Business at ICandy Has “Severely Dipped” Following Slur Backlash, Says General Manager

After a video surfaced showing iCandy owner Darryl DePiano repeatedly saying the n-word, community members and institutions are distancing themselves from the club.

Photograph by Ernest Owens

Photograph by Ernest Owens

In the aftermath of a leaked video showing ICandy owner Darryl DePiano using the n-word repeatedly and DePiano’s subsequent public admission and apology, many Gayborhood institutions and community members have begun distancing themselves from the bar publicly.

Liberty City LGBT Democratic Party, Josh Schonewolf Presents, and OutFest have all announced that they would end business relationships with the club, and the staff of Philadelphia Gay News said that the publication would no longer accept its advertising. (Neither G Philly nor its parent publication, Philadelphia magazine, has a business or advertising relationship with ICandy.)

On Friday, the day after the video surfaced, ICandy released a formal statement on behalf of the staff:

Icandy Nightclub’s Statement Regrading Racially Unacceptable Comments By The Owner

PHILADELPHIA – Sept. 30, 2016 – PRLog — Icandy Nightclub has always and will always be an all-inclusive club for people of every race, gender or sexual orientation. We pride ourselves in being a safe environment; free of judgement, free of ridicule and free of bias of any sort. We are a family.

Unfortunately, recent regrettable and unacceptable comments were uncovered. A Principal of ICandy, Darryl DePiano, used racial epithets during a conversation approximately three years ago. These comments are appalling and in no way reflect the feelings of the staff of Icandy which is made up of a diverse group of men and women of many different ethnicities.

Mr. DePiano immediately took full responsibility for his actions and realizes that taking responsibility is just the beginning. Granting an apology is a great start but, is far from reversing a mindset that is crippling our society and community. Education in racial discrimination along with racial sensitivity training will start the healing process.

We ask for the opportunity to help us work together, and be a part of solving the problem of racial discrimination in the LGBT community. We have all, in some way, suffered discrimination in our lives, and it is NEVER ok to discriminate against any person, for any reason. We look forward to working with the community in addressing racial discrimination and creating equality for all.


The Staff Of Icandy Nightclub

Later that evening, Ru Paul’s Drag Race star Shangela performed at ICandy and brought DePiano on stage for his first public appearance since the backlash. (The popular drag queen, who is not a Philadelphia resident, was booked and compensated to perform at the venue prior to the controversy.) The moment was caught on camera and put on YouTube:

“Hearing that an older white man used the ‘n-word’ behind close doors when talking to his buddies three years ago isn’t a huge shocker to me,” Shangela said in an interview with Mic. She also mentioned in the interview that she had known DePiano for “less than 48 hours” and could not say for certain if his apologetic remarks during the event were sincere.

Local fans were mixed on her appearance at the event and ICandy’s social media response to it:

On Saturday evening, G Philly caught up with ICandy general manager Jeff Sheehan at the bar to discuss the immediate impact the boycotts and protests have had on the club’s business.

“Business has severely dipped and rightfully so,” said Sheenan, who has been with the company since its opening in March 2011. Sheehan added that he “understands the frustration of the community” and that protesters who have demonstrated outside the venue over the past week has been “respectful and fair.”

“Folks have a right to express disappointment and be upset,” he said. “Our staff is committed to racial sensitivity training and listening to the community.”

When asked whether DePiano’s use of racial slurs could lend credence to recent concerns about a racial motivation behind the club’s alleged “no Timberland boots” policy, Sheehan said “absolutely not” and blamed “miscommunication between door staff” for “people misunderstanding that there was ever such a policy.”

Lastly, Sheenan wanted patrons to know that “the previous remarks made by the owner doesn’t reflect our staff. Our staff does not have racist viewpoints, and knowing Darryl, I know he doesn’t either — this is an issue that he needs to work on inside.”

Sheenan invited patrons to meet with him “individually if they have any questions or concerns” and that he was “open to receiving feedback from the community on how staff can better serve.”