Forget the Goodwill Ambassador. America has lost its Good Times Ambassador. In an unexpected reversal of fortune, the US State Department has canceled musician Andrew W.K.’s state-sponsored tour through the Muslim nation of Bahrain, which according to W.K. himself, promised to promote “partying and world peace.”
It’s all over now, but the strange sequence of events got its start when it was first reported the US State Department had designated musical wildman Andrew W.K. as its “cultural ambassador” to the wealthy, Arabic-speaking country of Bahrain, an island off the Persian Gulf, with the intent of flying the good-vibes rock star to various elementary schools and music venues throughout the region. When the “Party Hard” singer first announced his state-approved stint through the oil-rich nation, he was his trademarked pumped-up self.
This is a tremendous invitation. I’m very thankful to the Department of State for giving me the opportunity to visit a place I’ve never been before. And I feel very privileged and humbled by the chance to represent the United States of America and show the good people of Bahrain the power of positive partying. I can hardly wait for this adventure!
Sadly, his adventure-to-be was derailed. Just days following the trip’s announcement, news site DCist broke the bad news by way of an interview with a spokesperson for the State Department, who even denied W.K.’s honorific as an ambassador.
W.K. was … never designated a ‘cultural ambassador,’ … though embassies around the world routinely invite artistic and cultural figures to make appearances. But such events are subject to oversight, and W.K.’s offer of showing the Persian Gulf island nation the ‘power of positive partying,’ did not pass muster.
Clearly crestfallen, the white-clad dynamo rebounded in a statement published by news-and-reviews site The 1st Five, saying he was approached by the State Department over a year ago and everything seemed fine until the trip’s sudden cancellation. According to W.K., the State Department seemed both well-aware and accepting of the party man’s reputation, leading the rocker to suspect his unceremonious axing stemmed from a “higher level controversy.” Nonetheless, the irrepressible W.K. remains his plucky, go-getter self, Bahrain or no.
I’m disappointed and puzzled by their change of heart and last minute decision. I was personally invited to take this trip by The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain over a year ago. They came to me. The first email they sent me is dated September 13th, 2011 asking me to give a motivational lecture in Bahrain. I was overjoyed and accepted their invitation immediately. We moved forward and completed their extensive approval process, background check, booked all the flights and travel, and had numerous phone calls with the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Office in Manama, Bahrain, who were handling the details. I was scheduled to fly to Bahrain on Saturday, Dec. 1st, 2012. We received our official itinerary from the State Dept. at 5:58am, on Monday, November 26th, 2012. Less than six hours later, we received an urgent telephone call informing us that the entire trip had been canceled, due to some higher level controversy. We couldn’t get any more information or answers as to why this was suddenly canceled at the last minute. When I was originally invited by our contact, it seemed everyone was aware of what I stand for with my positive attitude. They were aware of how I look and my high-energy rock music. They were excited to bring my message of living life to the fullest to the people in the Middle East. I was thrilled at the opportunity to represent my country and the spirit of inclusive and open-minded freedom that makes our nation so special and inspiring. So, for a Department of State representative to say Andrew W.K. ‘doesn’t meet their standards’ after they invited me and planned my trip for a year… well, that doesn’t meet my standards either. You can’t judge a book by its cover. I would’ve done a great job and represented our nation with dignity and pride. Despite all these challenges, I still would love to go and I vow to continue partying, and working everyday to to unite our human race through the power of positive partying.