Off Limits

How's it hanging?

Oh, the irony. The new show at the Denver Civic Theatre, Puppetry of the Penis, depends on controversy (and, yes, sheer voyeurism) to draw audiences, but the art exhibit that was supposed to accompany Puppetry's opening was just too, well, controversial.

Last month, Denver Civic managers asked Edge Gallery -- not one of the city's more staid artistic venues -- to put together a show that would complement a performance of the "ancient Australian art of genital origami." And Edge did, hanging an exhibit that included a photograph by John Davenport of two men sucking face in the pose of Rodin's "The Kiss" and a piece by Susan Berkley showing an image of the Twin Towers being hit.

But before the first Puppetry ticket-holder could see a penis being turned into the Eiffel Tower, the Denver Civic asked Davenport to take down his "Variation on a Theme of Rodin #2" and to move Berkley's piece from the front entrance. Davenport didn't have the proper tools to reinstall Berkley's photo, though, so he carted that piece home as well.

Thou shalt not kiss: John Davenport's bussing boys, a 
variation on Rodin's "The Kiss" (inset).
Thou shalt not kiss: John Davenport's bussing boys, a variation on Rodin's "The Kiss" (inset).

"When we asked Edge Gallery, we were looking for pieces that coincide with the show," explains Denver Civic spokeswoman Katherine Rosin, who, along with executive director Jay Cardwell, is based in New York. "We love every piece; in fact, I'm intending to buy one. But we felt because it was two men kissing, it confused the content of the show. Because it's a comedy show, and because some of us are New Yorkers, we felt that Susan's was a very traumatic piece for people to see as they walked into the theater. We didn't want the piece taken down or removed; we just didn't want it to be the last piece they see before they walk into a comedy."

Edge doesn't see anything funny about the situation. Although the rest of the show is still up, gallery members don't understand why Denver Civic would ask Edge to present a show if it didn't want something edgy.

"The director told John that we could show anything we wanted," says Edge co-vice president Sara-Lou Klein McKlayer. "He told him, 'The more controversial, the better.' So we did, and we hung the show, and it was beautiful. John's piece was just beautiful. There's no genitalia showing. If it were two men beating each other up or boxing, it would be okay. It's ridiculous that we were censored and it's a theater."

In other words, they got dicked.

Corporeal punishment: Three years ago, John Reidy, the man behind the seminal Denver zine known as The Hooligan, declared, "People will always want to sit in a coffee shop and read a hard copy of a local mag. Anyone who sits in a coffee shop with a laptop is a douche bag."

But now caffeine fiends have just one more chance to read The Hooligan at their neighborhood java joint without looking like a feminine-hygiene product. This week, Reidy is unleashing a special tenth-anniversary issue of his creation, and he swears it'll be the last one that people can hold in their hands. After that, his caustic wisdom will be restricted to

Reidy's printing only 500 copies of his last hurrah, but he doubts they'll turn into collector's items. "I don't think anyone would pay anything for something like that," he says. "I'll check eBay in a couple of years and get back to you."

But he may find himself surprised by the demand. After all, The Hooligan has served as a butcher shop for Denver's sacred cows since 1993, and among Reidy's prime cuts was a rant about the city's former mayor titled "Wellington Webb is a Dick." He's not about to let current boss John Hickenlooper off any lighter. "I'm calling out our new mayor, because since he took office, I've gotten more tickets than ever, and it's still too damn expensive to park downtown," Reidy says. "He got elected on that simple promise, right? Well, he's going to hear about it. The honeymoon's over, baby."

Reidy hasn't given up on paper entirely, though. He says he's writing a "self-help book for road-ragers" complete with "simple tips and philosophy on how better driving makes a better society." Hmmm. Could our town's most notorious hooligan be mellowing? Reidy concedes that the anniversary edition's tone "might be a little more nostalgic -- sappy reminiscing on ten years of talking shit." But he also plans to grouse about "how Denver does a lot of stuff half-assed, and The Hooligan was really half-assed."

Clearly, they were made for each other.

Dead-letter day: It may be all Kobe Bryant all the time these days, but not even a decade ago, the death of JonBenét Ramsey was being proclaimed the crime of the century. (Forget Farice King, this week's cover girl.) And now there's a new twist to Colorado's most infamous unsolved mystery.

Bored office workers, creative college students and even uninspired felons can craft their own crime-scene evidence using a new, free-to-download font based on the ransom note discovered in the Ramseys' Boulder home on December 26, 1996. Much like the source of the original handwriting -- never officially pegged to anyone, although fingers were pointed at everyone from JonBenét's mom, Patsy, to her father's Navy connections at the Subic Bay training center in the Philippines -- the creator of the ransom-note font is unknown. But he or she is certainly accommodating.

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