Words to Whips
While many folks at L.A. Weekly probably prefer the swankier confines of the papers current Sunset Boulevard digs, I have a soft spot for the ramshackle, drafty warehouse in Silver Lake where our offices used to be. So imagine my double take when Melinda Mara, the scrap girl at JTs Stockroom bondage-a-torium, gave me her work address. Yes, the freakin old Weekly is now an enormous supply center for the S&M/B&D/fetish set the world over.
They used to say that we crits at the Weekly could dish it out but not take it; the new occupants of the space can handle both. The first thing that hits you when you walk into JTs is the smell of solvents and cowhide. KROQ blasts over the airwaves, as it did back in the day, and at the same decibel level one tradition lives on, I guess. Tour guides Lisa Drucker and Jason Alejos are as clinical as medical-supply salesmen when they point out the racks of pain-inducing/pleasure-enhancing goodies. Chastity Row has devices to spike an overeager slaves erection, stacks of nipple clamps, artificial penises, butt plugs, and their current best-seller (at 6 bucks a strand), Thai Anal Love Beads, which Lisa thinks are so cute, I love the baby-blue color!
The medical-supply theme continues as we view boxes of speculums, catheters and shiny metal enema gear. The electronic stuff is the best, says Jason, as he plugs in a purple velvet wand, which emits a low-level electric shock. Not too bad on the palm, but murder on more sensitive body parts, one imagines. Theres a rejects row of manufacturers samples that JTs decided not to carry: dildos, tapes and blowup dolls with vibrating vaginas. The rejects will be sold on eBay. We got kicked off eBay for a while because we used the word cock in one of the descriptions, sighs Jason. We should be allowed back on again soon. Faulty products sit in the returns section, awaiting destruction or repair. You can imagine where some of that stuff has been, says Lisa, and we grimace accordingly.
The JTs crew appear cheery as they sew straitjackets and glue wrist cuffs together. Both Lisa and Jason say that working at JTs has been a life-enhancing experience. You meet the greatest people through the Web site and at trade shows, bubbles Jason.
Business is booming. A lot of it, we think, is fear that Bush and Ashcroft will shut everything down, says Jason. So people are stocking up now . . . Repression brings out a lot of hidden urges, dont you think? And if repression is not enough to drive a sale, JTs throws in a little something special with every order: a free Tootsie Pop.
A Portrait of Todays Woman
The radio ad said: Womens Expo. Products and Services for Todays Woman.
Who are they talking about when they say Todays Woman? I wondered. So I headed to the Pasadena Hilton recently to partake of this feminine wonderland and compile a current portrait. Here is what I learned:
Todays Woman is very concerned about her health. But her IQ is questionable. For example, she is willing to consider harebrained solutions to the complex problems of Todays World: emu oil for her psoriasis, arthritis, heart disease, hemorrhoids or hair-care needs; or an Angelite hair dryer to prevent leukemia and breast cancer. If she has chronic or computer-related headaches, or if she needs to drain her sinuses while also lifting her depression, perhaps a nice magnet hat will do the trick. At $99.95, it practically pays for itself!
Because Todays Woman is concerned with performing at her optimum best, $270 isnt too much to spend for a bottle of 30 Takisonic health beads, which, when placed on her pressure points, can help her tap into the river of energy that runs through the universe while simultaneously breaking up large water clusters in her body.
Although nutrition is important to Todays Woman, she is very conflicted about soybeans. First she hears Brendak Oswalt, National Soy Authority, discuss the beans multifaceted chronic-disease-protection properties, and then, minutes later at the SOY ALERT booth, she reviews pamphlets telling her how soybeans cause breast cancer, kidney disease, pancreatic disorders, and stunted growth in children. To aid her decision, Todays Woman can sample soy-based chocolate pudding, sandwich spreads and cookies at other nearby booths to see if she feels more or less diseased.
Todays Woman cultivates her spiritual consciousness and relishes the opportunity to consult with the level 3 licensed aura soma practitioner seated in front of a large display of bottles containing different-colored oil-and-water combinations. One of these will speak to you, says a well-groomed woman offering a $50 consultation for a non-intrusive, self-selective soul-development system.
Its not clear which level of soul development is the one most desired by the L.A. County Sheriffs Department Recruitment Unit, which offers Todays Woman pamphlets and free specially printed fortune cookies.
I advise Todays Woman to grab some Kleenex before stopping at the Love Boutique Booth to try the latex penis masturbation sleeve. Put your fingers in here, the saleswoman will insist, squirting in some lubricant, and then jerking it up and down to demonstrate how good it will make that special man feel, before turning Todays Woman back into the cold Expo, alone, with no way to wipe the goo from her hand.
But Todays Woman isnt a total fool. It turns out she wont waste her hard-earned money on assorted aura enhancers without proof her aura exists. So when she is offered a free aura photograph, and is told that hers is a very rare, magical blue/violet aura which allows her to manifest anything she wants, she knows what to do. She manifests her exit from the Womans Expo.
Is It Live or Is It . . . Memorex?
MOCAs controversial promotional campaign, currently showing in a print, TV, bus-card or billboard ad near you, appropriates familiar ironic tropes from conceptual art to present urban streetscapes and activities as museum pieces. But months before the million-dollar TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angelesdesigned campaign debuted, BritArt.com, an online art gallery, launched a similar irony-laden street-sticker campaign in London. Coincidink? Chiat\Day account director Mary Anderson says designers were unaware of the award-winning campaign by London heavyweight agency Mother when they concepted the MOCA ads last May (TBWA has an office in London). Its not a huge surprise theres a similar campaign, because we were inspired by something ubiquitous: the walls of the museum and museum vernacular, Anderson says.
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