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Weekend Review
Gymnastics Made Interesting

It seems that 2003 is going to be weird right out of the gate. This week, three Romanian gymnasts who were banned from the sport for appearing nude in a Japanese magazine are to be offered the key to the city of Bucharest by its maverick mayor, Traian Basescu. Basescu says he wants to show support for the girls’ courage. “The world must understand [that] their former professional activity and the gesture they recently did are two different things,” Basescu said, rubbing his hands with glee at the thought of meeting the flexible young trio. “Now they are allowed to do whatever they wish with their lives.” Basescu is no stranger to confounding and enraging the city’s residents: he’s best known for wanting to euthanize all of the city’s stray dogs.

Goldstein Screwed

In the world of pornography, there remains no one more colorful and repugnant than Al Goldstein. He’s kind of a low-rent yet ambulatory Larry Flynt. For the uninitiated, Goldstein is the publisher of the consistently terrible Screw magazine and the host of the longest running public access show in the U.S. — Midnight Blue — in which he simply screams “FUCK YOU!” at anyone who has crossed him. The stage for Al’s latest antics was set after he invited his suicidal friend Kathleen Ann Pustay to his Florida home for the holidays. “I was afraid because of the holidays that she’d commit suicide … I didn’t want that on my conscience,” Goldstein told reporters, who were stunned to hear that he even had a conscience. Upon arriving at the Goldstein home, Pustay — who was indicted last April on federal charges of operating a nine-city prostitution ring — promptly barricaded herself in the guest suite with several guns. Mingling with onlookers during the five-hour standoff, Goldstein explained, “The police won’t let me go inside because they think she’ll shoot me … But what do I care? I’m sixty-seven. If I get killed, every censor in New York will be pleased.” Pleased — but underemployed.

Pornosaur

Two youngsters in New Jersey recently opened a Barney the Dinosaur music book and were confronted with a purple-headed monster of an entirely different sort. The book contained a pornographic photo under the words “Wilder Sex.” Rosemarie Arnold, an attorney for the children’s family, said the photo came from a porn-movie review published in a German magazine, and was exposed when a plastic panel fell off the book. Publications International Ltd., the book’s Illinois-based publisher, has had similar problems in the past and blames the Chinese company that prints the books. Arnold said her clients don’t plan to take legal action and don’t care who’s at fault. “They want some sort of apology and maybe reassurance for the children that Barney is pure.” In a strange coincidence, Hustler readers were shocked to discover an eight-page Barney pictorial in the January issue.

The Sex Police

Several countries have seemingly made New Year’s resolutions to limit citizens’ access to smut. Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City recently made a bonfire out of thousands of pornographic videos and books as part of the city’s ongoing campaign against “social evils.” Meanwhile, police in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier province have burned thousands of items, including Indian and English films, posters and “sex tonics” as part of the Islamic nation’s own drive against obscenity. Not to be outdone, police in Yanan, a city in northern China, have apologized this week for raiding a couple’s home and arresting the husband for watching a pornographic video. Police later released the man and dropped the case, but the couple claimed that the incident traumatized the husband, who became uncharacteristically quiet after returning home from prison. Added the wife tearfully: “I will be satisfied if my husband returns to his old self again.” She then picked up a copy of Hustler and waved it under his nose.

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