Kyle Pedersen was known to the owners, employees and entertainers of the Soulard Supper Club after leaving reviews like the one below.
In the following days Shain Tooley, owner of the yet-to-be-opened club, reached out to Pedersen in an attempt to understand his grievance. Tooley even invited him to visit the club when it opens later this month, and offered him a drink on the house.
"He said if we fire Janessa Highland immediately his campaign against us would cease. If we didn't it would escalate. "
One of the most intriguing and controversial entertainers in St. Louis - a city where upsetting the apple cart will quickly get you blacklisted - Highland's known for her pull-no-punches style and is accustomed to vocal detractors.
But nothing could prepare her for Pedersen.
Grey Fox Show Director Jade Sinclair, a personal friend of Highland, recalls how the two first became acquainted with Pedersen.
"He got my phone number off of Facebook and began calling me, then he drove all the way to Jefferson City to watch us perform" recalls Sinclair.
Outside of the venue Sinclair said Pedersen hit on Highland, but his advances were rebuffed. Soon after, Pedersen, who identifies as heterosexual, hatched a most unusual scheme to exact revenge.
|Jade Sinclair, Show Director at Grey Fox|
In a bizarre plot twist, Pedersen decided to launch his own drag career as a way to take Highland down, and debuted as her estranged sister, Vanessa Highland.
The threats began to go beyond simply upstaging the Missouri All American Goddess 2016, with talk of bringing weapons to the stage.
Based on Pedersen's apparent criminal past, entertainers felt they had reason to be concerned. One by one bar owners from Bar: PM to Grey Fox began banning Pedersen.
Despite her best efforts, Vanessa Highland never stepped on a St. Louis stage.
Pedersen began spreading rumors that Grey Fox had closed, and that Jade Sinclair was harboring "a dark secret."
"In the beginning I was deeply disturbed that anyone would put such nasty things on social media about me - things that are not true and are not a joking matter. However I learned that by letting it bother me he was getting what he wanted. I could not control him but I can control how I let him effect me. I know who I am -- and hope that those who know me also know who I am. The ignorant things he posts on Facebook speak more about who he is than anything else." said Sinclair.
Are we dealing with a mere troll, or is Pedersen's obsession far more dangerous? He's not yet responded to my request for an interview, but if he does I will update this story.
"I definitely think he's unstable" began Highland, who is staying on guard, taking security precautions, and has told every venue where she performs that she won't go on stage if Pedersen's in the building.
Despite her practical steps concerning personal safety, the Queen of Controversy lived up to her reputation when offering her final thoughts on Pedersen's quest to bring her down.
"Better bitches have tried."
This afternoon the above story was used as performance art at Bar: PM to great fanfare. Highland and Adria Andrews read the piece as the screen shots flashed across the televisions.
Kudos from a Former Nemesis
Springfield's Widow Hutchens has long been a nemesis of Highland's, and actually cancelled on my 2013 Jet Set event (immortalized in Delusions of Grandeur) - a gig that came with a private two-room suite at the Chase Park Plaza - because of her intense disdain for Highland.
Today she shared the story and offered the following:
** UPDATE 4/27/16**
*The* Dustin Mitchell, out of concern for Highland and Sinclair, contacted Pedersen early this morning in an effort to understand his war on them. Pederson responded.
I had Pedersen's number on file and it matched the screen grab.
Later, Pedersen messaged and then blocked me.
Periodically I remind my readers that, despite my history with Dustin Mitchell, which includes being framed for a hostage crisis hoax, we're friendly with one another and I've long maintained he's one of the most interesting people I know.
Dustin Mitchell draws up orders of protection for Highland & Sinclair.
Meanwhile, I had my own exchange with Pedersen.
Outrageously, Facebook replies that nothing is violating their terms of service.
Paul Emery had the following response:
STORY GOES NATIONAL