Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kyrsten Sinema is sworn in today as the nation’s first openly bisexual senator and won’t place hand on Bible

Newly elected Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema refused to be sworn in on a Bible, opting, instead, to place her right hand on a book of laws, including the U.S Constitution and the Arizona Constitution.

The book Sen. Sinema placed her hand on to be sworn in came from the Library of Congress, her office told the Arizona Republic.

“Kyrsten always gets sworn in on a Constitution simply because of her love for the Constitution,” the senator’s office said.

Another Democrat Rips Into Ocasio-cortez, Wishes She’d Just ‘Go Away’

There is at least one other reason Sinema refused to place her hand on the Bible. According to the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life, the Arizonan is the only member of the Senate who does not identify as a member of a religion.

Sinema, who started her political career as a member of the Green Party, also identifies as bisexual. She is only the second member of the Senate to identify as LGBTQ.

Despite her current claim to love the U.S. Constitution, in her work with left-wing groups in the early 2000s, Sinema was far less solicitous of the law of the land. In fact, she was quoted in 2002 as saying she thought it was acceptable that anarchists and Antifa types perpetrated violence, carried weapons, and destroyed property in pursuit of the extremist goals.

“When AAPJ attended May Day (sponsored by the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition), we knew that their guidelines differ from ours,” the Washington Examiner wrote of an email Sinema sent in 2002. “They are okay with weapons and property destruction in some instances, and so those of us who chose to attend the event knew that it would be inappropriate to ask someone to not destroy property or to carry a weapon.”

More NYC satanic rituals- NYE Illuminati Ball Sex Orgy

In this day and age, risqué can be risky. But Cynthia von Buhler is bringing sexy back to NYC.

The illustrator has thrown, by her own estimation, hundreds of over-the-top parties over almost three decades. But this year marks her first-ever New Year’s Eve bash — and she’s going all out: hosting a massive, “Eyes Wide Shut”-style blowout for 800 guests at the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower.

Attendees, who are shelling out $200 to $400 per ticket, are coming “from all over the world — Amsterdam, Germany, Australia,” said von Buhler, 54. “We have people flying in just for this.”

‘New York has become more sanitized, and this is old-school underground craziness.’
Although von Buhler makes clear the Illuminati Ball “is not a sex party,” there is no mistaking the titillation factor. Hers is a sophisticated, fun brand of sexiness — giving guests the old-fashioned thrill of the tease.

“New York has become more sanitized, and this is old-school underground craziness. It’s respectful, but erotic and decadent,” she said. “I think this is a chance for people to really let their hair down and be free.”

At the Dec. 31 bash, there will be a human “cake” — with a model’s face, hands and feet sticking out of a body-shaped dessert — and a swimming mermaid in a tank. Von Buhler plans to create her own version of the New Year’s Eve ball drop: acrobats descending from the bank’s famed stained-glass dome.

And then there’s Kamadhenu the cow goddess and her four maidens. “You can milk the maidens’ [fake breasts] and also taste their milk [from a baby bottle],” the hostess said.

Although she doesn’t want to give away too much of the plot line, she revealed that the New Year’s Eve story centers around “human-animal hybrids who have escaped a lab,” including half-woman, half-bird sirens.

Modal TriggerCynthia von Buhler, founder of Illuminati Ball

Cynthia von Buhler, founder of Illuminati BallKyle Dorosz/Illuminati Ball
By day, von Buhler is a Newbery Medal-winning illustrator and children’s book author. By night, she has developed a reputation for throwing some of the sexiest, most provocative parties around. Last year, she hosted two Illuminati Balls, with scantily-clad fire-breathers, contortionist and aerialists, guests in masks and bustiers, and dancing men in bondage-style bikinis.

She was inspired by photos of heiress Marie-Hélène de Rothschild’s 1972 Surrealist Ball, which was attended by Audrey Hepburn and Salvador Dalí. “A lot of the people were wearing stag heads,” von Buhler said.

And it has nothing to do with black magic, she makes very clear. “I’m not into the occult at all,” von Buhler noted. For her, “the whole idea of the Illuminati Ball is, it’s an Illuminati that has been started to help animals and the environment.”

It all started in 2011, when the married Berkshires native, who had long been hosting wild events, produced her first immersive party a la the theatrical experience “Sleep No More.” The theme was Speakeasy Dollhouse, a louche wise-guys-and-gals period bash. “My grandfather was murdered in Manhattan in 1935, right after Prohibition ended,” von Buhler said. “He was a bootlegger.” (She is also descended, the artist said, from “Italian royalty.”)

Von Buhler added that, after the Speakeasy, she lost her deal with a Norfolk Street landlord “because of noise. We shot a gun off in the alley.”

She’s since hosted five or six additional immersive productions, including more intimate affairs for no more than 40 guests at an eight-acre estate an hour north of the city. There, she said, “We swim naked in the lake.”

Courtesy of The Illuminati Ball
For three of her affairs, she has created an accompanying graphic novel, including “Minky Woodcock: the Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini,” released in August of this year tied to an immersive event themed around the magician. Titan Comics, which is distributed by Random House, will publish von Buhler’s Illuminati Ball graphic novel in October 2019.

It’s gotten to the point where the artist — who was commissioned by Steven Spielberg in 2001 to illustrate a kids book to benefit the Starbright Foundation for seriously ill children — wants to be a solo act. “I prefer to create my own projects [now] rather than illustrate other people’s words,” von Buhler said.

She also likes creating her own world. That’s why attendees to the black-tie New Year’s Eve party will be given masks, and high-paying VIPs will receive watches that grant them entrance to an upstairs space where a dancer will perform ritualistic interactions.

The funny thing is, “It’s my least favorite holiday,” von Buhler admitted. “A lot of times, New Year’s Eve is just about drinking. But this [party] really could change your life.”

— With additional reporting by Kirsten Fleming

Chris Pratt doesn’t deserve the bashing he’s getting

Chris Pratt, the stud in such movies as “Guardians of the Galaxy’’ and “Jurassic World,” who’s shined his Hollywood star on a slew of film and TV roles, has apparently broken from the pack of bland, pretty-boy ­actors — by farming the land, openly worshipping God and observing a brand of personal and political conservatism capable of making progressive heads explode.

How dare he! Perhaps more ­remarkable considering all of the above, in 2015, Pratt was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the annual Time 100 list.

