Party photographer Kirill's return to George Street draws protest
A St. John's bar is once again at the centre of controversy after booking an infamous party photographer, who has earned notoriety by posting photos of drunk and often nude women.
Allure nightclub on George Street is holding an event on Nov. 6 with New York photographer Kirill Bichutsky, who refers to himself as the "Slut Whisperer."
Bichutsky travels to nightclubs throughout the United States and Canada under the pseudonym Kirill Was Here, taking photos of party-goers. His website, blog and Twitter accounts feature pictures of naked, inebriated women.
"I think it's pretty harmful to women," said St. John's musician Nicole Squires.
"It's perpetrating behaviour that harms women in a lot of different ways."
Allure is no stranger to controversy. Last year, after Kirill visited the bar for its grand opening party, the bar temporarily lost its liquor licence.
Bichutsky will be returning to Allure as part of his Banned in Canada tour, with events also scheduled in Moncton and Halifax.
Last April, he was banned from an event in Halifax after public outcry about posts on social media.
A local social media group called Smash Patriarchy: An Action Team (SPAAT) has launched a petition through change.org to try and stop Bichutsky from appearing at Allure.
"While women have every right to choose to be featured in pornographic photography, Kirill's photos are taken at parties where his subjects are intoxicated, negating the validity of any consent he claims to have obtained," the petition writes.
"Let's shut down misogynist events that perpetuate rape culture, slut shaming, and violence against women."
While she said she has no plans to go to the Nov. 6 event, Squires said it still affects her, because it contributes to a culture that objectifies women.
"It's definitely slut shaming. There's been multiple comments on the event by people degrading women, their bodies and the way they choose to dress," she told CBC News.
"I feel like a lot of men who [attend] will take that from going to the event, because it's a celebration of that kind of way of thinking, and it's just unacceptable."
Despite public outcry, Allure co-owner Daryl Flood said he's not in the business of censoring entertainers and photographers at his club.
"I'm against censorship and feel it's a very slippery slope when certain demographics of the public can dictate which events can or can't happen in the city," he wrote to CBC News.
"We live in a free country and since Kirill does nothing illegal, I'm not sure how they can expect to ban him from a city."
Laurabel Nba, a bartender at Allure, said that while people may be offended by Kirill's photography and what he represents, there's no real reason why the event shouldn't be allowed.
"I don't feel like you should be able to ban someone from coming into a club, a country or a city if they haven't done something that is technically illegal," she said.
"Censoring him just opens the opportunity to censor more people for different things."
Nba said clubs like Allure can't be held responsible for how the media portrays artists like Kirill.
"He's providing a service, essentially all he's doing is taking photographs and how people decide they want a photograph of themselves taken, it's up to them," she said.
"This is not an issue between Allure and Kirril, this is a greater societal issue of how society has represented how women can portray themselves and what title is associated with that."
"If society didn't create an environment where this is welcome, accepted, and even supported — he wouldn't be famous."