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CSUF Cancels Gig; Lyrics Cited

February 15, 1996|Mike Boehm

Pansy Division was booked to play at Cal State Fullerton on its current Southern California tour swing, but student promoters uninvited the openly gay band after having second thoughts about the explicit sexual content of its material.

Richard Tai, entertainment director for the University Center Pub, said that Pansy Division was canceled not because of its gay themes but because of the rawness of some of its lyrics.

"Basically, their lyrics are too vulgar to bring here," Tai said. A Pansy Division fan who has seen the band several times, Tai was behind the initial booking, which was to have taken place at the Pub tonight. But he said he and other officials at Associated Student Productions changed their minds after further discussion.

"The decision wasn't based on any pressure from any groups" outside of ASP, Tai said. He acknowledged that the promoters anticipated a repeat of the vigorous protests that conservative Christian groups on campus mounted last April when ASP screened Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ."

In that case, ASP held fast and showed the controversial but critically praised 1988 film, which imagined a Jesus with human doubts and desires.

Tai said that ASP staffers decided they would have had a harder time defending Pansy Division's bawdy humor. He noted that ASP has two gay-themed films lined up for on-campus showings this spring, "Jeffrey" and "The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love." He said ASP also is considering programming a gay comedy night at the Pub to make up for the Pansy Division cancellation.

Michael Brown, co-chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Assn. at Cal State Fullerton, said he would have liked for ASP to go through with the Pansy Division show but could understand the student promoters' quandary. If push came to shove, Brown said, the LGBA probably would not have stood behind the band's lyrics in an on-campus culture wars flare-up.

Jon Ginoli, Pansy Division's main singer and songwriter, commented after a reporter related ASP's reasons for canceling his band:

"That's very sad to hear. I assumed they were forced [to cancel], but I guess they chickened out. It's a free-speech battle when it comes down to these kinds of situations. Given that [the show would have been] for college students, I would think that's a mature-enough audience."

Jay Scott, Pansy Division's booking agent for the past three years, said this is the first time a U.S. promoter has backed out after booking the band. There have been three cancellations in Canada, he said.

Ginoli said that Pansy Division never has been the object of an organized protest, but he thinks the band may lose some potential bookings because of its openly gay identity and sexual content. "It's pretty infrequent, but we hear about self-censorship where clubs we might play don't call our booking agent back."

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