Glory Days

The return of the male strippers

In honor of its 25th anniversary, the strip-club-for-gals La Bare held a reunion March 18, inviting former dancers back for one more night of jock-strapped glory.

Alumni, according to club management, include "doctors, lawyers and police officers." Somehow, no Methodist Hospital open-heart surgeons showed up on this Friday night with strategically placed beepers, and we must have missed the cops and lawyers.

Ronnie Dreyer came, though. He danced at La Bare for 15 years beginning in the early '80s -- we're getting a headache just thinking of the music that must have been involved -- and now, at 42, owns an air-conditioning business.

He was with his wife, whom he met while working at the club, so he was pretty tight-lipped when it came to describing his glory days. Strangely, he was more than eager to demonstrate that he never enhanced his banana-hammock, unlike today's La Bare dancers, who looked like they were smuggling gnomes.

"Believe it or not, not all white guys are the same," he said, and we took him at his word.

Rico Corpuz, 30, showed up with the intention of putting on the costume that made him famous during the '90s -- a big-gutted, umbrella-wielding old man known as Mr. Fellatio. As if that isn't creepy enough, his signature song was Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." Too many mixed messages there these days, so he took a pass. (Or at least he passed as long as we were there. The alumni were sitting around the bar and the lure of the stage grew stronger with every round.)

Corpuz is now a hair stylist. He became a dancer in lieu of going into the Army.

He said his older brother got him started, after he saw him come home one night from Chippendale's with a stack of sweaty bills.

"I wanted to get a piece of that," he said. And as Mr. Fellatio, he did.

And made many a lonely bachelorette happy along the way, no doubt.

Shaggy Dog Story

John Nix is the head of the city's animal shelter and the bete noir of Houston's pet activists (Bete noir meaning, in this case, someone who doesn't know how to run an animal shelter).

After a rugged stream of media stories -- including one written, as a reader put it, by "a man without a soul" (see "The Fido Solution," by Richard Connelly, February 3) -- pet lovers won't have Nix to kick around anymore. He has announced his retirement after nine years at the helm.

Elena Marks, the city's health policy director, says the city hopes to have a new director "like yesterday, or at least as soon as possible."

She'll look outside the city, but admits no expertise. "I wouldn't know how to run a shelter if my life depended on it," she said. "I've been talking to all my friends in the animal community, saying, 'If you have any leads, let me know.' "

The city's pound has long been caught in an unchanging pattern -- 1) years of incompetence or, to be kind, underfunding; 2) a sudden media spotlight on helpless doggies and pussies in dim, smelly, overcrowded cages; 3) promises of new committees and a commitment to change; 4) see No. 1.

Marks, like others before her, says this time will be different. "We expect to see a very good program...and we expect the changes to be institutionalized, so that things are done right when people are out there looking at it and also when there are no people looking at it."

So Step Three is complete...

Double Clutch

When you hear about a corporate Board of Directors made up of fuzzy-headed people who never have a bad word to say, you naturally think of Enron.

But Wendy Gramm and the rest of that see-no-evil crowd have new competitors -- the board of directors for the Mascot Hall of Fame. Dedicated to preserving the culture and folkways of the large-craniumed population of the nation's sports mascots, the enterprise is the brainchild -- if that's not too strong a word -- of the guy who was the original Phillie Phanatic. And among the mascots invited to be on the Hall's board is none other than the Houston Rockets' Clutch.

Clutch doesn't speak in public -- hey, he's Enron material! -- but he does communicate by e-mail.

He says he doesn't expect to get into the issue of protecting whistle-blowers. "Referees are the best whistle-blowers I know," he says, indulging in a bit of mascot humor.

But we had to ask one other pressing question, given the famous brawl in the stands at the Indianapolis Pacers/Detroit Pistons game earlier this season. When a player dives into the stands to fight a fan, does the mascot jump in to help the player or help the fan?

"Are you kidding?" Clutch replied. "That horse mascot (Hooper) for the Pistons was out of the arena and on his way running home for cover as soon as the first beer was thrown. Whenever there is trouble that we aren't causing, mascots are the first to turn yellow and run for the hills."

Geez, that sure sounds more and more like the Enron board. What's Wendy Gramm up to these days?

Hacking Away

A high school English test can be a terrifying event even if you're not a jock. But if you're a computer geek, there's something you can do about it.

One senior at Fort Bend ISD's Clements High took matters into his own carpal-tunneled hands recently, with disastrous results.

With a big English final coming up as the fall semester ended, the senior -- we'll call him The Brainiac -- installed a "keyboard decoder" on the teacher's computer.

Midnight at Clements, no sounds but the lonely swish of a janitor waxing the hall. Some ceiling tiles move in one of the classrooms and -- dressed in black, hanging by an ingenious system of pulleys and ropes -- comes The Brainiac!!

Actually, according to school police, The B simply attached the small device to the back of the teacher's computer, got the password, and then logged on from another computer at the school.

He downloaded the final exam, but then came the tragic flaw that brings down all criminal masterminds -- greed. He tried to sell copies of the test to other students, one of whom ratted him out. The B now faces a misdemeanor charge of "breaching computer security" and is in an alternative school.

"He's not a stupid kid," says FBISD spokeswoman Mary Ann Simpson. "He's a smart kid and he just misdirected his smarts."

It's a shame he took a shortcut. Because that English Lit knowledge is going to be invaluable as he enters the IT field.

Porn to Run

There are few things better than political hypocrisy mixed with sex, but sometimes you have to draw the line.

A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has put out a report titled "Addicted to Porn," which claims to identify members of Congress who "accept contributions from porn purveyors." One of the biggest culprits: our very own U.S. Representative Tom DeLay (R-Taliban). Let the Hammer jokes begin!

According to CREW, DeLay took $21,000 in porn-related contributions in the 2004 cycle. Was it all in sticky one-dollar bills from video booths? Did Larry Flynt write a check?

Not really. The "porn purveyors" are such companies as Holiday Inn, Marriott, Time Warner Cable and AT&T.

CREW says the hotel chains purvey porn by showing soft-core in their rooms; cable companies such as Time Warner also offer semi-dirty films. And AT&T is a phone company, and there is such a thing as phone sex.

CREW didn't even come up with any ratio to discount how much of a donation from Holiday Inn, say, might be non-porn related. Talk about stretching a premise to make a point. DeLay probably accepted money from women, too, and we all know some women make a lot of money as porn stars.

DeLay's office wouldn't return a call; a spokesman for Representative Joe Barton, another Texan allegedly wallowing in filth, wouldn't comment.

But Seton Motley, the tireless DeLay defender from www.NewsoftheDay.org, stepped into the breach: "It's like saying Jenny Craig gets $10,000 from HEB and saying all $10,000 is from fatty foods. Well, no, it's not. There are vegetables and meat."

Or a meat and two veg, as Austin Powers might say.

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