Hickenlooper, as seen by Kenny Be on August 6, 
Hickenlooper, as seen by Kenny Be on August 6, 1998.

Off Limits

When did John Hickenlooper change from "the goofy guy across the street" to a mayoral frontrunner?

Through an incredibly scientific survey of Kenny Be's cartoon archives, we were able to trace the transformation back to sometime in 1998 -- ten years after the unemployed geologist and five friends opened the Wynkoop Brewing Co., and nine years after Westword officially moved its office across the street (and unofficially onto the Wynkoop's bar stools). By then, Hickenlooper was enough of a recognizable figure to make his debut appearance in Be's August 6, 1998, "Denver Doesn't Suck," in which assorted celebrities (or what pass for them in this city) prepared to lure the 2000 Democratic Convention to Denver; Hickenlooper shared a panel with historian Tom Noel. Two years later, in the January 4, 2001, "Predictions," Hickenlooper rated his own panel -- one in which Be predicted that Hickenlooper would "begin to parlay the name recognition he's gained from being the media's most overused quote source into an 'unofficial' run for office."

Two years later, in January 2003, Hickenlooper announced his run for mayor -- making Be the most brilliant prognosticator this town has ever seen. (Except for that June 21, 2001, false alarm about Ocean Journey becoming Long John Hickenlooper's Seafood Journey....)

Hickenlooper isn't as adept at seeing the future. If he were, he wouldn't have missed voting in the 1998 general election, where voters approved a tenth-of-a-percent sales tax to fund the construction of what ultimately became known as Invesco Field at Mile High.

Flouting the "If you don't vote, you can't bitch" theory of government, Hick went on to a leading role in organizing opposition to the sale of the beloved Mile High Stadium's moniker for $60 million to a bunch of stock pickers and signed on as one of fourteen plaintiffs in a lawsuit to kill the naming-rights deal. That attempt failed, but he still swore to always and forever more refer to the place as "Mile High Stadium."

Until he became the frontrunner in the 2003 mayoral race -- a candidacy at least partly inspired by the many Mile High supporters who told the crusading brewpub owner he should run for mayor -- and agreed to play nice and call the Broncos' home by its officially sanctioned name.

Other than skipping the 1998 vote, Hickenlooper's voting record is stellar. So how did he miss the one election that helped propel him into politics? "He had to leave town at the last minute," says Hickenlooper campaign spokeswoman Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, adding that it was too late to arrange an absentee ballot.

We doubt he'll be missing any elections in the foreseeable future.

Whippit good: Pornography and nitrous oxide go together like, well, pornography and nitrous oxide. It's not as if you absolutely need one to enjoy the other, but there's a certain wicked, retro, Boogie Nights-era symbiosis in effect. And that's why most porn stores worldwide carry EZ-Whip nitrous-oxide cartridges (sold under the guise of whipped-cream-dispenser propellant) along with crackers (cartridge-piercing devices) and oversized balloons for inhaling single doses of laughing gas.

Kitty's Pleasure Palace on East Colfax has long been the primary destination for Capitol Hill's weekend warriors looking to "Just Say N2O." But early last Sunday morning, callers from a nearby house party were disappointed to discover that Kitty's had no cream. The troop proceeded next door to Romantix, another 24-hour smut shop, where the grizzled, ponytailed clerk immediately demanded to "see some ID."

"The cops have been all over us," he said. "Now that they've gotten all the hookers off Colfax, they're coming after the adult bookstores."

Fine. But did he have any whippits?

"Well, now, whippits are illegal," the clerk replied. "Because when you say 'whippits,' that means slang for inhaling nitrous oxide, and that's not an approved purpose for nitrous-oxide cartridges."

So did he have nitrous oxide?

"It is illegal for me to sell you nitrous oxide, sir."

The would-be whippits buyer was beginning to feel like Gandalf trying to uncover the password for the Mines of Moria. How about...he was baking a pie at one in the morning: "Do you have any cartridges for my whipped-cream dispenser?"

The clerk smiled. "Yes, sir," he said. "I have boxes of 10 and 24."

As he rang up the purchase -- thirty bucks for 24 whippits, a cracker and two balloons -- the buyer crossed the invisible line once more.

"Do you know what's up with Kitty's not selling whippits?"

The clerk grimaced. "Sir, please stop saying 'whippits' in the store. Really, the cops have been all over us."

And at that, the buyer's friend emerged from the blow-up-doll aisle. "So," he asked, "did you get the whippits?

Whipped good: The cops have also been all over the punk-rock scene. On Saturday, May 3, the Florida band against me! was getting ready to take the stage at Linoleum, an artist's collective at 26th and Larimer, when the Denver Police Department showed up at the dry, all-ages show.

Apparently, a noise complaint (universal code for "We're comin' in") had been received, and Sergeant Mark Fleecs of the vice squad was there to get the situation under control.

"There were two helicopters, five or six cop cars and a paddy wagon," says Bonnie & Clyde Productions promoter Brandon Allen, who organized the show along with partner Sara Sayed. "They grabbed the money box, and we sat there, and they wouldn't let anyone take their equipment. They took pictures of the band's merchandise -- the band is very political -- and said it happened because we were holding a private dance without a permit."

The punks spilled out and continued the party elsewhere; Allen, Sayed and Silvia Huerta, one of the communal space's organizers, were left with court dates for failing to have the proper permits -- and for letting beer from a nearby liquor store find its way to the party.

"This is the first time in the two years Linoleum's been open that cops have shown up," says Sunny Johnson, who holds the lease on the space, which is zoned as an arts/performance space. "[The punk] community is under weird scrutiny. Those are the kids who clean up after themselves. We've always had pleasure housing their shows because there's never been problems -- kids passed out drunk or behaving irrationally. Some people don't like the punk-rock kids because they're also activists."

DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson doesn't know the nature of the tip that inspired Fleecs to bring in both vice and an eye in the sky. But he does point out that, counter to Allen's version, "there's only one helicopter in the DPD -- unless we went and bought one instantaneously."

And was it black?


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >