Public opinion may have shifted against the Shirtless Rollerblading Guitar Guy, previously a beloved character around Edmonton’s Old Strathcona area. Around a month ago, several resident-made public service announcements were plastered throughout Whyte Avenue, Bonnie Doon Mall and a few schools in the Old Strathcona area. The posters also circulated on social media.
The posters—which have now mostly been taken down—alleges a man who goes by Arthur/Wayne, a.k.a. Shirtless Rollerblading Guitar Guy, is “a known predator” who “has been known to harass girls and young women.” The announcements also outlined Arthur/Wayne’s ‘manifesto,’ a piece of writing outlining his philosophy that he sometimes hands out to people he meets.
Before this announcement, several positive fan pages on Facebook, reddit, and Twitter popped up from people who enjoyed the novelty and frequency of his outings. Yet, credible sources Daze Magazine interviewed say that young women have known to avoid Arthur/Wayne for quite some time.
Many female-identifying Facebook users have shared their stories in various posts, one including the Concerned Community Members Facebook page—who stated they did not want to make a statement. Daze Magazine interviewed seven people, each with their own alleged experience.
According to a source, one incident that took place in 2011 did result in a call to the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), but the EPS was unable to verify it without the date, approximate time, or an incident number.
“Of course if anyone who feels they are being harassed has concerns for their safety or the safety of others, they are encouraged to contact police immediately. This can be done by calling 780-423-4567 or visiting the station nearest them,” says communications advisor for EPS Carolin Maran.
Though none of these allegations have been tested in court, two sources have agreed to go on record with Daze but wished to remain anonymous. They will be quoted as X and Y.
X’s story began eight years ago when she was a 16-year-old working at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market. X says Arthur began chatting to her mother, who also worked at the market, about her daughter’s interests and hobbies without her knowledge. Soon after, he began chatting with X and she recalls it was “really easy to talk to him.”
“He learned my interests and hobbies before talking to me so it was really easy to get along with him. And my mother and I didn’t piece together that it was the same guy until a couple months later because he used different names,” X says.
She says that eventually Arthur/Wayne started to cross boundaries between X and her mother, attempting to get involved in deeply personal affairs.
“My mom got really mad at him and told him to mind his own business and that he was being too friendly,” she says.
It was clear to X that he had been following her for some time when Arthur/Wayne showed up to her high school in Old Strathcona. While she and her friends were hanging outside or eating lunch, Arthur would sometimes show up with his own lunch or parade around on his rollerblades, she says.
X says a few months later the situation escalated when Arthur/Wayne showed up at her house and began banging on her door, screaming that he wanted his “energy back.” Her mother was home alone at the time and had no recollection of how he knew where she and her daughter lived.
Eventually X’s mom called the police but they took quite a while to arrive. A male neighbour/friend of X’s came over and asked Arthur to leave, but he said he wasn’t going anywhere until he “got his energy back.”
“He really crossed the line with my mom telling her she was a bad mom and that he loved me more than her. He had this huge story about how we were soul mates and my mom said ‘You don’t even know my daughter; she’s 16,’ and she told him ‘Go fuck yourself’ and find ‘someone your own age—we dont know you.’”
Arthur/Wayne claimed that he was 34-years-old at the time, X says.
Arthur/Wayne eventually left their house, but X still spotted him wherever she went—the bus, her other job, etc. She even told her manager at her other job that she did not feel comfortable when he was around, but her manager, much to her chagrin, told her he’s “still a customer.”
“I was almost forced to be nice to him because he’s a customer,” she says. “So he would use that to his advantage. He does that at the market too.”
This went on for six years and X and her mother still work at the farmers’ market and still see Arthur/Wayne.
At one point, he tried to make amends, though, X says, and asked if X and her mother were “ready to say sorry.” A few months ago, he approached X at a farmers’ market booth while she was re-stocking and claimed he had cancer.
“He started going off and saying we should make amends if I was ready to apologize and said ‘We can try this again and we can go for tea or something.’ I was standing there in disbelief and said ‘No,’” X says.
“He even said he was going to hang around until the end of the day until I gave him an answer.”
X used to tell management about her situation at the farmers’ market, but says that the turn-over between bosses is so frequent that there is no longer a point.
