Politics makes strange bedfellows: Since Colorado Democratic chair Phil Perrington shut down his party's party relatively early (who could blame him, after a TV reporter didn't understand Perrington's "Dewey" reference when he alluded to Harry Truman's come-from-behind surprise 1948 victory?), for real election-night antics you had to head south to the Denver Tech Center. There, while Bill Owens counted votes in an upstairs hotel room, the Republicans held a many-happy-returns (in Colorado, at least) celebration. Trying desperately to stay awake, they danced with abandon to the Village People's "YMCA."
Although the song has become a staple at sports stadiums everywhere, anyone familiar with the history of the Village People knows that a roomful of Colorado Republicans is one of the least likely places for a celebration involving the campy gay icons. The Village People's six characters were created in the Seventies as a shrewd double entendre: Biker, Soldier, Construction Worker, Cowboy, Indian and Cop may have been straight out of American mythology--but they also embodied the ultimate gay male fantasy figures. The Village People's first hit, "Macho Man," was a not-so-thinly veiled lampoon of gay gym culture ("Joggin' in the mornings, go man go/Workouts in the health spa, go man go"), as well as a homoerotic ode to the results ("Body, wanna feel my body, body, baby, such a thrill my body"). There was also "In the Navy," wherein the men, tongues firmly in cheeks, called "Hey, sailor!" to potential recruits everywhere ("Come on and join your fellow man...They're signing up new seamen fast").
If the dancing Republicans had been paying any attention to the lyrics of "YMCA," it might have given hope to Colorado's embattled gay community: Lines like "Young man, there's a place you can go...and I'm sure you will find/Many ways to have a good time" and "They have everything for young men to enjoy/you can hang out with all the boys" lend new meaning to the phrase "young men's Christian association."
But since the Village People's subversive lyrics have apparently been lost to the sort of mindless disco nostalgia that could allow the Colorado Republican Party to appropriate one of the gayest pop acts of all time for its Owens victory celebration, we thought it might be time for some more fitting lyrics to usher in the new administration:
Young man, there's a place you can go
It's the governor's mansion, in Colorado
You can cut people's taxes
You can widen the roads
Just remember, anything goes
Young man, are you listening to me?
It's a state where everyone wants to be free
Your margin was tight
So say goodbye to the Right
And let all your inhibitions be...
It's the party of G.A.Y.S.
Republicans for G.A.Y.S.
Remember, it's not "special rights"
Don't be so uptight
Now let's turn out the lights.
Down for the recount: Thus far, the most titillating tidbit to emerge from the November 3 election is a tipoff from the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Jesse "The Mind" Ventura has been consulting former governor Richard Lamm, a Reform Party candidate for president in 1996, on how to set up a new government. Or how to beef up that new nickname: Lamm confirms that he was asked by the chairman of Ventura's campaign to write a transition memo because "there's no institutional memory that you can call upon when you're essentially an independently elected governor." Lamm says he wrote a "nut-and-bolts memo" on "procedural stuff"--which he won't need to do for wife Dottie, who lost her Senate bid in a "Lamm-slide" (to quote the most overused phrase of last Tuesday night). Lamm says he was "just trying to be helpful" to Ventura, but could it be a coincidence that back in the early Seventies, Dottie's behind-the-scenes nickname was "The Body"?
Or maybe Dick, who works out of a University of Denver-based think tank, could give some advice on education reform to Owens. The new governor apparently needs it. When the Chronicle of Higher Education queried gubernatorial candidates in 36 states on issues affecting higher education, Owens--B.S., Stephen F. Austin State University; M.P.A., University of Texas at Austin--was the only one who did not respond.
Talk scoop: On the roster of the biggest losers in this year's campaign, Colorado Republican Party chair Steve Curtis has to rank high. Even before the election results were counted, moderates were gunning for Curtis--so he got out while the getting was good. On Monday Curtis announced that he wouldn't be running for a second term as party chair. But then, he already has a second career--as a radio talk-show host.
Beginning November 16, Curtis will host "Mile High Midday," a three-hour weekday talk show on KNUS-AM/710. And all those pesky eccentricities that made him such a liability as a party leader suddenly look marketable. On talk radio, controversy is the fertilizer that keeps things going--and audiences growing. At least there's plenty of shit out there. In announcing the hire, KNUS noted that Curtis "even surprised Colorado Republicans last month by criticizing his own party's gubernatorial candidate, Bill Owens, for his 'moderate' stand against abortion." He "doesn't hold back or waffle on key social issues that are important to conservatives," adds KNUS general manager Carolyn Bernhardt.
She'd just better hope that Curtis doesn't lock her out of her own office, as he did to Republican Party loyalists.
If Curtis was this season's loser, Jon Caldara surely emerged as its biggest winner. Despite polls showing Referendum B winning handily, the tax-surplus measure went down in flames, torpedoed by Caldara's wing-and-a-prayer anti-B campaign. Caldara, who declined to run again for the RTD board, on Monday started a new, better-paying gig: president of the Independence Institute, that troublemaking Golden-based think tank previously headed by Tom Tancredo, now the congressman-elect from the 6th District, and John Andrews, who lost big to Roy Romer when he ran for governor back in 1990.
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In addition to his new day job, Caldara will continue to moonlight--yep, on talk radio. He's got a regular Saturday-night slot on KOA-AM/85 and fills in whenever there are gaps in the schedule.
And there's a gaping hole these days, now that Keith Weinman has resigned from his job at KOA radio in the wake of his arrest last week for allegedly assaulting his wife. (Weinman also lost his job at Channel 4, where he'd been doing on-air morning business reports). The arrest followed several weeks of hush-hush discussions after Weinman's reported suicide attempt at his Longmont home on October 9.
This wasn't Weinman's first brush with the law. Last year, after he was charged with stalking his wife, he wound up taking a plea. At the time, though, both of his media employers gave him a pass that let him continue business as usual rather than deal with a clear problem.
The Denver Rocky Mountain News (soon to be renamed the "Denver Pavilions Rocky Mountain News," judging from the coverage given the second coming of retail to downtown) won the election-night battle of the presses, with a November 4 paper announcing that "Owens wins at wire" while the Post was still headlining a "neck-and-neck" race. But the News's efforts would have been more laudatory had the paper updated its Web site, which that Wednesday afternoon was still reporting an attorney-general race as "too close to call.