OTTAWA—According to an interview today in the National Post, the owner of Galerie La Petite Mort, an Ottawa art gallery with a reputation for exhibitionist balls, would rent the space out to a porn shoot even if it did not pay double the normal rate.
"I think I would have done it for free to support them because I'm always for the underdog," Guy Berube told the Post. "If they're telling me they have no budget and they're looking for a location and they're super cool and they're cute, I'd do it. Of course I would. You have to realize I donate my space for a ton of fundraising and that's not to try to make me look good, because a lot of people don't know about it."
The interview comes after news the gallery was considering hosting porn shoots resulted in "ruffled feathers in a city better known for its politics than its sex." Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the fourth largest city in the country and the second largest in Ontario.
The welcome publicity for the gallery was initiated by a Facebook post by Berube, who said he only posts business related items to his page. In this one, he said he'd been contacted by a porn company interested in renting out the gallery. "How cool is that," he enthused.
"And then I got some crazy comments from some of the 4,000 or so people on there," he told the Post. "I have people who rent here for wedding receptions, for 40th birthday parties, foreign affairs, politicians, embassies. And the porn company calling is just another rental for me. So basically what happened is I posted it on Facebook and I was receptive to meeting the people in the company and I said I was open to doing it. This porn company, we've only been emailing and I said I would agree to meet them. I need to see what their company is, because if it's stuff that's degrading to women or men, not things that are not of my sexual interests but meaning that they would just be crap, I wouldn't do it."
But the porn company and the art gallery owner got along famously, and Berube even asked to see the script, and it turns out that he also was a cameraman for a New York porn company for a brief spell, implying at least a tolerance if not a soft spot for the sexually explicit cinematic arts, as well as an an aesthetic fearlessness.
"I've got people clearly saying they'll never set foot here again," said Berube. "That pleases me, because there are a lot of people who walk in here just to see the freak show. What I'm thrilled to see is my own artists backing me up. I've got artists fighting to have their art in the background now. I'm getting a lot of support, but, true, I am concerned about someone coming in and smashing a window or spitting. But I've had threats for having a topless painting in a window." All of this before Berube has even decided to accept the porn company's offer.
While allowing that he would permit the shoot even for free, Berube said the money will help; his gallery is not in danger of closing, he added, but he still worries about his employees' future.
"I have staff I don't want to let go and I'm concerned for them," he told the Post. "I'm speaking for a lot of people that are suffering who would never admit it because they're trying to keep a persona of success and of being financially secure. I have no problem telling people it can be difficult."
The website for Galerie La Petite Mort is here.
Photo: Artwork by Gabriel Forrester