Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Perfect Shoe for the Working Woman…

If she’s working a pole, that is. I was doing a little discount shoe shopping at when I came across these elegant Lucite heels with a very special feature—a drawer for tips. Hey, that makes perfect sense. When you’re twirling around a pole buck nekked, where are you supposed to stash those little tokens of appreciation from customers? (Yeah, I can think of one place right off, but don’t really want to go there.)

So what could be more practical than a pair of shoes that not only enhance your sexy image but provide a convenient (and hygienic) place to stash you evening’s earnings? At only $20 or so, these Lucite beauties are not only practical, they may be eligible as deductions on your taxes next year, along with those new boobs.

In a sadly failing economy, stripping seems like a recession-proof career. I mean, you keep hearing about bookstores and record shops going under but you never hear about a strip bar closing unless it’s in some Bible-belt town down South where the local holy-rollers burn it down.

Even if you haven’t given in to pole dancing and are still trying to pass yourself off as a model/actress/reality star/whatever, they might come in handy as you’re trying to pick up a date/trick at the Hollywood bar du jour. Brooke Hogan, grab a pair before they’re all gone.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Old Movie Stars Didn’t Have More Class (They Just Didn’t Get Caught)

It seems like every time some poster has a beef with Nicole Kidman or Angelina or any other current leading lady type, they bring up stars from the past as having more “class.” They seem to think these screen stars from the past led exemplary lives compared to these overexposed tarts in films today. Three of the ladies most mentioned as classier-than-thou are Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

What are they, nuts? Either these posters have very short memories or can’t read because these three stars never met a married co-star they didn’t like. Monroe blatantly slept her way to the top while Kelly had to do some serious covering-up of her past in order to marry royalty. I love them and their films, but that’s “class?”

These naïve folks who think celeb decadence is a recent phenom need a course in Hollywood History 101. First assignment: read “Hollywood Babylon.” The first one. I found a paperback copy of this when I was in high school in Montgomery, Alabama, and it changed my whole life. Well, at least it inspired me to move to Hollywood and look for a little “decadence” of my own.

The main thing you learn from reading this scholarly tome is that film stars have been drinking, drugging and fucking like minks as long as there have been films. Some of those silent film characters make Lindsay Lohan look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm.

My favorite silent-era sinner is Charlie Chaplin. Yeah, he was a genius and all that but the good stuff involved his taste for San Quentin quail. Charlie was a chicken hawk who never let a starlet’s tender age prevent him from getting into her pants. My current Hollywood crib is a short walk from Charlie’s old studio and was allegedly built by him for the studio’s players. I could so see ole Charlie stashing an underage mistress or two here and sneaking over for a quickie. Back then, he would have gotten away with it because there were no camera phones, no internet and no Perez Hilton.

Can you imagine a mogul trying to pull of something like that today? Two of the neighbors and a half-dozen studio employees would be texting the hot details of the assignation to Perez while a TMZ film crew and a van from Access Hollywood would be parked on the street with cameras.

What if the patrons had camera phones with internet access back in the old days of the Mogambo and Trocadero? Well, they didn’t so a lot of secrets will remain just that – secrets. Marilyn, Audrey and Grace – be glad your pasts died with you. Lindsay, Britney, Miley and Jessica – be very careful. The days when a star had any privacy are long gone.

The Kids are All Right (No Matter What You Name Them)

You know it’s a dull day in Gossipville when a celeb names his/her new baby something more original than Bobby or Mary and a blogger gets so upset you’d think the kid was his. The latest oddly-monikered celebuspawn is Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale’s new son Zuma Nesta Rock. Other recent kid names drawing heat are Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee’s son), Apple and Moses (Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin), Banjo (Rachel Griffiths), Sunday Rose (Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban), Alabama Gypsy Rose (Drea De Matteo and Shooter Jennings) and Kal-el (Nicolas Cage).

I recall getting a press release back in 1992 announcing the birth of a baby girl named Destiny Hope Cyrus to singer Billy Ray Cyrus and then-girlfriend-now-wife Leticia. My first thought was “She’s gonna hate you.” But the exceptionally amiable toddler was soon nicked “Smiley” which morphed into “Miley.” This year 15-year-old Miley officially left Destiny Hope behind by legally changing it to the more manageable Miley Raye Cyrus. Some of these kids are likely to make similar choices down the line.

Some of the most-derided names belong to famous kids who seem to have grown up OK, like Chastity Bono, Zowie Bowie (now known as Joe) and Frank Zappa’s kids Diva, Dweezil, Ahmet and Moon Unit. I don’t notice unusually-named kids making the news by going to jail or rehab more often than the ones with duller handles like Nick Hogan.

By the time these kids hit first grade they’ll be known by their nicks anyway and the only person at school who’ll be seeing their birth names will be some old broad in the records office who probably named her kids Sunshine, Rainbo and Che. Their classmates are more likely to be named Sunday, Suri and Shiloh than Susie or John.
Sometimes I wish I had a more unusual name after being one of six Lindas in my elementary school class, which also had five Cathys. Our teachers tried calling us Linda B., Linda C., etc., but even that didn’t work so well since the presence of a girl named Linda Gail Canterbury forced them to call us Linda Faye and Linda Gail. I’ll bet Zuma and Banjo won’t have that problem.

I’ve always liked Moon Zappa’s rejoinder to a classmate who asked her “Why did your parents name you Moon?” She countered, “Why did yours name you Cathy?

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to Eat Like Po' White Trash

I was strolling the virtual grocery aisles of tonight putting together a grocery order for delivery tomorrow. Yeah, I’m lazy. I was checking out the canned goods and ran across the heading for beans. One was “Pork and Beans.” I thought, “They still make this stuff?” Van Camps Pork and Beans was a staple at my house growing up that I had long forgotten because I haven’t eaten any in years.

There are a few special delicacies my folks raised me on back in Alabama that I gave up when I got old enough to read labels and see whatthehell it was I was eating. I realize now that these “foods” appealed to my folks’ Depression-era sensibilities because they’re all really cheap. You can also eat most of them straight out of the can or on a Ritz cracker – the only kind we had at home. I may get nostalgic for this stuff but I have no desire to eat any of it. I can get my daily quota of salt and fat without eating cat food disguised as “meat.”

Those Van Camp’s Pork and Beans were probably the healthiest of the bunch if not the most tasty. You can buy a 15 Oz. can at Vons for just over a dollar and make three meals out of it with only 1 gram of fat and no cholesterol. Be sure to serve some fried bologna with your Pork and Beans to relive those happy memories of being in jail in Biloxi, MS.

One step up from plain ol’ Pork and Beans is another meal-in-a-can from Van Camp’s called Beanee Weenee, which not surprisingly consists of beans with pieces of chopped weiners. Eat these for a few days and ramen soup from the 99 Cents store will taste like a gourmet treat.

Moving down the food chain, we come to the All-American lunch meat – Spam. Vons sells a 12 Oz. can of Spam for $3.25 and each serving contains 16 grams of fat and 790 mg. of sodium. That doesn’t count the Wonder Bread and Hellman’s mayo you need to cover the taste of the Spam. Be sure to wash off that ham-flavored Jello first.

The next sort-of meat from my childhood was Armour Vienna Sausage. Not to be confused with real sausage. A 5 Oz. can costs a whopping $.60 and three sausages have 11 grams of fat. The ingredients as listed by the label include Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Beef, Pork, Salt, Corn Syrup, Less than 2% of Mustard, Spices, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Sodium Nitrite. Yummy! My folks kept these in the cabinet all the time so I could have some whenever I wanted. If I had kids (which I don’t) and put a can of these in his/her lunch box, how fast do you think CPS would be circling my house with bullhorns? But since back then they also put Coca-Cola (the real thing) in our baby bottles, we already had cast-iron stomachs by the time we could chew.

One step down from Vienna Sausage is Potted Meat. Not surprisingly, Vons doesn’t stock any potted meat but if you really have a jones for it, will sell you a case of 48 cans of Armour Potted Meat for $19.69. This is obviously a real bargain since “potted meat product” consists of Mechanically Separated Chicken, Beef Tripe, Water, Salt, Salt Less than 2% of Mustard, Natural Flavorings, Dried Garlic, Vinegar, Dextrose, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. Let’s face it – this sort-of meat pate is Friskies Mixed Grill for humans. Be sure to stir in a little pickle relish before you plop it on that Ritz cracker.

I confess to actually eating the previous dubious delights when I was a kid but it gets worse. There were things my dad would eat that I haven’t touched to this day. That’s saying a lot since if you drag it out of the ocean and it isn’t actually still moving, I’ll probably try it.

