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March 8, 2002

Not Like A Virgin

Not since Dick Van Dyke’s inspired appointment as a cockney chimney sweep in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins has the casting of an actor courted so much controversy. Audiences were left baffled as Van Dyke pranced through nineteenth-century London, chirping away in his quasi-antipodean twang. But did his phonetically inaccurate performance detract from the impact of this charming movie classic? Of course not.

    

Unfortunately for Bethany Halliday, Walt’s maverick precedent to casting hasn’t been adopted by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in London. The heavily pregnant twenty-seven-year-old singer lost her case for sex discrimination after she was turned down to play the role as a teenage virgin in their production of Pirates of Penzance.

    

A spokesman for Actor’s Union Equity said: “We are disappointed to lose, not only for Bethany but for all female performers. We were right to take the case, and we continue to believe it is unacceptable to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their pregnancy. We are consulting with our legal advisers about what options we have.”

    

While Miss Halliday declined to comment about the verdict, the company’s general manager Ian Martin said: “I am delighted that common sense has prevailed.” Mr. Martin added that there had been concerns about potential health and safety hazards, including the fact that Miss Halliday would have had to wear a tightly fitted corset. The theatre’s core argument was that casting a visibly pregnant woman would have compromised the artistic integrity of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic.

    

Let’s face it. When the task of accurately portraying a gang of singing, dancing, silk-shirt-wearing cutthroats is placed on your shoulders, you have to keep it real.

Whatcha Got Up There, Blair?

Many a politician has had a surprise or two up his sleeve: a tax hike, the odd illicit affair, a penchant for saxophony. Earlier this week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair took the notion rather literally on his visit to the 2002 Commonwealth summit in Australia. The forty-seven-year-old premier brought along two shirts which, when the cuffs were folded back, revealed an illustration of a naked woman.

    

The buxom brunette, drawn by ninety-four-year-old Archie Dickens, is pictured kneeling naked and holding a telephone. The illustration was acquired by British designer Sir Paul Smith for his latest collection. A spokesman for Sir Paul says the nudes are “just a bit of fun,” typical of Sir Paul’s sense of humor. Although Mr. Dickens closely guards the identity of his saucy pin-up, he did tell reporters: “An artist can do things that a photographer cannot, like give a model bigger breasts.”

    

The $160 shirts are being viewed by fashion commentators as an attempt by Blair to assimilate into Aussie “bloke” culture by presenting himself as a beer-swilling, pin-up loving everyman, while assuring those back home that he’s still just one of the lads.

Hard Cash

European Union officials have been hailing the switch to a single currency as “almost perfect” and “seamless” ever since lira, drachma and marks were pried from the mitts of continentals and consigned to the history vaults on January 1, 2002.

    

However, Wolfgang Fritz begs to differ. The fifty-five-year-old German claims that his prowess in the bedroom took a turn for the wurst after the introduction of the euro. In fact, thousands of people in Germany have reported allergies and ailments after handling the ten-euro note and many are planning legal action against the Schroeder administration.

    

A chemical called tributyltin, which is used only in the manufacture of the ten-euro denomination, is suspected of causing the complaints, prompting the European Central Bank to conduct stringent safety tests on the new bills. Unfortunately, this is a case of too little, too late for some.

    

“I’m dead in the bedroom,” Herr Fritz explained to reporters. “I haven’t had a spark down there since I started using the notes. I’m okay with other denominations, it’s just the ten euro. It started with headaches and just got worse.”

    

Up until now, the government has said the claims are “spurious.” However, in the event of an indisputable link between the hard cash and Wolfgang’s not-so-hard member, a contingency plan has been hatched to withdraw the funny money.

Quotes of the Week

“There’s no question of me having plastic surgery, I hate such things.”

— Sixty-seven-year-old sex siren turned animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot on aging the old-fashioned way.

“Latex has got an awful smell to it. Fortunately, I won’t be in a position to notice any more.”

— German concept artist Karl-Friedrich Lentze after being granted the right to be buried with a blow-up sex doll as stated in his will.

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©2002 Grant Stoddard and Nerve.com, Inc.