Last night at the premiere of The Beebo Brinker Chronicles, a play adapted from a book by the "Queen of Lesbian Pulp Fiction," the audience at Re-bar was given an interesting backstory on, of all things, the play's programs.
As Sasha Summer Cousineau--one-third of the hydra that makes up the Cherry Manhattan production company--explained, the programs were originally set to be printed by Zebra Print and Copy in the Columbia Tower. That all changed when Zebra told one of Cousineau's colleagues that the company couldn't print the programs because of issues with its "content."
Cousineau is too diplomatic to say what she thinks those issues might be. "I'll leave that to you to decide what it means," she told The Daily Weekly in a phone call today.
So here's what we think it means!
First, let's start at the beginning.
Cousineau says that she and Cherry Manhattan sent two e-mails. The first was a request for bids that included nothing explanatory beyond that they wanted to put on a play and wanted to print programs.
When Zebra wrote back with what Cousineau describes as "by far" the lowest bid, she wrote back with a PDF of their program, which includes the very sexy cover page pictured above.
That's when Cousineau received an apology from the company's manager: "Unfortunately I was told by higher-ups that we cannot do this job for you."
Cousineau says she wrote Zebra back with a simple question ("Why?"), but never got a response. So a colleague made a phone call, where he was told about the "content" problem.
Cousineau says she has combed through the program and found nothing that might be offensive--unless you're offended by Babeland ads that don't feature either pictures or mention of sex toys, or the words "queer art" used in combination.
When we called Zebra to find out why it first agreed, then refused, to publish Cousineau's programs, a man named Amar (who wanted both our first and last name, but refused to provide his) referred us to his attorney. That attorney hasn't yet responded to a phone call or an e-mail.
News Scene, who first reported on the story, wrote that the Zebra in question was the location in Bellevue, which it's not. It also said not to confuse Zebra with a similarly named store in West Seattle. But someone who answered the phone at another Zebra (and who didn't want to be identified) said that they thought all locations were loosely affiliated and owned by a collection of brothers and cousins.
This is the second time in a year that a local printing company has been accused of not taking work because of gay or lesbian material it found offensive. Last June, Access Printed Media refused to print promotional materials for Capitol Hill bear bar Diesel, on account of its "lifestyle that goes against our morals."
Zebra and Access obviously have the right to refuse service to anyone they so choose. It just might not be the best business decision during a recession, or in a city like Seattle (seems like a move that might be received more favorably in Birmingham).
Last thing: There is a winner in all of this (besides us, who get an excuse to watch the play's sexy preview below). As Cousineau took pains to point out, after being filled in on the backstory, the fine folks at Urban Press not only put a rush on the play's programs, they also did it for the same low cost that Zebra initially offered, along with other goodies just to help heal the wounds. Good press, they has it.