On June 15, 2011, Vancouver burned. The riots that followed Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final turned parts of the British Columbia city into chaotic scenes of looting, arson, violence, and clashes with overwhelmed police.
It was there, amid the anarchy, that Alex Thomas fell to the ground and was too frightened to move. Scott Jones, her Australian-born boyfriend of six months, comforted her with a kiss as riot police marched around them.
Photographer Richard Lam preserved that moment in the most iconic image from the riots, one that became an instant sensation around the world and was recently named Esquire magazine’s photo of the year.
It was a singular, beautiful moment — which is something Jones has had to explain to the couple’s fans since they became the Kissing Couple of the Vancouver Riot.
“Just about everyone has asked us to re-create the photo,” said Jones, speaking from Australia this week. “It was just in the moment. It would be just so cheesy for us to do it again.”
From Vancouver to Melbourne
Jones and Thomas now share a flat in Melbourne, having relocated there over the summer. “The picture was taken about three days before we planned to leave Vancouver. We were going to holiday in California for three weeks and then leave for Australia,” he said.
They had hired a manager to handle press requests and explore opportunities to profit from the kiss. Upon arriving in Australia, they were met with more media attention. “We didn’t know if it was going to carry on,” said Jones.
The local fame lasted only a few weeks longer. Today, Scott Jones and Alex Thomas are random citizens again, albeit ones with an extraordinary tale.
Thomas, who graduated with a degree in environmental engineering from the University of Guelph in Ontario, is doing water management work for Yarra Valley Water. He’s also managing a bar called the Green Room, located in Back of Chapel.
While his standup comedy career is dormant at the moment, he shares some thoughts and images on his Facebook page, where he jokingly refers to himself as the Riot Romeo.
“I think looking back on it, it might be a funny situation. But it wasn’t a particularly funny moment,” he said.
Jones, who said he and Thomas don’t have wedding plans yet, hopes their moment from the riot is a lasting one.
“It would be good if it’s a photo everyone talks about. If the photo carries on,” he said. “That would be quite special.”
Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images
Greg Wyshynski is editor of the Puck Daddy blog on Yahoo! Sports.