The new managers of the Odyssey Bar and Nightclub have an issued an apology to the gay community for its private investigation into a competing queer event.
“We would like to extend an apology to all in the gay community that have been hurt, burdened, singled out, or negatively effected by the events of the past specifically the events surrounding, and including, Vancouver Art and Leisure, Matt Troy, and the drag community,” reads an April 12, 2016 Facebook post attributed to the Odyssey’s new managers, Sebastian Ankiel and Brandon Patrick Folkes.
Former Odyssey owner Bijan Ahmadian made headlines in November 2015 when he admitted he sent private investigators to a party hosted by Vancouver’s Art and Leisure Society (VAL), then released the investigators’ report — including secretly shot video of people allegedly having sex in a queer space — to The Province.
News of the investigation sparked outrage in the community.
Ahmadian announced his decision to leave the Odyssey last month.
As part of their apology, the Odyssey’s new managers will host a fundraiser called “Make-up Sex” from April 28–30 and give all the cover charges to VAL. Cover for the three days will be by donation.
The Odyssey will also provide a free shuttle service from their event to VAL’s April 30 event.
“On top of that, we would also love to extend an offer of our club space to VAL as a venue to host one of their events with no rental charge,” reads the Facebook post. “We would be ecstatic to sit down with Matt Troy and VAL and hopefully talk about a new unified future.”
VAL director Matt Troy tells Daily Xtra that he accepts their apology but says the public Facebook post is the first he’s heard about it.
“It came as a huge surprise when the Odyssey used our name and organization without consent and without prior collaboration,” Troy says. “They had no consent to use our society as a fundraising opportunity to bolster their business. This is a crude business tactic.”
Troy says the best way to support VAL is by attending one of its events. He says he’d like the Odyssey to instead donate any money raised at their event to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House.
“We would also ask that any further collaborations or use of our society’s name, that they receive prior consent,” Troy says.
“Out of respect of all those who are involved, we would like to not comment,” Folkes replied in an email statement to Daily Xtra’s request for comment. “Feel free to use that Facebook post as our official statement. We feel it embodies the heart and new direction of the Odyssey.”
Daily Xtra attempted to contact philanthropist Peter Allard, who funded the Odyssey’s relaunch last year. A receptionist at his Vancouver investment firm Peterco Holdings Ltd said he is out of the country at the moment and cannot be reached for comment.
Troy says he would like the Odyssey to be more forthcoming about who owns the club now and makes the decisions.
According to a notice of change of directors in the Odyssey’s file at the BC corporate registry, Ahmadian ceased to be a director of Odyssey Endeavours Ltd on March 15, 2016. Rob King, the only other director listed on the document, did not respond to Daily Xtra’s request for comment by posting time.
Troy says last fall’s private investigation nearly broke VAL. If the Odyssey is really sorry, he says, the club could have offered to donate its own money rather than hold a fundraiser to collect donations from its patrons for VAL.
“We have seen our organization targeted by city officials, provincial authorities, and our building was condemned — costing us $15,000 in building upgrades,” Troy says. “We had to cancel several events. Furthermore we saw an increase of $7,000 in insurance premiums. We are not funded by millionaires, and we have survived, barely, by the strength of our members. We are proud to say we have never received money we did not earn, despite the unjust costs we have encountered.”