Panti taking positives from RTE controversy as bar business booms
CENSORSHIP is good for business, or so it would seem at PantiBar on Dublin's Capel Street.
In January, after RTE made payouts to journalists John Waters and Breda O'Brien, as well as four members of the Iona Institute, the bar's eponymous drag star received an emotional reception from pub goers. In the weeks since then, management have noted an upturn in trade, with the venue packed to the seams on most nights.
Owner and performer Rory O'Neill (aka Panti Bliss) puts the recent success down to "the goodwill of the general public and the huge support of the gay community."
"Every cloud has a silver lining", he says. "Business has been actually good for a while now but I think particularly on Saturday nights since the RTE thing there has been an amazing reaction. I have, of course, touched on the whole situation in the show. It's good to be able to speak without the filter of lawyers or TV producers."
Rory has heard suggestions that the RTE controversy was an orchestrated PR move.
"I heard some DJ saying that. It's ridiculous really, I've been speaking out for gay rights for 20 years or more. The whole situation with RTE was very unexpected for me."
Technically, the threat of legal action still hangs over Rory's head – in January he received solicitors' letters from John Waters and several members of the Iona Institute – but he says he doesn't expect these will be pursued: "They got their money and their apology from RTE."
"If (the people who sent him letters) came into the bar, they would of course be served," he says. "We don't decide who comes in based on their opinions."