February 20, 2013
April 11, 2009
So. I am no longer writing for LA CityBeat. Not long after I posted about my exciting new gig at the paper, there were large budget cuts and suddenly my exciting new gig didn’t exist anymore. LA CityBeat limped along for a few more months and then in late March it went out of business very suddenly.
I am sorry to see the paper go, and sorry to see print media in general in such sorry shape. But I am excited to announce that I’m now the editor of Monstersandrockets.com, your online guide to science-fiction, horror and all things geek. Monsters and Rockets is brought to you by some of the same brains behind Darkworlds.com, the popular sci-fi/horror news site that ran from 2002-2008. Think of Monsters and Rockets as Darkworlds’ little brother, only less dark and more dork.
I hope those of you who followed my work in OC Weekly, CityBeat and elsewhere will stop by my new online home. I’ll probably still drop by here now and then to offer bits of news about Monsters and Rockets or my other new projects. Be seeing you.
December 17, 2008
You’ll have to forgive me if this post seems a little stiff and formal. This announcement is kind of a Big Deal for me, for a number of reasons.
I have been with OC Weekly for 13 years, first as a film writer and later as a fine art critic. With this post, I announce my departure from the paper that has been my home since the days of the original OJ trial. I will always be grateful for the opportunities given to me there, and I leave with fond memories of my former colleagues.
I am very pleased to report that I will now be covering fine art for LA Citybeat, which was recently taken over by Will Swaim, my old boss at OC Weekly and Long Beach’s The District. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for years, long enough that I’ve come to think of this crazy place as home. There is great art happening all over Los Angeles, and I am truly thrilled by this chance to write about it.
March 10, 2008
Hello, folks. Long time, no post.
For months now, I’ve been doing regular fine art reviews for OC Weekly. If you’re curious, click on over to OCWEEKLY.COM and put “Stacy” into the search engine.
I’ll post something again here, soon. No, really. Don’t give me that look.
February 21, 2007
While losing my regular gig at OC Weekly sucks major butt, at least this year I won’t have to write yet another column about the utter tediousness of the Oscars.
December 19, 2006
(Originally printed in OC WEEKLY, May 13, 2004)
The Christian Film & Television Commission recently completed a five-year study concluding that moviegoers increasingly prefer films with conservative themes. I contacted the organization seeking more info and was e-mailed a document that listed the average yearly grosses of films in the following categories: Pro-Capitalist, Patriotic/Pro-American, Very Strong Morality, Anti-Capitalist, Politically Correct, Anti-Patriotic/Anti-American, Socialist, Communist, Very Strong Atheism, Very Strong Feminism, and Very Strong Homosexuality. The document was troublingly short on specifics: while we were told that socialist films enjoyed an average gross of $44.2 million in 2003, there were no examples given of what these surprisingly successful socialist films were. Seeking further enlightenment, I called Dr. Ted Baehr, the chairman of the organization as well as the publisher of the conservative magazine Movieguide.
OC Weekly: I found a few Christian newspapers and websites that ran articles about your study, but I was wondering if it’s been picked up by the more mainstream media.
Ted Baehr: That’s a good question. I know Fox News did a story about it. But I’m really not the person to ask about that. I’m working on a book right now, and my attention is focused on that in addition to dealing with interviews like this as they come up. I’ve been rather busy with that, you know, so [laughs] I talk to you and then I forget about you.
I see. Well, your study is rather short on specifics. You report on the average yearly grosses of what you call “Politically Correct” movies, etc., but you don’t give any examples.
It sounds like you’re not looking at our complete study. We looked at every film we could find that came out during this period, exhaustive analysis looking at everything from soup to nuts. After we’re done here, I’ll put you through to Tom. He can provide you with the more detailed report.
I’d be very interested to see that, but in the meantime, I do have some more general questions about this report. For instance, what is this genre of “Politically Correct” movies? Could you give me some titles?