And yet that didn’t stop Kaitlin Thomas from going after him in a snarky piece published by TV Guide last week as part of the magazine’s “12 Days of Chris-Mas’’ feature — a celebration of 12 dudes named Chris, including Chris Pine and Chris Tucker, even Ludacris. Pratt comes in fifth place, but only after a sound drubbing.

The piece — headlined, “How to Love Chris Pratt Without Hating Yourself: He’s Definitely the Most Divisive of the Chrises” — is so petty and mean-spirited, it could only have been intended to turn fans against its subject. This, even as the author asserts that “many people” — maybe in Tinseltown — share the author’s distaste for Pratt’s way of life.

“When you take a deeper look at Pratt the man and not necessarily Pratt the actor, some of the shine wears off,” Thomas wrote. And then she goes at Pratt for, apparently, trying to give away his family’s aging cat via Twitter in 2011. The cat found a good home, and crisis was averted. But that was only Thomas’ first gripe.

Next, she attacks Pratt because he and his then-wife, Anna Faris, tried to get rid of the family’s pet Chihuahua five years later (the couple’s son was allergic), resulting in the pooch for a while wandering the streets of Los Angeles.

Horrors! The beastie was ­returned to a loving home. But of all the animal-cruelty complaints against Pratt, the most wickedly ­unfair is Thomas’ diatribe about his love of hunting — a responsible and clean method of feeding his family. (And I would never kill an animal.)

Writing about the lambs he raises on his farm on an island off the coast of Washington state, Thomas condemns Pratt for a video he posted to Instagram this year, in which he said: “They are the happiest lambs on the planet, they are so sweet and then one day they wake up dead and they’re in my freezer.” The writer doesn’t ­divulge if she eats meat.

Pratt then comes under fire for joking about the “outrage culture’’ that has engulfed society, which the TV Guide piece, I would venture, illustrates perfectly. He also takes licks for telling Men’s Health in 2017 that stories about his kind of blue-collar upbringing are ­under-represented in Hollywood. Well?

“The idea that Pratt doesn’t see himself — though he may come from a working-class family and spends most of his time on a farm, he’s also a successful, straight white man at the heart of two ­major film franchises — as being represented in television or film is ridiculous,” Thomas writes. “But the truth is, the reason Pratt’s comment enraged so many people is because it ignored the fact there are a number of communities ­actually struggling for better representation.’’

Perhaps to fend off people coming for him with pitchforks, Pratt actually apologized for making this “stupid’’ comment about the lack of characters like him in Hollywood fare.
He shouldn’t have bothered.

Thomas makes clear that her main grievance against Pratt is with something over which he has no control — he’s a “straight white man.” As much as she might ­resent Pratt’s skin color, his sexual orientation and his success, she can’t just wish him away.

Then there was the egregious Instagram post in which Pratt told people to “turn up the volume” and not just “read the subtitles” — which apparently could offend the hearing impaired. Whatever.

One thing not expressly referred to in TV Guide is Pratt’s deep Christian faith, a rarity in amoral Hollywood. And something I ­applaud. You are free to hate Chris Pratt’s hunting, his conservatism, even his acting. But don’t hate him. He is to be praised, not scorned, for the way he lives. This is one good and humble man.

The most wonderful song ever written. 1818 and on the 24th December it will be 200 years ago.

On Christmas Eve, 1914 in West France, WWI was still raging on, British and German soldiers locked in trench warfare, firing artillery and gunfire, but upon that night, both sides cease fire and the silence was broken by a man singing in the German trench. the rest of the German soldiers sung with him and the British join in. That song was Silent night. sung in both English and German in union. The following morning on Christmas day, they were preparing to attack each other again but General Fritz of the German forces emerged from the trench waving his arms, soon the soldiers followed with him. and soon British forces emerged from the trenches and meet their enemies in the middle of no man’s land. They shook hands, greeting each other, giving each other food, alcohol, cigarettes and they played Soccer/football with germans winning. They all hung out and talked, cutting up and console each other like brothers. Unfortunately it didn’t last.. later that night, the fighting resumed, some of those soldiers who met each other, ended up killing each other.
The most wonderful song ever written. 1818 and on the 24th December it will be 200 years ago.

Who runs the world? GAYS!

MFM Transmedia presents “Run the World (Gays)” by creator, writer, and producer Christian Schulte, director and choreographer Leah Dowdy, and editor/cinematographer Alicia Slough. “historic and unprecedented turnout of LGBTQ candidates running in the 2018 Midterm RTW” is a celebration of the Election.

The music video strikes an inclusive, unifying, and powerful message, that together, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. We strive to take our responsibility seriously, and carry on the baton of progress from the previous generation. While our ancestors fought for hope and acceptance, and we now run for equality and acceptance —in society, in our communities, and in elected office.

This group of young artists are promoting activism and awareness through music and dance, set to the undeniably fierce empowerment anthem: Beyonce?’s “Run the World (Girls)”. In 2018, we have seen individuals from every race, creed, sexual orientation, and gender identity rise to the occasion of running for office on every level of government. This work embodies the collective pride we have in them, as they seek to represent our interests and protect our American rights and values. It sends a clear and defiant message that it is possible to live in the kind of country we imagine for ourselves; a nation in which anyone with a dream for a better way of life can become a leader, while simultaneously being exactly who they were born to be.

Cast members include Asia Miller (Dream Girls, The Greatest Showman), Steve Fogelman (Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire), Kendra Alexander (America’s Got Talent, “Til’ the World Ends”, Britney Spears), Hana Kozuka (GMA, MTV’s TRL), Lily Davis (After Everything, Happy!, SyFy) and Shaun-Avery Williams (Christmas of Many Colors, NBC).

Involved with the “RTW” production team are director/choreographer Leah Dowdy (“Lose You”, Camille Trust) cinematographer/editor Alicia Slough (Modern Hero), MFM Transmedia founder Molly Fahey (Grand Theft Auto V, Shirley), and sound producer Andry De Leon.

Christian Schulte, (The President Show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) the creator, writer, and producer of “Run the World (Gays)” endeavored to make a political mark ahead of this high-stakes election, while also turning the focus to inclusion and unity over division and partisanship. “I can think of nothing more American than standing up for what you believe to be right, and fighting with your heart, ideas, and faith in something that is bigger than yourself,” said Schulte. “We honor those who came before us that gave us hope, and we continue their run toward a government and a country that is kinder, stronger, more accepting, and more representative of each of its citizens.

Is a gender-neutral Santa coming to town?

For centuries, Santa Claus has traditionally been a jolly, white-bearded man in a red suit who has a craving for milk and cookies.

