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This Week in Sex   
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August 10, 2001

The Gay — er, Gray — Lady



The New York Times has always been controversial — go ahead, ask a Republican if you don’t believe us. But the New York Times crossword?


    

Well, no, not traditionally. At least, not until this week. See, it seems that Will Shortz and co. have offended some in the gay community (including some on the Times staff) with last week’s puzzler. Headlined “Homonames,” the crossword contained a series of clues which could be interpreted as, well, homo names — or at least allusions to openly (and not-so-openly) gay American icons. Take, for example, one-thirteen across: “People who live next to a Y,” the answer being “Gym Neighbors.” Other “Homonames” included Wrecks Read, Robbin Leach, Carry Fissure and Bet Middler. To add to the quagmire, there were a spate of clues that some called oddly suggestive, given the context, including “Add more lubricant,” “Scratched-up leather straps” and “Farm animals.” According to MSNBC’s Eric Alterman, the puzzle caused a ruckus in the Times headquarters when it was initially published in the middle of last week, prompting the paper to run the following editor’s note in Sunday’s paper: “Slurs involving sexual orientation would be a violation of the Times’ standards. The newspaper has requested and received assurances from the puzzle editor and the puzzle creator, a veteran Times contributor, that no such allusions — nor any suggestions about anyone’s sexual orientation — were intended.”


    

Only Robin Leach felt compelled to issue a statement regarding the puzzle’s apparent implication. “This will come as a great surprise,” Leach told the New York Post, “to my ex-wife, three sons, ex-girlfriends and whomever the future ex-Mrs. Leach might be.” Though not, perhaps, as big a surprise as he might think.




The Rubber Trade



There are more than a billion Chinese people on this earth, and now, perhaps, we know why: it’s the condoms. That, at least, would be one conclusion to be drawn from a recent government survey that showed some thirty percent of Chinese-made condoms to be defective. According to a report this week in the Asia Times, of fifty products tested by officials with the Department for Quality Control, only thirty-five met minimum quality standards, apparently a result of condom manufacturers packing the prophylactics using equipment inappropriate for the job. Still, bad rubbers can’t completely explain China’s ever-burgeoning population: according to the report, only three-and-a-half percent of all Chinese use condoms as their primary means of contraception anyway.


    

Then again, maybe condom consumption isn’t the answer at all. Just a hop, skip and a surprisingly long flight south of Beijing, in the world’s second most populous nation, reports are that Indians are going through heaps of condoms every day, and look how effective that’s been. Of course, it ain’t how many you use, it’s how you use ’em. According to the Sify website, sari-makers in the northern Indian town of Varanasi are using some four condoms a day per worker, resulting in an estimated half a million units used per diem. But while everyone knows that life in a sari plant is notoriously libidinous ([knock-knock] “did somebody order sag paneer?” [chicka bamp bamp]), it ain’t what you think. According to the report, the weavers rub the condoms on their bobbins (sounds dirty, but it’s not), using the lubrication to speed up the weaving and keep the yarn from snapping.



Smuggling Peanuts



It’s tough enough being a ladyboy. But a ladyboy in Scotland? And during a cold snap? Telling you, sister, now you’ve got problems.


    

And so we raise a well-manicured fist in solidarity with the Bangkok Ladyboys, the famed transvestite/transsexual cabaret troupe currently wowing ’em at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. According to a Reuters report, the Thai performers first ran into trouble when the chilly Edinburgh air began playing havoc with their silicone implants — they apparently “became hard in the cold weather,” said leading ladyboy Tor Athapon. “I had to massage them back into shape.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, now even the pre-op ladyboys have been left flat-chested, as someone has absconded with a pair of conical fake breasts — 38DDs, no less. “We don’t do anything by halves,” said Ladyboys spokesman Tony Wilkie-Miller of the vastness of the falsies. “These fake breasts are used by ladyboys who have not yet had breast implants. Either they are on hormones that have not kicked in or are saving up for the operation.” According to the report, the bra thief stole the breasts from the circus compound where the female impersonators perform, along with two wigs, two pairs of black tights and a pair of shoes — a total haul of more than a thousand dollars worth of equipment. But don’t cry for the Athapon and company — they may be the victims here, but they’re taking it all like troopers. “They are very, very bemused by this,” said Wilkie-Miller. “At first they were angry. Now they are treating it as a kinky joke.”



Quotes of the Week



“I’m for sex. I’m against sex with clients.”




— Philadelphia lawyer Lawrence Fox, on the American Bar Association’s decision to continue the ban on sexual relationships between lawyers and clients, in the Chicago Sun-Times.





“I don’t have one now — except with my fans.”


— Amorphously named rapper P. Diddy, asked about his love life since his split with Jennifer Lopez, in the Washington Post. Long live groupies!





“It was a free-love zone. The sailors came with money and love. Everyone was young. No one had any commitment to anyone. One day your man would be living with you, the next he’d be living with another woman.”


— Fifty-nine-year-old Russian Lyubov Drugina, talking about the eastern Russian island of Shikotan in the Los Angeles Times. According to the report, Soviet authorities shipped thousands of women to the island from the 1960s to the 1980s to work in fish processing plants. With a four-to-one women-to-men ratio, the island reportedly became an outpost of free love.


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©2001 Dan Reines and Nerve.com, Inc.