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UPDATED: ACT UP Disrupts Stoli Event At Splash In New York - VIDEO

  Most Original Stoli Guy
Less than a dozen members of ACT UP / NY stood up in front a crowd of roughly 150 at a "Most Original Stoli Guy: New York" event taking place at Splash Bar in Chelsea yesterday, and began shouting and displaying signs with slogans such as "Russia Kills Gays" and "Dump Stoli". Most of those in attendance viewed the demonstration in "bewildered silence", according to Gay City News. The show's drag queen host was the only one who vocally supported the Russian vodka brand, quipping, "This is what happens when you drink Absolut".

As security began tearing some of the group's signs and escorting them out of the building, the host went on to add, "Look at those assh*les being taken out of the bar. This is America, not Russia!" 

While ACT UP's demonstration turned out to be brief, one of the group's organizers, Mark Milano, was still pleased. "I think it was great," he said. "They were totally taken off guard. There were Stoli executives in the room who saw their event crashed." Another ACT UP member, Brandon Cuicchi, told Gay City News that “Stoli was doing an event they could not do in Russia. You’re not LGBT-friendly marketing to gay people while saying nothing in your home country. 

Act UpACT UP, an HIV awareness and activism group, first started making headlines during the late 1980's, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Now, the group is expressing its concern that Russia's new anti-gay "propaganda" law might cause harm to groups seeking to combat HIV in the country:

"The ACT UP demonstrators voiced specific concern that under the new Russian legislation, dissemination of safe sex education, condoms, and AIDS treatment drugs will be targeted as 'homosexual propaganda,' something that could cripple effective prevention efforts. The group is calling on UN AIDS to condemn the new Russian law."

Stoli's parent company, SPI Group, has already decried the Russian vodka ban and expressed its support for the international LGBT community. Many human rights activists, including the likes of Dan Savage, remained steadfast in their efforts to "dump Russian vodka". Last night's demonstraton no doubt serves as a reminder of that fact. 

UPDATE: Video footage of the protest has hit the web. Watch it AFTER THE JUMP...

 

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Comments

  1. gay inc acting badly once again, blaming a business over the acts of the Russia Gov't,, and you wonder why they hate us..

    Posted by: snt | Jul 31, 2013 11:04:51 AM


  2. There is this myth that "drag queens" were the ones who started Stonewall. It is a complete fabrication. There were only a few drag queens there. And they were not motivated by some selfless act of revolution; they only cared about having a place to turn tricks.

    Drag is a minstrel act. It is inherently degrading of gay men. So it isn't all that surprising that a drag queen would be front and center defending Stoli and the Russian government. When you degrade yourself for a living, it is easy to defend the institutional degradation going on in Russia.

    Posted by: Robin Hierst | Jul 31, 2013 12:10:13 PM


  3. I was at an event at Rasputin in West Hollywood on Saturday, 27 July, sponsored (in part, at least) by Stoli. It was jam-packed as Cher was to make an appearance that night. There were large Russian flags hanging throughout the space. For 3 hours until Cher showed up, go-go dancers strutted their stuff, each waving a Russian flag. I never got the feeling that this was done in irony. If so, a stronger message would been delivered by defacing each flag with a large pink triangle. People around me were not unaware of the abhorrent situation in Russia– for the most part when I mentioned it they seemed to know the basics. The party went on, Russian flags and Stoli logos in place. There were plenty of opportunities for the host to address the situation but it never happened. Cher eventually arrived and spoke to the crowd and I almost expected her to say something as she is such a huge advocate. The place was bedlam by then, a million degrees and it wasn't going to happen.

    I'd like to see something similar to what occurred during Prohibition when the Feds would stage photo-ops by smashing cases of contraband sprits. Take (beg/'borrow'/steal) cases of Stoli out on to the streets and smash them. Images like that posted on Youtube/Facebook/Twitter might resonate better with the bean counters at Stoli than a few lines about the (very admirable Act Up) efforts at Splash.

    Posted by: Buster | Jul 31, 2013 12:30:28 PM


  4. And all I could say was, "Get _her_!"

    Posted by: Hagatha | Jul 31, 2013 12:45:06 PM


  5. "Wonder why everyone is simply referring to Bebe Zahara Benet, simply as "the Drag Queen Host?" Doesn't she deserve to get the credit for her comments???"

    I agree... except for the "credit" part. I think her comments were tacky and unnecessary. ACT UP is not the bad guy here, and I'm guessing Ms. Benet still got paid for her gig, despite the brief interruption.

    And why is the slant of this article that ACT UP did something WRONG? So, okay, we can be part of a boycott or we can hate Russia or we can have opinions on Facebook but we can't ACTUALLY act out on it? Um, okay.

    Posted by: Patrick J Hamilton | Jul 31, 2013 2:05:11 PM


  6. Work WITH Stoli, not against it. I do not understand the point of the hostility to this company. I agree it is great to see more attention brought forth concerning the horrible atrocities committed against LGBT Russian people, but I do not see how boycotting will actually help anything. There should be a huge movement of solidarity with pro-LGBT Russian companies so that real change can be made in their home land. A push to have companies do more in Russia for LGBT civil rights and protection is a must, but punishing the ones who have been on our side in the past does not make sense.

    Posted by: Michael J. Hildebrand | Jul 31, 2013 2:29:49 PM


  7. Bravo ACT-UP!

    And while we're dumping our Stoli cocktails, let's also take note that Donald Trump plans to bring his Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow this November. That extravaganza will include a large entourage of gay hairdressers, gown designers, stylists, consultants, etc. All of whom could, according to Putin's law, be quite easily tossed into jail (or worse), as is happening to ordinary gay Russians every day.

