Has Rich Terfry ever been jailed by police because a woman accused him of assault?
If not, it’s pretty easy to say so. But Terfry won’t answer the question.
Terfry writes in his new book that he was held in a Russian jail cell for almost 2 months after a spurned admirer falsely accused him of assault. He’s also said that most stories in the book are true and that all of them have a “kernel of truth” to them. He also posted (and deleted) a confession and apology to Facebook in April for lying to and manipulating “good people,” who are assumed to be real people, not characters from his imagination.
If Terfry’s story is true in any way and he has indeed been accused of assault, we’d like to get the woman’s side of it. But neither Terfry, his editor, or his management have replied to our emails.
So last night, I went to his book signing at the Toronto Reference Library to ask him in person.
CANADALAND reserved tickets and used an email address with our “canadalandshow.com” domain name to do so. They knew I was coming.
The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon is quarter-filled for the pre-event reception.
Rich Terfry is nowhere to be seen. The bartender says he will appear and walk down the aisle at 7pm. The event has advertised an hour-long reception prior to Terfry’s conversation with freelancer writer and regular CBC contributor Rachel Giese. I incorrectly assumed that Terfry would be present for his own meet and greet.
The projector on the screen reads, “Rich Terfry: CBC Radio host Rich Terfry presents the true story of his alter ego in, Wicked and Weird: The True Tale of Buck 65.” This is the old subtitle of his book; it was recently changed to: “The Amazing Tales of Buck 65.”
By the time everyone takes a seat, about half the chairs are filled. A microphone is set up in the middle aisle around two cameras; the typical set-up for talks where questions are accepted from the audience.
A woman walks around handing out large cue cards, informing us that we must fill out a cue card if we have questions and someone will come around to collect them later.
Giese begins. “So Rich, let’s start by clarifying what this book is. We were talking about this in the back. It’s not- it’s not a memoir.”
But, it was listed as one on Amazon.ca last week. After CANADALAND’s first story came out, the language was changed from “memoir” to “rollicking account.”
Terfry answers with visible discomfort. He’s no longer stressing the veracity of the book, as he did to the Globe and Mail, where he said, “the weirdest, craziest things that have happened in my life – those are the true stories.”
Now, he’s describing the book as a chance to “just really let myself use my imagination as much as I wanted to at all times. Which I now realize, here in the last few weeks, is super weird for people.”
Each time the conversation turns back to real events, he qualifies it with a nod to his imagination:
“I screwed up my marriage and I was trying to figure out why and how… So I thought, well, maybe at the same time, while still using my imagination and stuff, maybe I can just sort of untangle the past…”
Rachel Giese does not ask him about his Facebook post, the imprisonment story, or any of the real women he’s written about. Sample question:
“Do you feel like you’ve come to a place of peace?”
They talk about his therapy.
Question time. But the mics in the audience won’t be used! We’re told that the crowd is not allowed to ask Terfry questions themselves.
All cue cards are passed into the hands of Terfry’s publicist, Scott Sellers. Rachel Giese asks four of them:
Rachel wraps up. “Well, the place is open late, and the bar is closed, but I feel like people will wanna buy books, sign books?”
“Maybe,” Terfry says cautiously. “That’s scary too, but, um-”
“They’re nice,” she says. “No one’s scary.”
After the talk, I stand in line to speak with Terfry about his book. He sits in a windowless room, not exposed to the line, where he is guarded like a visiting dignitary.
His publicist, Scott Sellers, notices my recording gear and beelines to me. “People who are getting their books signed will go in. No interviews.” He turns on his heel and begins walking away. “We’re not doing any interviews,” he says over his shoulder, “we have a curfew.”
He raises his voice to address the entire line. “That’s what we’re going to do, ladies and gentlemen! So if you have a book, we’re going to take you get back and get signed, and the meeting will be over.”
A Toronto Public Library staffer and the Appel Salon’s manager walk over to kick me out of the line.
The staff member informs me that there will be no interviews today, gesturing towards the recording equipment in my hands.
The Salon’s manager cuts in, “We’re not going to do interviews or anything like that. We’re just doing a book signing, so…”
I hold up my wallet and ask, “Can I buy a book?”
Scott Sellers looks at me with agitation. “The line’s closed,” he says curtly.
There are still at least 15 people waiting for signatures.
In the elevator on the way out, I ask a young couple who got their book signed what Rich Terfry was like.
“He was nice. But tired. I felt bad for him.”