However, a new survey from GraphicSprings, a logo creation company, has sparked a new debate over whether Santa should be a man, a woman or gender neutral.

The company got the input of 400 people from America and the United Kingdom about ways to modernize St. Nicholas in October and November. They then used the top suggestions to survey 4,000 people on how they would envision a 2018 version of the legendary character.

The results showed that roughly 19 percent of U.S. people believe Santa should be identified as neither male nor female. More than 10 percent said Santa should identify as a woman, which means about 70 percent of people still believe Father Christmas should be a male.

The survey also touched on what people think a modern day Santa should look like.

Traditionally, the character is represented as a bearded old man with his iconic white and red suit, black belt, matching boots and a reindeer-drawn sleigh.

However, it seems some people think modern Santa should be rocking some skinny jeans, sunglasses, trainers and instead of riding in a sled powered by beloved Rudolph and his peers, he might be cruising from town to town in a flying car.

20 percent of people responded that he should have tattoos and 18 percent said his iconic red-and-white suit should be replaced with skinny jeans, while 22 percent said his sleigh needs to be exchanged for a flying car. 21 percent of respondents said he needs to go on a diet.

As well as the debate over Santa’s gender, there has also been talk about the sex of his faithful reindeers. Wildlife experts at Texas A&M University weighed in on the conversation.

“Santa’s reindeers were really females, most likely,” said Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinary medicine professor specializing in deer who cites the depictions of Santa’s helpers with antlers as the primary evidence.

Reindeer grow antlers regardless of gender, and most bulls typically shed their fuzzy protrusions before Christmas.

However, Greg Finstad, who manages the Reindeer Research Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said Santa’s sleigh helpers might also be castrated males, also known as steers.

Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas who was a Christian bishop born in Patara, a land that is part of present-day Turkey, circa 280.

St. Nicholas provided for the poor and sick. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving ways traveled. Over the years, stories of his miracle work for the poor spread to areas all of the world, which is how St. Nicholas transformed into the iconic character Santa Claus.

American tourists risk death to vacation in Mexico

Tatiana Mirutenko emerged happy from a bar in an upscale part of Mexico City after a night of dancing. Seconds later, the 27-year-old Chicago native was dead — hit by a stray bullet from two men on a speeding motorcycle.

Mirutenko, her husband and a group of friends had traveled to the sprawling metropolis of 21 million people to celebrate a delayed honeymoon and a first wedding anniversary in July.

Woman celebrating anniversary in Mexico killed by stray bullet
They ate at Pujol and Quintonil, among the top-rated restaurants in the world, and Mirutenko texted her parents photos of the food, the ornate churches and even dogs at a local park in Lomas de Chapultepec, a privileged part of the city where billionaire Carlos Slim owns a mansion.
“She loved the culture, loved the people,” said her father Wasyl Mirutenko, who owns a security company in Chicago. He told The Post that his family had vacationed in Mexico — in Puerto Vallarta and Oaxaca — since Tatiana was a little girl.

But this time, Tatiana, a slim blonde who worked for a pharmaceutical company in San Francisco, returned home in a body bag, becoming one of the 16,399 homicides recorded in the country in the first seven months of this year, according to statistics collected by Mexican law enforcement.

Already, 2018 promises to be one of the most violent years on record in the country. Homicides shot up 16 percent during the first half of this year — a number that has been rising at an alarming rate over the last two years as splintered groups of drug traffickers and gangs battle for dominance.

Were Tatiana’s killers caught?

“I don’t really care,” Mirutenko told The Post, choking back sobs. “Whatever happens, it will not bring her back.”

In Acapulco, the once-glamorous Mexican resort town where John Wayne owned a posh hotel and newlyweds John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy frolicked in the surf on their honeymoon, tourists gingerly stepped around two dead bodies on their way to the beach.

The two men had been mown down in a barrage of gunfire on a sunny afternoon in October, and although tourists ran for cover as bullets flew, many returned to the beach minutes later. There, police had cordoned off the corpses, which lay bleeding at the entrance to a popular seaside restaurant.

Months earlier, in April, stunned beachgoers on nearby Caletilla Beach stumbled over a bullet-riddled fisherman’s body as it washed ashore. Police said he was likely killed in a fight over drugs.

Acapulco has long been known as the murder capital of Mexico. Last year, there were 953 homicides in the Pacific coast city of 700,000, up from 918 in 2016, according to police. By comparison, New York City, with a population of 8.6 million, recorded 290 murders in 2017.

Violent crime is so out of control in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located, that last year the US State Department warned Americans to stay away. Guerrero and a handful of other Mexican states have the same Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero,” the warning notes. “Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence toward travelers.”

Modal TriggerTatiana Mirutenko with her husband James Hoover.
Tatiana Mirutenko and her husband James Hoover.Facebook
But despite these warnings, visitors have not stayed away from the country.

Last year, there were more than 35 million visitors to Mexico, an increase of 9 percent over the previous year, according to the Madrid-based United Nations Tourism Organization.

In October, 2018 — the last month for which statistics are available — Mexico received 688,000 visitors from the US, compared to 642,200 in October 2017, a 7 percent increase, according to data compiled by the Mexico Tourism Board.

Mexican tourism officials contacted by The Post said that they are working with law enforcement in tourist centers such as Acapulco and Cancún to ensure a greater police presence during peak tourist seasons. In Acapulco, the local government last year set up a Tourist Assistance and Protection Center — known by its Spanish-language acronym, CAPTA — where foreign tourists can report incidents and seek assistance if they are victims of a crime.

“American tourists should know that recent incidents of violence have had almost zero impact on tourists or tourist areas,” said Dario Flota Ocampo, CEO of the tourism board in Quintana Roo, the state where Cancún is located. “Tens of millions of Americans have visited Quintana Roo over the past 10 years and the vast majority of them are not involved in any sort of incidents . . . They have a great time and come back over and over again.”

Quintana Roo officials doubled down on security after five people were killed at an electronic-music festival in Playa del Carmen in January 2017. Two Canadians, an Italian and a Colombian were shot dead at the Blue Parrot nightclub. The tourists were the victims of stray bullets after a gun fight broke out among nightclub patrons.

And it’s not just bullets tourists fear. Even black-market tequila has reportedly killed tourists.

