Tosh Berman knew that running Donkey Den, which opened just last month at 1109 Lincoln Street, would be a kick. He just didn't know that protesters would kick back, right in his assets. They've lined up outside for the past two weekends, urging customers to boycott a place they claim is named after a Tijuana brothel where women have sex with animals -- "a blatant mockery of sex crimes against women and girls," according to www.boycottdonkeyden.org.
And then there are such Donkey Den menu offerings as "ho-made fries" and a burger dubbed "Donkey Punch," which, as defined by the Encyclopedia of Sex, is when "during doggystyle sexual activity, a man punches his female partner as hard as he can in the back of the skull right before he reaches climax. This causes her to convulse and tighten every cavity."
Thus, boycottdonkeyden.org determines, "a donkey punch is not a sex act, it is violence."
It's a burger, insists Berman -- and a low-carb knockout, at that. "When they called me," he remembers, "and started saying I was using this for some kind of negative vibe to women, even my fiancée, who came up with most items on the menu, thought it was ridiculous.
"Honestly, I understand that they have issues that I called it Donkey Den, but their reasoning is absolutely unfounded," Berman continues. "Basically, the whole concept was to do a very cool, high-end environment with a low price point -- a down-and-dirty supper club." Not that dirty, though: He thought a Tijuana theme was catchy and casual, and a now-defunct taco joint he discovered in Cabo San Lucas provided just the right name. "Donkey Den is fun," he says, "especially with 250,000 cars a day driving down Lincoln."
Which means plenty of people will catch the protesters who'll be out again on Saturday, June 11. And the protesters protesting the protest, who've told Berman they plan to support him. "We're doing exactly what the Denver demographic wants," he concludes.
Not all of that demographic. "We decided it would be a good idea to stand outside and picket, and inform people what they're being sold," says Zoe Williams, an Auraria campus Radical Cheerleader who started the boycott movement after a friend of hers discovered the donkey punch and did some investigating. "I'm at the point right now where I'd like them to change the menu and the name of the restaurant, or just close the doors."
Should the Donkey retreat, Berman has plenty of ideas for other eateries, as well as a series of animal-themed ethnic restaurants that include Holy Cow (Indian) and Screaming Godzilla (Japanese).
Ain't that a kick in the pants?
Follow that cab! Donkey Den didn't make the cut for United Airlines' current celebration of Denver, which includes a 32-page "Insight: Denver" advertorial section in the June issue of Hemispheres. We've gone "from cow town to wow town," the mag proclaims.
You couldn't prove it by the companion video -- Three for the Road With Ian, Jennifer and Michael -- that will be shown to all United passengers flying in to Denver International Airport this month. Mayor John Hickenlooper leads the way with a discussion of downtown, which is followed by short profiles of a handful of restaurants (half chains, half local, and each paying $750 for the privilege of being featured) and Artie the cabbie's tour of local nightspots.
First stop? Manhattan Grill, the eatery at 231 Milwaukee Street that closed last month -- and on Monday officially reopened as Steak Au Poivre. Much better were his picks of Dazzle and the Church, just down from Donkey Den on Lincoln Street (not Avenue, Artie).
Next time Denver is so honored, we hope United -- which accounts for two-thirds of DIA's traffic -- springs for a local fact-checker. (The airline certainly saved enough in union concessions announced the day that the mag and video were unveiled, which made the festivities a lot jollier than they might otherwise have been.) As for Mayor Hick: The arts center on Speer Boulevard is the Denver Performing Arts Complex, not the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (the nonprofit founded by Donald Seawell that uses much of the space). But say, maybe what was just a clever ploy designed to convince Denverites that the names are just too confusing, and to get us to finally accept the facility's dreaded nickname: The Plex.
On the Record
When we saw that The Perfect Man was opening next week, it looked like just another cinematic Twinkie -- delightfully full of air. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) But then we looked a little closer and discovered that this tale of a mother fleeing bad boyfriends and her daughter manufacturing a "perfect man" isn't just a cinematic Twinkie, it's our own Twinkie. The movie is loosely based on the true story of former Littleton residents Heather Robinson and her mom, Jan, who was once married to current Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson. Off Limits contacted Heather to learn how perfectly The Perfect Man captures her life:
Q: How many times did you and your mother flee from bad boyfriends?
A: Well, we didn't really move that much. We only moved from Littleton to Tucson. That's been changed in the script.
Q: So how close is the script to the truth?
A: The truth is much different from the script. They had to work the Hollywood magic. But my basic story is that my friend and I just kept trying to find the perfect man for my mom after she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. We started by sending flowers from a secret admirer to boost her self-esteem. Then we had to follow that up, because she had so many questions. Next we sent a love letter, and then it just sort of got out of control. My friend stole a credit card, because this communication went on for eight months and we had to do something. But she told me her aunt had given it to her so we could go and buy a ring with it. I didn't know it was stolen until we got to the store. We both got arrested. Growing up with my dad in law enforcement, I always knew right from wrong, so it was a slap of reality.
Q: How long were you in Littleton before you went to Tucson?
A: I was born and raised there. We moved in 1993, which would have been my freshman year at Littleton High School.
Q: So is your dad a good guy or a bad guy in the movie?
A: He's not portrayed. His reps requested that I not mention him much.
Q: How did you get hooked up to turn your story into a movie?
A: My mom and I were walking out of the courthouse after I got in trouble for the credit card, and she said, "This is such a crazy story, maybe someday it will be a movie." Then I got a job here in Tucson as a customer-service rep at America Online. From that job, I got celebrities calling in needing trouble-shooting for their computers. The first person I met online was Carrie Fisher, and I actually ended up talking to her for two years before I told her my story. She told me what books to get at Barnes & Noble and said she'd help me. So that's how it got started. My mom and I co-wrote it together.
Q: Who did you have in mind to play you?
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A: It was always just a dream to have anybody play that role. After knowing Hilary Duff was going to play my role, I was beyond ecstatic. And to have Heather Locklear play my mom, you can't beat that.
Q: Have you avoided your mom's dating disasters?
A: To a degree. I've met some guys online and then met them in person, and it's like, yikes. I haven't really put that much time into it. After trying to find someone for my mom, I was exhausted.