Showing up at a leather conference in a pleather jacket is awkward; not knowing the lingo is worse. How is Unreal supposed to know what a dungeon or a ball-stretcher is, or that "penmanship" translates to "penqueership" in BDSM-speak? (BDSM, FYI, is an umbrella of an acronym that comprises Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism.)
Luckily, we aren't alone. "I'm kinda freaking out a little bit," squeals a Washington University med student also attending the "Leather: Work & Play" caucus at last week's 17th annual National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference, held at the Millennium Hotel.
Everyone must divulge a secret as a form of introduction ("Shoot!" Unreal squirms). This reveals a former ballet teacher; a guy with a fetish for Airstream trailers; a guy who produces Bear-fetish pornos (read: big hairy blokes); and our personal favorite, "Slave Bob," an AARP rep who also happens to be an ordained minister. (He seems surprised by the secret himself.)
"Leather means different things to different people," pronounces our moderator, Levi, a sweet, androgynous chap sporting (natch) a black leather vest.
In a nutshell, we learn that leather is not just a material but a way of life, a family, according to one follower, with its own rules ("If you say 'Chicago,' that means, 'Stop!'") and lessons in fisting, rimming and whipping that come through mentorship and with age.
Leather can also be a nutshell, explains Jason Hendrix, Mr. International Leather 2004, like when you're vying for his title and you have to endure "Pecs & Personality," a grueling interview and runway walk wearing a black leather jock strap with "everything" tucked in.
"What do you mean, 'everything?'" Unreal asks.
"You know, as my mom would say, your hoo-hoo has to be covered."
Unreal has discovered our secret. We're not nearly as tight with our mom.
Last week police in Granite City, Illinois, booked two men on charges of chocolate theft.
David Rosales, 29, of Bethalto, and Robert G. Veith, 29, of Wood River, allegedly filched $32,000 in candy bars from a Hershey's warehouse while working night shifts there this summer.
Police confirm that Unreal is not a suspect in the sweet snatch.
But a third man wanted in the burglary, Donald Rose, 39, of Alton, was still at large, possibly munching on Twizzlers somewhere, police officials confirm.
Police are unsure of the precise nature or quantity of goodies stolen. But a "street value" of $32,000 would translate to 53,333 Hershey bars (priced at 60 cents apiece) -- about 5,000 pounds of chocolate.
Or a few hundred pounds less if you're talking about the kind with almonds.
Regardless, what could three dudes do with that much chocolate?
"They say they took it to eat it and pass it out to family and friends," Granite City Police Captain Jeff Connor said. Connor doesn't know whether the men had been deprived of Kisses as kids, or if they chubbed up any over the summer. "It wasn't like they were on a new diet for chocolate," the police chief said.
Veith's lawyer did not return a call requesting comment. Rosales could not be reached.
Police recovered fourteen cases of chocolate, but they aren't biting. Some of it could be rancid by now, according to Judy Hogarth, a Hershey's spokeswoman.
"Plain milk chocolate has a shelf life of about a year. Anything with nuts has a much shorter shelf life, like six months. You'd have to have that climate-controlled, and we have no way of knowing how they were keeping that product once it left our distribution center," Hogarth cautioned.
While Hershey's is cooperating with the police, the company would not recommend that the men be sentenced to life without chocolate. "I don't think anybody should be denied chocolate," Hogarth said.
What the F?
In honor of Veterans Day this past Thursday, ABC television affiliates across the nation aired Steven Spielberg's World War II film Saving Private Ryan, uncut and uncensored.
But not in St. Louis and a handful of other markets.
Management at KDNL-TV (Channel 30) released a statement explaining the decision not to broadcast the film. Making no mention of Saving Private Ryan's depictions of graphic violence, the release says KDNL opted not to show the Oscar-winning work out of concern that the film's repeated utterances of "the so-called F-word" would run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission's indecency rules.
Hoping to get a clearer picture, Unreal placed a call to the station.
What time does Saving Private Ryan come on?
We're not airing it tonight.
What?! Why the fuck not?
Why the fuck not?
Fucking A! Hello?
What the fuck. Hey, I'm fucking talking to you!
Jean Peterson of Minneapolis is co-author of the hot-off-the-presses Naked Business: Taking a Candid Look at Your Business.
When we opened her press release and read the first sentence -- "If you could do business naked, would you?" -- we happened to be naked.
Unreal: Your aim is to get small business owners to level with themselves. Do you think it's easier to be honest with oneself with or without clothing?
Jean Peterson: Without clothing on, absolutely. If you don't have clothing on, you cannot lie to yourself. When you're clothed, you can pretty much do the mental gymnastics to say, "I'm not that bad." When you're naked, you cannot deny all the lumps and bulges staring back at you in the mirror.
Should arriving at the office wearing nothing but a yellow rain slicker automatically make one a target for sexual-harassment allegations?
Absolutely not. Maybe you're just attempting to be much more honest with yourself than the average person in the office cares to be.
If I owned a confectionery and chose to work in the buff, would it be sanitary for me to stir a vat of melted chocolate with my penis?
I would say no. We have no idea where you've been.
If I were a naked cocktail waitress, do you think it would be a boon to business if I let customers lick salt off my nipples after sampling tequilas?
It would probably be a boon to business, absolutely, depending on the gender of your customer and the location of your bar.
Discuss the pros and cons of a traveling salesman giving a PowerPoint presentation buck-nude.
Depending on your target market and what you are selling, you might make a lot of sales because you have the freedom to appear just as you are. The con to that is you may very well kill all your sales.
Do you think Tom Hanks should shed his goody-goody, Jimmy Stewart image and return to risqué comedic fare?
No. The goody-goody image is working for him. Why get away from it when it's working?