Abbey Conner
Woman died from ‘poisonous’ booze at Mexican resort: lawsuit
Abbey Conner, a 20-year-old University of Wisconsin-Whitewater student, drowned in a shallow pool at the Hotel Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen in November 2017 after drinking tequila shots at the all-inclusive, upscale resort with her older brother, Austin. Both blacked out at the pool, but Austin survived, waking up in a hospital room the next day with a large bump on his forehead and no memory of how he got there, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The newspaper found that dozens of tourists to Mexico had blacked out and become ill over tainted tequila. Last month, the Conner family filed a wrongful death suit in Florida against the resort and its US-based Web site operator, Visit Us, saying in court papers that the hotel knew the booze was “tainted, substandard, poisonous, unfit for human consumption.”

Mexican authorities have cracked down on the illicit alcohol and busted two distilleries churning out tequila with dangerous levels of methanol. Although it’s not known how many tourists suffered blackouts and other illnesses related to the bootleg tequila, police have confiscated tens of thousands of gallons of tainted alcohol since Conner’s death last year, according to published reports.


The best places to visit in 2019

Smuggler for Mexican drug cartel pleads guilty in Florida

Democrats use Trump’s own words against him in border wall debate

Trump: Mexico has already paid for border wall under new trade deal
But these days, in order to stay safe, travel experts warn that tourists need to be more aware.
“People really need to exercise caution and have some idea of where they are going,” said Chris Hagon, a former London cop and founding partner of IMG, a Florida-based security company that helps clients travel safely. “They also need to have in place some kind of mechanism for getting help when they need it.”

Even the savviest tourists who have traveled dozens of times to Mexico have recently found themselves in terrifying situations in a country where the cops are often so corrupt that tourists are actively discouraged from seeking police assistance if they are the victim of a crime.

In July, a 41-year-old mother from Astoria, Queens, flew to Cancún with her Mexican-born husband and two young children and barely escaped becoming a drug mule for a Mexican cartel.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said that after leaving a high-end, all-inclusive resort in Cancún en route to Mexico City, she found that someone had placed two bags of white powder in her backpack. She discovered what she thought was cocaine when she arrived at an Airbnb in the Mexican capital and emptied out her backpack. Her husband had already returned to the US for work but was planning to meet up with her again in Mexico City, she said.

“It was scary, I was with my kids and I locked myself in the apartment. I was worried that a drug trafficker was going to barge in with guns to get the drugs,” she told The Post.

She said she worried about calling the Mexican authorities “because there’s a lot of criminal activity in Mexico, and if you don’t know who you are dealing with you can find yourself in even more trouble. You can’t trust the police in Mexico.”

Instead, she called her husband and the security firm she works for in the US. Their advice was to leave her backpack in the Airbnb and get on the first flight out of the country with her children.

“I left the backpack in the bathtub and just left,” she said.

A few days later, when her husband returned to check out of the Airbnb, the backpack was no longer there, she said.

“To this day, I don’t know what happened,” the woman told The Post. “I was either used as a decoy for someone or it was a test run for a drug delivery.”

Despite the incident, she said she plans to vacation in Mexico again.

Patricia Protage has sworn off Mexico, where her family has vacationed for years. She said she wished she had known more about the all-inclusive resort in Cancún where her 19-year-old son went on spring break three years ago.

The day after he arrived, the 185-pound rugby player found himself lying on the floor of a filthy jail cell.

“He can’t remember anything that happened after he took his first sip of his second beer,” Protage told The Post from her home in Seattle.

Protage’s son, who did not want to be identified, went to a bar with friends in Cancún’s tourist zone, said Protage.

Modal TriggerA woman mourns outside the Blue Parrot nightclub after a deadly shooting in Playa del Carmen.
A woman mourns outside the Blue Parrot nightclub after a deadly shooting in Playa del Carmen.Getty Images
“This is a kid who has never done drugs, and only ever drank a couple of beers,” said Protage.

The morning after his trip to the bar, he woke up in the Cancún jail cell, without his shoes and covered in sand. “There was sand in his ears, sand in his hair,” said his mother.

The local police told him that they had found him face down in a ditch and asked for $300 to spring him from jail. Although his wallet had been stolen, his mother said that the police handed him his student card and driver’s licence — necessary pieces of identification in order to pick up a Western Union money order from the US, said Protage.

“That’s the way they extort money from parents,” she said. “Funny how his wallet is missing but the police had his ID.”

Protage wired the cash as soon as she heard from a friend who had made the trip to Mexico with her son.

“We had no idea what had happened to him, and no way to communicate with him,” said Protage. “We were absolutely terrified when we heard from his roommate that he was in custody.”

Although the family called the US Consulate in Cancún, authorities told them that there was little they could do. “They said that this kind of thing happens a lot. They asked if we wanted to press charges, but we just wanted to get our son out of the country,” Protage said.

“It was terrifying and it’s happening all the time with kids who go to Mexico for spring break,” she said.

After her son paid the police the $300 in cash, he checked out of the hotel and headed straight to the airport.

“He never wants to go back there,” said Protage. “We’re the #NeverInMexico family. We travel quite extensively, but none of us will ever be going back there.”

Paris police bracing for more violent protests…

PARIS (AP) — Anticipating a fifth straight weekend of violent protests, France’s president on Friday called for calm and the Paris police chief warned that armored vehicles and thousands of officers will be deployed again in the French capital.

Police chief Michel Delpuech told RTL radio that security services intend to deploy Saturday in the same numbers as last weekend, with about 8,000 officers and 14 armored vehicles protecting the streets of Paris during a planned anti-government protest by the yellow vest movement.

Delpuech said the biggest difference will be the deployment of more groups of patrol officers to catch vandals, who last weekend roamed the streets around the elegant Champs Elysees, looting and causing damage. Police arrested more than 1,000 people in Paris last weekend and 135 people were injured, including 17 police officers.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner also urged protesters to express themselves peacefully after a police shootout on Thursday ended a two-day manhunt for a man suspected of killing four people near a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of police were mobilized in the search, which ended with the suspect being shot dead.

“I can’t stand the idea that today people applaud police forces and that tomorrow some people will think it makes sense to throw stones at us,” Castaner said from Strasbourg.

A sixth “yellow vest” protester was killed this week, hit by a truck at a protest roadblock. Despite calls from authorities urging protesters — who wear the fluorescent safety vests that France requires drivers to keep in their cars — to stop their violence demonstrations, the movement rocking the country since mid-November has showed no signs of abating.

“Last week, we pretty much handled the yellow vests but we also witnessed scenes of breakage and looting by criminals,” Delpuech said. “Our goal will be to better control this aspect.”

