Norman Nawrocki

Norman Nawrocki (born Vancouver, British Columbia), is a Montreal-based comedian, sex educator, cabaret artist, musician, author, actor, producer and composer. Nawrocki together with Sylvain Côté were the founding members of "rock 'n roll cabaret" band Rhythm Activism. Nawrocki owns Les Pages Noires, through which he has published twenty albums and three books.


Nawrocki was born in East End of Vancouver to Polish/Ukrainian Canadian parents. Politically aware at a young age, at 14 he wrote an essay Why I am an Anarchist and started an underground newspaper at high school. During his childhood he hated violin lessons; the instrument he would later make his craft, instead Nawrocki daydreamed of becoming a famous tennis player and loved the Ukrainian weddings his parents were invited to.

Journalism and activism

Nawocki’s attended Langara College and Simon Fraser University co-editing the university's newspaper The Peak. Bored with study he dropped out to edit a radical neighbourhood newspaper before going on to edit an international anarchist newsjournal, The Open Road and freelance for The Georgia Straight. At around the same time while working various part-time jobs Nawrocki involved himself with labour union organizing and was arrested for aiding striking immigrant workers and given a suspended sentence.

Rhythm Activism

In 1981 Nawrocki left Vancouver for employment in Montreal within the public relations industry. After a drunken night in 1985 he realized would like to be a cabaret artist and after meeting improv guitarist Sylvain Coté at a poetry reading formed poetry/music ensemble Rhythm Activism. The duo released DIY recorded cassettes and tour Canada. In 1987 they join infamous Black Wedge Tour with other indie artists, then go on their first of many tours of Europe.

1988 saw Nawrocki take up the violin again and Rhythm Activism become a full-fledged, “theatrical rock 'n roll cabaret/rebel news orchestra” with topical high-energy shows including a tour of Poland: Welcome to Capitalism, Poland! Back in Canada, Rhythm Activism played shows in support of welfare & tenants rights, protested the 1991 Gulf War and supported the Mohawks at Oka. Nawrocki wrote about his experiences in Rhythm Activism in Rhythm Activism live. Rhythm Activism joined the cause to support the Zapatista rebellion in 1994 with the release of Blood and Mud and were personally thanked by Subcomandante Marcos. Rhythm Activism’s European tours continued and were chronicled in 2003 in The anarchist & the devil do cabaret (translated into French in L'anarchiste et le diable : voyages, cabarets et autres récits (2007)). In 1998 Rhythm Activism’s final album Jesus Was Gay was recorded and released through G7 Welcoming Committee Records.

Sex education

I don’t understand women! (1993) was the first of Nawrocki’s anti-sexist, sex positive, comedy cabarets on the topics of date rape, sexual harassment and violence against women. With a soundtrack, costumes, masks and giant props Nawrocki played fourteen characters and toured college and university campuses throughout North America. My dick and other manly tales (on homophobia) was Nawrocki’s second anti-sexist, sex comedy cabaret, and saw Nawrocki in costume as an 8 foot tall purple talking & dancing penis; receiving rave reviews, bomb and death threats. ‘Sex Toys’ his third show saw again the use of oversized costumes including a 7 foot vagina and singing butt-plug. Over 250,000 people attended the three sex shows.

Campaigns against poverty in Canada

Nawrocki continued to work with G7 Welcoming Committee releasing a benefit CD Fight to Win! (2001) for the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OPAC) under the moniker Bakunin's Bum with percussionist Aidan Girt.

In 2002 CBC Radio’s Montreal Matters commissioned Nawrocki to write a series of six short plays Don’t Call Me Bob ; relating the life of a payphone in one of Montreal's poorer neighbourhoods Côte-des-Neiges.

Experimental musical projects

Instrumental project DaZoque! was formed in 2002 and saw Nawrocki record East European compositions with Minda Bernstein, whom he had performed with in Montreal’s Bagg Street Klezmer Band. DaZoque toured Canada and played at festivals including the Guelph Jazz Festival and at the 50th anniversary of the St. Vladimir Institute in Toronto. In 2004 DaZoque! received a Canada Council grant to create a French musical about housing rights in collaboration with the People's Rights over Urban Development.

The Montreal Manhattan Project a jazz project is formed in 2004 with a self-titled album released and SANN, saw Chapman Stick bassist Sylvain Auclair and Nawrocki pair in 2005 with a limited edition self-titled album.