I think everyone knows what politically correct means. Humanist, Marxist, Socialist . . . films that run contrary to common sense. I could turn on my computer and look up specific titles for you, but there’s no point. You can look up all of this information yourself in the report.
I’ll do that. I noticed in the abbreviated report you sent that the average yearly grosses of “Socialist” movies have apparently been increasing every year, from $6.7 million in 1999 to a whopping $44.2 million in 2003. You say audiences prefer movies with conservative themes, but it sounds like these socialist films are becoming more popular all the time.
Well, I noticed that development in the study, too, but obviously these things do shift over time. There are aberrations, but from our more detailed analysis, the long-term trends are quite clear. Charting these things isn’t rocket science . . . although I am a former rocket scientist. American audiences are becoming fed up with this secular, feminist, Marxist, politically correct entertainment.
What do you say to the success of raunchy comedies like the American Pie or Scary Movie franchises, or violent horror films like Freddy vs. Jason? Those are hardly traditional family films.
Those films you mentioned might make more than $100 million, but you won’t find them in the top 10 or the top 15 films of the past five years. You really need to look at the full study, and all of this will become clear.
Okay. Well, you said you could put me through to somebody named Tom, and he could hook me up with the full report?
Have a great day. Bye-bye. [Baehr hangs up.]
Uh . . . hello? . . . Dr. Baehr?
I called back a few minutes later, and this time, I was put through to Tom. He said he’d e-mail me the full study. As of this writing, I’ve yet to receive it.
October 29, 2006
(Originally printed in OC WEEKLY, Thursday, May 4, 2006)
‘Crystal Clean’ operates Topless Cleaners (motto: ‘Dust to Lust’), serving all of Southern California.
Do you arrive just wearing a coat, or do you change in the bathroom? How does it work?
Well, it depends what part of town it is, and what time of day. We arrive dressed discreetly. We don’t want to embarrass anybody.
Do you have a bodyguard with you when you do this?
No. We’re usually going to pretty nice parts of town, often during the day. If it’s somebody we’ve never seen before, we’re not gonna go there after midnight. If we have any reason to be concerned, we might send two girls together.
Do you have self-defense training?
Well, sure, every girl needs her Mace, you know? We’ve never had an issue.
Do you give customers a list of rules before you do this? Like, no kids in the house, no pets allowed, whatever?
Well, nobody’s ever had their kids there when we showed up; they know better than that. Pets are fine. I know one girl who’s a little nervous around large dogs. But that’s no problem: you just put the dog in another room. We’re fine with cats.
Do guys ever have their wives there?
Sure, we do shows for couples all the time. And just women too.
Is that weird?
It’s fun! We do shows for women a couple of times a week. Women call to have girls come and do a show, but they call asking about guys too. We’ve hired a few guys, but it didn’t work out.
Well, I don’t think men are really used to cleaning a lot. [Giggles.] That’s what women are for.
So what sort of rules do you have about what people can and can’t do?
We don’t have rules, exactly. We feel out the situation when we’re there. We won’t do toilets—that’s something we specify on our website, toplesscleaners.com. But otherwise, we’ll wash dishes, we’ll vacuum. We do it all. We wash cars too.
You wash cars . . . topless? Where? In the garage? You couldn’t do that out on the street.
No, we usually wear T-shirts for that.
Oh, right. But by rules, I meant . . . well, can people, like, jerk off while you’re working? Is that allowed?
Our policy is, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” It’s behind closed doors. People can do what they like with their own bodies. [Sultry.] You know, if they’re watching us, while we’re bent over, working . . .
Right. Okay. I’ve noticed you refer to these sessions as “shows.” Do you consider this more of a performance, or more of a house cleaning?
It’s entertainment, but we’re always very thorough. Like, I went to this guy’s place, down by the beach. He had all these construction workers there renovating the place, and it was filthy. We don’t bring our own cleaning supplies, and he was really hippie about the whole thing. He was like, “Just use what’s under the sink.” All he had were organic cleaning supplies, stuff he’d gotten at Trader Joe’s, so there was no bleach or anything. He should’ve called in an exterminator . . . there were silverfish everywhere! It was pretty disgusting, but we always get the job done.