The protests began Nov. 17 against a rise in gas taxes but have morphed into an expression of rage against France’s high taxes and a sense that President Emmanuel Macron’s government does not care about French workers.

Macron has acknowledged he’s partially responsible for the anger and has announced a series of measures aimed at improving French workers’ spending power but has refused to reinstate a wealth tax that was lifted to spur investment in France.

On Friday, Macron called for calm and order ahead of another weekend of protests.

“I don’t think our democracy can accept” the “occupation of the public domain and elements of violence,” Macron said in Brussels, speaking after attending a European Union summit there.

“Our country needs calm. It needs order. It needs to function normally again,” Macron said.

He insisted he had heard the protesters’ concerns and defended his promises to speed up tax relief. He also dismissed calls for his resignation, which is now among the protesters’ disparate demands.

Some trade unions are now calling for rolling strikes across the country.

“The best action is to go on strike,” said Philippe Martinez, the head of leftist trade union CGT. “There are inequalities in this country and we need to make big company bosses pay.”

One group of yellow vests has urged a non-violent protest on the Place de la Republique in Paris under the slogan “Je Suis Strasbourg” (“I am Strasbourg”) to show solidarity with those killed and injured in Strasbourg on Tuesday night.

That refers to the “Je Suis Charlie” motto used by supporters of freedom of speech after a 2015 attack in which 12 people were killed at the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

A fourth person died Friday from wounds suffered in an attack on the Christmas market in Strasbourg, as investigators worked to establish whether the main suspect had help while on the run.

Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz, who handles terror cases throughout France, told a news conference that seven people are in police custody for the Strasbourg attack, including four family members of suspect Cherif Chekatt.

Chekatt, 29, was shot dead Thursday during a police operation.

“We want to reconstruct the past 48 hours in order to find out whether he got some support,” Heitz said.

“Everybody Was Getting Laid”: Hollywood’s Queen of 1980s Nightlife (Finally) Tells All

Long before smartphones, actress and belly dancer Helena Kallianiotes presided over a members-only club where Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston partied with Prince and Madonna, Sean Penn let loose and photos were never, ever allowed. Says Melanie Griffith: “That was the thing: to dance, hang out at Helena’s and do drugs.”
In 1985, a private membership-only nightclub on the corner of L.A.’s Rampart Boulevard and West Temple Street called Helena’s opened. It was operated by an actress and belly dancer named Helena Kallianiotes, who had performed memorable roles in such seminal ’70s films as Five Easy Pieces. Helena’s was a big hit despite its location on the then-gang-ridden Eastside, in part because Kallianiotes counted Jack Nicholson as a friend and investor. “Oh, he was there every Friday,” she recalls. Kallianiotes also was close to Madonna, Sean Penn, Anjelica Huston, Harry Dean Stanton and Marlon Brando, all of them charter members and frequent guests.

But Helena’s wasn’t a roaring success only because it attracted huge stars. It was where huge stars could comfortably hang out, dance and drink and misbehave, at a time before the internet and smartphones ended Hollywood’s tradition of anything-goes nightlife. Helena’s thrived when a no-photography rule could be enforced like biblical law by a proprietress who wasn’t a deep-pocketed hospitality conglomerate but merely a once-in-a-generation host — one who has never talked about the club publicly since its heady six-year run 30 years ago. Until now.

Kallianiotes, now 80 — who with her raven-black hair and lined eyes resembles an older, Greek Elizabeth Taylor, only in cutoff denim shorts, a tank top and kitten heels — opened the club after taking over the lease for a studio where she was teaching folk and belly dancing. “I hired Marlon Brando’s son Christian [later convicted of manslaughter] to do the iron work on the railing — he was a welder,” she recounts. “Marlon would come there every night to see his son’s work, and he started doing construction. I had a license to open, but I refused to because he was there all the time,” and she knew her friend would stop showing up once the public arrived.

“I had the front door locked,” she says. “And then one time I didn’t. Madonna, who would practice [dance], said, ‘Helena, turn around. Slowly.'” Kallianiotes did and faced hundreds of guests: “They poured in, and it was like sardines on the dance floor. Ever since then, I had to work the door. I started to make it membership.”

Because Kallianiotes had enjoyed huge success among the Hollywood crowd as co-host of a weekly roller-skating event called Skateaway at a Reseda rink, the membership waiting list for Helena’s quickly grew to about 2,000 people (annual memberships cost from $500 to $3,000). The list counted not only stars Michael Douglas, Joni Mitchell, the Pointer Sisters, Meryl Streep and Barbra Streisand, but also such directors as Kathryn Bigelow and Gus Van Sant and executives including Lynda Obst, Island Records’ Chris Blackwell and New Line’s Bob Shaye. Lawyers and agents were not welcome, says Kallianiotes, “because they bothered people.” She made her own agent, Sandy Bressler (also Nicholson’s rep), “work the coatroom. He only came once.” Huston describes the scene: “Prince on the dance floor; Paul Getty in his wheelchair doing circles; Sean Penn punching someone over Madonna: People being themselves — it just happened a bunch were really famous.”

Director John Huston, Anjelica’s father, drew a sketch of Kallianiotes that made up Helena’s menu cover.
Courtesy of Subject
Director John Huston, Anjelica’s father, drew a sketch of Kallianiotes that made up Helena’s menu cover.
Helena’s shared an unremarkable stucco facade with a Scientology office and sat across the street from a Salvadoran church and the Rampart police station, whose officers initially turned a blind eye to all the Ferraris and limos choking their parking lot until Kallianiotes felt compelled to lease two lots a block away: “Everybody was afraid to come [to the neighborhood]. “I had a gang that was Mexican on one side of the street and Salvadorian on the other side. They eventually became my dishwashers and busboys.”

Kallianiotes’ manager, Allan Mindel, is quick to say that he was No. 33 on the roster, as if nightclub membership were like a Facebook employee ranking: “Helena’s was like Elaine’s in New York,” he says. (Though Kallianiotes notes, “It wasn’t like [Studio] 54, where you have to have good shoes. I hate choosing people by their clothes.”) Actress Virginia Madsen adds fondly: “It was the first time I ever saw a velvet-rope situation, bodyguards out front and a list. Helena would pick who came in. Somehow she would know if a person just wanted to meet a famous guy, and they weren’t allowed in. Not that there wasn’t networking. I think somebody once said, ‘Helena’s: where every dance is a career move.'” Marilyn Black, Larry David’s former manager, says business was at times discussed at the nightspot and remembers running into Castle Rock’s Rob Reiner, Andy Scheinman and Marty Shafer: “Rob had read Larry’s script Prognosis Negative, which had already been bought, and wanted to know about future projects — of course they ended up being the producers of Seinfeld.”

