Dwarf toss at Leopard's Lounge met with online outrage, petition
'He walks away at the end of the night with a big smile on his face and jeans full of money,' club owner says
Jamie Danforth has dwarfism and is a little person. His kids have dwarfism too. To him, the decision to go ahead with a dwarf tossing event at a strip club in Windsor, Ont., is wrong.
"If it was any other minority they were throwing, there would be outrage," he said. "I think there would be an uproar. If they were tossing women, it would be violence against women. What's the difference between a little person being thrown and somebody else?"
Shannon Osmer's 22-year-old daughter Hannah also has dwarfism.
Osmer says "the spectator sport with a gladiator mentality" of dwarf tossing is an indignity that people like her daughter should not have to endure.
"I don't know if I can put it into words, it's that upsetting to me," Osmer told CBC News. "People have been hurt, paralyzed because of this type of event. People think it's OK to go and pick up or toss a little person."
A dwarf is scheduled to don headgear and a harness and have customers pay to throw him onto a rubber mat Saturday night at a strip club owned by Rob Katzman.
Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition to put a stop to the event at Leopard's Lounge and Broil in Windsor, Ont. The petition's text echoes Osmer and Danforth's concerns.
An earlier event was held at the Toy Chest strip club in Detroit, Mich., which is also owned by Katzman.
On Friday, Katzman told CBC News the little person, a professional entertainer, approached him about performing and participating.
"He loves it. And he's paid a lot of money," Katzman said. "He walks away at the end of the night with a big smile on his face and jeans full of money."
Allan Redford, the president of Little People of Canada, told CBC News the parent of a little person in Windsor urged his association to take a stand against the event.
'Not a particularly dignified thing'
"I thought we'd kind of grown out of this, but here we go, so we have to go back at it and fight to remove the objectification of little people," Redford said.
Leopard's first held a dwarf toss in 2012 and that was met with a similar backlash.
"It's really not a particularly dignified thing," Redford said. "The issue is that you're turning a person into an object. The trouble with this objectification is when you're objectified it's easy to forget the requirement of consent."
"If it's seen that it's OK to make this person work as an object, as a shot put, a virtual javelin or a football, it makes it easy to forget to get that consent to touch somebody or do something. It spreads out to the rest of the community."
Redford argues "the moral implications far outweigh the rights of someone who has chosen to take part in the activity."
Katzman believes there are better things in the world to protest.
"In this world of gun violence, in this world of crazy terrorism we're dealing with, in this world of political confusion, people are worried about going into a bar to see a professional entertainer engaged in this dwarf tossing?" Katzman asked.
But Danforth says it's about more than one professional entertainer or one night at a bar. He's worried these types events might put his kids in danger.
"I'm more worried about the physical nature of it," he said. "I'm worried that someday, somebody may want to grab and pick up my kids."