“He’s there every single weekend and managers get switched, but our old manager didn’t put up with anything and told him that he makes people feel uncomfortable, but the new management doesn’t really know much about him.”
X says Arthur/Wayne is also known to linger around the bathrooms at the farmers’ market. Her booth sits close to the information booth, which is near to the washrooms. He stands there, waiting for men to go to the washroom to chat with any women waiting around for their partner, friend, etc.
“… [H]e will chat them up and then their partner looks at them and then they’re weirded out and leave,” X says.
However, X says that in the last two weeks the market’s security has become aware of Arthur.
The Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market declined to comment when Daze reached out for an interview.
X even thought about filing a restraining order against Arthur/Wayne, but when she went to the authorities they said him approaching or bothering her was not enough. She would also have to take him to court.
“I can’t even stand looking at him. I’d rather ignore him then deal with the hassle,” she says.
Y says she was approached by Arthur/Wayne during the summer of 2018. He crossed the street and started making small talk with her and a friend so they asked him for a photo. He became quite enraged and hostile saying he “doesn’t take fucking photos.”
“We weren’t whiny about it or anything and we were on our way,” she says.
Arthur/Wayne then began following Y and her friend, but they weren’t really sure if he was just headed in the same direction.
“Anyone who has seen him knows he makes his rounds up and down Whyte, back and forth, but he was going pretty slow and definitely following us,” she says.
Y also remembers Arthur/Wayne shouting rhetoric from his manifesto directed at Y’s friend who has a visible limp.
“He was kind of shouting different ways homeopathy and his manifesto could cure their disability and to never get an abortion because it’s murder,” she says. “We tried taking alleyways and different routes and side roads so he didn’t know exactly where we were going, but he did seem to follow us the whole way.”
The two women eventually arrived at Y’s house and shut the door, but noticed Arthur/Wayne loitering in the distance through the door’s peephole.
“I tried to avoid him after that, but lots of friends had complained to me that he had either followed them or struck up conversations inappropriately,” Y says. “When he approached us it was very odd because there were lots of people on the street and we were two femme people who were dressed, I guess you could say, provocatively, per se.”
Both sources find it disgraceful that Arthur/Wayne is somewhat revered as an icon in Edmonton. Local radio stations have used his presence as a sign that spring is coming and EdmontonStarMetro—rest in peace—wrote a story about a man’s Halloween costume being inspired by Arthur/Wayne. Countless local memes have been created of him as well.
Various people on social media came to Arthur/Wayne’s defence after photos of the Whyte Avenue posters began to appear on Facebook.
“Most of my posts on Facebook are public and some randos came to his defence quite fast and seriously,” Y says. “If someone is predatory and makes people seem uncomfortable they should not be awarded in the community as this quirky, fun champion. That shouldn’t be his title.”
Owner and operator of Earth’s General store, Michael Kalmanovich, says Arthur frequents his store regularly, but he has never seen a customer uncomfortable while interacting with him.
“Whether he’s creepy with women, I don’t know,” Kalmanovich says. “I just know that he talks with a lot of women in the store—and I mean really long conversations with these people. The person that feels uncomfortable tends to shut down and limit the conversation but I’ve never seen that with him.”
Although Kalmanovich does recall when a female employee says she was invited over to Arthur’s house to meditate.
“She was 18 and she didn’t feel comfortable and he came in again but she just tried to avoid him. They no longer work for us since they moved, but that’s all I have to go on,” he says. “And I heard there was these posters, but one of my other customers I’ve talked to for a long time put up another poster in the store about how he’s a great guy.”
During the interview Daze did not get into specifics about X or Y’s stories, but Kalmanovich says he’s leaving it up to the judgement of his peers before he makes a decision.
“I don’t know the situation. I’ve seen what’s inside the store, but that’s public and it could be different outside of public,” he says. “The people who are, and I’m putting air quotes here,’victims’ of those encounters—I’m not a victim of those encounters, and I think the story should focus on them. I don’t intend to be a big part of it.”
Daze attempted to reach out to Arthur/Wayne via phone and text message, but received no response by the time of publication.
If anyone has had their own experience with Arthur/Wayne and would like to share their story please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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