The doctor is in -- and on. Comic and veterinarian Kevin Fitzgerald may be the most famous veteran of the Denver Barbarians rugby team, which last week apologized for the rowdy behavior of a few members who swiped liquor and urinated in the galley of a flight heading into DIA on August 14.
Fitzgerald started playing rugby in 1968, when there were only a few teams in the state "and anybody who had an English accent was the coach -- even if you were a mutant, even if you'd never played," he remembers.
"We drink and sing songs," was how a cousin explained the game at the time. Notes Fitzgerald, "I was halfway there."
While rugby is "a young man's game," he adds, "I can still sing the songs."
And what songs. "It's not enough to be dirty," he points out. "To be filthy and clever -- well, there you go." Many rugby songs are freely adapted from limericks, such as this:
There was a young maiden Madass
Who had a magnificent ass
'Twas not round and pink
As you probably think
But was gray and had ears and ate grass.
A gay fella in Khartoum
Took a lesbian up to his room
They argued all night
As to who had the right
To do what and with what to whom
There once was a couple named Kelly
Who were forced to walk belly to belly
Because in their haste
They used library paste
Instead of petroleum jelly.
There once was a couple named Dare
Who often made love on the stair
He doubled his stroke
When the banister broke
And he finished her off in the air.
"These guys have a code, a gentleman's code," Fitzgerald says. "They don't like rude behavior. Anybody can be loud and rude. There are rules, dammit -- you must be loud and rude and clever. It's a fine line." And it looks like some Barbarians crossed it mid-air.
But as for the peeing, Fitzgerald can explain that. He'd just graduated from vet school and was on a first date with a nurse when they walked into a rugby party. "Some of the Highlanders and Barbarians knocked me down, cut my tie off -- she'd bought it -- put my glasses in the microwave and urinated on me," he recalls fondly. "They were genuinely happy to see me. It's like a wolf pack; they pee on each other. It's a sign of bonding."
That's a croc! What's more fun than a pack of peeing rugby players? A gross of gators. At Colorado Gators, the alligator farm in Mosca, in the San Luis Valley, they've got 450 of the critters -- but last week they were down two gator wrestlers when Jay Young and Paul Wertz parachuted into Los Angeles to try to catch a seven- to nine-foot alligator that was loose in 53-acre Machado Lake. "We had him in the net," Young, who billed the county $800 a day for his rescue work, told a TV station last Thursday. "But the boats weren't able to pull the net around to close it off, to get him trapped."
"They were within a few feet of it several times," reports Lynne Young, Jay's mother, "but there was such a circus going on, with spectators and reporters and such, that the gator escaped."
Lynne was not so lucky when her husband decided to bring gators to their fish farm eighteen years ago. "He brought the gators up here," she says. "I didn't ask for that. We were a fish farm for years; no one cared about us when we were just fish." Now, though, the Gator Farm is open seven days a week, twelve months a year, and tourists flock there to see the reptiles, take gator-wrestling lessons and even get married in the gator pen, as one couple did last month.
When Young returned to Colorado this past weekend because of a prior commitment, the L.A. parks department brought in a rescue team from Gatorland, a theme park in Orlando that bills itself as the "alligator capital of the world." They're doing the job for free, but get to keep the gator if they catch it. And if they fail? "I like challenges," Young says, "and that's why I'd want to go back."
We'll drink to that! What's more fun than a pack of peeing rugby players and a gross of gators combined? A good saloon. Sadly, the 92-year-old Carioca Cafe, affectionately known as the Bar Bar because of its red neon sign that spells out only the word "bar," is losing the lease on its longtime home at 2060 Champa Street. One of the last true dives in downtown, the Carioca was dubbed Best Place to See Chicks Fight in the 2003 Best of Denver by a savvy Off Limits operative. Decades before that, it was the best place to see the likes of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. And in the '70s and '80s, its proximity to movie-production facilities made it the best place to see the likes of Raymond Burr, Chuck Connors, even Mr. T. Today it remains a favorite haunt of downtown denizens and hipsters alike.
