Signs of the Apocalypse: Hello Hangover

We’ve seen kid-sized stripper poles and thongs for tots, but the campaign to turn Romper Room into the Champagne Room isn’t complete without the right beverages. This item comes to us from the e-newsletter of the Marin Institute, a nonprofit that raises awareness about the social costs of alcohol and the marketing of addictive substances to youth.

Hello Kitty—the iconic cartoon image gracing thousands of children’s toys and clothing throughout the globe—is now promoting alcoholic beverages. Wine with names like “Hello Kitty Angel” (white) and “Hello Kitty Devil” (red) will be available for purchase in May.

The Rosé label features Hello Kitty in a little black dress, winking and holding a glass of wine. The “Devil” and “Angel” wine labels show Hello Kitty with a devil’s tail and angel wings, respectively, and heart-shaped tattoos on each of their behinds. The Brut Rose label displays Hello Kitty in a pink onesie with hearts, and has a special prize hanging on each bottle: a little Hello Kitty pendant on a chain.

Italian winemaker Tenimenti Castelrotto, along with with Camomilla, an Italian fashion company, collaborated to sell the wine with the Hello Kitty brand worldwide. Their rationale for this campaign: “Hello Kitty is not just for children. She is a recognized cult fashion icon among teenagers and adults around the world.”

Visit the Hello Kitty Wine website to see Kitty dodging paparazzi and hitting the sauce. Recipes include “Feline Fizz”, which sounds like an idea that should never have left the litterbox.

Drink responsibly, kids.

Signs of the Apocalypse: French Execs Pay to Be Kidnapped

The latest Springwise weekly business trends e-newsletter profiled this new form of entertainment for thrill-seeking Frenchmen:

“Kidnapping”, “Manhunt” and “Go-Fast Adventure” are all among the standard services Ultime Réalité offers, but it’s open to special requests. Through the company’s simulated kidnapping packages, for instance, the participant is abducted without warning—after leaving a restaurant, say, or in the supermarket parking lot. Paying “victims” are then bound, gagged and imprisoned for four or 10 hours (depending on the scenario they choose), allowing them to experience the terror of the real thing. Additional elements such as ransom, escapes and helicopter chases can also be involved. Manhunt packages, meanwhile, can last either one or two days, with the option to play the role of either hunter or prey. Then there’s the Go-Fast Adventure, where participants take the role of a drug dealer smuggling cargo on the high seas. Finally, a recently added “extreme” package allows clients to wake up on an autopsy table in a morgue, surrounded by corpses and body bags. Pricing on a basic kidnap package is EUR 900.

What if a staged kidnapping turns into a real one? How would you know? I see potential for
a great action movie here. (If you use this idea and make a million dollars, please spend it on copies of Swallow.)

Signs of the Apocalypse: Fancy Feast, Darling?

I’ve always suspected that the Fancy Feast cat food commercials targeted lonely women who want to fantasize that they’re having a dinner date with someone of their own species. (Full disclosure: when I was three, I did pretend that my grandma’s orange tabby “Sidney” was a handsome prince; my feline paramour later turned out to be “Sydney”, thus setting the stage for my genderqueer life.) The new ads for Fancy Feast Appetizers prove that I’m not making this up. “Romance your cat’s taste buds with Fancy Feast® Appetizers. Fancy Feast® is the perfect way to express your love.”

Hold on a moment. Why do cats need appetizers? It’s not like they have to wait very long for you to plop their main meal out of the can. In the meantime, they’d be perfectly happy to lick themselves, sleep, or listen to you talk about your feelings. 

In other furry news, UK-based LoveHoney can tell you how your neighbors allocate their sex-toy dollars. For instance, I now know that “People in Northampton spend 2 times the national average on Fetish Clothing”. However, our sister city is only “the 102nd sexiest place in the UK”, behind Pontypridd but ahead of Teddington. Oh, the shame.

Viagra Ice Cream versus Gay Wine

Consumer-trends newsletter Springwise illuminates the far corners of the retail imagination, with weekly updates on new business schemes from the socially conscious to the absurdly decadent. In the latter category, this week, we have Sex Pistol Ice Cream, a British dessert shop’s latest plan to pitch this girlie comfort food to the male “members” of the species. The limited-edition flavor is “touted to have the same charge as a dose of Viagra”:

Mixed into the frozen treat are ginkgo biloba, arginine and guarana—all guaranteed to increase blood flow and energy level. Before serving, The Sex Pistol is doused in La Fee Absinthe. And since presentation is key, the absinthe is administered from a drip bag into a pink water gun and fired at a heated sugar cube, which drops into the ice cream. The Sex Pistol is deemed so potent that sales are limited to one per customer, although at GBP 11.99 customers might prefer to split one with a special friend.

If you’d rather heat up than cool down, never fear. From the same newsletter, we get UO! Wines, a Spanish wine brand targeted at gay men:

UO! Ánima Blanca, for example, is a Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo blend featuring earth tones and “wisps of flowers and fruit – the perfect accompaniment to a gathering of friends on a hot day, whether the heat comes from within or without.” Antinoo, meanwhile, is a Monastrell that’s “young and mature, fruity, elegant, smooth….Mediterranean…. When you try it, shut your eyes and imagine that you are licking rivulets of syrup from his body,” the company advises. Rounding out the line is Oscura Lágrima, a Shiraz and Merlot blend that’s “dark, dense and turbulent.”

Whew. With ad copy like this, who needs Viagra sundaes?