Solo material and spoken word tours

In 2004 Nawrocki wrote, recorded and released his first solo album Duck Work with the continued spoken word exploration of anti-war topics put to looped violins and warm percussion. Nawrocki’s spoken word tours continued throughout 2004 and 2005, firstly writing a show based on the life of Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian and one of Canada's Secret Trial Five and secondly adapting letters from The anarchist & the devil do cabaret to CD with musical accompaniment on Letters from Poland/Lettres de Pologne released in 2006.

Teaching and acting

By the end of 2005 Nawrocki was teaching a course at Concordia University's School of Community & Public Affairs on The Arts, Radical Social Change and Community Economic Development. As well as starring in Uncle Eddie's guide to art appreciation, by Donald Goodes.


  • Rhythm Activism live (1987) (Les Pages Noires)
  • Resist much - obey little (1987) (Les Pages Noires)
  • Rebel moon : anarchist rants & poems (1997) ISBN 1-873176-08-2 (AK Press)
  • Chasseur de tornades (1998) ISBN 2-980399-37-X ; ISBN 2-980576-30-1 (EDAM Montréal ; Les Pages Noires)
  • No masters! No Gods! : dare to dream (1999) ISBN 0-969711-22-0 (Smarten Up! & get to the point)
  • The anarchist & the devil do cabaret (2003) ISBN 1-551642-04-2 ; 1-551642-05-0 (Black Rose)
  • L'anarchiste et le diable : voyages, cabarets et autres récits (2006) ISBN 2-895960-26-7 (Lux Editeur)
  • Breakfast for anarchists (2006) (No Bar Code Press)
  • L’Anarchico e il Diavolo fanno cabaret, Editrice il Sirente, Fagnano Alto (AQ) 2007, ISBN 978-88-87847-11-6. Titolo Originale: The Anarchist And The Devil Do Cabaret. Traduzione dall’inglese di Giampiero Cordisco.


  • I don't understand women! (1994) LPN012 (Les Pages Noires)
  • Less Rock, More Talk: Spoken Word compilation (various artists) (1997 ; 2000) ISBN 1-873176-84-8 ; virus254 (AK Press Audio ; Alternative Tentacles)
  • Duck Work (2004) LPN018C
  • Letters from Poland / lettres de Pologne (2006) LPN020C

Bakunin's Bum

  • Fight to Win! : a benefit CD for OCAP Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (2001) G7021 (G7 Welcoming Committee)

Bush's Bum

  • 2TONGUE #5 (various artists) (2004)


  • DaZoque! (2002) LPN016C (Les Pages Noires)

The Montreal Manhattan Project

Draft 1.0 (2004) LPN017C (Les Pages Noires)

Rhythm Activism

  • Rhythm Activism (1986) LPN001 (Les Pages Noires)
  • Rhythm Activism Live (1987) LPN002
  • Resist Much, Obey Little (1987) LPN003
  • Louis Riel in China (1988) LPN004
  • Un logement pour une chanson (1990) LPN005
  • Fight the Hike! (1990) LPN006
  • Perogies, Pasta and Liberty (1990) LPN007
  • Oka (1990) LPN008
  • War is the Health of the State (1991) LPN009
  • Oka II (1992) LPN010
  • Tumbleweed (1993) LPN011
  • Blood & Mud (1994) LPN013C
  • More Kick! : live in Europe (1995) LPN014C
  • Buffalo, Burgers & Beer : a 10 year retrospective (1995) LPN015
  • Jesus Was Gay (1998) G7006 (G7 Welcoming Committee)
  • Return of the Read Menace (various artists) (1999) G7010
  • Take Penacilin Now (various artists) (2005) G7040

SANN : Sylvain Auclair & Norman Nawrocki

  • SANN : Sylvain Auclair Norman Nawrocki (2005) LPN019C


  • Musiques Rebelles Québec [Rebel Music Quebec] (various artists) (2002) (Productions Multi-Monde)
  • Uncle Eddie's Guide to Art Appreciation (2005) (Infringement performance)

Rhythm Activism

  • That's the way we tie our shoes : a recipe by Rhythm Activism (1996) (Unbend films ; Les Pages Noires)
  • Alive and kicking : the first ten years of Rhythm Activism (1997) (Les Pages Noires)


External links

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