Next up are canned sardines, with which my dad smelled up the kitchen frequently. Vons has Chicken Of The Sea Smoked Sardines In Oil - 3.75 Oz. for $1.00 a can. They have 13 grams of fat and I would rather slurp down an oyster that’s quivering and staring at me. Especially if there’s Tabasco sauce, horseradish and a lot of cold beer involved.

I’ve saved the worst for last. My dad loved a uniquely Southern dish called Brains and Eggs. Most folks like this for breakfast but he’d eat it anytime. North Carolina Congressman Howard Coble
shared his recipe for this delicacy:

2-1/2 Tablespoons bacon grease 

4 eggs 

1/3 cup whole milk 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1 can (5 Oz.) pork brains in gravy (Rose Brand preferred) 

Melt bacon grease in an iron skillet on low heat. Add pork brains to heated grease. Stir with a fork. Add salt and pepper and stir. Whisk eggs and milk together. Increase heat and add egg mixture to brains. Scramble to desired consistency. Serve immediately over toast.

Predictably, Vons doesn’t sell pork brains but I found a site where you can buy Rose’s Pork Brains with gravy, 5 oz. for $2.54. One can, which is about 2/3 cup, has only 150 calories and 5 grams of fat but has 3,500 mg of cholesterol or 1,170% of your daily recommended intake. Bon appetite.

My parents both lived to ripe old ages. I have no idea why.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Used Cars from Hell

Buying a car was the last thing I thought about doing this year. My perfect, pristine little 1994 Honda Civic was running just fine and getting great gas mileage so why bother? Then one day last month I went out to get into my car and it wasn’t there. Since mine was one of the most-stolen cars of the year, I can only figure my baby met an untimely death in a chop shop, with no one to appreciate the immaculate care I had taken of her. RIP.

After a month of wrangling with the insurance company and a rent-a-car I didn’t like (but they paid for) I finally got a paltry check reflecting the average market value of my model. This check was supposed to “replace” what I had lost. Sounds fair, right? Until I started shopping for a replacement.

I started where everyone starts, with CraigsList. They had an ever-changing lineup of Honda Civics claiming various years, features and prices. The variety made me dizzy and also reminded me that the last time I looked for a used car was pre-internet. I Googled “How to buy a used car” and came up with several interesting and informative sites. The most intriguing advice I got was to subscribe to something called AutoCheck, which for a modest fee lets you run a make on any auto’s VIN number and get its history. Well, most of it anyway. I ran my departed vehicle and it checked out great but did not mention the most important thing you should know if anyone tried to sell it to you. That it was stolen. Oh, well.

So I went back to CraigsList and started checking out the ones that I could actually buy with the meager funds I had on hand. Some of the owners posted pretty pictures of their cars and stated they were “in great condition” but alas, they had to part with them because they were “moving out of town.” Most failed to mention the more important details like whether the car had automatic or manual, A/C, power steering, brakes, stuff like that. Things I’d rather hear about instead of how good the mileage is. All Hondas get good mileage, OK?

I called or e-mailed a few and requested their VIN numbers so I could check them out. Some had them, some didn’t. Some knew whether their vehicles has power steering and brakes, some didn’t. Some didn’t even know their vehicle’s history as revealed by AutoCheck. Which really makes me want to buy their car. I found some owners who didn’t even know as much as I did after I ran their car through AutoCheck.

After finding a few really flakey private sellers, I decided to try the dealers. Those guys have to stand behind what they sell, right? Uh, maybe. If you can afford to go to the high-end dealers with the high-priced cars, OK. You know, the ones who sell new cars, too. On my budget, I was dealing with the kind of outfits that were located on a piece of rented asphalt on a busy street with a few sad vehicles baking in the sun.

I found three dealer vehicles that sounded promising. They checked out on AutoCheck, had the features I needed and the photos looked fairly attractive. So I enlisted a friend to take me out to look at the three promising picks last Saturday. Alas, up close they didn’t look nearly as promising.

The first was a black 97 Civic with a fairly clean record located at a dealer in Santa Monica. Seeing this car brought it home what I was really up against. If this is the only kind of car I can afford, kill me now. The “dealership” was located in an alley and its “inventory” consisted of a few cars, all over ten years old. The Civic was black and had a bad paint job and an interior that suffered from too much wear and too many amateur attempts at touch-ups with a spray paint can from WalMart. It looked rode hard and put up wet. On the plus side, the engine sounded fine but I couldn’t get past the feeling this car had lived at least 40 years already.

So next to the second “dealer” in Mar Vista. This one was slightly bigger – more cars, its own website. Unfortunately, still D-list cars. The Civic I was there to check out had an obviously new white Earl Scheib paint job and duct tape holding the brand-new windshield in place. I didn’t bother to ask what happened to the old one. But the price was right so we took it out for a spin and found that the engine light refused to go off. Bad sign. Time to move on to number three.

The next car was located in Rosemead, way the hell out on the freeway. I didn’t realize how far until we set out. Way out. This one was an unfortunate shade of purple, which I hoped meant it might be a good buy. Wrong. It was kinda hard to check out because it was blocked in behind other cars and didn’t seem to have been moved in quite a while, judging from the layer of dust. After I got inside, I didn’t want to move it, either.

The interior looked as though a large family of raccoons had been nesting there since the last time it was moved. One outside mirror appeared to be held on with duct tape and there was a gaping hole in the dashboard. I wish now I had taken my camera along on this excursion so you could compare what these cars really looked like with the dealers’ photos. Think more PhotoShop than Mariah Carey’s last album. I don’t recall what the engine of the purple bomb sounded like because I was so dispirited by the realization of what that insurance check could buy, I just wanted to go back home, get drunk and take a nap. That night I had nightmares about spending the rest of my years in a trailer park with one of those vehicles rusting what was left of its life away out front among the pigs and chickens.

But I got up the next day determined to give the private sellers a second chance. One was selling cheap but had a salvage title. I was so depressed I was willing to give them a chance until a guy in the valley posted an ad with really nice photos of a cute little 1995 two-seater Honda Del Sol at a reasonable price. I ran the VIN number and it still looked promising. Best of all, he was going to be in the area the next day and offered to drive it over. So I agreed to look at one more car Monday.

Being prepared for the worst, I was pleasantly surprised when the car looked just like its photos, including the interior, which sported one minor rip but was otherwise clean. This Honda was such a step up from the previous candidates that I was willing to drop $70 taking her to visit my longtime mechanic Steve. After an hour or so and watching three guys examine everything there is to examine about a used car, Steve pronounced the cute little Del Sol sound with only a couple of minor problems that did not affect how it ran.

So for my insurance check plus $200 plus $300 in state taxes and fees, $30 to AutoCheck and $70 to Mechanic Steve, I’m the somewhat happy but mostly relieved owner of a sporty little blue-green number that’s easy to park and gets great gas mileage. I think to be really happy, I need to take the top off and drive her to the beach.

The Lure of Crazy Women

Yet another horndog politician has trashed his career and longtime marriage over a crazy broad. The latest victim of the thinking-with-the-little-head syndrome is pretty boy John Edwards who managed to get caught so red-handed by the New Media that no amount of glossing-over by the Mainstream Media could save him.

Edwards’ case is especially sad because he got caught cheating on a woman who suffers from terminal cancer but it’s also especially annoying because he was dipping his wick into the kind of crazy broad who can’t keep her mouth shut – and doesn’t want to. It would seem that Rule #1 in the Philandering Pol Handbook would be “Pick a woman who has as much to lose as you do and has reasons to keep your affair a secret.”

This will not guarantee that the National Enquirer won’t follow you to your trysting place but it does make it less likely that your paramour will have them on speed dial and give them directions. Let’s face it – this is a woman who has publicly stated “I am going to be famous. Rich and famous. I am going to meet a rich, powerful man.” Does this sound like Discreet Mistress material or Future Reality Show Slut?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sexiest Latin Men of 2006

Here’s another one of those stories a celeb mag is obligated to churn out every year or so. Not surprisingly, some of these guys proved to be even bigger horndogs than I suspected at the time.

Estylo’s Perfect Dozen
Our Sexiest Latin Men
by Linda F. Cauthen

Antonio Banderas - Sexiest Movie Star
It take more than acting ability to shine on the silver screen—it takes star quality. Antonio has it in spades. His smoldering good looks coupled with his ability to tackle a variety of roles have made him one of the most sought-after leading men of his generation. Wed for ten years to actress Melanie Griffith, the 45-year-old Banderas just gets better with age. We can always hope for yet another Zorro film just because he looks so hot in the costume.