And you had to clean all that up topless? Do you wear gloves or an apron or anything? It would seem like you’d get a lot of rashes, getting splashed with bleach and stuff.
We wear gloves and use a lot of Soft Scrub. That’s my favorite. It has bleach in it, but it doesn’t splash.
What does your family think about what you do?
I didn’t tell them at first. I was worried about my mom; she’s very religious. She only found out by accident, when I was visiting at Christmastime. She found a piece of paper with some ideas on it for cleaning shows.
I wanna get back to your mom’s reaction, but what sort of ideas were these? You don’t just show up and, like, clean? Do you do role-playing or juggle or something?
Well, there is a fantasy element. And there are different props. There are a lot of things you can do with a feather duster. And there’s more than one way to fluff a pillow. You can fluff it like your grandmama would fluff it, or you can do it in a sexy way.
I’m honestly not sure how somebody would fluff a pillow in a sexy way.
[Sultry again.] Well, there are things girls do with pillows . . . behind closed doors.
Oh! I see. I think.
So . . . uh, your mom found the paper.
She found the paper. Fortunately, she was much more accepting than I maybe would’ve expected.
Do you tell strangers what you do?
Sometimes I just say I clean houses, or that I’m an entertainer. Other times I come out and say it.
How do they react?
They ask a lot of the questions you’re asking. They want to know what we do with the guys, if we do windows . . .
Do you do windows?
We do. With our nipples pressed up against the glass.
(Originally printed in OC WEEKLY, Thursday, May 18, 2006)
Jeannie Martin is a colon hydrotherapist at Body Health in Irvine.
Is this job as gross as it sounds?
Well, my husband always says it takes a special kind of person to do this. You can’t be queasy. It’s not gross for me. It’s a job. It’s easy. We use a tube for the colonic, everything goes out through the tube and it’s all contained in there, so there’s no smell. If I open my wrist and see a lot of blood—like when I was opening a door one time, and the wood was splintered and I got caught on it—that’s gross to me. Or like I cut my finger recently, and all the guts came out, and I felt a little faint seeing that. But with this job, no, not at all. I always say that I’m not seeing anything I don’t see every time I go to the bathroom, y’know? I see it all the time, so how could that be gross to me? A lot of times people are really nervous when they come in here, they don’t want to see what comes out. But then once we get started they look behind them, at all the stuff flowing out through the tube, all the junk that was impacted and is flowing out now, and they’re like, “Ooh, neat!”
I’ve heard urban legends about people having this done, and it flushes out old doll shoes and pennies they ate when they were kids. Is that possible, and have you seen it?
I’ve never seen anything like that, so I don’t know. But I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff.
Like worms. Really big roundworms, tapeworms. I’ve got a big one on the counter in front of me right now. He’s in a jar.
How big is it?
Well, he’s all coiled up, you know. It’s hard to say.
You can approximate.
Hmm. He’s only about four inches, actually. He’s not that big.
That sounds big enough.
They come in all different lengths. I’ve seen, like, a foot-long worm.
Are they ever alive?
Well, we don’t normally see worms from just the colonic; that’s more something that happens from a cleansing. So when they come out from that, they’re already dead.
Yeah, people do things to cleanse their system—like they’ll fast, or use herbal products to get rid of parasites. Wormwood is good for that. And if they do that, we can see some worms.
Your profession is very controversial with mainstream doctors, and some of them even say it’s dangerous to get a colonic, that the colon could rupture. What do you say to that?
Well, you read things online where they make it sound like we pump in 20 gallons of water all at once. We only pump in 15 gallons of water, and it’s not all at the same time. We really take our time, and we’re very careful.
So you’ve never had an emergency?
Never. I’ve never known anybody who did.
What sort of safety precautions do you use? Do you wear a mask? Do you have immunizations?
