OC Alt-Right Returns: HB Event Pledges to "Make Men Great Again"
Eric Hood / OC Weekly
With street battles against antifa quickly becoming a thing of the past, the Alt-Right is trying to stay relevant by organizing boring speaking events like every other political group; only they've encountered a little trouble along the way. In late May, "The Summer of Conservatism" event slated to take place July 9 at eSports Arena in downtown SanTana got cancelled and Old World German Restaurant in Huntington Beach scrapped an August gathering in the works billed as a "Celebration of Western Culture." Both venues faced a chorus of criticism from activists before canning the events.
But the Alt-Right is returning in OC after the brief retreat. "The Summer of Conservatism" found a new venue at the Embassy Suites in Garden Grove, with the Irvine-based Make Cali Great nonprofit revealing the location just days before, citing an internal email from an eSports Arena worker saying their owners received personal threats from activists. (The Weekly asked eSports Arena multiple times to substantiate the claim, but they declined). The sparsely attended event, with rows of empty seats, featured speakers like conservative media personality Larry Elder, Kyle Chapman (aka Based Stickman), Maxine Waters congressional challenger Omar Navarro and Huntington Beach Assemblyman (and gubernatorial candidate next year) Travis Allen.
Speaking of Surf City, the "Celebration of Western Culture" event is back on at Old World, too, only under a different name. After a number of conflicting online postings, Old World threw a "non-management employee" under the bus for making unauthorized comments in a statement on their Facebook page and opened their doors to the Alt-Right once more. So much for anyone who thought Old World turned over a whole new leaf from its days of hosting Holocaust deniers and allowing a neo-Nazi club to celebrate Hitler's birthday with a party!
This time around, a slew of modern-day "No MA'AM" speakers are lined up for "Make Men Great Again" on August 5 at the HB establishment (and not Al Bundy's garage). Joe Biggs (who's made nice with InfoWars again), Libertarian pagan Augustus Sol Invictus, Kyle Chapman, livestreamer Irma Hinojosa and former Villa Park councilwoman/current Bircher/forever Islamophobe Deborah Pauly are all scheduled to make appearances for the "celebration of masculinity." And then there's Lake Forest's Juan Cadavid, better known in Alt-Right circles as "Johnny Benitez," but who's gone under multiple aliases like Joey Cadavid, Sterling Abrade(s), and Dorian Navidson when involved with left-wing groups in the past. (The Weekly has since learned of two other Facebook pages still up under the names "Sterling Cadavid" and "Joey Benitez").
Illustration by Bob Aul
The curious Colombian-American is also set to speak at the event he helped organize. But for all the machismo he now boasts, Cadavid played the part of an ardent feminist trying to organize exploited women spa workers just this February. Under his "Sterling Abrade" alias, Cadavid sent an email to a local progressive activist back then wanting to raise awareness about the troubles of his industry with not-so-nice comments about Trump.
"The same principal with which Donald Trump used to cheat small businesses he knew could not afford to take him to court is used against the women of the spa industry," Cadavid wrote in the Feb. 2 email shared with the Weekly. "With an attempt to pass a national anti worker bill that would destroy California's worker protections and the election of a president who has no respect for women, it is especially important to stand up for women being oppressed in the spa industry."
Cadavid detailed wage theft and workplace grievances—including the practice of shifting around clients who sexually harass massage therapists rather than outright banning them. (Quick aside: Cadavid blamed the Weekly's exposé for being fired because we mentioned his occupation, though he freely made the disclosure to the San Francisco Chronicle before making the claim on Facebook). A month after the email, Cadavid attended the Huntington Beach MAGA march in launching his Alt-Right Johnny Benitez persona. Accordingly, it's not bad bosses, but foreigners "overtaking" the spa industry that rubs Cadavid the wrong way nowadays—even though he's says online that he wasn't born in the U.S. himself.
Other all-too-sudden political flip-flops detailed by the Weekly created a cloud of suspicion in Alt-Right ranks that's followed Cadavid every step of the way since while trying to make a name for himself. He quit the Proud Boys, a self-described "Alt-Lite" fraternity, amid questions about his political leanings that reached all the way up to founder Gavin McInnes (one of the founders of VICE) himself. "Yeah, this Johnny Benitez thing is not working out," McInnes wrote on Facebook. "I don't know if you're a spy or if you're just a little too enthusiastic but you're not in charge, I am." Chapman later stepped in and tasked Cadavid with forming the Alt-Knights of Orange County.
Last time around, the Weekly left Cadavid's political motivations up for question. Whatever the case may be, text messages sent from "Sterling Abrade" in April to a left-wing activist after the Huntington Beach march professed one motive behind his pro-Trump persona. "I want to climb the social ranks and push a hard right conservative agenda and create a rift between libertarians and conservatives and split up the base," reads one text shared with the Weekly. "Also it's fun."
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