Gael García Bernal - Sexiest Indie Actor
At fourteen he starred in a soap opera called El Abuelo y yo and he was the first Mexican to be accepted at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. His big break came when he co-starred with buddy Diego Luna in the 2001 film Y tu mamá también, and he’s so gorgeous he even looked good in drag in Pedro Almodóvar’s La Mala Educación. The 27-year-old dated film beauty Natalie Portman for over a year but is currently enjoying his single status.

Ricky Martin - Sexiest All-Around Entertainer
Ricky’s been living la vida loca since his teens in the group Menudo, and we’ve loved watching him do it. He exudes confidence onstage and off, drawing us in with his infectious exuberance. But he has other passions besides music; the 34-year-old Puerto Rican singer has worked tirelessly to fight human trafficking in Colombia and Thailand. Ricky’s stated “Sensuality is something that you're born with” and he was certainly born with more than his share. Ricky’s one entertainer who’ll be shaking his bon-bon for years to come.

Benjamin Bratt - Sexiest Chameleon
Whether he’s playing a tortured poet, a hard-bitten police officer or an upright military man, Benjamin Bratt does it with style. This versatile actor can set female hearts racing in any role he plays but lately his favorite roles seems to be husband to his beautiful (and very lucky) wife Talisa Soto and dad to their two kids. This 42-year-old just gets better with age and experience. If we had a crystal ball, we’d be looking for an Oscar in Bratt’s future.

Enrique Iglesias - Sexiest Singing Scion
It can’t be easy to follow in the footsteps of a legend but Enrique has what it takes. When your family tradition includes, talent, looks, sex appeal and international superstardom, you have a lot to live up to—but killer genes to help you do it. 31-year-old Enrique’s been making women swoon since his 1999 debut single "Bailamos" and is currently draped all over magazine ads as the image of the fragrance True Star Men by Tommy Hilfiger. We bet Anna Kournikkova thinks he smells just great.

Juanes - Sexiest Rocker
What woman could resist a guy with bad boy looks but without the bad boy attitude? Juanes is so talented that he doesn’t need to do anything except write, sing, and play his own songs in his own language. Since his solo debut Fijate Bien was released in 2000, Juanes has been racking up an impressive string of hit records and awards. The 33-year-old singer can put across a rocker just as effortlessly as a ballad and looking devilishly sexy while doing it.

Cristián de la Fuente - Sexiest Hot Hunk
Since getting his big break on the 1998 Mexico-based TV series Reyes y Rey, this 32-year-old, 6’ 2” stunner has lent his talent and killer looks to major films like Driven and Basic, a string of indies and a memorable role in the TV series Family Law where he charmed lusty older woman Dixie Carter. This vet of the Chilean Airforce has been married to the gorgeous Angelica Castro for four years but he can fly over our air space anytime.

Andy Garcia - Sexiest Family Man
It’s truly refreshing to see a real family man like Andy Garcia, married 24 years and father of four. The 50-year-old Garcia’s family was forced to flee Cuba when he was a child and he has shown his love for his homeland in projects like the 2000 TV movie For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story and his directorial debut this year, The Lost City. What could be more desirable than a man with a passion for both his family and his work?

Antonio Villaraigosa - Sexiest Elected Official
Let’s face it—power is sexy. There’s something magnetic about a man who can control the fate of a conglomerate or a city. The first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since 1872 has it. The Boyle Heights bad boy who led student protests and fell in with gangs turned his life around and at 53 is now one of the most powerful Latinos in the country. As telegenic as a movie star, this hot mayor makes watching the local news much more interesting.

Helio Castroneves - Sexiest Speed Demon
This dashing driver can rev our motors any time. The 30-year-old two time Indy winner is the most colorful personality in racing today. When he’s not driving around the track at 100 mph or climbing a fence to celebrate his win, you can find the handsome and charming Castroneves windsurfing or jet skiing on a sunny Brazilian beach, no doubt surrounded by beautiful bikini-clad ladies. What red-blooded female could turn down a midnight drive in his Ferrari 360 Spider?

George Lopez - Sexiest Funny Man
My grandma always told me “Marry the man who makes you laugh, not the one who makes you cry.” The 45-year-old Lopez’ broad smile and great comic timing make you just want to reach through the TV screen and give him a big hug. His autobiography, Why You Crying showed a tender side that makes him even more lovable. Constance Marie has to be the luckiest woman on television because she gets paid to cuddle up to him every week.

Diego Luna - Sexiest Cutie
Who didn’t fall madly in love with Diego Luna when they saw him in the 2001 film Y tu mamá también? Is he not just too darn cute to be true? But there’s more to this 26-year-old actor than just good looks. He’s been acting in TV, movies, and theater since he was a child in Mexico and is constantly looking for new challenges. He showed us he could dance in Havana Nights: Dirty Dancing but is still seeking a dance partner of his own.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Interview with Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings was/is my favorite artist of all time and I finally had the chance to interview him in late 1993, when I was the editor of Country Fever magazine and he had re-signed with his longtime label RCA and was about to go into the studio to record the album that would be Waymore’s Blues (Part II). Unfortunately, country radio in 1994 couldn’t be bothered with anything but Garth and Shania so the album was Waylon’s last for a major label. He did record for independent labels before his death in 2002. Looking back at this interview, I can see at the time we both had hopes for the future of country music. Unfortunately, we were wrong. 15 years later things are just as bad if not worse.

LC: How do you feel about re-signing with RCA?
WJ: I’m really happy about that. My name on labels without Nipper didn’t never look right! It was on so many of them. It was a great thing, all those years with RCA and all those songs and everything. What really made me notice it was when they started to put out this boxed set, a forty-song boxed set that’s just been released this month. I told Marylou [his assistant], if they need any help with it, tell them to call me. That was before there was any talk about me re-signing. I got to working with them with that, and my lawyer told me, “They’re really interested in you coming back.” I had decided not to record any more, because most stations have a policy not to play anybody past 1986. They have a thing. That, and anybody over 40. That’s the way the labels are, a couple of them. My name had been used--if you could sign Waylon Jennings or somebody under forty, who do you take? You take the guy under forty. So that came back to me, but that’s all right. Being a priority, you know—I’ve been one! (laughs) And I don’t expect to be one forever, and I never did expect to, but I still have some things to do, and I’m gonna try to cut an album. I’m gonna work with [producer] Don Was. We’re gonna get in the studio right after the first of the year and try to do something so good they can’t ignore it.

LC: Are you getting tapes from songwriters?
WJ: You know what? I have written more songs when I finally told ‘em forget it, I don’t think I’ll record anymore, I started writing songs! (laughs) I guess I just kind of felt loose, and just started writing stuff. I’ve written some really great songs, even if I have to say so. I know a good song when I hear it. And I’ve got a couple of things by Jimmy Webb that are really good that I’m going to take in. I’m going to do something really different. I really like Don Was. He’s such a good man, and such a genius about music. I think we’re going to have a real good time.

LC: How do you feel about the RCA boxed set?
WJ: You know what? I couldn’t be happier about anything than I am that boxed set. I listened to that myself. Garth Fundis put that together, and a lot of people worked on it, and they tried hard and did a wonderful job. You know what? If I’d had complete control, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have done as good a job.

LC: I would have put in “Ain’t No God in Mexico” and “Slow Rollin’ Low,” left out “Green River.”
WJ: You know what? I might have done the same thing! (laughs) I’d forgotten about “Ain’t No God in Mexico.”

LC: I wish they would put out the Honky Tonk Heroes album as a CD. [They did a year later.]
WJ: That was the change of the music. That’s what made the change. That’s where it turned the corner. That’s when we got a hold of—got a foot in the door. From there on—that was the simplest album I ever cut in my life. Some of those songs don’t have but three instruments on them, and that was on purpose. I’ll talk to them. Maybe we can get them to do it! That album needs to be alltogether, not take two or three songs out of it. I don’t think people would understand it as well. Nowadays, it would really be a novelty, the way the music is now.

LC: A few years ago, most new guys sounded like Merle and Lefty. Now I’m hearing an awful lot of you in Clint Black’s “We Tell Ourselves.” That sounds like a Waylon song.
WJ: I tell you, that’s a real compliment. I think there’s some great artists out there. I think there’s a lot of bad rock ‘n’ roll being done. That’s the way it always happens. When rock ‘n’ roll does that, when it goes off and self-destructs, country music becomes big, as far as I can see. Then when it comes back with something big, it’ll kill country music again for a while. That’s kinda the way it always is. Travis Tritt, I think, is the best thing out there. He’s so talented, and he’s got that edge. He’s a rocker. I love what he does.

