left alone.
“Where do they draw the line?” he said. “We didn’t break any laws. If you don’t want to go, don’t go. No one has a gun to your head.”
Morris said the SLGA did not target the Odeon for its entertainment featured on Saturday. SLGA regularly inspects its 1,600 licensees, Morris said.
“We don’t have a special focus,” he said. “We are concerned that all of the rules related to a permit are being followed … We do random inspections on the weekend and this was one of the places we visited.”
In 2008, the SLGA sanctioned a bar in Guernsey for hosting an all-male dance show and an all-female wrestling event. The bar was forced by the SLGA to close for two days after it hosted four male dancers known as the Canadian Playboyz because the bar “permitted a striptease performance in its premises when entertainers removed articles of clothing in a sexually suggestive manner,” according to a 2009 Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Licensing Commission appeals ruling.