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7/30/2009

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

You know where the world’s best body painters live? Not Los Angeles or New York. Not Paris, Milan, London, Beijing or Amsterdam. They live here, in Orlando.

Yes, indeedy, we are the champions – or more accurately, we are the home of the champions, twin brothers Brian and Nick Wolfe, who just won a gold medal in the “brush/sponge” division at the World Bodypainting Festival in Seeboden, Austria. The brothers Wolfe beat teams from 38 other countries to claim the trophy and the 2,000-euro cash prize that came with it.

Theirs sounds like a tough life. “We like to paint pretty girls,” says Brian Wolfe, 41, “and we like monsters. We like to turn pretty girls into monsters.” Which is evident when you visit their website, www.evil twinfx.com. They’ve transformed women into fleshless anatomical studies, intricate demons with screaming butt cheeks, cheetahs and crazed-looking googly-eyed things that defy description, just to sample a few bits of their eye-popping work. It’s amazing how visually versatile boobs really are. (Our favorite: Spongeboob. Use your imagination.)

That interest, and experience gleaned at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, has served the brothers well. Their main gig is traveling the world to tutor others in the art of body painting. “We teach the classic, 3-D painting with the anatomy,” says Brian. “It is really starting to pay off.” They’ve authored a how-to book, and they hold classes locally as well.

Nice work if you can get it.

Of course, Orlando has its other side, too.

Just when we think we’ve got that reality-TV gorilla off our back, here comes a social-media spin on the tired old theme. The folks at the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau have stepped off the family track to bring us 67 Days of Smiles. On July 26-28, 10 finalist couples from around the world will be put through their paces to test audience reaction as they entertain from touristy spots about town via Facebook and Twitter. The winners, announced in August, get $25,000 and 67 days to spend aboard roller coasters and in gator swamps.

Odds are if you follow their tweets and updates you’ll learn just how gosh-darn great everything is here in the land of never-ending fun. Not that being sponsored by the convention and visitors bureau would influence the contest winners’ opinions or anything. Of course not.

It’s not exactly paving paradise to put up a parking lot, Joni Mitchell, but it appears that the city is one step closer to finalizing some of the repurposing (and resurfacing) it has put forward in the design plan for the old, polluted ruins of the Spellman Engineering/OUC lot right next to Lake Highland Preparatory School.

You’ll recall from our previous reporting (“Not our problem,” July 9) that the city basically handed over a 16-acre chunk of the controversial lot to Lake Highland Prep for $2 million, all of which would go toward the $13 million Silkwood scrubdown required to clear the area of contaminants. The school plans to use part of the parcel for parking and hopes to get to paving by the beginning of August, before the shaggy-haired BMW-driving brats return to shuffle through their uncertain puberties.

That move is leaving business owners in the Lake Ivanhoe merchants district with less parking, a handicap OUC appeared to be interested in alleviating by allowing merchants and customers to temporarily park in the old water treatment marsh across Lake Highland Avenue. Phew.

Anyway, at a meeting of the Municipal Planning Board on July 21, that as-yet-unsold lot (known as “Lot A” or “the grass lot”) came up, and the two main proponents for nudging the city into designating at least some of the area as public parking – Ivanhoe Village Main Street president Gordon Spears and Ethos Vegan Kitchen proprietor Laina Shockley – spoke up in favor of adding a public parking condition into the plan.

According to an e-mail from Spears, four MPB members were sympathetic at first – after all, he says, parking is called for by the city’s own Downtown Orlando Transportation Plan – but city attorney Kyle Shephard warned the board against it. Apparently it’s hard to sell land with public parking on it. The item passed without any promise of parking at all.

In fact, says Spears, OUC has yet to even get back to him on the possibility of temporary parking they floated last month.

City spokesperson Heather Allebaugh says that the reason parking wasn’t included in the discussion of the “grass lot” planned development is that “the code we have already allows for parking,” and that it isn’t typically considered when approving a planned development.

Spears, meanwhile, smells another bad deal on the horizon. Or is that arsenic?

You know how your life is so turgid and miserable that you sit around your house in the same clothes for three days while the endless loop of ice cream, vodka and LeSueur baby peas in the can all congeal in that hole between your ears while you wait to die, but not until after this amazing episode of All My Children? Yeah, we do too.

But we also know that the only elixir that can yank us out of our downward spiral is Goddess Oprah.

Well, now Oprah’s imaginary love interest from the Niagara Falls region, Stedman Graham (“Stedmaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!”) is about to coattail his way into something local, albeit amorphous and somehow unattainable: He’ll be an adjunct professor at Full Sail University (too expensive) teaching his mantra, “You Can Make It Happen: A Nine-Step Plan for Success,” in the school’s behavioral science program.

Of course the whole program is exactly what it sounds like – goals, ambitions, understanding, blender, results – but hasn’t most of Graham’s success come in the form of being a male publicity beard to counteract the Sapphic intrusions of Gayle? Ah, well, if you go to Full Sail to find your brain, this is probably what you deserve.

This week in gay: Flat tires for everyone!

Following a smattering of phone calls into Equality Florida’s disco switchboard – calls that basically accused AAA Auto Club South of not extending spousal discounts to gay couples who probably didn’t marry in the South because you can’t – Equality Florida arranged a meeting with the company to remind them just how much money gay people have. It worked!

“We had not talked about this issue very much at all until you reached out to us, and that has caused us to talk about it quite a bit,” AAA South president and chief executive officer Tom O’Brien said – a little gaily! – in an EQFL press release. “Our policy does include gay and lesbian spouses, wherever they were married. Whether in other states or countries, they qualify.”

Well, they do now, anyway. O’Brien says the company will need two weeks to convey this wisdom to its 3,000 staff members – like a big gay rumor, right? – and that all you’ll have to do is “say” you’re married to qualify.

This is how gay benefits come about: by paying for them.

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