LC: He has a bad attitude, and I like that in a guy.
WJ: He’s a mess! (laughs) He’s got that attitude. You don’t want to mess with him, cause he’ll climb your tree—and trim it. (laughs)

LC: I think Marty Stuart’s wonderful.
WJ: Marty’s just fine. I like Marty. I’ve known him a long time, and he’s a real good kid.

LC: Marty made an interesting comment about how for the first time, country is making disposable stars.
WJ: That’s sad. I think there’s going to be a couple of reasons why. Some of these people are doing all these videos, and there’s always been a thing called overexposure, and television is good at that. If you wanted to be overexposed, you just got on television too much, and people would—you can’t sell tickets that way. There has to be an air, a little bit of mystery about someone to make somebody want to come out and spend thirty dollars to see him. Some of these guys are not selling any tickets. They’re a lot of fun to do, those videos, and I’ll probably do one or two more. But I don’t think you should take a song and get a bigger hammer and make a video fit it. If it don’t just cry out for one, why do it? Usually you can see it in your mind immediately, or you should be able to. Make it be the reason why you’re doing a video instead of doing a video and just forcing it on it.

LC: “Wrong” was a great video.
WJ: I thought that was a good video, and I had fun doing that. Those boys are really good. The girl at the end killed me. They were gonna take her off, and I said no,no,no, you’re not gonna take her off! (laughs) Every word she said, you leave it in there! So we did.

LC: I hear you’re going to be in a remake of Maverick?
WJ: They’re doing a movie of Maverick. Jim (Garner) and I have been friends for years, and he wanted me to come out and do a little cameo, so I’m going to do it. I don’t do too much of that. Unless I think it’s going to be some fun, I won’t do it at all, because I’m not an actor.

LC: Is it true you’re going to be on Married With Children? [He was, in 94.]
WJ: I don’t know for sure. I haven’t seen the script yet. They had one written at one time where I did (play himself) but I don’t know what this is for sure. I’ll have to wait until I get the script. But I’m looking forward to that, because they look like they’re a bunch of fun people. {They came to his record release party in the fall, and they were.]

LC: How has the big money changed Nashville?
WJ: Well, it’s big business. It’s really big business. I think the record companies tend to grab more control. I was watching something that Jackie Gleason had said about television, and I think it’s the same thing with the record companies. When they get you in there and they give you all this money, then they start taking more and more control away from you, because you get to liking that lifestyle, and you’re afraid you’ll lose it, which is a pretty good old trick. You get addicted to the lifestyle, and you don’t want to do anything to lose it. I think that’s what’s happened to a lot of these people. They let the companies just control things.
I was with a label and they brought in this young guy telling me he was my biggest fan, and that he loved my music—then all of a sudden he wanted to tell me how to do it. Here he had about four years in marketing, graduated out of college and they put him in charge of the music. That’s stupid. I don’t even know what I’m doing. How in the hell’s he gonna know what I’m doing?

LC: If he was smart, he’d send you into the studio, give you some money and tell you to bring the tape in when you finished.
WJ: They can’t do that. Part of it is an insecure thing.

LC: I do notice that now we have a couple of real music guys and not marketing guys heading up labels, i.e. Thom Schuyler [RCA] and Tony Brown [MCA].
WJ: Thom Schuyler is one of the reasons that I didn’t even hesitate about going back to RCA. Jimmy Bowen is an artist. Thom Schuyler and Jimmy Bowen, if they tell you something, you can take it to the bank. They put a face on a company. Most of the times, all through the years, I could never get an answer out of one department. I had to go all the way to New York. But when I was with Bowen over at MCA, it was a wonderful time. He’s wonderful to record with and he’s one of my favorite people in the whole world. A lot of people think he’s rough, but I’ll tell you what, all it is is he’s honest. He’ll tell you, that ain’t no good. You’ll say why, and he’ll have the reason.

LC: Lawyers should not be telling people how to make music.
WJ: CBS has just signed some lawyers to head up their companies and they’re gonna be sorry. [Waylon had just left CBS.] You gotta have music people to play music. You go in Thom Schuyler’s office and there’s a feeling in there that there’s somebody in there that cares about the music. It isn’t a guy who cares about selling records, although he wants to sell just as many as anybody else, but first of all, he wants you to know that he respects you and what you do. Maybe he don’t understand it, but I know he does respect me. He’s a great writer, and I enjoy listening to the things he’s written, and I was so happy—in fact I called him right after he got that job, either that or I sent him a card that said “it’s great to see somebody from the music end of the business heading up a company.”

LC: They don’t seem to want to sign artists whose looks aren’t “videogenic.”
WJ: Videogenic—that’s wonderful. I’ll steal that but you’ll get no credit! (laughs) I’ve heard that. I sat right next to a table of some heads of a company, and they were talking. They said “If he’s not good-looking and young, don’t even send him around.” They don’t even want to talk to them.

LC: I think we’ll see a backlash.
WJ: Yeah, and I tell you what. The dust is settling now. It’s fixing to really settle. Country music right now reminds me of rock ‘n’ roll music in the late sixties and early seventies, when it really became big business. It was a fun time when rock ‘n’ roll first hit, Elvis, Fats, Little Richard, all of them. Then about in the seventies it became universal, and big business and big money, and that’s what happens here. They took a lot of the fun out of it.

LC: A lot of fans are getting pissed of at the way stars who aren’t 100 yrs old are getting passed over.
WJ: I guess that just goes with the territory, but I never thought it would happen in country music. It used to be kinds like blues, you had to have paid some dues and been around a little while before you got into it and really got to knowing what you were doing. But it’s not that way anymore. I hear feedback a lot about it, but that’s OK. I can go on. I’m still what you call a hard ticket seller. Probably as long as I want to I can go on and play, because I do good shows, and that’s it. I haven’t had a hit record in about ten years, but the crowds have been growing lately.
The only thing I’ve been able to tell artists is there’s always one more way to do things and that’s your way, and you should have a right to try it once at least. I had a real battle when I first came here. They just didn’t want you to do that.

LC: Some people don’t know that you were as big as Garth Brooks in the late seventies. The tabloids were going through your garbage.
WJ: I was talking to Joe Galante not too long ago. We’ve remained friends all through the years, and he was telling me, nobody sold records like that. He said all of a sudden I was selling something like 500,000 a month. I have one album that’s sold almost five million, and I have a lot of platinum albums. I had the first platinum, the first quadruple platinum, and in those days, that was a lot of albums. Before we had the Outlaws album, that was the very first one. That was something I really produced myself. I just went in there late at night at RCA and put it all together. It just kept selling, and most of those tracks were ten years old when I put it together.

LC: A lot of people don’t know how the “Good Hearted Woman” duet came about.
WJ: I did it live, then Willie came in and I took my voice off and put his on. We were just messing around one day, and I said let’s go cut a record. We were just in there having fun and when we got through, I put the crowd noises wherever I wanted them. It was from a live album I did in Texas, and Willie wasn’t even anywhere around. So we put his voice in there, and I turned to Neil Reshen, who was managing both of us, and I said, “Now get it out.” That was the first time they had put out a song of two artists on different labels.

LC: You don’t see that kind of spontaneity now.
WJ: Yeah, they’re pretty well-controlled. In any kind of music at all, when the record companies and producers get in control of it, it usually dies. That’s what bothers me. But I tell you, we’re here to stay. Country music is here to stay. It really is. The dust is gonna settle, and the ones that got it and the ones that paid their dues will be there. The ones that haven’t, won’t. The worst thing that’s happening right now is bad songs and rewrites. The rewrite the old ones. I don’t know where they’re going to find anymore cliches. They’ve gone through them all. I like to use those too, I have fun with them, but write a good song with it. That’s the only thing I can gripe about. But you know what? A lot of that is the record label and the producers’ fault. Here comes a guy in there—there’s a thing people don’t know about—if you’re an artist and singing, you’re a writer and you write the song, you write it and you do it on the label, they don’t pay you full royalty on it, if you write the song and sing it too. They penalize you for writing, and that’s where a lot of these things are coming from.

LC: I notice you’ve worked with Billy Joe Shaver recently.
I love that thing we did, “Oklahoma Wind.” [From Shaver’s 1993 Tramp on Your Street album.] He’s been around griping. He’s a big griper. He’s something else.

LC: Is there anything else you still want to do?
WJ: Me? I don’t even worry about that. I figure if I’m supposed to do things I’ll do ‘em. I’ve always wanted to record with B.B. King. I don’t know if I’ll get that done. I’d love to do that. I think he’s one of the great artists of all time. But we need the right song. Maybe someday I will.

LC: Sometime soon, maybe somebody like you who’s 28 years old and has a really bad attitude will come along to shake things up.
WJ: You know what—I hope they do, because they deserve people like me! (laughs) [This exchange would come back to haunt me. I’ll tell why in a future post.]

