Discount Bridal Service, a Baltimore-based business boasting 500 dealers nationwide, declared bankruptcy last month. If you think company owners Lenny and Sandy Leibowitz are weeping themselves frilly over their $2.6 million in debt, imagine the shitstorms unleashed by the frantic summertime-brides-to-be who've been showing up for final gown fittings and finding only shuttered stores.
Why, it's the biggest bridal boondoggle ever, according to news reports.
Sharon Hayes, co-owner of Formals of Litchfield in Litchfield, Illinois, is one local good Samaritan helping to connect damsels-in-distress with still-solvent dress manufacturers.
Unreal: What was your first thought when you heard about DBS' demise?
Sharon Hayes: I really felt sorry for the girls.
Do you know of anything like this ever happening in the industry?
Nothing this widespread, no.
What would you compare it to?
It's like -- it's hard to compare it to any other disaster. You say it's a bride, but really it's families that are hit by this. Parents are involved; the groom and his family are involved. It's like a natural disaster.
Like your house setting aflame?
Do you think the disaster will start any new trend in formal wear for brides?
We all want to take something away that we can use in the future.
Like wearing spandex and sports bras down the aisle?
[Laughs] We won't see anything like that from here! We try to get proper undergarments for the bride. If you don't, the gown often doesn't fit properly.
Maybe brides in the lurch could just go down the aisle wearing proper undergarments.
That just depends on how brave they are. I've seen people on the street in less than the proper undergarments. But I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you're saying.
Just suggesting some ideas.
Well, we try to help brides from inside to outside and top to bottom -- so if they want to go with spandex they could, but we don't have very many brides that do that. We do have a bride coming in next week who's never worn a dress in her life.
Wow. Maybe she could go naked?
That depends on where you are in the country! We just try to help them look their best.
Have you ever seen one of those old photos of John Wayne Gacy in a clown costume? Unreal has. We've also read Stephen King's It and successfully avoided McDonald's ever since Kimmy Clarke's birthday party in the fourth grade.
But Unreal isn't most folks, and most folks don't flee upon crossing paths with a water-squirting boutonniere. Upon realizing that we were in the thick of National Clown Week -- signed into national law in 1970 by Richard Nixon (how fitting) -- we dialed up the soothing voice of St. Louis' Boo the Clown (a.k.a. sixth-grade science teacher Brian Peck) for reassurance.
Unreal: What is the best way to combat coulrophobia, the abnormal and persistent fear of clowns?
Boo the Clown: I used to work the Thurtene Carnival for Wash. U., and one year there was a young girl who had been diagnosed -- she literally had been diagnosed with that fear. And of course, I don't want to approach any adult or child with a fear of clowns unless they want me to. I try to tell them that you're a real person. I've always wanted to write a book about how a clown is a real person and how they get put into makeup and a costume, and when they're all done they're back to being a real person again.
Krusty the Clown: role model or floppy-shoed pariah?
He's not a very good role model. You see him smoking and drinking and making fun of people. You try and take it with a grain of salt, but that's not what clowns should be doing. I'm sure that's what some are doing, but they shouldn't be. Clowns are supposed to make people happy, especially kids.
Which is more dangerous: distracting bulls at the rodeo or squeezing all of your immediate relatives into a compact car?
Well, do they have the air on in the car? That's the question. I'm going to say the rodeo. Anything charging at me that's that big can't be good. Plus my nose is red already, so that's not something I want to get involved with.
Are you aware that rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has a "no clowns" clause in his performance contracts?
[Laughs] Yeah, I go to P. Diddy concerts so often. And in costume and makeup, of course. I think I'll go with no comment.
Lactating for no good reason? Could be your chest dials are tuned into World Breastfeeding Week, going on now through Sunday. This week o' awareness is sponsored by La Leche League, the international advocacy group whose mission is to educate the public on the nutritional benefits of breast milk and -- in the case of Missouri -- to rid the community of any shame related to public breastfeeding. Thirsty for more information on WBW, Unreal called up Amanda Ireland, a local leader with La Leche League.
Unreal: What, besides mother's milk, is on tap for World Breastfeeding Week in St. Louis?
Amanda Ireland: We're having a carnival at the Ethical Society on Saturday [from 10 a.m. till 12:30 p.m.]. There will be educational seminars and events for children. We'll also sell bracelets to raise funds for breastfeeding awareness and legislative issues.
These bracelets, are they purplish-pink like a mother's swollen nipples or ivory white like mom's sweet emulsion?
They're more of a purplish-pink.
You say Missouri's law regarding public breastfeeding [R.S. Mo. 191.918] may be unconstitutional. Could you explain?
The law states that a mother may breastfeed in public, provided she does so with as much discretion as possible. We feel the onus shouldn't be on the mother to hide under blankets.
When encountering a mother breastfeeding in public, is it best to look away quickly, like we do when passing a disfigured panhandler, or should we regale her with idle chit-chat, perhaps commenting on her child's hearty appetite?
I think people should congratulate the mother. In a bottle-feeding culture, it takes a lot of courage to breastfeed in public. For me, I'm fairly defiant. I just sit there with a big smile on my face and dare people to stop me. I don't sit there like a victim.
Aren't you concerned some perv might get off on looking at your boobies?
In America the breast is sexualized. But as soon as you put a baby on it, it's really not sexy anymore. It's that Madonna/whore complex. Even when I look my best, the guys see that baby and just shut off.
LOCAL BLOG O' THE WEEK
WILL RETURN NEXT WEEK
Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to email@example.com.