Justine Bateman, who enjoyed poetry night on Wednesdays along with Robert Downey Jr., describes the spot as being “beautifully curated, like you just walked into a magazine.” Bathed in a flattering pink light, Helena’s was a white, two-floor space with a lobby, DJ booth (George Michael played music there for six months), bar and 2,000-square-foot dance floor, decorated with “Helena’s belly-dancing costume of gold coins encased in glass,” says Mindel. An adjacent 20-table dining room showcased a huge fireplace and a retractable roof. Technically a supper club (it didn’t have a dance license), for years it served oysters, Greek garlic pasta and a Huston specialty: “a flourless chocolate cake, which I learned from Maya’s, a fantastic restaurant in St. Barts,” Kallianiotes says.

The beer and wine list expanded to include spirits when a guest expedited a liquor license, about which Kallianiotes kept quiet until John Huston requested tequila. “Then word got out,” she says. Bottled water was free until “Jack came in and yelled, ‘Helena, charge them for the water! They can afford it!'”

Kallianiotes was not only a vigilant doorwoman but an active host, seating people she thought should sit together (“They’d say, ‘I can’t sit next to so-and-so because we’re having a lawsuit,'” she says, but by night’s end, “things were mended,” claims Mindel). Loree Rodkin, who at the time managed Robert Downey Jr., Sarah Jessica Parker and a host of Brat Packers including Demi Moore and Rob Lowe, remembers the presence of rock stars (Bernie Taupin with Elton John, Rod Stewart and then-wife Alana Hamilton), Ellen Barkin losing a diamond bracelet down the toilet that she was never able to retrieve, and how Helena’s was the very definition of tablehopping: “It was a subdued intimate dinner club for the Hollywood elite,” she says. “You’d say hello to all your friends at one table, then go on to the next. It was a movable dining experience.”

Her various bans — artist Ed Ruscha designed a “No Press, No Cameras” sign that was later stolen — were thwarted only twice in her memory, once by notorious paparazzo Ron Galella, who electrocuted himself trying to take a picture through a window. Another time, a fired waiter attempted revenge by surreptitiously taking photos of the guests. “Sean [Penn] chased him to the street and pulled the film from the camera,” recalls Kallianiotes.

She was a belly dancer who also acted in ’70s films like Five Easy Pieces.
Courtesy of Subject
She was a belly dancer who also acted in ’70s films like Five Easy Pieces.
She claims no drugs were allowed. “I never took drugs. Everybody thinks I’m a druggie because of the roles I played,” says Kallianiotes. Melanie Griffith recalls the place differently. “It was so much fun because that was the thing: to dance, hang out at Helena’s and do drugs,” she says. Rita Wilson concurs: “Everybody was coked out and getting laid.”

One of the less scandalous highlights that took place before the club even opened was Nicholson renting a baby elephant for a birthday party for Anjelica Huston (his on-and-off girlfriend for 17 years), only for the guests to see it urinating for five minutes on the dance floor. “It was a lovely affair,” says Huston.

Among those who were turned away at the door was arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who tried to bribe Kallianiotes with $10,000 to get in. She also once mistakenly turned away Prince: “I said I despise royalty, no way can they get in ahead of everybody else.” When she realized her mistake, she gave the “gentle, well-mannered” artist “a table every Friday. He drank only water. He used to bring his father in, who was as short as Prince.”

Rosanna Arquette recalls the time that “Prince’s bodyguard told me, ‘Prince wants to dance with you.’ I told him, ‘Tell him to ask me himself.’ He did. He put on [his song] ‘Kiss.'”

Kallianiotes (right) played a belly dancer in Head, a rock satire co-written by Jack Nicholson.
Courtesy of Everett Collection
Kallianiotes (right) played a belly dancer in Head, a rock satire co-written by Jack Nicholson.
Kallianiotes once threw out Lee Daniels, then a manager, when she thought he had claimed his blond date was Kim Novak. (She wasn’t.) They made up, and Daniels cast her in Fox’s Star as a strip club owner in 2017.

One of Helena’s main draws was Kallianiotes herself. Huston tries to put her finger on the mystique: “I met Helena at Jack Nicholson’s. It was the first night I met Jack, about 1972 or ’73. I remember this amazing-looking woman. She had a tattoo on her upper arm that was a crucifix that said ‘Mom.’ She was fascinating and scary. I soon learned that Helena has the gentlest of hearts.”

Kallianiotes was born in Megalopolis, a village in southern Greece, and after World War II, she and her family boarded a refugee boat and ended up in the “toughest section in Boston — Dorchester.” At 15, she ran away before her father could marry her off to a 60-year-old man. The rebellious, motorcycle-racing teen decided to drive cross-country (“I had no map. … I went toward the sun”). Along the way, she slept in her car and danced at places like Jack Ruby’s Texas strip dive to pay for the trip. Once in L.A., she bartered dancing services for meals at the Greek Village restaurant in Hollywood. Soon she was setting up a stage, hiring a bouzouki player (whom she was married to for three years) and telling the owner to get a liquor license. “That place had lines to get in,” she says.

Kallianiotes met Nicholson through Five Easy Pieces writer Carole Eastman, a Greek Village regular. She played poker once a week with the cash-strapped actor. “He’d bring a sock with pennies in it,” she says. “He had done nothing except Roger Corman movies.” He later spotted her at an audition for 1968’s Head, a movie starring The Monkees that he wrote with director Bob Rafelson. Kallianiotes was cast as a belly dancer, the first of several instances in which she worked with Rafelson, including in Five Easy Pieces as a swaggering hitchhiker. She later got a Golden Globe nomination in 1973 for playing a roller derby captain opposite Raquel Welch in Kansas City Bomber. One of her last feature roles was a turn in 1983 alongside Gene Hackman in Nicolas Roeg’s Eureka.

Kallianiotes (top) and Raquel Welch in 1972’s Kansas City  Bomber, for which Kallianiotes received a Golden Globe nomination.
Kallianiotes (top) and Raquel Welch in 1972’s Kansas City  Bomber, for which Kallianiotes received a Golden Globe nomination.
“She’s a remarkable actor,” says Huston. “There is something about her process that is super honest and fundamental.” But Kallianotes was tiring of acting. “All the parts they wanted me in were shooting people,” says Kallianiotes, who had seen violence as a girl when the Germans invaded Greece. “Guns are obscene. I quit.”