Monday, June 2, 2008

On Tour ...... Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt’s No Hats

From Country Fever magazine, 1993:

On Tour ...... Marty Stuart and Travis Tritt’s No Hats
by Linda F. Cauthen

Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart had been taking their mega-hot “No Hats” tour all over the country last year, and Halloween night finally brought them to the Universal Amphitheatre, which is located on the lot of Universal Studios, just north of Los Angeles. The walk from the parking structure of this complex is long enough to begin with, but this night there was a Halloween celebration going on at the studio lot next door, so concert-goers were detoured around the perimeters of the complex, getting lovely views of wooden walls and impending construction. (It seemed to take longer to walk from the parking structure to the Amphitheatre than it did to drive from home to Universal City.)

After finally reaching the Amphitheatre, we were confronted with a plethora of merchandise. I was roaming the counters, looking for the ultimate Travis & Marty fan--and I found her. Her denim jacket was embellished with the “No Hats” logo in rhinestones, and the names of her faves. I went up to her and asked if she had seen Country Fever’s story on the duo and she replied that she had the centerspread under the glass of her coffee table at home. Now, that’s a fan!

After fiddler Mark O’Connor got the crowd suitably warmed up, Marty Stuart charged out onstage, resplendent in one of his many rhinestoned jackets, very tight faded jeans, and fancy boots. He opened appropriately enough with “Get Back To The Country” before launching into “Western Girls” and the classic, “Wine Me Up.” He kept up the momentum with “Burn Me Down,” “High On A Mountain Top” and his duet single “This One’s Gonna Hurt You,” for some reason done solo this time. All along, Marty crouched over his guitar like it was a machine gun, aiming well-chosen licks at his adoring audience.

After a tribute to some of his idols and his recent single, “Now That’s Country,” Marty lit into the classic “One Woman Man.” He whipped the crowd into a final frenzy with “Me & Hank & Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” which segued into a blistering “Hillbilly Rock.” Marty left the stage with the fans begging for more--and buddy Travis Tritt with a lot to live up to.

As the lights went up for intermission, it was obvious that the show was a near-sellout. Only a few seats remained in the balcony, and the crowd rushed to make their T-shirt purchases and get back to their seats in time for Travis’ opening. As the house lights dimmed, a video screen dropped in front of the stage. George Jones appeared on the screen and did his unique version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” As he finished, Travis strolled out onto the stage in his red leather fringed jacket and jeans with matching trim, lifted his hand in salute to the legend, and the screen went back up. I heard comments that it was corny, but for most of the crowd, it worked.

Travis began his set with “Put Some Drive In Your Country,” an apt choice for this driven’ country show, then kept up the momentum with “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.” He slowed things down with “Drift Off To Dream” and kept it mellow with “I’m Gonna Be Somebody.” Travis’ debut hit “Country Club” was followed by the most surprising choice of the evening, a cover of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” The tempo came down a bit with “Help Me Hold On” and a somewhat overlong version of “Leave My Girl Alone.” Throughout, the fringe on his jacket flew in time with his movements and, on his running around, we could view the red leather patches that drew your attention to the rear of his jeans.

Then the video screen came down again to show the Vietnam-veteran themed “Anymore” video, which, combined with Travis’ live version, garnered the biggest ovation of the night. Travis leaned a bit too heavy on trying to make the audience sing along on “Lord Have Mercy On The Working Man,” but the temperature in the Amphitheatre immediately raised several degrees when Marty Stuart bounded back onstage. The duo brought the house down with their hit “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’“ and “The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised,” before being joined by Toy Caldwell of the legendary Southern rockers The Marshall Tucker Band on the Tucker song “Can’t You See.” This collaboration should have given a clue to new country fans as to where guys like Travis and Marty got some of their influences.

The audience demanded an encore from Travis and he responded with a rousing “Burning Love.” By now the crowd was on its feet and whipped into a frenzy by these two great talents. Backstage, Travis and his management company hosted a party for his TV movie Rio Diablo, and celebs like Delta Burke and Gerald McRainey mingled with record industry folks and costumed extras from the film. It was another memorable night on one of the most exciting tours in country music. If these two go their separate ways in 1993, their shows will still be a delight for their fans, but the chance to see these two guys together made the “No Hats” tour a unique experience. Hopefully, Travis and Marty will make their collaborations an ongoing thing, because this team is too good to break up permanently!

Dukes sing a new tune in Hazzard reunion

Here’s an article I did for Country Weekly in April, 1997

Dukes sing a new tune in Hazzard reunion
By Linda F. Cauthen

Look out - the Dukes are back! And we don’t mean reruns!

Sure, Bo, Luke, Daisy and the rest of the clan have been on TNN for the last year, pickin’ up a whole new generation of followers, but now fans can catch the heroes of Hazzard County in a new adventure.

CBS-TV gets the gang back together for the made-for-television movie The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!, which will air Friday, April 25, 8 p.m. - 10 p.m. Eastern.
Almost all the original Dukes cast returns, including John Schneider (Bo Duke), Tom Wopat (Luke Duke), Catherine Bach (Daisy), Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse), Ben Jones (Cooter), James Best (Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane), Sonny Shroyer (Deputy Enos) and Rick Hurst (Deputy Cletus.) Steve Wariner is aboard as musical director, while Don Williams takes over the narrator role originated by Waylon Jennings.

Missing is the late Sorrell Brooke, who portrayed the villainous “Boss” Hogg. The Dukes’ nemesis in The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! will be cigar-smoking sexpot Mama Max, played by Stella Stevens.

From the beginning, country music played a large part in the appeal of the show. Original Dukes producer and creator Gy Waldron says, “When I was structuring this show for TV, I followed the record industry. I looked at the strength of country music, and I realized that if we could get people who listen to country music to watch The Dukes of Hazzard, we would have the strongest audience in television.”

One of the orginal show’s running gags was that “Boss” Hogg was too cheap to hire famous acts to perform at his bar, so he had Sheriff Rosco set up a speed trap on the highway to nab unsuspecting country stars. The acts were then forced to sing for their bail. Stars caught in this sting included Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and the Oak Ridge Boys. Waylon Jennings and Mel Tillis also acted on episodes of Dukes.

The CBS-TV movie has some new twists. “It’s the 200th anniversary of the founding of Hazzard County,” Waldron explains, “so there’s a big homecoming with a possum cook-off and a rattlesnake chili contest.”

Since the last episode was filmed in 1985, the characters have faced changes in their lives. “Bo Duke was going up to see the Grand Ole Opry, took a wrong turn at Charlotte and ended up a professional race car driver. Luke Duke left home to go out and change the world, and ended up being a senior smoke jumper for the forestry service,” Waldron explains.

“The biggest change, probably, is in Daisy. She ran off and got married to the wrong man and he abandoned her. She got a divorce and did the one thing she’s always wanted to do - go back to school. Rosco’s now both boss and sheriff, and he’s the most inept villain ever to come down the pike. Cooter took a bath, got shaved and ran for Congress! Uncle Jesse’s the only on that stayed home.”

The actors’ lives have also changed in the last decade. Besides movies and TV work, Schneider has four No.1 country songs and a No.1 album.

His San Antonio-based company, Faithworks, distributes family movies and music, and he now has a recurring role in the hit TV series Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.
Tom Wopat, who was host of TNN’s Prime Time Country for a while, has been pursuing dual careers in acting and music. He is currently in the CBS-TV series Cybill, and is recording a new album.

The two co-stars show off their singing talents on the new show’s opening theme song “Carryin’ On,” produced by Steve Wariner who says, “They both did a great job. You can tell they’re having fun. They’re whooping and hollering and acting crazy.”

Steve’s instrumental expertise is used for the incidental music, which Waldron describes as “fantastic.” He adds, “What we should have done was put out an album for this show. The music’s that good.”

And the comraderie of the cast is as good as ever, too. John Schneider says, “It felt like we finished work on a Friday and came back to work on a Monday and no time had passed.”

Sunday, June 1, 2008

If Selena had lived...

In our 11-year history, the one sure-fire seller for Estylo was the late Tejano star Selena. We did three special issues dedicated to her but it got harder to come up with new material as time went on. I had already done a fictional look at what Elvis might have done with his life had he lived another 20 years sometime earlier, so it wasn't too hard to fabricate a future for Selena, since after two previous specials, I knew way more about her than I ever intended to know. RIP, Selena.

