2 min

Life after violence: Wilde’s owner Rob Giacobbi speaks

Wilde's sports first racy sign since its window was smashed last summer

Wilde's tongue-in-cheek sense of humour is back. Credit: Neil McKinnon

After several months of keeping mum, Wilde’s owner Rob Giacobbi opens up to Xtra about his feelings surrounding a vandalism incident last summer.

Giacobbi admits that after Wilde’s display window was smashed during the wee hours of an August Sunday night, he changed the way he did business. The window was boarded up for more than a month, until he paid $3,000 out-of-pocket for its replacement. He closed shop early for three weeks — at 6pm instead of 7:30pm — because he did not feel safe going home late.

“I just felt nervous. I was constantly looking over my shoulder. For a few days, I walked in the opposite direction until I said to myself, ‘What am I doing?’”

Giacobbi says customers were loyal and gave him encouraging words. But he says he was disheartened because no one from the Police Liaison Committee to the gay, lesbian, bi and trans communities visited him until October — two months after the fact.

“For days, I kind of thought that their agenda would be to come here and not take sides but say, ‘I heard about your window, and as a person part of this Police Liaison Committee, I really want to talk with you.’ I could have really used some moral support from one gay person to another. That should’ve been immediate and it wasn’t. I’m not trying to be critical of the work they do, but this is what they didn’t do,” says Giacobbi.

Giacobbi says the only time he knew when Cormier was going to court was when he read Xtra, not because of the police. He says the courts should have allowed him an opportunity to tell his side and how the incident affected his life. Nothing like that happened, and he is still trying to understand why.

Richard Cormier admitted to smashing the window in an interview with Xtra. He said he was upset with a story published after he called the Ottawa Sun and spoke with a reporter about Wilde’s chalkboard advertisement — “Put a smile in your ass with our anal douches,” which brought back memories of childhood abuse. Cormier says he thought the interview would be about post-traumatic stress disorder, but it was twisted to make him look like he was afraid of anal douches.

Before the interview with the Sun, Cormier called the city’s bylaw office, and it asked Giacobbi to remove the sign. Later, a defiant Giacobbi posted the Sun story in the window, including some of the 60 user comments from the paper’s website.

“Many people have issues. Breaking windows is not a proper way to deal with them. As for [Cormier] calling the Sun, I had nothing to do with that,” says Giacobbi.

For years, Giacobbi ran racy storefront signs. Last week, he put up a new sign for the first time since the incident: “Dildos by the inch starting at $1.62.” He says the delay was because he did not want to risk any more violence.
Visit Wilde’s at 367 Bank St or online at