There’s no need for the mask, because, like I said, it’s all going through the tube. And there are no immunizations. But we do wear the gloves. Everything is disposable. It’s all very sanitary.
What inspired you to get into this profession?
Most of the people who get into this had some kind of health problems that led them to seek it out. That’s what happened to me. I was working in the garment industry, and I had a lot of toxins in my system. I had bronchitis, sinus problems, a lot of skin irritations. My parents learned about colonic hydrotherapy in 1958, from Victor Irons, one of the pioneers in the field, so I knew about this growing up. But my own health problems inspired me to pursue it. Obviously, I’m glad I did.
You had colonics growing up?
No, we didn’t need it then, but our parents really watched our diets. We couldn’t have white flour, white sugar or preservatives. Of course, we’d sneak off and eat junk food with our friends, you know.
Do you come right out and tell strangers what you do for a living, or do you use some sort of euphemism?
I don’t come right out and say, but my husband does. [Laughs.] Whenever he’s talking to somebody and they say they’re having some kind of stomach problem, he’ll say, “You’re talking to the right person! You should talk to my wife.” I don’t just spring it on people. Like if we’re at a wedding and people ask what I do for a living, I’ll just laugh and say, “Well, we’ll talk about it after dinner.” And then, of course, all through dinner, they’re dying to know.
How do people react?
Actually, they’re really eager to talk about it. Nobody ever talks about this stuff, you know, so everybody has a lot of questions. I went on a retreat a while ago. We were driving up to the mountains, and the woman next to me asked what I did. I told her, and then for the next few hours, that was all anybody wanted to talk about. They had a million questions. A lot of women I talk to, they go to the bathroom like once a week. Some of them, it’s once a month! There’s way too much constipation out there. People are dying to talk about it.
(Originally printed by OC WEEKLY, Thursday, June 1, 2006)
Tom Tully travels OC, LA and the USA impersonating former Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous host Robin Leach.
Do enough people still know who Robin Leach is to make this a viable career?
Well, the people I’m dealing with usually have a lot of money, so they tend to be over 30. Maybe younger people haven’t heard of him as much [laughs], but that’s not really my problem. Even if people don’t know his name, they know that voice. I don’t look exactly like Leach—I look like his son, maybe—but the voice is the important thing, and the tuxedo. I was a lawyer for three years in Chicago, mostly because of a promise to my dad, but I really wanted to be a performer. Now I do voice work in Hollywood and Sunday shows as part of the Off the Wall improv troupe at the Eclectic Theatre in Santa Monica. The demand for the Leach impersonation is seasonal. I’ll do three events in a row, then I won’t get hired for three months. It’s impossible to build a career around just this.
What sort of events are these? What do you do?
I do private parties, night clubs, a lot of corporate events, and I get flown all around the country. I’m there to make your party rich and famous. As people are coming in, I’ll be there to shake their hands. [Leach voice] “Hell-o! I haven’t seen you since that night in Montevid-yow! We’re going to have a whopping good time!” I have to get people talking, get people dancing, and then at a certain point I know when to back off. I’ve done bus tours for groups, boat tours, showing them all the glamorous local spots … or the most glamorous local spots I can find, which can be a real challenge sometimes. A while ago I was booked for a boat tour and I got to the dock and the pilot hadn’t shown up. I grew up around boats, so I took them out there on this little putt-putt myself and gave them the tour.
Wow. I thought maybe you’d stand there all night saying, “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!”
No, you really have to think on your feet. Sometimes I’ll get there and people will say, “You’re our entertainment for the night!” I’m not really a standup comedian, but I’ll have 20 minutes to come up with a whole routine. I’ll find out as much as I can about the guests, and I’ll present nefarious awards based on their quirks. Like, if somebody was caught sleeping at their desk, or if they got a double bogie golfing, I’ll give them some silly award for that. One time I did an event for a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who’d just been on TV; he was frantic to get everybody to watch the tape, but he couldn’t get their attention. Finally I told them all [Leach voice], “We’re going to need your attention over here, or the doctor is going to show all of your ‘before’ pictures!” Got a huge laugh. I’ll tease people, but you have to use kid gloves—no jokes about somebody being fat or whatever. Y’know, Leach never says a bad word about anybody.