If Selena had lived...A fictional look at what might have happened if Selena were alive today.
by Linda F. Cauthen

Selena Quintanilla Perez felt groggy, as though she had awakened from a bad dream.
When she opened her eyes she realized the dream was real.
She lay in a hospital bed with tubes all over her body. She took a deep breath and felt a sharp pain in her chest. She tried to speak but her throat permitted only a croak. A moment later she saw a nurse appear at her side and tried to speak again, as the nurse removed the tube from her throat and gently touched her face.
“Be still, Selena. You were badly hurt and need to rest.”
Selena struggled to sweep the cobwebs out of her head and remember why she was here. Then, like a bolt of lightning, it all came back. The meeting with her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar, the argument, walking out of the room and feeling the gunshot rip through her body, then running down the hall to the motel office and collapsing inside. At that point the memories stopped.
“I thought she was my friend, but she tried to kill me. Oh, my God...”
“Just calm down, dear,” the nurse said in a soothing voice. “We’re taking good care of you here and you’ll be just fine.”
“My family!” Selena wailed. “They must be going insane!”
“They’ve been here the entire three days you were unconscious. You can see them soon.”
After a doctor came in to check on her, Selena was allowed a few minutes with her family. Only two were allowed in at a time, starting with her husband Chris and her mother Marcela, both with tears in their eyes. Chris took her hand and kissed it, murmuring, “I though we had lost you, my beautiful one.”
Her mother brushed her hair back from her face, kissed her cheek and whispered, “My precious baby.”
After a while all the other family members came in to greet her, including her father Abraham, her sister Suzette and her brother AB.

Two weeks later Selena’s doctors agreed that she could finish recuperating at home. When they wheeled her to the door of the hospital, she was shocked to see hundreds of fans filling the parking lot and street, many holding signs with messages like “Get well soon, Selena!" She also noticed some that read “Death to Yolanda Saldivar." While in the hospital she had attempted to drive the memories from her mind, but when the police came to question her she had no choice but to live it all again. At least now she could go home, get well and try to put her life back together.
Being home with the man she loved made Selena think once more about something they had discussed before the shooting. She had already made an appointment to have her IUD removed. Now she was even more determined to start a family. Nearly dying had caused her to focus on what was really important in life.
In June she had the device removed, and by late July she was pregnant.

The trial of Yolanda Saldivar began in October. Selena’s early-blooming baby bump made her a sympathetic figure in court, and the obviously unbalanced Saldivar looked even more like a monster. The two-week trial resulted in a conviction, with Saldivar sentenced to life for attempted murder. All Selena could feel was relief and the desire to move on with her own life.
She spent the winter at home, planning for her new baby and the resumption of her career. Christopher Abraham Perez was born on April Fool’s Day 1996. As much as she enjoyed motherhood, Selena was itching to get back in front of her fans again. She had spent the last months of her pregnancy designing a new line of clothes for her boutiques and working on an autobiography she hoped to publish one day. But in her heart she remained a musician.
Selena returned to the studio on fire with renewed ambition, and her band was thrilled to have their star back in action. Her producer, Keith Thomas, showed up one day with a big grin on his face and a tape in his hand. He said that the label’s biggest artist was dying to record a duet with her and had even written a song for them to do together. She took the tape and gasped as she read the label.
“Garth Brooks wants to record with me? Wow!”
The duet appeared on Selena’s album Resurrection, released in December 1996. Her fans were overjoyed to have her back and the album rocketed to multi-platinum status. The single with Brooks topped both the pop and country charts and won two Grammys at the 1997 awards show. Her Resurrection tour, launched in April 1997, took her all over U.S. The following year Chris Jr. turned two. He was already a veteran traveler, so she decided to go international the next time. Her follow-up tour in 1998 became the year’s biggest grosser .
By now Selena was ready to take a breather. When she came home from the road she relaxed with her family, planned the opening of several new boutiques and continued to work on her autobiography. She also began another, even more important project. Her second child, Marcella Suzette Perez, was born October 20th, 1999.
While taking time off from the road, Selena considered new musical directions. After conquering the English-speaking music market, she was ready to try something closer to her roots. Listening to new sounds from artists like Shakira and Carlos Vives, she was inspired to record another album in Spanish, this time with a fresher, more global sound than the Tejano style that had launched her career. Her album Caliente was released in 2000 to rave reviews and again sales went multi-platinum.
Having achieved so many of her goals before the age of thirty, Selena reflected on her life and finally finished her autobiography. Selena was published in 2001 and topped the best-seller list for several months. She made many appearances on TV talk shows to promote the book, and soon network executives were so taken with her effortless charm that they offered her the chance to film a pilot for her own show.
Her sitcom, entitled simply Selena, debuted in fall 2003 on the WB and was an instant hit. She starred as a young wife and mother determined to be a singing superstar. The show is now in its second season and has already been picked up for a third. Her next album is set for release later this year, and she just found out she’s pregnant with her third child, an event that will be written into the sitcom’s storyline. Selena, Chris and the kids live in a beautiful home in Beverly Hills while she shoots the show, and Chris has produced music for several feature films. They also have a home in Corpus Christi, where they return frequently to visit family.
In 2004, Yolanda Saldivar was murdered in prison.

Sizzle or Fizzle?

This is the kind of story you're doomed to have to pull together if you write for a celeb-related publication and Valentine's Day in approaching. I got about half the Sizzles correct and both Fizzles-one of the latter just got hitched one more time to someone else.

The Ten Sexiest Latino Couples of 2006: Why they sizzle — Why they fizzle
by Linda F. Cauthen


Eva Longoria and Tony Parker
Desperate Housewives sexpot Eva Longoria had just divorced soap star Christopher Tyler in January 2005, when her dad Enrique introduced her to San Antonio Spurs player Tony Parker after a game. Tony was too shy to ask Eva out on a real date so he asked dad and daughter to dinner. Things clicked and soon the couple was dating a deux. The obviously smitten Eva gushed “Tony was one of the most charming men I had ever met, and I fell in love with his whole manner, the sexy French accent he has when he speaks English, and how he behaves like a gentleman.” It has to be love —she even had his initials tattooed on a very private part of her body. “He is my everything,” Longoria has said. “He is never far from my heart. I’ve made a lot of bad choices in my life. I think the only thing I can say is you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you get to your prince.”

Enrique Iglesias and Anna Kournikova
Are they or aren’t they? Married, that is. People en Espanol’s #1 Sexiest Bachelor Enrique Iglesias and Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova have been dating since she played his girlfriend in the 2002 music video “Escape” and they’ve been playing hide-and-seek with the press ever since. The couple has become notorious for smoldering public displays of affection but have kept mum on the exact status of their relationship. Tabloids were reporting the couple had wed on a Puerto Vallarta beach in November 2004 and Kournikova was observed wearing a wedding band on her ring finger at a charity tennis event in Florida. Neither has come clean on whether they’ve actually made it legal. Or not.

Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake
Two years ago, if Hollywood’s gossip mavens were to choose the new couple least likely to still be together today, model-turned-actress Cameron Diaz and decade younger popstar Justin Timberlake would be their likeliest choice. What’s their secret? Probably that they seem to be having a blast together. They love to go out dancing and take romantic vacations to Hawaii. As we went to press, the happy couple was rumored to have invited more than 150 guests at a party in Hawaii, to “celebrate their romance.” Will they celebrate it by tying the knot? Nobody’s saying. Cameron has commented “It’s funny. We get these things every few days where one magazine is saying we’re breaking up and the other magazine is saying that we’re moving in together. Then another magazine says we’re getting married next weekend. But we know what the truth is. It doesn’t hurt us.”

Benjamin Bratt and Talisa Soto
Benjamin Bratt wed stunning former Bond girl Talisa Soto in April 2002, less than a year after ending his tabloid-frenzied affair with A-list actress Julia Roberts. Since then, the beautiful couple, who met while filming Pinero in 2001, have added two little Bratts to their home, Sophia Rosalinda Bratt born in December 2002 and Mateo Bravery Bratt born in October 2005. How do these two keep the home fires burning? Bratt says “I’ve rented a house on a little bay in Kauai a couple of times and I want to make that a tradition. Having the beach right outside your window would be great. Building a little bonfire at night on the beach and lying on a blanket with my wife under the stars is not only sexy, it’s romantic.”

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
Will the third time be the charm for Jennifer Lopez? She wed waiter Ojani Noa in 1997 and it was over a year later. Number two to to choreographer Cris Judd fell victim to a setside romance with Ben Affleck after a few months. Her marriage to singer Marc Anthony has made it past the first anniversary and the two have recently bought a sprawling new mansion. There have been rumors that the couple plans to add a little addition to their family but they’ll have to fit that in between Marc’s music, Jennifer’s demanding role in the film drama Bordertown and their collaboration on a biopic of salsa singer Hector Lavoe. But when do they find time to relax? “We relax just like anybody else,” Lopez told People magazine. “We kind of want to make everybody go away for a little while and just lock ourselves at home.”

