We tracked down “Mr. Pink” who is featured on the cover of KMC #33 – the “Happy Issue.” Here’s our interview with the man with the wand. By Vince Hempsall.
For the past few months I’ve been referring to a face on the cover of the latest Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine as “Mr. Pink.” He’s holding a glowing pink wand that’s illuminating his face in a crowd of people swathed in red from a strobe light. The picture was taken by world-famous photog Byrce Duffy at the Shambhala Music Festival and perfectly illustrates our “Happy Issue.” This is what our editor-in-chief Mitchell Scott wrote about the pic:
“Sometimes, someone sticks out in a crowd. A big-ass smile or a wacky outfit says a lot about the potential state of someone’s inner self. These beauties often grow in the happiness groves that are part of the region’s blooming festival scene. Check it out in our first-ever “Incomplete KMC Festival Guide” (page 110). Illuminated bouquet not included.”
I had resolved to track down Mr. Pink the second the issue hit the streets to learn more about who he is and the details of this particular photo. So when the magazine landed, I immediately turned to social media to track him down. The Mountain Culture Group Reddit, Instagram and Facebook channels were abuzz with activity as people tried to find him. Amazingly, it only took a few hours to discover that Mr. Pink was in fact Vancouver resident Peter Alexander! He and I had a phone chat the following week and I have to say, after hanging up I kinda wished we were friends. He’s kind and funny with a hint of eccentricity that helps explain why he can stand out in a crowd. Here’s my interview:
Hey Peter, so great to have tracked you down. It happened so fast!
Yeah, I know, eh? I have about 25 friends that follow your Facebook page so it didn’t take long.
The photo on our cover was taken in 2014. Have you returned to Shambhala since?
Yeah, that was my second year and I’ve been back every year since but unfortunately I won’t be able to go this summer — I’ll be working in Toronto then.
Bummer. We’ll miss you. I’ve been volunteering with the Harm Reduction team there for the past eight years.
No way! That’s so funny. I volunteer in Sanctuary.
Cool! We might have met while working. Definitely different circumstances though. And I was probably wearing a onesie.
So, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve been calling you Mr. Pink for the last few months.
That’s hilarious! I love it. So funny. And I love that photo so much.
Tell me about the pink glowing thing you’re holding in the photo.
[Click the arrow below to hear Peter explain it in his own words.]
And what stage were you at?
I was watching Moby at the Pagoda stage. It was the first time I’d seen a DJ use the stage the way he did. Normally they’re just bopping around in the booth having a good time. But he was standing on the rails of the booth and then curling up into the fetal position at times, just like, you know, living. It was amazing.
You live in Vancouver. Are you originally from there?
Yeah I was born and raised here. I went to school for music. I’ve been singing opera and classical music for years and years and years.
Wow really!? Tell me more about that.
I’m a baritone. I’ve been singing seriously since I was a teenager when I started with the BC Boys Choir in 1996. I got into opera about ten years ago and have been performing with the Vancouver Opera for the last six seasons. I actually have a show coming up tomorrow night with the Vancouver cantata singers! I did a singing tour through the Kootenays three years ago with a little opera group called Quintessence. That was an awesome time. I love that part of the province!
Shambhala is definitely a different scene music-wise.
Yeah, I had heard about Shambhala years and years ago but I couldn’t get anyone to attend with me. Then I met my now husband and his friend group are all the harm reduction guys. When I found that out I looked at him and said, “We’re going!” So we went and had a great time.
That was the year before our cover shot was taken?
Yeah. That was 2013 and in 2014 I volunteered with the harm reduction team and have been doing so every year since. The year this photo was taken our camp theme was wizards, which is why I had a light-up star staff and a big, glowing, pointy hat. [Laughs] I was also wearing a wizard costume in the shot which you can’t see because it was so packed and full of people.
Take us through that night.
I had just finished my two, twelve-hour shifts at the Sanctuary and they were intense…I was super stoked to see Moby. I’m not huge into EDM so very often I look at a Shambhala lineup and have no idea who anyone is. But obviously I knew Moby and it was so cool to see him live.
I’m looking at the photo now. Are any of your friends surrounding you?
Yeah, Kurt, my husband is standing beside me to the right. He’s behind the large-brimmed hat guy.
I really like the way you have your hand in that photo. What’s going on there?
I think I was rocking out and my pinky had fallen. Like I said, I was tired.
What do you do when you’re not rocking out at festivals or singing opera?
I manage a vegan restaurant here in Vancouver, Virtuous Pie. And we’re about to open a location in Toronto, which is why I’m going there this summer to help with that. So I won’t be able to attend Shambhala. But I really need a festival this summer, so maybe Bass Coast?
You should check out the Festival Guide in our latest issue that you’re on the cover of. There are lots to choose from.
Yeah, I can’t imagine not going to a festival this summer. Send me an issue. And I’ll open my beer with it!
Nice! We’ll send some other stuff too like a T-shirt. What size are you?
I wear an extra large. I’m really tall. I don’t know if you noticed, but I stand out in a crowd.