Ottawa’s naughty & nice

A rocker, hockey player and writer: Meet some of Ottawa’s nice folks “with an edge.”

Sal Piamonte

Sal Piamonte is a walking — well, rocking — example of the saying “never judge a book by its cover.” The tattooed, long-haired rocker sports a goatee and has several CDs under his belt. He is currently riding high on the positive feedback from his new disc, Lives In Devil City, which he wrote and produced, and his cover of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, which is receiving local radio airplay. He also recently wrote and recorded Libertà, a tribute to Canadian and American soldiers, and is donating all of the proceeds to the charities Homes For Our Troops and Wounded Warriors. Oh, yeah, and he’s a psychological profiler for the Ontario Provincial Police and has a degree in neuroscience. Piamonte grew up in a tight-knit family in Barrhaven, went to Confederation High School, played junior hockey in Smiths Falls and attended Laurentian University where he studied neuroscience. As a psychological profiler, he’s often on the road working in different Ontario cities.

Why do people think you’re naughty? “Rock ’n’ roll has a lot of sex appeal. I love being on stage and am quite naughty. It’s the music vibe, sweat and eye contact. It’s provocative. There’s nothing like making eye contact with a woman. I’ve built up a solid fan base in Ottawa. I play at Zaphod’s once a month.”

What’s nice about you? “People initially judge me on the big hair, muscles and tattoos. (But) I don’t fit the stereotype of a rocker. My mother, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease for 22 years, is my inspiration. I’m a high achiever and never accept no for an answer. I’m all about family and am close to my sister and nephews. I really grew up in a house full of women and was raised by my grandmothers. My purpose is to serve someone bigger than myself. I’ve worked in the mental health field, with the Children’s Aid and young offenders.”

When did you know you wanted to be a rock star? “I started playing the guitar when I was seven. I wake up with music in my head. When I was at university, I was playing hockey and was in a band. Girls really dig that combination. But it’s about the music, not what you look like. I would shave
my head and wear a hat in order to get people to listen to the music. Universal Records flew me to Los Angeles in the spring, so I’m hoping to land a record deal.”

What are your Christmas plans? “I’ll be spending it with my family in Florida.” — By Janet Wilson


Chris Neil


Fan favourite Chris Neil is a study in contrasts. For more than 10 years, the rugged Ottawa Senators winger has perfected the tough guy role, making it his mission to protect his teammates and aggravate his opponents, racking up penalty minutes and fights in the process. Off the ice, he’s anything but. The church-goer lends his name and time to a number of causes, especially those involving children. For the past year and a half, he and his wife, Caitlin, have been honorary chairs of Roger’s House and were recently given a Diamond Jubilee Medal for community service. A small-town boy at heart, he is the youngest of four brothers who grew up on a farm in Flesherton, Ont., near Owen Sound — population 700. On skates by the time he was three, it was almost a given that playing in the NHL would be his dream. But he’s never forgotten his roots and draws on his upbringing to guide him in helping others in his adopted home.


Why do people think you’re naughty? “I was an offensive player in the junior ranks, a goal scorer. But the Senators were in need of some toughness to protect a lot of their skilled guys and I figured if I wanted to make it, I had to change my role and change the way I play. I didn’t fight much, I might have had maybe 10 fights in junior, but I play on the edge. When you play that way, fights do come with it; it’s part of the game. It’s not like I want to go out to fight everyone.”

What’s nice about you? “I think the biggest thing is my personality. I’m a pretty outgoing guy, laid back and very approachable. I try to take the time to talk to whoever, whenever. And I think for me fans appreciate hard work and that’s what I’ve always been brought up and taught to do — go out, work hard in whatever you do and you’ll succeed.”

When did you know you wanted to be a pro hockey player? “I was talking to my principal (when I was about eight) and he was asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him, ‘I want to be an NHL hockey player.’ And he said, ‘No, be realistic, what do you really want to be?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m going to be an NHL hockey player.’ He gets a kick out of telling everyone that story. As a young kid, I knew that’s what I wanted to be and for me it’s a dream come true. I don’t take it for granted.”

What are your Christmas plans? “I usually  don’t get much time off for Christmas — about 24 hours — not even enough time to really go home (to family) so we always try to do something here and either have my family come in or Cait’s family and just spend time together. That’s what it’s about.” — By Anita Murray


Patricia McCarthy

There’s no delicate way to put it: Patricia McCarthy is Ottawa’s self-professed “fang queen.” She gets the moniker because she’s written a series of vampire erotica novels. Set in Ottawa, they tell the love story of Samuel and Magdalene Crimson. McCarthy also writes erotic poetry and short stories. By day, she puts the fangs aside and disguises herself as a mild-mannered assistant to a managing partner of global financial services company KPMG.


Why do people think you’re naughty? “My Crimson characters talk dirty to readers; I’ve taught them well. I also have a penchant for foul language and this comes in handy when writing lustful scenes with vampires ravaging each other in conspicuous places in Ottawa. I was born shy, but life cured me of this affliction. Now I take refuge in the world of lust, seduction and the imagination, which we all know is the first place where sex begins, in the brain. It wouldn’t feel right if I curtailed my wicked thoughts. My family and friends would know something was wrong with me.”

What’s nice about you? “I love feeding the small critters like squirrels and chipmunks in the park. People usually give me strange looks because it’s easy to regard these creatures as vermin, but they deserve goodies, too.”

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? “Fiction began for me when I was barely six years old. I told wonderful lies to my mother to get out of having to go to kindergarten. I wrote short stories to amuse the adults at the kitchen table. I never set out to write a vampire novel, much less a series. But now that I have a body of work, I enjoy telling people I write vampire erotica just to watch their reactions.”

 What are your Christmas plans? “I plan to collapse. Being an author requires dedication, hard work, focus and patience. I should know; I’ve released five novels and have spent the past decade working on my Crimson series. I feel like I could sleep for a year. However, this Christmas, I want to record my first home video, reading a full chapter and subsequently one each week (or month) until all five novels are available for audio enjoyment. I should really be on medication.” — By Jennifer Campbell

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