Thalia and Tommy Mottola
Henry Kissinger said power was the greatest aphrodisiac and there’s no better proof of this than the number of moguls who marry exquisitely beautiful women. On December 2, 2000, Latin music megastar Thalía tied the knot with music mogul Tommy Mottola, in a lavish $3 million dollar wedding ceremony at NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Already a superstar for both her acting and her music in her native Mexico and other countries at the time of the nuptials, Thalía has since expanded her fame into a multimedia empire that includes her own clothing line and numerous endorsement deals. Watch out Tommy, there may not be room for two moguls in the family.

Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey
The couple met on the set of the film Sahara in summer 2004 and have been carrying on a jet-set romance ever since, with Matthew hopping on a plane to Spain to visit his lady as she was shooting Pedro Almodovar’s new movie, Volver and taking a romantic side trip to Cuenca. Matthew’s secret to maintaining a long-distance relationship? “You just have to try and communicate as best as possible.” It seems to be working as Matthew has succeeded in turning Penelope into a fan of his fave team the Houston Astros. Both have been reticent about revealing too much to the public and the press. “Matthew is lovely, a wonderful man,” Penelope has stated. “But I feel more protective about my personal life every day. It always seems to go wrong when you share too much.”

Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro
MTV’s cameras captured the days leading up to their November 2003 wedding with the reality series Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave. More than two years later, the former Baywatch babe and her guitar slinger are still rockin’ together. Carmen credits her burlesque experience with the Pussycat Dolls and the Bombshell Babes with helping to keep the sizzle in their relationship. “I kind of feel like, in my profession, I’m sexiest when I’m on stage performing and dancing. I put on lingerie, fishnet stockings, garter belts, bras. So much time and effort goes into pulling an outfit together,” she told The Sun. She added that when things heat up, I dig into my bag of costumes. After all, I’ve got a lot to choose from.” And she looks smokin’ hot in anything. Or nothing.


Gisele Bundchen and Leonardo DiCaprio
Over a five-year relationship, these two beautiful people have had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. Last fall, gossip columns had Leo purchasing a posh New York apartment with his Brazilian supermodel squeeze, prompting rumours they were engaged. Within days, the same columns were reporting the couple had split for good, Gisele hitting the beach with surfer Kelly Slater while Leo was commiserating with the equally unlucky-in-love Sienna Miller. Of course, this is not the first break-up for this longtime off-and-on couple, so they could be back together and engaged by the time you read this. Or married to someone else.

Charlie and Denise
It looked like former bad boy Charlie Sheen had finally settled down when he wed gorgeous actress Denise Richards in June, 2002. A baby soon followed, then another was on the way when the news broke that the six-months-pregnant Richards had filed for divorce. Rumors swirled about the reason for the split, and the actor told David Letterman that he had spent too much time on sports and not enough time helping to raise his kids. “It’s the first time I got dumped in my life. I think the one thing I would point to as a primary reason, basically, is that I was a gigantic ass.” The couple has been seen together but so far there’s no formal reconciliation. Denise has stated “It does seem like we’re together, but right now we’re focusing on the kids.”

Rescue 3-1-1

Another scholarly piece from Estylo magazine. This one, alas, never saw the light of day at Centerfold News because our publisher didn't sell enough ads to pay for the July 2008 issue. So for the first time anywhere (unless you're my copy editor) here's my advice on getting your all-important cosmetics past the TSA.

Rescue 3-1-1: How to pack your whole life into a quart-size bag.
by Linda F. Cauthen

The biggest challenge we ladies face in packing for a vacation that involves air travel is the dreaded 3-1-1 rule which forces us to fit a tackle-box sized cosmetic case into a quart-size Ziploc bag with no item containing more than three ounces of liquid or gel. No one wants to raise the suspicions of the Department of Homeland Security—or even worse, lose your most expensive lip gloss. So how do you make all your necessities fit?

#1: Get trial and travel sizes and free samples.
Plan ahead and start stashing away mini sizes of your favorite products. Hit up the department store salespeople for samples of perfume, makeup and skin care products. Check the trial-and-travel bins at your local drugstore, grocery and discount chains. Wal-Mart offers a continually changing array of free samples at You should be able to find air-legal sizes of your toiletry and skin care staples that will still leave room in your baggie for makeup. Some of it, anyway.

#2: Figure out what restricted items you must have and pack them first to see how much space you have left.
I can’t go anywhere without my waterproof Great Lash mascara, Neutrogena Glow Sheers or Aveeno moisturizer so those so in first. I prefer gel deodorant and must have at least one tube of lipgloss. I put my eye-makeup remover pads in a snack-size baggie so they don’t leak on anything else. My nail polish gets its own baggie because nothing is worse (or smellier) than spilled nail polish. I’ve got mini sizes of my perfumes, skin care products and sunscreen so those are good to go.

#3: Substitute solids for liquids and gels.
Mineral makeup can stand in for sunscreen, liquid foundation and concealer but does not have to go into your 3-1-1 bag. Lipsticks, lip balms and gloss sticks are also considered solids—if you really need goopy gloss like I do, toss a clear or neutral one in the 3-1-1 bag and use it over lipsticks. Pack pencil liners and powder shadow rather than liquid liner and cream shadow.

#4: Save the 3-1-1 bag for liquids and gels by packing a separate bag for items you do not have to declare. You can get through security faster if the stuff you don’t have to declare isn’t mixed in with what you do. Your non-liquid bag can be your regular cosmetic bag and contain powders and solids plus implements like brushes and your eyelash curler. (But not scissors or other sharp objects that must be checked.) After you and your 3-1-1 baggie speed through security, pop it into your cosmetic bag and have a nice, relaxing flight.

Dog-gone Books

Also from the issue of Estylo I tried to stop but was outnumbered by rabid dog lovers. Here I looked at books for the canine fancier. Hopefully, the owner got to read them before his pet chewed them up.

Pets and Their Celebrities, Photography by Chris Ameruoso, Foreword by John Travolta (Animal Fair Media, $24.99)
Noted photographer Chris Ameruoso put together this revealing look at famous celebrities and the animals who love them. Pets and people are photographed (in black-and-white) at home, giving an intimate glimpse into their very special relationships. Ameruoso says, “I can also feel the love and see a different side of each person.” You will, too.

What a Lucky Dog! How to Understand Men Through Their Dogs by Wendy Diamond (Animal Fair Media, $15.95)
Diamond, the founder and editorial director of Animal Fair Magazine, has put together what she calls “the ultimate dating guidebook for dog (and men) lovers.” Wonder why George Lopez owns a Chihuahua, while Ricky Martin prefers a golden retriever? The author examines 32 breeds for their most revealing traits, then helps you find your perfect match by analyzing his choice in pooches. Don’t leave for the dog park without it!

The Tarantula Whisperer: A Celebrity Vet Shares Her Secrets to Communicating With Animals by Dr. Laura Pasten (Conari Press, $11.95)

A veterinarian to the stars (including Morris the Cat), Dr. Laura Pasten shares her insights about understanding and communicating with animals, including revealing anecdotes and untraditional advice. Her chronicles of a vet’s adventures are entertaining, and along the way you will pick up valuable tips on why your pet acts the way it does (besides the fact that it has you wrapped around its paw).

The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton by Tinkerbell Hilton (Warner Books, $9.95)
Look who’s barking. The paparazzi’s favorite pampered pooch spills the beans on her celebutante owner in this humorous fiction. Ghost writer D. Resin reveals the activities of famous-for-being-famous Paris Hilton from a Chihuahua’s point of view (and think how close to the ground that must be). Tinkerbell dishes on such vital matters as the Pomeranians who share her abode, Mom’s TV show and the price of fame.

The large career of a very small dog

I just finished a nine-year run at Latin celeb/entertainment/
lifestyle/whatever magazine Estylo and have been looking back at some of the more, eh, memorable clips of that era in my life. Here's one from Estylo's ill-fated Dog Issue of 2005, which taught us that our readers were more interested in human celebrities than dogs.

Gidget - Diva Doggie Deluxe: The large career of a very small dog
by Linda F. Cauthen

Despite her diminutive size (8 pounds, 11 inches tall), Gidget the Chihuahua has managed to claw out quite a career for herself. Entertainment Weekly named Gidget to their “It List” in June 1998, proclaiming she puts the “wow” in Chihuahua. From the moment she barked “Yo quiero Taco Bell” in the summer of 1997, the petite pooch was a star. Her wide-winging ears, expressive eyes, and the ferocious intensity of a method actress landed her the gig, and aided by the voice-overs of comic Carlos Alazraqui and a bit of digital animation, the canine ingenue became the distinctive voice of a major fast food chain.

