You may recall our stories regarding the plight of Chrome Artistic Barbering. Back in January, owner Alicia Hirter reimagined her St. Catharines, Ont., barbershop as a film production studio. And so, too, did nearby Evolution Salon & Spa, operated by Dennis and Lisa Cosentino. Thus, the shops now provided auditions as opposed to haircuts. Alicia notes that she originally received the blessing of the city’s bylaw enforcement department to do so (and she has the voicemail to prove it).
In any event, since Chrome is no longer a barbershop (meaning it would have had to remain locked-down back in January and February), this facility is instead offering auditions. And like any good film production studio, a haircut is provided as part of an audition. So, these days at Chrome, it’s: “Lights! Cameras! Scissors!'
And best of all for Alicia, business was booming: Chrome was soon booked for several weeks.
But alas and alack, the various COVID- Karens emerged, hellbent to bring down Alicia, seemingly because Alicia is a super-spreader when it comes to that virus known as... freedom.
So it was that the City of St. Catharines did a complete 180, and said it was no longer bullish about allowing film production studios to operate (unless, of course, those studios are big budget Hollywood studios on location in the Great White North — those are not only allowed, but courted with open arms).
Niagara Region came a-calling, too, and called “Cut” on Alicia’s film production studio. (Sidebar note: the regional bylaw enforcement officer barking orders is Mishelle Brown, who allegedly runs a topless cleaning service. Brown would neither confirm nor deny this allegation, and told us, bizarrely, to reach out to the communications department of Niagara Region. We did so, but no answers were forthcoming.)
Then there’s the local newspaper, the St. Catharines Standard, which defamed Alicia by suggesting she had issued a death threat online to the region's acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji. Not only was this allegation completely false, it is Alicia who is receiving death threats and other forms of harassment, both in person and online. But get this: the Niagara Regional Police Service can’t seem to be bothered to lay charges (for reasons that truly evade us).
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Thousands of people the world over have reached out to Alicia, praising her for taking such a brave stand by opening her shop. And we tend to believe the silent majority is indeed in her corner.
But in the department of perverse irony, hair salons in St. Catharines have now been allowed to operate legally. But not Chrome. Alicia is in the bylaw enforcement penalty box, and has to make a case that she should be allowed to reopen. Incredible.
Indeed, we can’t wait for the day when Alicia premieres her biopic chronicling her plight against belligerent bylaw officers, odious online trolls, pathetic police and malicious mainstream media. How about we recycle this title from 1984: The Evil That Men Do.
UPDATE: After publication, Mishelle Brown wrote to Rebel News to say that it is “incorrect” that she owns or runs a topless cleaning company.