    Trump is also counting on the huge number of gay pageant fans from all over the world to make the event a success. ( I believe the network sponsor is NBC --- same as the Russian-hosted Olympics.) Let's keep this event in our sights, and start the process of holding The Donald's feet --- or hair --to the fire.

    Posted by: MickeySedgwick | Jul 31, 2013 3:49:11 PM


  8. The drag queen was NOT Bebe Zahara Benet. I spoke to her, so I know.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 31, 2013 5:46:14 PM


  9. Posted by: QJ201 | Jul 31, 2013 8:39:39 AM

    what are you babbling about? ACT UP NY is perhaps the only direct-action group putting our weight behind PrEP, PEP, TAsP, Chemoprophylaxis in general, as well as the entire panoply of Prevention tools. Seropositioning, Serosorting, partner limitation, abstinence, non-penetrative sex, pulling out...all of these are valid techniques for REDUCING risk.

    i'm aware of no plans on protesting barebacking per se, but rather making it SAFER AND SMARTER. Consistent Undetectability YES, bugchasing and stealthing NO.

    as for Stoli, i was delighted to help disrupt their silly event yesterday. i'm in the grey shorts n striped blue/grey shirt. that drag queen was indeed a monster, but i take exception to slandering all drag...

    ...and i would ask everyone to be careful presuming WHO that drag queen was, bcuz the name being thrown around is supposedly of a black person, and the 2 queens beside me as i climbed to the stage were definitely NOT to my eyes...tho heavy makeup was involved! ;-)

    Posted by: Jeton Ademaj | Jul 31, 2013 8:13:09 PM


  10. Posted by: QJ201 | Jul 31, 2013 8:39:39 AM

    what are you babbling about? ACT UP NY is perhaps the only direct-action group putting our weight behind PrEP, PEP, TAsP, Chemoprophylaxis in general, as well as the entire panoply of Prevention tools. Seropositioning, Serosorting, partner limitation, abstinence, non-penetrative sex, pulling out...all of these are valid techniques for REDUCING risk.

    i'm aware of no plans on protesting barebacking per se, but rather making it SAFER AND SMARTER. Consistent Undetectability YES, bugchasing and stealthing NO.

    as for Stoli, i was delighted to help disrupt their silly event yesterday. i'm in the grey shorts n striped blue/grey shirt. that drag queen was indeed a monster, but i take exception to slandering all drag...

    ...and i would ask everyone to be careful presuming WHO that drag queen was, bcuz the name being thrown around is supposedly of a black person, and the 2 queens beside me as i climbed to the stage were definitely NOT to my eyes...tho heavy makeup was involved! ;-)

    Posted by: Jeton Ademaj | Jul 31, 2013 8:13:09 PM


  11. Oooohhh, a vodka boycott. Try organizing a meaningful symbolic action. Boycott all petroleum products and natural gas, for example (Russia's major economic driver and chief export). Urge the military to boycott importing Russian raw materials for military production. Put pressure on companies that do business in Russia. But maybe that would be, you know, too difficult. And it doesn't matter if the ingredients for vodka are from Russia. It matters how much revenue flows to the government from a product. And vodka exports and production are very, very low on the list.

    You might also read statements from groups in Russia, instead of Dan Savage. Hurting the economy (even if it worked, which it won't) only creates joblessness and poverty--exactly the environment for LGBT persecution and hate crimes. Why not send money to the groups in Russia doing actual work, or to groups here that can direct the funds as needed? But I guess I should have used my energy and time to dump liquor that was already produced and taxed and already contributed marginally to the government. Or make a sign to bring to the club/bar.

    Posted by: Daniel | Aug 1, 2013 10:32:45 AM


  12. according to NEXT magazine, the 2 scum hosts were:

    "Patrik" and his co-host, drag queen Roxy Brooks.

    Posted by: Jeton Ademaj | Aug 1, 2013 1:17:50 PM


  13. Stoli isn't even a Russian company.

    I'm a bit stunned at how remarkably ignorant people are.

    What a colossal waste of time and effort.

    And ACT-UP ? Really ? What have they accomplished, other than pushing to make experimental and poorly researched drugs available in the 80's and 90's, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands ?

    Yeah, way to go ACT-UP, way to make big pharma filthy rich off our brothers dead bodies.

    Posted by: Fred | Aug 2, 2013 1:45:37 AM


  14. I don't understand this boycott. I have started a letter writing campaign against the city council in West Hollywood for doing a Dump Stoli event this morning.

    We as a community our showing ourselves to be an ill-informed, uneducated and childishly reactionary bunch. Stoli is made in Latvia by a company which is incorporated in Luxembourg. It is all EU. It is only Russian as a symbol. This morning, Weho City Council member John Duran admitted to Frontiers LA : "[Stoli] will probably be in the hands of the Russian government by next year." That is moronic. That is like boycotting the LA Times because the Koch brothers *might* buy it next year.

    Get educated, people. Know what you are talking about first. Let's take REAL action. Like organizing an Olympic boycott ?!?!


    Posted by: Martijn | Aug 2, 2013 2:05:20 AM


  15. Fred, your analysis is disgracefully idiotic. ACT UP changed the face of healthcare for all...for the better. thanks for discrediting yourself so quickly, saves me the hassle.

    Posted by: Jeton Ademaj | Aug 2, 2013 10:12:49 AM


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