Signs of the Apocalypse: “Texts From Last Night”

Helping you make the most creative use of your embarrassment, the website Texts From Last Night invites readers to submit text messages that were sent under the influence of judgment-impairing substances. This 21st-century update on drunk-dialing could be a fruitful source of writing prompts. Imagine beginning a short story with any of the following:

“then i got kicked out of the bar for trying to pay my $30 bar tab in sacajawea dollar coins”

“Hands down the best time I’ve ever had barfing”.

“I never thought that I’d ever use the phrase “and the resulting ice cream explosion” seriously at work… “

“we couldnt find her phone in the morning so i called it and found it under the bed. my name came up as ‘regret’.”

“I just woke up in my car with half the wedding cake next to me. This will not end well.”

“The only reason why I invited him to my party was because he is suicidal.”

Other texts are aphorisms worthy of Dorothy Parker (“you’re putting all your eggs in a very hungover basket”) or brief but telling observations about human relationships (“i love how people use prayer to talk shit about eachother in a ‘holy’ manner”). How true it is.

Cyril and Priscilla Defend Traditional Marriage

Parodies of the National Organization for Marriage “There’s a Storm Gathering” advertisement are still proliferating on YouTube. The ad is such a spur to creativity that one could almost hope for NOM to release more of them, were it not for the fact that their scare-mongering tactics could actually convince people to take away our families’ rights.

Meanwhile, always alert for that silver lining behind the storm cloud, my friend Greg and I were inspired to make our own video with our new friends “Cyril” and “Priscilla”:

Here are some more of our favorites from the web:

Best “National Organization for Marriage” Video Parody: Stephen Colbert

After the recent gay-marriage victories in Iowa and Vermont, a mysterious new conservative group called the National Organization for Marriage released an apocalyptic TV commercial, “There’s a Storm Gathering,” which alleged that gay-rights initiatives are taking away Christians’ religious freedom. Now, I could write a serious blog post about the contradictions of invoking the liberal-pluralist language of individual rights and tolerance to defend religiously motivated restrictions on gays’ civil rights. And maybe I will soon. But the parodies of the NOM video that have sprung up all over the web offer a more memorable rebuttal than I ever could.

First prize goes to The Colbert Report’s spot from Thursday night. Noting that New York’s Gov. David Paterson has introduced a same-sex marriage bill, our favorite mock-conservative mourns for “the good old days when our  governor upheld the traditional definition of marriage as being between a man, a woman, and an Emperor’s Club hooker.” There’s a great gay storm gathering, and “pretty soon the winds will be blowing each other.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition’s Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor NASA Name Contest

The characters in Zane Johnsen’s spoof ad speculate on what will happen when a nice hetero family sees gay couples on TV: “It is like a flood in the living room and the whole family is being washed away by the wiles of Satan and his dark army of homos…Peter begins playing with Molly’s dolls…Your wife leaves the house a mess and goes back to college…”

This more serious ad from debunks the factual claims of the original. “There’s a bullshit storm gathering.” Indeed.

And for sheer creativity, as well as some adorable visuals, the prize goes to this ad sponsored by The National Association of Organizations Against Cat(s) Licking Each Other(s) Organizations Committee (NSOACLEOOC).

Thinking of creating your own video for marriage equality? Enter it in Project Pushback’s contest before May 18 and you could win $2,500. Project Pushback is an initiative of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.

Back from AWP and the World Is Ending

I’m back from the AWP literary conference in Chicago with my suitcases full of books, and my email inbox full of work that will be keeping me busy for some time. In days to come, I hope to share photos and anecdotes of our many memorable moments at the conference, plus brief reviews of some poetry books and journals. I will say this: you haven’t lived till you’ve seen a sign language interpreter trying to keep up with Dorothy Allison’s “Frog Fucking”, a performance piece which includes some toe-tingling action with two women and a strap-on, as well as a scene where she and an equally drunk gay friend compete to see how many buttered carrots they can shove up their asses. (I hope my accountant isn’t reading this…there goes my business-expense tax deduction.)

Allison’s piece was arousing, unsettling, comic, angry, melancholy, even spiritual. She was generous with her honesty about the entire range of emotions and roles we can play with our partners, showing how sex can help us integrate the parts of ourselves we might have considered unacceptable. The comic side of sex is a great equalizer, teaching us humility; the complete exposure of our kinks and quirks in a trusting relationship can clear away shame and self-deception.

All this is to say that I am not a prude, but the following item in the Springwise business trends e-newsletter still had the power to shock me:

The web has spawned new ways to track just about everything under the sun—from our finances to the foods we eat—so why not our sex lives too? Indeed, Bedpost is an online application now in private beta that helps consumers do just that.

Bedpost is an entirely personal application, password-protected from the prying eyes of others, and stresses that it offers absolutely no social networking features. Rather, it is a way for consumers to keep track of the sexual encounters they’ve had by logging in and entering some key details after each one. Users begin by creating a profile for the partner involved in their most recent encounter and then clicking on the calendar to indicate when the encounter happened. Then, they enter not just the time it happened, but also how long the encounter lasted, some descriptive tags and a star-based rating of the experience. The site then records all that information and presents it in a map of activity for the month on the user’s dashboard. For a historical view, Bedpost tracks summary statistics including frequency, average rating, and totals for the month and year so far. “Solo sex” tracking is also available.

I’m sorry, but using a spreadsheet to keep track of your masturbation episodes has to be the ultimate in pathetic geekiness.

I suppose some form of “Bedpost” has always been with us: Don Giovanni had Leporello and his “catalogue”; the playboys of our parents’ generation had their little black books. But the efficient coldness of tracking and rating your one-night stands on a computer, as if they were just another form of business contact data, seems to be taking us one step further toward sexual dis-integration of mind, body and spirit.