It’s a fun clip to watch, and it touts appearances by some of Canada’s hippest natives. But the original questions remains: What is the Guilt Free Zone?
“We’re not really sure what it is at the moment,” Miller admits. Big Soul Productions, an aboriginal owned and operated production company located in Toronto, was due to celebrate its 12th anniversary, and Miller figured that was as good an excuse as any to throw a party. “I had this idea of putting a talk show together,” he says, then goes on to describe something that might have been a little risqué even for late-night network TV. “We had a lot of gogo dancers wearing sexy outfits,” he recalls. “Lisa Charleyboy played my secretary and I kept sexually harassing her. I called her a high-priced whore, so she whipped me throughout my [musical] performance. That was all improv. She was really whipping me hard. We had a ninja—a guy in a ninja costume—giving out Jagermeister shots to everyone. My stage manager Rai-Chi said he needed a little help, so we had this little person dressed up in the same clothes…”
(Ashley Callingbull, second runner-up in Miss Universe Canada 2010, was the host at the very beginning of the show, before things went downhill, and did not participate in the debauchery. Probably a good move.)
And the lesson here is…?
“I think it’s important to have these things out there,” says Miller. “There’s a place for the traditional, and there is a place for people who like to push the envelope. The Guilt Free Zone is a positive place. We’re saying, have fun, you shouldn’t feel guilty about having fun, about having a big party and letting loose. American Indians have this image of being very serious, of being not very fun. We’re saying, if it’s fun—and you’re not hurting anyone—do it.”
Showing Indians’ guilt-free fun side plays into the bigger picture as well, says Miller. “We have a lot going on, as Native Americans in media,” he says. “We have our own production companies, we have very talented people. If we’re going to show the world what we’re really like, we have to take control of the media. Because if we let other people decide how we’re portrayed—well, we know what that looks like, right?”
Someone on Facebook disagreed with this statement, saying not everything is about stereotypes. But let's reiterate what Miller himself said:
If we let other people decide how we’re portrayed—well, we know what that looks like, right?
Yes, it looks like people engaged in sexy debauchery. Sometimes it's white hipsters in headdresses and sometimes it's Natives drinking, carousing, and flaunting themselves like starlets.
Another person on Facebook added:
Below: Derek Miller and dancing girls in the Guilt Free Zone.