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Off Limits

The dangle angle

Sitting in the darkened Denver Civic Theatre last week, waiting for the first penis-puppetry contestant to arrive for his live audition, we could only wonder what kind of man would be so eager to take his show on the road. At least the real Puppetry of the Penisperformers get to wear capes and tennis shoes when they create their genital origami -- and then they collect paychecks for their efforts. But these wannabes would simply walk up on stage, drop trou and proceed to alter the angle of their dangle, with no Marvel Comics-style getup to conceal their saggy asses.

Much to the horror of the ten judges.

Perhaps, we thought, the performers' choice of underwear would give us a clue. Maybe briefs men were more inclined to go the full monty than boxer-lovers. But alas, the scientific evidence was scantier than the auditioners' undergarments, which ranged from a disturbing pair of red-white-and-black bikini briefs to nothing at all. There were pierced, tattooed urban dwellers and polo-shirted, loafer-wearing suburbanites; skinny, High Fidelity-type music geeks and freaky Larry Flynt devotees. One man even performed with his jeans pooled around his Ropers -- a very odd vision indeed.

But back to the saggy asses. There's nothing like a hairy, pimply ass in your face at 11 a.m. -- a full sixty minutes before the legitimate start of the drinking day. And yet the judges were provided no tasty cocktails to, uh, stiffen our resolve. One by one, the seven would-be puppeteers were called before us to bare their comedic souls and, more important, their wankers. As each contestant took the stage, he turned his back on the judges and prepped his parts into the appropriate formation for such tricks as the Wristwatch ("Take the head of your penis in your right hand; place it inside the left wrist; roll the wrist towards your body") and the Hamburger ("Place the testicles on your fingertips; roll the penis between the testicles; turn on a 90-degree angle; squeeze the testicles and hold like a hamburger"); while he performed the necessary manipulations, he'd inadvertently moon the judges, with the camera projecting his larger-than-life backside onto a movie screen. After that, seeing the actual meat puppets was a relief.

Besides, the judges were to disregard all derrieres, because they're covered during a real performance. In Puppetry of the Penis, it's what's up front that counts. And we're here to tell you, size does matter. It gives the puppeteer a little more to work with. (Really, who wants a Wimpy when they could have a Big Mac?) Still, the auditioners were graded on more than just their physical ability (although the uncircumcised have a technical advantage, since that extra flap of skin makes the Eiffel Tower much easier). Judges also had to consider smiles and stage presence. (One word of advice here: wax.)

"There's a level of acting and charm that sort of goes with the role," says Denver Civic spokeswoman Katie Rosin. "The seven people who auditioned -- not everyone had it. There's an entire package."

And two Denver men, it turns out, have the complete package. Just one problem: So far, they have yet to deliver. Rosin says they got their callbacks last week but haven't responded to an invitation to train with PoP stars Lincoln Davies and Jef Benjamin (the first official American practitioner of the "ancient art of genital origami"), whose Denver run has been extended through the end of November. If the hometown boys do well in rehearsal, Rosin says, they could have a gig in the Big Easy in early 2004.

And in the meantime, maybe this city has found its much-coveted new slogan: Denver -- Where the West Was Hung.

He shoots, he scores: If Denver is penis-obsessed, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has jism on the brain. And no wonder: In the Kobe Bryant sexual-assault case that Hurlbert's prosecuting, sperm is key. But papers filed in Eagle County Court on October 21 suggest that the DA's obsession with this particular substance may be getting more than a little sticky.

In his recent motion, Hurlbert asked the court to enforce a July 24 order threatening to sanction any lawyer or law-enforcement officer who gives material to the media that might potentially prejudice a jury. Specifically, Hurlbert was concerned with an October 11 article in the New York Daily News built upon the claim that semen from multiple partners was found in underwear belonging to the young woman who says Bryant raped her. In the News story, retired Eagle County Court judge William Jones said that Bryant attorney Hal Haddon had shared this particular development with him. If that was true, Hurlbert wrote, Haddon's loose lips were part of the defense's campaign "to get information in the public domain that has been specifically prohibited by the Court."

The document's loose spelling is another matter that should concern the court. As Hurlbert inaccurately reported Jones's quote from the News(the italics are ours), "There was more than one man's seamen in [the victim's] panties." We had no idea U.S. Navy personnel were involved in this case, too -- and twelve years after Tailhook, no less. Later, Hurlbert's motion stated (again, the italics are ours): "There appears to be a pattern [of] disregard for the Court's orders that cumulated with the Jones' leak."

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