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News of the Weird

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Former prostitute Jessi Winchester, 53, announced in February that she'd soon file papers declaring her candidacy for Congress from Nevada's Second District. (According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the highest-ranking elected ex-prostitute was mayor Sally Stanford, the mayor of Sausalito, California, in 1972.) And Mistress Madison, 32, a San Diego dominatrix who operates the Slave Cave and runs a phone-sex service, is running for Congress in this month's primary under the banner of Ross Perot's Reform Party. And dominatrix and former stripper Madame Lash, 50, has campaigned vigorously around Sydney in her quest for an Australian Senate seat in this month's elections.

Great Art

Tracey Emin, 32, opened a museum in December in London that displays only artifacts about her own life. She was fresh from a show in Minneapolis in which she exhibited a tent with embroidered names. She called it Everybody I've Ever Slept With: 1963-1995.

For the January opening of Janine Antoni's current show at the Matrix Gallery in Hartford, Connecticut, the artist soaked her hair in a scrub bucket filled with dye and "painted" the floor by swishing her locks across it. She called the performance "Loving Care." Among the pieces at the show is a sheet of paper onto which Antoni had batted her eyelashes more than 1,000 times after applying Cover Girl Thick Lash. A New York Times reviewer wrote that Antoni "has earned admiration for extracting multiple interpretations from seemingly simple actions."

The Society of Smoking Artists in San Francisco launched a "Butts for Jesse" campaign in January, encouraging artists with cigarette butts lying around to send them weekly to antiarts, protobacco senator Jesse Helms to let him know that artists are his friends because they consume higher-than-average numbers of cigarettes.

British artist Tony Kaye, 43, brought his "Roger" show to San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art in November. "Roger" consists of a homeless man sitting in a transparent cube so patrons can question him about being homeless. Kaye plans to sell "Roger" later as a work of art (the homeless man has agreed in writing to be sold). Said Roger, "I know that Tony wouldn't sell me unless he knew I had a good home."

Two of England's bad-boy artists, Gilbert and George, introduced a show of 16 oversize glossy photos in September, featuring the two of them in their traditional business suits, ensconced in various defecation motifs (rows of it, circles, sculptures) for the "Naked Shit Pictures" exhibit at the South London Art Gallery. One friendly critic called the work "deeply humanistic" and almost biblical; another wrote, "I find it difficult to drag myself away from this chapel [and] feel compelled to remain in the presence of a disturbingly weighty vision of the world."

Unclear on the Concept

A 12-year-old girl was arrested in Barrington, Illinois, in October and charged with scribbling on a town gazebo. Her scribbling consisted only of crossing out profane comments about her that others had written on the gazebo.

In December a North Carolina appeals court turned down inmate Mark McCrimmon's petition for money from the state's fund to compensate victims of violent crimes. A lower court had ruled him eligible for compensation, even though his injury--he was shot by a store owner and paralyzed from the waist down--occurred when he tried to steal $20 from a man in a store.

In December officials at the Wellington City Art Gallery in New Zealand denied entry to a nine-day-old baby when his mother sought to buy a ticket. Director Paula Savage said the gallery's policy of not permitting minors during the exhibit of controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's work would be strictly enforced.

In December Rudy Terrenal, 58, was convicted of the murder of David Dawkins, his supervisor at a Mobil Oil refinery in Torrance, California, and sentenced to 39 years to life. Terrenal claimed he was innocent. He testified that he'd gone to Dawkins to protest being fired and took a gun only so he could commit suicide if his protest failed. Terrenal said that he suddenly remembered he was Catholic and thus had to set aside his suicide plans and that he remembers nothing after that.

In December a federal jury in New York City awarded Joyce Stratton, 51, $1 million in her age-discrimination lawsuit against the New York City Department for the Aging. She had worked at the agency, which helps the elderly secure benefits and legal rights, for 21 years and lost her $51,000 salary plus pension benefits when she was replaced by a younger person.

Just Can't Stop Myself

Seattle physician Amanda Adler's latest piece in a medical journal, described in a December article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, was on a woman who chews athletic tube socks when she's nervous and thus wound up with a ball of sock fibers in her stomach that blocked digestion and caused pain. Adler's first journal piece was on her treatment of an Eskimo boy in a remote Alaskan village whose tongue had frozen to an iron railing and whose father freed him by urinating on the railing.

Kraft Food Company announced in December that Rob Watkins, 35, of Odessa, Ontario, is the king of Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners. Watkins claims to have eaten at least 10,000 of them and says on many days he eats them for each of his three meals. "I don't consider it an addiction," he said. "I honestly don't get sick of it."

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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