Did anybody ever take offense?
I worked an event a while ago, a post-election thing, after a run-off—I won’t say where. I made a joke about them settling the election in the parking lot with mud wrestling. The mayor was a lady, and apparently she didn’t take too kindly to that. It’s a fine line.
Does doing that loud, high Leach voice all night blow out your vocal chords?
I’m also a singer, and I keep my voice in good shape. I practice an hour a day. You get into the routine so you can practice anywhere. I’ll practice while I’m driving, while I’m paying bills.
Are there stresses to this job that people wouldn’t imagine?
It can be a grind. You’re dealing with new people constantly, and you never know what to expect. People give you vague directions—“Oh, it’s right by the San Diego ballpark, you can’t miss it!” You have to be very clear about how long you’ll be there, or there can be issues when your time is up and they want more. I’ve had to be very insistent about when a gig was over. Sometimes there’s no place to get dressed before the show. I’ve had to change in the parking lot.
You couldn’t put on the tux before you got there?
No, you have to look immaculate, and the tux would get wrinkled while you were driving. Like Dean Martin said, always put on your tuxedo pants right before you go onstage! But y’know, I’ll tell you about the best gig I ever worked. It was an event in Palm Springs, me and a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. We had to get the crowd dancing, so we got out there, and she really did look just like the young Marilyn. She had a fiancée, nothing happened between us, and I’ve never worked with her again. But I’ll never forget that night. I thought, “Wow, y’know, I’ve been flown out here to Palm Springs so I can dance with Marilyn Monroe . . . I have the best job in the world!”
(Originally printed by OC WEEKLY, Thursday, July 13, 2006)
Ray Karch is a pro sandcastle builder in Laguna Beach
You really do this full-time?
Mostly in the summer months, but I can work from April through November, weather permitting. I was an attorney for years, and still am in the winter. But . . . I’m not sure you should mention that.
People might not want to imagine their attorney building sandcastles the rest of the year. It sounds flaky.
This is California. A sandcastle-building lawyer is cool.
Well . . . I guess. I do team-building corporate events on the beach. I’ll show a group how to play nice in the sand. I also do parties and beach weddings. I did a wedding proposal a while ago, in San Diego. It was a big heart in the sand, with two porpoises. What a country, huh? Getting paid to play in the sand!
Do you enter a lot of competitions?
I’ll go, but mostly for exposure. Unless you win some cash, it’s usually not worth it. Like in San Clemente, the sand’s gritty, you’re by the railroad track, and you’re always running to feed the meter. I was like, “Y’know, I don’t care anymore!” I did a fun event out in Barstow, in a dry riverbed. They ran a hose from a hydrant so we’d have some water. Great sand!
Are there stresses to your job people wouldn’t expect?
I’ve had sunstroke; it’s an occupational hazard—you get really sick to your stomach, then you get the chills. You think you’re freezing in the middle of the summer. Now I know to wear [an SPF] 30 to 35 sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and a sweat suit, if I can stand it. This can be hard work. Your shoulder muscles will kill you.
So why do it? I’ve never understood why people put so much work into something that lasts only a few hours.
Well, when you go to a great concert, you can’t keep the song. This is performance art; people can watch the creation of a masterpiece. And it’s cheap therapy for me. I forgot to mention, I’m also a magician. I perform at the Magic Castle. My real dream is to combine the magic and the sandcastle building—like if I was working at a resort. So, uh, if anybody wants to hire me for something like that, my website is http://www.castlesbykarch.com/.
Wow. You’re a magician/lawyer/sandcastle builder?
I always say, “What law and magic have in common is that deception is highly prized in both.”