What happens when a Toni Braxton imitator appears in front of an audience expecting the real deal? You can bet it isn’t pretty.
The February 27 show in Paramaribo, located in the tiny South American country of Suriname, was billed as a Braxton performance. But the Grammy-winning artist wasn’t anywhere in sight when the house lights dimmed. Instead, the crowd got Braxton impersonator Trina Johnson.
Audience members who ponied up to $55 for tickets realized something was up almost as soon as Johnson stepped on stage and began doing her Braxton schtick. Bottles were flying through the air by the second song along with shouts that the show was a hoax and a rip-off, according to Caribbean Net News.
But that was just the beginning of an ugly evening. Security had to escort Johnson off the stage and into a waiting limo while some audience looted the bar, others rushed the gate, and a few just stood staring at the empty stage in disbelief.
“At least this will compensate me for my loss,” said a man grabbing a couple of bottles of whiskey from the bar.
Police have opened a criminal investigation and are looking for Angel Ventura of the promotion company Events 4 Suriname. Ventura reportedly left Suriname for the U.S. Virgin Islands without paying local sponsors, organizations and stage managers. He also allegedly skipped the country without paying artists hired to open for the faux Braxton.
But police did manage to talk to Johnson. However, because Johnson produced a contract specifying she was appearing as an imitation act, investigators let her go.
Caribbean Net News also reports that locals were suspicious when the real Braxton didn’t hold a press conference to hype the show, apparently a Suriname tradition whenever an international star rolls into town. Ventura claimed Braxton was too tired to do a press conference. What’s more, Jackson, claiming she was Braxton’s manager, told an interviewer that Braxton was excited to perform in the country.
Plus, TV advertisements for the show featured footage of the real Toni Braxton.
Now police are on the lookout for Ventura, but no one is expecting the dodgy promoter to voluntarily return to Suriname. The country’s laws include a little ditty about impersonating someone else in order to steal money, goods or services. The penalty for violating the law? Three years in a Suriname prison – an experience that probably isn’t very pretty either.