In between making her mark on Hollywood, then rejecting it, Kallianiotes married Father Knows Best actor Billy Gray. It wasn’t until they were separating that one of Hollywood’s most unusual living arrangements began to emerge, one that lasted 27 years.

In 1969, Nicholson bought a house on Mulholland Drive, “but he had never been in it,” says Kallianiotes, because he left to direct his first feature, Drive, He Said. “He was breaking up with a girl named Mimi, and she was sick,” she recalls. “I took her to the hospital, then stayed [in the house] to help out with the plants.” When Nicholson returned, says Kallianiotes, “he liked me there,” but she found the situation awkward. The place had newspapers on the windows and contained just his bed and another downstairs. “He says to me, ‘Helena, buy some furniture, buy a rug.'” Nicholson eventually gave her a Bullock’s credit card for household items.

Kallianiotes on the cover of Art Garfunkel’s 1975 album Breakaway, shot at Dan Tana’s.
Columbia Records
Kallianiotes on the cover of Art Garfunkel’s 1975 album Breakaway, shot at Dan Tana’s.

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“I thought, ‘What am I doing? What does this guy want?’ And then I would end up sewing his clothes,” says Kallianiotes, who nonetheless enjoyed hosting jam sessions at the compound with the likes of Neil Young and Janis Joplin. Nicholson “gave me all these things to do that were female-ish,” from cooking Greek pasta (until she hired a chef that he still employs) to watching his kids (she and his daughter Lorraine are still friends). She lobbied Nicholson to buy a neighboring house on the compound — where Marlon Brando also lived with wife Tarita — for $44,000, telling Nicholson’s manager, “You gotta buy it because Jack’s running around in the nude.”

Huston theorizes that the arrangement — Kallianiotes was neither paid nor paid rent — “was as much about escaping the aftermath of [her] marriage as it was about looking after Jack.” Kallianiotes says she and Nicholson were never romantically involved: “I had a platonic relationship with him, always.” In 1973, after five years of living with him, she moved next door “when Anjelica came in the picture. When she first moved in, she didn’t know me, and she was jealous.”

It was a business deal gone bad that prompted Kallianiotes to move out of Nicholson’s compound. In 2000, Kallianiotes was looking for a property to launch a spa at various locations outside of L.A. including Three Rivers, California. What followed is a convoluted tale involving a Colombian scam artist and money laundering of $1 million in her accounts that resulted in them being frozen. During a six-year legal battle (with depositions by Nicholson, Brando and Huston), Kallianiotes decided to leave the Mulholland property: “I thought, ‘I want to protect Jack’s children, because I didn’t know what I was involved in — it looked like I was involved with a guy that was in the cartel.” Kallianiotes eventually got her money back and for a spell worked out of a dance studio in a Venice building complex that also housed the workspace of sculptor Robert Graham, Huston’s husband, before deciding to leave Los Angeles altogether. She relocated to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where she’s lived for the past decade, building an artist retreat. Kallianiotes recently met with Nicholson after two years of not visiting the U.S., during which time the two kept in touch.

Helena’s ended in 1991 after Kallianiotes was injured in a car accident and had to reduce her involvement. “I came there for the Academy Awards in a huge cast on my leg,” she recalls. “I came in, and everybody was sitting there: Meryl Streep, Jack, Sam Shepard. Sam signed my cast, and I never went back.”


The entertainment A-listers who frequented the club were anything but regulars.


“I have a [special] karma with Anjelica,” says Kallianiotes. “I helped her move into [Nicholson’s place].”


“I remember Madonna coming up to me, saying, ‘Helena, how can people dance when you have garlic here?'” says Kallianiotes.


An investor, the actor dated then-waitress (and future mother to two of his children) Rebecca Broussard at the club.


The actor punched someone over Madonna and once ran after a would-be photographer, taking away his film.


After Kallianiotes hired his son Christian to do welding work, Brando came in often to hang out and help with construction pre-opening.


“I would go to Prince’s house on Rexford, and we would play pool and talk about dancing,” recalls Kallianiotes.


A charter member, Stanton and Kallianiotes were so close that she organized a memorial for him when he died in 2017.


“She did it all,” says Begley, who has known Kallianiotes, “a very good friend,” for 46 years and started a weekly Hollywood roller-skating event with her called Skateaway that took place in the late 70s. At Helena’s, “she focused on logistics, from the right amount of logs on the fireplace to minding the door herself and overseeing the food and beverages. She was a very hands-on, micromanaging club owner.”


“I was about ready to move back to Kentucky when Helena called me and said ‘Becks, I want you to come work for me,'” says Broussard. “Working at Helena’s was such a grand experience. Helena really took care of her clientele, which included more celebrities than any awards show you’d ever go to. She made them feel safe, and it was almost a family atmosphere.” Broussard waitressed at Helena’s while dating Nicholson, with whom she later had two children. “In retrospect, Helena’s had an innocence. You can’t even imagine innocence at a club in the ’80s, but it was innocent.”


“My membership number was 98,” says the actress, who fondly recalls the night Prince asked her to dance … to his own song.

Additional reporting by Chris Gardner, Lindsay Weinberg, Marilyn Black and Vincent Boucher

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A version of this story first appeared in the 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Democrats really do love Republicans — when they’re dead

He was a patriot, a hero, a ­genial gentleman and a great American. You can’t pick up a newspaper or go near a television without hearing leftists gush with praise for the late President George H.W. Bush. Who knew they felt this way?

And you are not mistaken if the outpouring of previously unknown affection for the first President Bush sounds familiar. That’s because it is almost identical to the loving send-off the same suspects gave Sen. John McCain after he died in August.

It all just goes to prove that Democrats and their media handmaidens really do love Republicans — when they’re dead. All the more so if, when they were alive, they ­opposed President Trump.

There were reports that both Bush and McCain voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. See, good Republicans.

McCain’s feud went beyond the grave, when it became known that he did not want Trump at his funeral. McCain got extra love for that ­final bit of pettiness.

Paradoxically, Bush gets extra credit because he wanted Trump at his funeral, even though both gestures are seen as a rebuke to the current president. In this case, Bush is hailed for rising above pettiness.

There is another phony dimension in the media’s praise for Bush and McCain in that both were said to epitomize a less toxic time in politics. While it’s true that politics wasn’t always as vicious as it is now and that Democrats and Republicans actually socialized frequently, the mainstream media didn’t share in that bipartisan bonhomie when it came to coverage.

