Page 33 - Salem Magazine Spring 2011
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   and the rest of the entourage that had set up the farce, but they weren’t as anxious to escape the hostile crowd as you might think.
“They actually wanted to go up into the stands and interview some of the people,” says Saunders. “I told them I was responsible for their safety as well as the safety of the fans and if they went up there they were going to get killed.”
As Saunders and Salem Police ushered them out the back of the arena and attempted to bring some closure to the unexpected international incident, the imposters from Kazakhstan still had to get out of the parking lot, and that proved to be a little tougher than anyone had anticipated.
Rodeo promoter Bobby Rowe had let Borat and his boys into the rodeo under the false pretense that they were filming a documentary about a Russian immigrant, and Rowe’s hopping mad wife was determined to write her own chapter in the story.
“You have to remember that at the time we had no idea who this person was,” says Saunders. “It wasn’t until the next day that someone recognized him from “Da Ali G Show” that used to be on HBO. Bobby’s wife, Lenore, literally stood in front of their bus in the parking lot demanding that they tell her who they were.”
Lenore Rowe was battling breast cancer at the time of the Borat incident and later passed away in October of that same year. Had the couple not been so consumed and distracted with her treatment at the time, the national anthem performance approval likely would never have been granted.
“Bobby told us he never even had time to listen to the CD they sent him,” says Saunders.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it is beyond irreverent, but that night the characters also were beyond reproach. Saunders and Salem Police knew there was little they could do about the scene that had just been filmed on their turf, and that charging the entourage with the crime of inciting a riot was a stretch at best.
“We finally got things back under control, but the crowd was hot,” says Saunders. “They didn’t just stir things up at a sporting event - this was pure Americana under attack.”
Salem Civic Center Assistant Director John Saunders and Sales Assistant Peggy Dickerson
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the movie’s release and rest assured that no one at the Salem Civic Center plans on buying any kind of special edition commemorative DVD box set. The movie cost just $18 million to make, but it eventually grossed over $250 million worldwide thanks in part to the now-infamous rodeo scene.
Neither Dickerson nor Harveycutter has ever watched it and Saunders determined
after one viewing that reliving the most bizarre moment of his tenure more than once just wasn’t worth it.
After all, the rodeo has been coming to Salem for over 40 years and if you’ve seen one rodeo clown, you’ve seen them all.
Well, almost. - MS
 Salem Magazine Spring Issue 2011 33
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