For the next three years, Gidget went on to immortalize such phrases as “Viva gorditas!” “Here lizard lizard” and “Hasta la Vista Whopper.” Quickly becoming accustomed to the showbiz high life, she developed as taste for riding in style. Her trainer, Sue Chipperton quipped, “If she sees a limo door open that’s not ours, I have to say, ‘No, Gidget, we’re taking a taxi.’” The Taco Bell campaign not only moved several tons of their fast food, it also sold millions of plush toy versions of the cheeky Chi.

Alas, nothing lasts forever and in July of 2000, Gidge was unceremoniously dismissed when Taco Bell’s bottom line began to sag. Rather than doing the obvious and improving their food, the corporate honchos made the dainty dog their scapegoat and sent her to the canine unemployment line.

Undaunted, the ambitious Gidget refused to be typecast as a spokespuppy and turned her sights on serious acting in major motion pictures. After making her film debut in the comedy Crazy in Alabama directed by Antonio Banderas and starring his wife Melanie Griffith, Gidget assayed the challenging role of the abused mom of Elle Woods’ pup Bruiser in the 2003 hit sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, and Blonde, where she stole the show from the pregnant and MIA star Reese Witherspoon on the red carpet.

The now ten-year-old Gidget still takes occasional parts including a recent commercial for Trivial Pursuit 90’s Edition in which she co-starred with Dennis Rodman. But mostly she lives a quiet life in Lake Elizabeth, CA with trainer Sue Chipperton, doing good works for less-fortunate animals, such as a recent charity benefit for the Animal Actors Guild, a non-profit dedicated to the humane retirement of primate thespians. The semi-retired doggie doyenne can look back on career made even more impressive by the fact that she started life as a rescue.

Reality Show Bimbos Invade Country

There are a lot of talented young acts struggling to make it in Nashville right now. They write songs, cut demos, do showcases, network and generally work their butts off to try to make it big as a country star. Some of them are actually worth listening to, with well-written songs, tasty licks and memorable vocals.

Unfortunately, you’re not likely to hear them on country radio unless they also look like Maxim cover girls or GQ models. The labels are too busy signing cute young things from TV reality shows.

Last week, a cut from the upcoming “country” album by Jessica Simpson was leaked on the internet. Or maybe it escaped. Either way, it’s as overproduced, vacuous and soulless as one would expect from an “artist” who has failed at practically every other genre already. Maybe she thought that because she filled out her Daisy Dukes so well in that unfortunate Dukes of Hazzard film that she could sing country music. No, Jessica, the real Daisy couldn’t sing and neither can you.

Also making her country debut last week was Julianne Hough, the perky little cutie who trained an Olympic athlete and a race car driver to paso their dobles to victory on the TV show Dancing with the Stars. What that has to do with country music, I have no idea but she seems to have lured 65,000 DWTS fans to their local WalMarts to buy her album the week it came out. Her pretty face is all over country cable channel CMT’s website, looking at first glance like a young Faith Hill.

Wait, isn’t that what country radio’s been looking for since the original turned 35? Julie Roberts was supposed to be the “young Faith Hill” but her second album tanked so it’s back to the drawing board. Julie probably has too much soul at her young age for corporate country anyway. Chips Moman, if you’re still out there, I’d love to see what you could do with this girl.

I blame it all on Shania Twain. It’s not just because the combination of her annoyingly catchy ditties and the ham-fisted overkill of Garth Brooks drove me away from country radio in the 90s. No, her most dubious legacy is making it impossible for any female wearing a size larger than two to be heard in country music. Patsy Cline had arguably the greatest voice in the history of country music, but if she had come along now, we’d never hear that voice because she couldn’t squeeze into a pair of size zero True Religion jeans.

The biggest story in the music business the last few years is that it’s dying. The new music-buying generation, isn’t. Buying that is. They don’t want cool looking album covers to contemplate while rolling a joint. They don’t want hundreds of little plastic boxes cluttering up their cribs. They just want digital music to fill up their iPods. And they don’t really care how they get it. Those dinosaurs at the labels and the RIAA can scream “piracy” and sue their customers all they want, but they blew their chance to capitalize on digital music a decade ago and anything they attempt now is likely to be as effective as polishing the deck chairs on the Titanic.

While the industry honchos love to blame those music-stealing brats in high school and college for cutting short their overpaid careers, they’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg that hit them. A lot of us grownups aren’t buying their CDs, either. Maybe if the labels started signing artists for their music rather than how they look in a video, we’d all have some music worth buying. As long as artists are promoted primarily for their looks, we aren’t even getting music worth stealing.

Monday, May 26, 2008

RIP Killer Shrimp

I was really looking forward to my birthday dinner this year but was majorly disappointed when my friends and I pulled up to the Studio City restaurant to find it closed. This was a huge shock because the place had been around so long, you expected it to last foreve—or at least five more years. But it was not meant to be so I’ve had to improvise. I found a recipe at and made a few changes. The result is not quite like the original but damn tasty. And much more available.

4 cups chicken broth (unsalted Herb Ox granules work fine)
1 tablespoon rosemary
2-1/2 cloves garlic, minced (or more)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup clam juice
1/4 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup butter (unsalted is better, less butter makes it not so greasy)
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound shrimp, with tails (31-40 or larger)
1/2 (1 pound) loaf French bread

Pour broth into a large pot, and mix in spices and garlic, clam juice, tomato paste, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir wine into the soup, and continue to simmer and occasionally stir 2 hours. Just before serving, stir in shrimp. Continue cooking 3 minutes, or until shrimp are opaque. Serve with bread for soaking up broth.

Election 2008 – the reality series

I’ve suspected for awhile that this year’s election was going to be quite different from any in the past but didn’t realize how different until I was watching, of all things, the CMT Music Awards. The opening sketch had a bunch of folks hitting up co-host Miley Cyrus for tickets to the sold-out show. One of the callers was Sen. John McCain, followed shortly by Sen. Barack Obama. What with that equal time rule, you just know who was going to be on next.

But what the hell are presidential candidates doing on a cheesy cable TV show—one that rewards lame videos about God, country and big-ass trucks? Shouldn’t this kind of thing be beneath the dignity of someone running for the highest office in the land? It looks like not any more. I tried to imagine Ike and Adlai doing a TV schtick with some Borscht Belt comic named Solly on the Ed Sullivan show. I can’t. Not even JFK would have bought into this.

But this is the new century, where new voters were raised on bad reality TV and electing the candidate you’d most like to have a beer with seems like a viable option. Of course, American Idol is probably better at getting an accurate vote count than the state of Florida did in 2000. At least we weren’t stuck with Taylor Hicks for eight years.

Miley Cyrus hasn’t killed anybody

If she had, I feel certain TMZ would have a video of the crime. As it is, they don’t even have videos of her staggering drunk out of nightclub, “powdering her nose” in a bathroom stall, getting her mug shot taken or flashing her va-ja-jay.

So what has this impossibly ambitious and successful 15-year-old done to warrant being called “Slutty Miley” by gossip bloggers? Seems the Hannah Montana star posed for a few photos flashing approximately the same amount of flesh that most girls her age display when dressed up to go to church. This is apparently enough for gossip gangsters desperate for a scoop to compare her to those wretched examples for America’s youth known to the Hollywood division and their parole boards as Paris, Nicole, Britney and Lindsay. The latter two are the ones to whom Miley is most often compared—complete with dire predictions for her future.

Alas, young Ms. Cyrus is gainfully employed by the Disney Co., which has set up an impossible standard of teen purity to which no flesh-and-blood woman child with raging hormones can live up. Most annoying, past pubescent princesses were given considerably more leeway.

50 years ago, pioneering Disney deb Annette Funicello presented a girl-next-door image but was better known for the parts she possessed than the ones she played. As that sensitive guy Kenickie stated in Grease, “Nobody’s got bigger jugs than Annette.” An entire generation of adolescent males fixated on her ta-tas did not deter Ms. Funicello from growing into fairly normal adulthood, complete with cutesy beach flicks and peanut butter commercials.

Country jailbait Tanya Tucker sang about “Would you lay with me in a field of stone” several years before she could legally lay anywhere but didn’t make headlines until she was over 18 and snorting coke with Glen Campbell.

Rockabilly tween superstar Brenda Lee first charted at 12, was a huge star by 15 and wed 45 years ago at 18. She’s still married and has never been touched by scandal. Of course, she’s probably lucky that she was a teen before we had camera phones or Perez Hilton. Ms. Cyrus isn’t as fortunate so I hope she has a thick skin and a helluva sense of humor.