Tears of a Klown

A fight over signs gets nasty

Almost everyone out in the boonies hates those countless signs that homebuilders and sellers illegally put up on private property and street medians. Few people, though, hate them as much as Larry Lipton, a resident of the FM 1960 area.

His ongoing fight with Royce Homes over its signs is escalating by the minute. And when you've got a gay clown and a possibly homophobic slur involved, the entertainment value is high.

Lipton hates those signs, which he contends are useless. ("The Woodlands doesn't allow them, and they sell plenty of homes there.") He's inspired an army of followers, some of whom take great pleasure in taking down the signs and doing things like slicing them up or dumping them in the parking lot of Royce Homes's main office.

One of those fighters is Ricky Hurt, aka Rainbo de Klown, who is also known for being the type of gay activist who once "raided" a bar that was a police hangout after HPD raided some Montrose establishments.

Hurt not only took down or sliced up signs, he left notes to Royce telling them he had done it. Which apparently didn't sit well with Royce Homes president John Speer.

Speer gave an interview on the sign situation to Brandon De Hoyos, a writer for the FM 1960 Sun. The resulting story contained these paragraphs: "[Speer] also questioned the agendas of both Lipton and [his] volunteers, including that of Ricky Hurt, who Speer said was a 'high-profile gay activist.'"

"I am not sure if I would be wanting to sign up with Rainbow the Clown (sic). That guy has his own agenda with bandit signs," Speer told the Sun. "I am not sure I would want my kids around that kind of guy."

Snap, girlfriend. Way to make the gay-clown-equals-pedophile connection.

In a written statement to Hair Balls, Speer said the quote was taken out of context and that he had been referring to Hurt's activism concerning regulation of sexually oriented businesses.

That was news to reporter De Hoyos. "I have never done an interview without getting it on tape for this very reason," he says. "Speer was never taken out of context, because he never mentioned Hurt's positions [on] SOBs. He did mention several times how he wouldn't want to be aligned with 'Rainbo de Klown' and that he wouldn't want his kids around him."

Speer didn't return our calls, but he wrote Hurt that he was sorry the "article resulted in your taking offense where none was intended."

He didn't say, "Geez, I just realized that those gay people buy homes, too." But it kinda sounded that way.

Virtual Champ

Twelve Americans are headed to Italy next month to represent the U.S. in the World Cyber Games, and one of them's a Houstonian.

Isidro Sifuentes, a 21-year-old UH student, will take on the world in FIFA 2007, a soccer game which the rest of the gaming world apparently plays instead of Madden.

"I'm Hispanic, but I can't play soccer. That's why I play [video] games," Sifuentes says.

He's won thousands of dollars and gotten free trips out of his FIFA skills, and he made the U.S. team by winning the nationals in Las Vegas. He trains up to nine hours a day in the weeks leading up to a competition.

"I never thought I'd make money off it," he says. "But now you can feed a family with gaming."

And yeah, his parents, immigrants from Matamoros, are proud. "I'd rather see my son playing a game than drinking a six-pack," says his father Isidro. "Within this gaming community, he's known."

Nominations Are Open

With November just around the corner, it's quickly becoming time again to hand out the coveted Houston Press Turkey of the Year awards.

None of our past winners have seen fit to acknowledge their victories. Maybe if Andy Fastow had put it on his résumé, the judge would have been even more lenient in his sentencing. We'll never know.

At any rate, this year we're opening the process to accept nominations from you, the public. Starting next week, you'll be able to send in a ballot or go online at www.houstonpress.com and tell us who deserves to be a turkey and why. So start thinking about it.

No nominating your relatives, though. Unless they are, say, trying to knock down a historic theater or two.

 
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