Even then, their bias tilted left, although their double standard has reached new depths in recent years. I believe the press corps’ lapdog approach to Barack Obama and attack-dog approach to Trump are part of why Americans have become so polarized.

Indeed, many Trump voters ­explain their support for him as a reaction to left-wing press bias and the failure of other Republicans to fight back the way Trump does.

The heydays of press hatred for Bush and McCain came during their presidential campaigns. Long before they were saluted for their late-in-life stances against Trump, Bush 41 and McCain were declared unfit to be president.

George H.W. Bush remembered as casket arrives in DC
George H.W. Bush remembered as casket arrives in DC
The New York Times, which last endorsed a Republican for president in 1956, backed the hapless Michael Dukakis over Bush in 1988, and Bush went on to win in a landslide, picking up more than 53 percent of the popular vote and 426 electoral votes.

Four years later, the paper supported Bill Clinton, ripping Bush’s economic management as “exasperating” and his positions on individual rights as “infuriating.” It accused him of stoking racial resentment, of going to “radical ­extremes” in supporting right-to-life measures, and said his “capacity to govern has collapsed.”

When Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991, he and Thomas got the same kind of character smearing that Trump and Brett Kavanaugh got this year.

Now, in his coffin, Bush is a model of American greatness.

McCain likewise was hailed as a brave maverick in 2000 when he sought the GOP nomination against George W. Bush. But when he won the nomination in 2008 to run against Barack Obama, the Times said McCain had “retreated farther and farther to the fringe of American politics, running a campaign on partisan division, class warfare and even hints of racism. His policies and worldview are mired in the past.”

As he lay dead, the paper hailed the “adventurous bipartisanship” he demonstrated “in a long and distinguished career.”

The Washington Post, which has never endorsed a Republican for president, followed a similar trajectory: condemnation for McCain when he criticized Obama and other Dems, lavish praise when he turned fire on Republicans, especially Trump.

Trump won’t attend services for John McCain
Trump won’t attend services for John McCain
There is, of course, nothing wrong in saying something nice about the recently departed. Eulogies are not the time or place to seek balance.

The problem emerges when the partisan lens becomes the decisive factor in switching from damnation to praise. Then it is hypocrisy masquerading as principle and grace.

The flip-flops are the latest reminders that, more than two years after Trump’s stunning upset, it is not adequate to say American elites of both parties and the media have yet to accept his presidency. It is clear they never will.

Instead, they distort reality to make it fit their prejudice. They discover virtues in men they never supported only to use them as a cudgel against Trump.

Bush was elected in 1988 largely because he was seen as Ronald Reagan’s third term, and he was not an inspiring president, getting just 37 percent of the popular vote in 1992 in a three-way field, with Ross Perot getting 19 percent.

His post-presidential life was noteworthy mostly because his son also became president, and because he lived to 94.

Yet Jimmy Carter, another ex-president, is also 94, but even fellow Dems shun him, so he’s not seen as beloved or a national treasure by almost anyone.

As for McCain, his bitterness toward Trump was personal, dating to nasty remarks Trump made in 2015 about McCain’s five years of captivity and torture by the North Vietnamese. “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said then. “I like people that weren’t captured.”

McCain did his best to get even, reportedly giving the phony Russian dossier on Trump to the FBI. That kind of payback, more than his military career or captivity, is what finally endeared him to the left.

Strip clubs ruled out as Vatican warns against profane purposes for deconsecrated churches

Club-goers at a vampire-themed night at the Limelight nightclub, which occupied a deconsecrated church in Manhattan, New York CREDIT: MARK PETERSON/GETTY

From strip joints to nightclubs and pizzerias, the Vatican is urging Catholic countries around the world not to allow deconsecrated churches to be used for profane purposes, in the first conference dedicated to the issue.

Falling congregations, a lack of clergy and crippling maintenance costs means that thousands of Catholic churches around the world are being decommissioned and turned into restaurants, pubs, cafes and even skateboarding venues.

More than 500 Catholic churches have closed down in Germany since 2000, while in Canada one fifth of Catholic churches were deconsecrated in the same period.

In the Netherlands, an estimated 500 churches are due to fall out of religious use in the next decade.

There is a danger that they will end up being used for “inappropriate activities”, as one delegate delicately put it at the conference, titled “Doesn’t God Live Here Anymore?”

“I know of a little church in northern Ontario that was turned into a strip club,” Paul-André Durocher, the archbishop of Gatineau in Canada, told The Telegraph. “It went up in flames, thank God. That’s one of the worst examples.”
In Prague, a church was turned into an ice cream parlour, while in Arnhem in the Netherlands, a deconsecrated church became a skateboarding hall.

In Asti in northern Italy a church has been turned into a bar called “Il Diavolo Rosso” – The Red Devil.

In 2005, a late 18th century Catholic church in Liverpool was converted into a nightclub, which is “still very much regretted by the Catholic community,” said Sophie Andreae, vice-chair of the patrimony committee of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

“This is going to be a big issue in the future and that’s why guidance from Rome is so important.”

There was a scandal in Naples earlier this month when a former church was used for a Halloween party, with young women dressed in sexy witch outfits and leather mini-skirts sitting on the altar.

A fashion show held in a church in Florence also caused a stir. “Some of the models were rather scantily clothed,” said Monsignor Carlos Azevedo, one of the conference organisers. “People were a bit scandalised.”

In a message sent to the conference, held in a Catholic university in Rome, Pope Francis acknowledged a decline in the number of faithful and a dearth of priests but said that deconsecrated churches could be given “a new life”, preferably in service of the poor.
Some bishops, including in Britain, are looking at using covenants to lay down legally binding rules about what can and cannot be done with deconsecrated churches.

“The critical thing is that it carries forward so that even if the church is sold again, the covenant still applies,” said Ms Andreae.

While striptease clubs and bars are definitely out, the Vatican looks favourably on former churches being turned into social centres, soup kitchens, museums or bookshops.

“A church in my diocese was turned into a palliative care centre. That’s in keeping with the Church’s mandate,” said Archbishop Durocher.

At the end of the two-day conference, the Vatican is expected to issue guidelines for dioceses around the world on how to manage the sale of deconsecrated churches.

“Property laws differ around the world so it has to be tackled on a country-by-country basis,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, the secretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture.

“But bishops need to explore what options there are for protecting churches when they are sold.”