The "Purple Wedding to the Moon" has been eclipsed.
The "eco-sexual Purple Wedding to the Moon," an event by performance artists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens scheduled for Oct. 23 at Farnsworth Park amphitheater, has been cancelled by LA County.
According to Savitri Durkee, one of the producers, they were notified on Friday that the LA County Dept. of Parks and Recreation had cancelled the event, citing safety concerns from law enforcement.
Durkee said that Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Kathleen Ritner called Sprinkle to inform her that the rental contract had been cancelled. "[Less] than two weeks, to go, and they told Annie they were canceling because they had received this call from the LA County Sheriff -- there was no opportunity to hire any more security, we'd hired the number of security they told us to hire."
Sources at Parks and Recreation told Altadenablog that the amphitheater contract had been for a "wedding," which usually has a limited number of invited guests. After reading a press release about the event in Altadenablog, county officials became concerned because it was more an "event" than a wedding, and rather than going to a limited number of guests, the invitations went out to the world through websites. After the sheriff's department raised concerns about safety and crowds at the event, the Parks Department consulted with County Counsel and revoked the contract.
Durkee said, "I would say that it was talked through extensively, and Annie and Beth were considering it a wedding -- they announced it the way couples announce the wedding these days. They were totally up front about what the event was, and that it was a wedding."
According to a press release from the producers, "While drafting their contract Sprinkle and Stephens told the rental office they were expecting around 400 people at the wedding, at least 100 of them performers and artists helping them create the wedding. They hired the recommended number of security guards and proceeded to mail 120 hand made invitations, and also posted the wedding announcement on various social sites and alerted interested media. After commentary about the wedding appeared on the popular local “Altadena Blog,” Sprinkle received a call from Ritner, who cited security concerns by unnamed Los Angeles county law enforcement personnel."
(Please note that our story consisted of the press release issued by the organizers, reproduced without comment and with only one non-family friendly word omitted).
A park official, who refused to comment on the record, said that the Altadenablog story raised several concerns in the county, including lack of notification to the neighbors of the event, and the "adults only" nature of an event in a public park.
Sprinkle and Stephens have been "married" several times, Durkee said, without incident and without drawing large crowds. "this is not the kind of event that everybody goes to," Durkee said.
"It seems fairly obvious that there must have been some kind of complaint," and Durkee says that it was it was likely because it was a lesbian wedding.
"This is just outright discriminatory - had it been an outright wedding of John and Susan from Pasadena -- we would at the very least have been offered a negotiation ... We understand we're pushing boundaries, we're artists, but the state isn't allowed to [cancel] that based on content."
The press advisory issued by the producers says that, because free events are held at the park and advertised widely through the internet and print, and the venue can handle more than that expected, "Sprinkle, Stephens, and their wedding co-creators believe that the cancellation is in direct response to the gender of the brides, and the environmental activist themes of their vows."
The press release says further that the couple does not plan to cancel the wedding, but have requested that the county rescind the cancellation. In the event the cancellation stays, they are currently looking for another venue. The couple is also considering filing suit against the county.
ADDENDUM: Annie Sprinkle responded to our email, which included the following: