Yaccarini still doesn’t get it

“It’s a strip club with video poker machines!”

With that statement in an email sent to supporters last June, developer Christian Yaccarini ruled out the possibility that there was anything more to Café Cleopatre and dismissed the importance of the independent fetish, burlesque and drag artists who are performing to packed houses on the Cleo’s second floor every week. Now, it seems like Yaccarini wants to make that statement a reality.

And the independent artists go where? Photo of La calèche du sexe by kraminottawa.blogspot.com

After over a year of battles in the media, in the political arena and even in the courts, Yaccarini finally decided to make Cleopatre owner Johnny Zoumboulakis an offer that goes beyond a simple cash payout. If Zoumboulakis vacates his spot on St-Laurent, making way for Yaccarini’s Angus Development Corporation to build its skyscraper office tower, the Quadrilaterre, in its place, Angus will help relocate him to the space currently held by La Calèche du sexe.

While the new location (Ste-Catherine near St-Denis) still falls into the Quartier des Spectacles and is zoned for adult entertainment, there is something missing. It’s only one floor that’s being offered, which means there is no room for a second floor devoted to emerging artists performing shows that need to be housed in a space designated for adult entertainment.

Despite claims by Yaccarini and his associate mayor Gerald Tremblay that they want to do something for the emerging artists, it’s those artists who are still left without a place to perform. In fact, Yaccarini even said that it’s just the strip club part of the equation that doesn’t fit into his plans for the lower Main. Now it seems like the strip club is the only part of the Cleo that he is willing to help save.

Nothing wrong with the way it is now. Photo of Cafe Cleopatre by Chris Zacchia

There’s a few other things that Yaccarini and Tremblay don’t get: the fact that a giant skyscraper has no place being the centerpiece of an entertainment district, that the Main is a historic site that should be respected and preserved and that most people who live and work in the area don’t want his project to begin with.

Zoumboulakis said he wouldn’t comment on the offer until he had a chance to look it over. Maybe the Mayor should have taken that approach before giving a developer with a criminal past a no-bid contract on the redevelopment of such an important part of town.

If the mayor wants to consider other ideas, he can head down to the SAT, 1195 St-Laurent, tonight (Friday, May 7th) for a special edition of PechaKucha co-presented by his very own Ville Marie borough. The evening will consist of alternate plans for the Main between Sherbrooke and Rene Levesque presented by eleven different people including associate professor Viviane Namaste from Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, promoter Eric Paradis of Club Sin and theatre artist and heritage activist Donovan King of the Optative Theatrical Laboratories.

The presentations will be done in the PechaKucha format consisting of twenty slides, each shown for twenty seconds. Doors open at 7:20pm with presentations beginning at 8:20pm. DJ THERMOS (Marc-André Mignault) and VJ Choco-Beets (Caroline Blais) will perform before and after the presentations as well as during the intermission.

This is a free event and promotional material urges people to come and be inspired. Maybe the mayor or even Christian Yaccarini could be inspired to realize that there is another way and see that the latest offer by the developer is nothing more than another attempt to greenwash a plan that was dirty from the get-go.

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