Ruben Cureses invited this rusty cylinder over to his Wilton Manors condo last Tuesday to see for himself the mysterious images emanating from his living room TV set. There was the set, plugged into the wall like Grandma used to do it, with rabbit ears splayed. On the screen were five naked, hyperactive guys with erections doing, well, the nasty.
When Cureses turns his set to Channel 3 (the go-to channel for VCR users), he says, he gets not the usual video static but dirty pictures. "The first time I turned it on, I thought I was watching [the educational station]," Cureses says. "I said, 'What kind of a special is this?'"
It has been going on for about a month now, says Cureses, a stocky 40-year-old man who works at a university. Ten- or 20-minute segments of unexpurgated gay porn videos, at various times during the day and night. "The other day, it was some French video with little kids and adults," he says.
The guys who were on Cureses' set this evening appeared to be hanging out in somebody's garage. The 'Pipe is no connoisseur of gay porn, but it appeared to him that there was mostly self-stimulation going on, though a fleshy young man with a meringue swirl of blond hair knelt accommodatingly for the rest. There was much groaning and sighing and close-ups of swollen, violently stroked members. Yuck. Cureses turned away from the screen in embarrassment. "This is distracting. "
Cureses is a rare Wilton Manors resident who doesn't subscribe to the local cable service -- "I'm not much of a television person," he says. When he does watch, it's on the rabbit-eared set in his cluttered, overfurnished living room in Wilton Groves Condos.
Tailpipe was stumped. Wilton Manors has its own "hot zone" -- a strip on Wilton Drive where laptop users can reach the Internet unplugged -- but it has nothing to do with that kind of hot stuff. "Somebody would have to have some kind of antenna and generating instrument somewhere," City Manager Joseph Gallegos says. "I'm not sure how they could do something like that inside a home."
A spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission also expressed puzzlement. "It sounds like it may be something to do with a signal bleed, possibly for a local cable operator," says Rebecca Fisher, "but I can't say for sure without knowing more." A signal bleed through rabbit ears? Another FCC spokeswoman added that the transmissions were probably a violation of broadcast obscenity and indecency rules.
Cureses has no objection to pornography -- in its place. But he thinks the free-flying broadcast could damage the gay community. In fact, he wonders if the broadcasts are coming from right-wing conspirators trying to discredit gays. "When some little old lady or some kid somewhere in a poor neighborhood who doesn't have cable tunes in, it's going to hit the wall," Cureses says. "I want to stop it before that happens."
So last week, he filed a complaint with the FCC.
Will investigators follow up? Stay tuned.
Not you, kid. You go to bed.
Don't Hide the Numbers
When Art Colucci was a kid, during the Vietnam War, he remembers seeing the tally of the dead everywhere. Protesters would plaster it on signs, and the nightly news would report it. Now, with Americans dying in Iraq in alarming clusters, nobody seems to be talking about it, says Colucci, a 47-year-old West Palm Beach ad salesman. "You go into a restaurant and ask five people how many have died in Iraq and I'd bet you'd get five 'I don't knows. '"
Sick of the apathy, Colucci paid $80 to have a sign made displaying the number of Iraq dead and injured. He pinned it to the second floor of his historic, Spanish-style home in the Flamingo Park neighborhood of West Palm Beach. He changes the number daily. "You have to look hard, but it's in the paper every day," he says. Above the tally, the sign has a pair of American flags and the words: "Hey George What Do You Say... How Many Kids Have You Killed Today?" The answer, as of Tuesday, is 1,834 dead and 13,769 wounded.
Dump the Booey
The first thing Howard Stern said to Fort Lauderdale cartoonist Barry Dutter when Dutter appeared on Stern's show last week: "So you've been writing some real arrogant letters." Indeed, Dutter, a former editor of Cracked! magazine and the founder of nascent GAG! magazine, had been faxing smack (including the fight poster pictured) to the show for four years, finally goading Stern producer Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate to play Dutter in a game of Stump the Booey -- an on-air, '80s-music-trivia contest. Dutter stood to make $5,000 if he won; if he lost (a classic Sternian gambit here), Jaimie, a stripper friend of Dutter's, would disrobe in the studio.
Stern threw a few notes at Dutter and the Booey. Both identified it as Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now."
Stern cued another song. It sounded like mush. Booey complained, "I got nothing." But Dutter nailed it: Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55."
Stern genuflected: "Barry, how do you know so much about music?"
"This is pretty much all I do, Howard," Dutter replied. "I never stopped listening to '80s music."
Both he and Booey nailed the remaining three songs, leaving Dutter the winner. Stern then offered Jaimie $500, a trip to Washington, D.C., to see a wrestling event, and a group hug if she dropped her towel.
"I guess I could," she said, then did.
"Whoa, wow, ooooo!" Stern burbled. "Look at those boobs!"
The partially disrobed Jaimie declined the hug.
"I almost missed the Sammy Hagar one because it has a long intro that sounds exactly like every other heavy metal song from the '80s," Dutter said the next day. But Dutter remembered hearing the song while working out at the gym maybe a month earlier. He thought: Now there's a song you don't hear much anymore.
The 'Pipe Wants to Be a Millionaire
Last week, Tailpipe lined up with a few hundred other smarty-pipes at a Lauderdale Lakes Dodge dealership to try out for the yes-it's-still-on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? The show's traveling lackeys were administering screen tests. The 'Pipe stood in line behind an elderly gentleman who claimed he skipped seeing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in its initial 1937 release to instead buy a model airplane and in front of a woman who claimed to have won a gas grill and a lifetime supply of 20 Mule Team brand borax on Sale of the Century sometime last century. The odds were looking pretty decent, all considered, even during the tests. Dirty Harry took place in San Francisco! Susan Sarandon's character in Bull Durham quoted Walt Whitman! Annika Sorenstam is Swedish! An enzyme in fresh pineapple prevents Jell-O from setting! Bring on the 'Pipe's promised million!
Alas, the tests also contained an unsettling number of questions that were, uh, hard. As a public service, the answers are included below, in the hope that these trivia bits come in handy during the next hurricane-inspired game of Trivial Pursuit:
Frank Capra, Fred Astaire and Will Rogers have all hosted the Academy Awards.
The word yahoo was coined in Gulliver's Travels.
The element chromium makes stainless steel stainless.
Diana Rigg played the only Bond girl James Bond ever married.
-- As told to Edmund Newton