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London Free Press Business Section:


Dwarf-tossing show set for London

PATRICK MALONEY, Free Press Reporter   2004-01-16 03:36:16  

A dwarf-tossing show that caused a provincewide controversy is landing in London. "Tripod," a 21-year-old Windsor dwarf who's been thrown around bars in Ontario and Michigan in recent years, brings his show next Wednesday to Club VIP, a Richmond Street nightclub.

The idea of tossing little people -- participants throw a helmeted little person for distance -- caused an uproar in Windsor last June, prompting one of the city's MPPs to try to ban the activity in Ontario.

But that bid failed, and Club VIP co-owner Jeffrey Baines, sees nothing wrong with his Toss the Dwarf event next week.

"There's nothing bad about it," said Baines, 42.

"We're going to set up a bunch of air mattresses, we're going to put him in the harness and people are going to take turns seeing who can throw him the farthest.

"This is how he makes his living."

It's Tripod's first London appearance and the owner of his management firm said he always expects a little resistance from new cities.

Jason Lewchuk, who runs Windsor's Solid Soundz, said he "respects everyone's opinion," but isn't concerned about negative public feedback.

"Anyone who has a problem with it (shouldn't) come see it," he said. "He's having a blast. He's an adult and he's making his own decisions."

The money Tripod makes for each show, Lewchuk adds, is in the thousands of dollars.

"He's got the best job. I would have no trouble getting tossed for the money he's getting paid, believe me," he said.

Tripod, whose real name is Brad, doesn't do interviews.

Sandra Pupatello, the Windsor MPP who's now in Premier Dalton McGuinty's cabinet, was furious over a Tripod-tossing event in a Windsor bar last June and introduced a private member's bill to ban so-called dwarf tossing.

Her efforts failed and the event went ahead.

Pupatello, who was unavailable for comment, said at the time "this, in my opinion, sets us back generations."

Her provincial Liberal colleague Deb Matthews, MPP for London-North-Centre, shares Pupatello's scorn for the activity, but says there's little she can do to stop it.

"Personally I find it offensive. I find it reprehensible. I don't get it. I don't understand why people find it entertaining," Matthews said.

"That being said, What are you going to do about (it)? At this point, we're not planning to do anything."

London Coun. Susan Eagle expressed disappointed such an event is coming to London.

"I thought (last summer) it was kind of a sad initiative," Eagle said. "I'm sorry to see it in London."

Karrie Ann Baines, who owns Club VIP with her husband, considers the event no more controversial than the smoking ban imposed last summer -- a bylaw she says has forced bar owners to seek new ways to attract customers.

"Having the smoking bylaw, we've had to . . . keep fresh faces coming into the club. We're trying to do everything we can to keep our place busy," she said.

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