There are a number of ways to deal with a romance gone bad. When Darby Romeo, a 24-year-old Los Angeles woman, broke up with Ben, she decided to start a magazine, and was soon joined by friend Kerin Morataya. Romeo calls her bimonthly glossy Ben Is Dead. With a circulation of 14,000, it is dedicated to covering L.A.'s demimonde. After Samir Husni—a scholar of magazines and the head of the magazine program at the University of Mississippi's journalism department—had familiarized himself with Ben Is Dead, he remarked, "I thought I'd seen every weird thing imaginable until I read it."
A recent article, "The Inside Scoop of Dead Animal Pickup," featured a guy named Mark who disposes of dead pets so wealthy Angelenos don't have to. One of his anecdotes began, "There was this dead cat stuck on a heater, and I was trying to scrape it off." Other articles have included beauty tips for junkies, herbal recipes for increasing orgasms and regular interviews with Romeo's dad. One story on Texas thrash band the Skatenigs focused on the group's musings about anal sex and earwax.
The editors maintain a candid relationship with their readers: Morataya participated in the magazine's vibrator review, and Romeo wrote about being bulimic. "We work out our problems through the magazine," Romeo says. "The readers are my friends and I don't mind telling my friends my problems. [My mom] wishes that I wouldn't be so honest—she won't let any of my family read it."
Our favorite ad in the Hollywood Reporter's collector's issue was a full page devoted to Clint Eastwood that said, "Thanks for making our day." The ad's sponsor was Smith and Wesson.
The Lone Klutz Theory
Last year retired Dallas police officer James Leavelle—the man handcuffed toLee Harvey Oswald when Oswald was shot—was showing newsman Bob Porter how he grabbed Jack Ruby's gun to prevent a second shot. Using the same model weapon as Ruby, Leavelle accidentally shot Porter in the arm, sending him— like Kennedy and Oswald before him— to Parkland Hospital.
When the Clinton administration put a $20 maximum value on meals to which White House personnel may be treated, Washington restaurants rose to the challenge. Tiberio, a downtown Italian eatery, is advertising its ethical lunch special—which includes an entree, a glass of wine, tax and tip—for the totally above-board $19.99. If only a military hammer or toilet seat were that cheap.
From Couture to Cucaracha
Perhaps inspired by her husband, Ric Ocasek, Paulina Porizkova, fashion model and mother of three, has written a children's book with a cockroach as its hero. The Adventures of Ralphie the Roach takes place in Roachtown, a small village behind a cupboard shelf in an empty New York house. The book tries to make roaches more appealing. However, the conclusion, in which a gazillion roaches congregate in the kitchen in a twitchy show of solidarity, actually may compel children to grab the Raid.
Joshua Arfer, head of collectibles sales at Christie's East, is bullish on Americana—especially in the face of the tenuous fine-arts auction environment. "These days," he says, "we're gearing more toward American culture." He should be bull-moosish on the genre now that a Dudley Do-Right (a character that originally appeared on The Bullwinkle Show) lunch box and thermos that sold for $2.25 in 1962 has been auctioned for $2200.
Wheeling, Dealing And Stealing
Carjacking, the latest crime craze, may change the way Hollywood moguls fuel their image. Driving expensive foreign autos turned L.A.'s elite into sitting ducks. However, even buying American provides no assurance of safety. Hollywood publicist Jeff Ballard was followed home in his new Jeep Cherokee by a couple of thugs toting AR-14 automatics. Although Ballard parted with the keys, the joyriders parted with a spray of bullets; one nailed Ballard in the shoulder. Other hapless victims in carjack city, who might now recommend driving junkers, include a Creative Artist Agency talent agent, the producer of TV's Family Ties and romance novelist Jackie Collins, who, in true spunky heroine style, actually managed to foil her assailant. Perhaps she scared him off by relating the plot of her new novel.
In Japan, where every student is required to take six years of English classes, it's becoming apparent that much of that instruction doesn't help Japanese tourists and businessmen who come to the United States. Hence, ratings of TV shows such as Kyosen's Unusable English, which parodies the plight of hapless Japanese overseas, have soared. The Japanese feel vulnerable in the U.S. and have an image of an America where cash-laden Japanese tourists are easy prey for gun-toting locals. (A 16-year-old exchange student was shot dead in Louisiana last October when he failed to understand the idiomatic usage of the word freeze shouted by a man wielding a gun.) The government has produced safety films to warn Japanese of the hazards they may face when traveling abroad. But a Mitsubishi executive diminishes the usefulness of what he considers some of the more naive warnings, such as how to identify a safe neighborhood: "It turns out it's pretty easy. The good blocks have a lot of big, empty buildings that we Japanese paid too much money for. On the bad blocks, everything's burning."
Israel's telephone company has started a fax service that sends messages to God by way of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall. The Roman Catholic Church in Vincenza, Italy now accepts confessions by fax. And members of Brooklyn's Lubavitcher Hasidim are selling beepers programmed to inform members when the Messiah arrives.
The Last Meat Market
In response to a chilling problem, the town of Newcastle, Wyoming has enacted an ordinance that prohibits couples from having sex while standing inside a store's walk-in meat locker.
A Cook County, Illinois criminal court judge was interviewing prospective jurors when a woman indicated she didn't believe she could be an impartial juror. In private, she told the judge that she and her boyfriend often invited other women to share their bed, noted that she was attracted to the female prosecutor and assistant public defenders and concluded that she would not be able to concentrate on the case they were presenting. In what was described as a first for the court, she was excused.
A Florida entrepreneur with a curious sense of nostalgia is marketing a 60-minute audiocassette titled A Night in Vietnam, which replicates the sounds of "an actual night during my (and your) tour of duty," complete with "crickets, helicopters, artillery and LZ perimeter conversation." Should this aural reprise of a nightmare sell well, we expect such follow-up releases as The L.A. Riots— Dawn to Dusk, Hurricane Hugo: Blowin' in the Wind and Sarajevo's Greatest Hits.