Aubrey Jolie
Aubrey Jolie

The Connection, a gay bar that’s been a downtown Louisville mainstay for over 27 years, filed a breach of contract lawsuit against a drag performer last year and now has filed a related lawsuit against Play Dance Bar, the successful gay club that opened in Butchertown in 2013.

The Connection’s original lawsuit was filed by Moonship Productions — an LLC operated by the club’s owners, Ed Lewis and George Stinson — against Bryan Carpio, who performs under the stage name Aubrey Jolie. They allege that Carpio signed a contract with Moonship on Dec. 31, 2014, stating he would perform exclusively within Louisville at The Connection for the next year, though Carpio only performed at Play in 2015. Moonship is seeking damages from Carpio, in addition to $5,000 in liquidated damages allegedly owed under the terms of the contract.

Moonship and The Connection filed an additional lawsuit two weeks ago against the owners and operators of Play, alleging they “encouraged Mr. Carpio to breach the contract with Moonship” and perform at Play instead. Their complaint claims that this “caused damages to Moonship by reducing expected ticket sales and damaging Moonship’s reputation by affecting the quality and integrity of Moonship produced shows,” as well as “directly causing financial damages” to The Connection. Moonship is seeking punitive damages from Play for conduct they describe as “willful, wanton, oppressive, fraudulent, malicious, and/or grossly negligent.”

In Carpio’s first response to the lawsuit last March, his attorney Jon Salomon of the law firm Tachau Meek wrote that Carpio was a relatively unknown performer in late-2014, when a Play employee discovered him on a trip to Florida and invited him to perform at the club that October. Carpio moved to Louisville in late-December and signed an employment contract to perform as a regular cast member at Play just after Christmas, around the same time that he committed verbally to make a single appearance at The Connection for $75, which occurred on Dec. 28.

Following that performance, Salomon wrote that “an employee of The Connection required Mr. Carpio to quickly sign several documents in a dimly lit dressing room in order to receive his cash payment of $75. Mr. Carpio was told that these documents were for income tax reporting purposes and was not offered copies of them.” That was the last time Carpio performed at The Connection, and he began performing at Play on Dec. 31, “pursuant to his previously executed employment contract.”

While relatively unknown in late-2014, Aubrey Jolie has become a rising star in the drag community of Louisville while performing at Play during 2015, being named Miss Kentucky National last year.

Carpio’s attorney unsuccessfully sought to dismiss Moonship’s lawsuit several times last year, arguing it did not have standing because the LLC was only registered in Florida and did not have a certificate of authority to transact business from the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office. He also claimed the contract in question was void and unenforceable because “it lacks mutuality of obligation and because its non-compete restrictions are unsupported by any consideration in favor of Mr. Carpio.” The case against Carpio was stayed by Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards in November until Moonship’s owners registered their business in Kentucky, which they achieved the following month.

David Bullock, the attorney for The Connection, told IL that he and his clients would not comment on pending litigation and would let the complaint speak for itself. Salomon also declined to comment on behalf of his client Carpio.

Play Dance Club owner Todd Roman also declined to comment on the case, but said that his attorney would soon file a response to the lawsuit brought by the owners of The Connection.

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]