"We'll continue the Carioca in a new location," promises owner Tim Fink. "But we definitely want to leave this one in style." Look for a big bash next month.
Coming to a tetherball pole near you: Fans of last summer's cult hit Napoleon Dynamite are baking extra tots and tuning up their Sledgehammers in anticipation of Jon Heder and Aaron Ruell coming to the Auraria campus on August 25. Heder, who wrote, directed and starred in the campy film about Napoleon, everyone's favorite high school egghead, will tag-team with Ruell (Kip, Napoleon's socially maladroit brother) to talk about how a bunch of Mormons took $400,000 and a rural Idaho town and created a Sundance-darling-turned-blockbuster-hit worth more than $50 million to date.
The presentation, part of Auraria's official Fall Welcome, marks a major departure from past speakers like Maya Angelou and Affini Shakur (yes, Tupac's mom), who were great and everything, but, man, those ladies are deep. This year, students instead get two hours of sweet tetherball footage, Jamiroquai-inspired breakdancing and a question-and-answer session with the stars.
But that could be about all these students want. Thanks to rising tuition costs around the state and country, the three colleges based at Auraria are seeing "a different kind of student body -- a lot of the younger generation," says Khushnur Dadabhov, associate director of student life for the University of Colorado at Denver. Not that the older guy in high socks and the brand-new Jansport backpack shouldn't be able to enjoy the show, too, and even draw some inspiration from it. "Most students probably understand that making a movie like this doesn't just happen," she adds. "We want to send the message that you can be -- and do -- anything you want if you try hard enough."
You can even rip off the movie's kitschy "Vote for Pedro" slogan that's inspired all those T-shirts honoring Napoleon's friend. The Colorado Alliance for a Secure America, which routinely argues for tighter border security and illegal-immigration reform, recently began selling Napoleon Dynamite knockoffs and bumperstickers on its website (www.casapac.com) that replace the name "Pedro" with "Peter." Get yours for a "Guardsman"-level contribution of $24.99.
Scene and herd: Walking billboard John Madden, the bonkers fellow frequently sighted near the State Capitol holding a sign reading Œ'Clinton Raped Juanita" or "Neuter Hillary" ("People like my signs because they're intellectual," he told an Off Limits operative a few months ago), has taken his show on the road. Earlier this month he was up in Boulder, slinging his "Kerry Throws Like a Girl" poster and harassing returning students. ... Shortly after Gary Barnett had a restaurant named for him at the Orrington Hotel in Evanston, Illinois, he abandoned his coaching position at nearby Northwestern University for a job at the University of Colorado -- and we all know how well that's worked out. Things didn't go much better at the Orrington: After NU's faithful fans finally acknowledged that they'd been ditched, the hotel changed the joint's name first to Coach's, and recently gave up on the sports-bar shtick altogether, turning the space into the Globe Cafe and Bar. "Barnett wasn't world-class," explained one bartender. ... By last Friday, two days before the Lewis & Clark exhibit was set to close at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the museum's gift shop was exploring new price points for exhibit-related paraphernalia: The price of Beanie Baby-like dolls of Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Sacajawea and York had been slashed from $17.99 down to $9 each. Collect them all!
Kyan Douglas , the gorgeous guru of grooming on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, was in town this past weekend to serve as the grand marshal of AIDS Walk Colorado. Before the walk, Off Limits begged Douglas for some beauty tips.
Q: What's your opinion of Denver's style?
A: Well, I've only been here twice, both times for the AIDS Walk. I just flew in and flew out, so most of the people that I saw were wearing AIDS Walk T-shirts. That's the only fashion I've seen here so far, to be honest.
Q: So you didn't go out to any clubs?
A: No, I didn't go out to any clubs. I had my boyfriend with me both times, and he doesn't like going dancing, so we do other things. We went and had sushi at Hapa Sushi in Cherry Creek, and it was absolutely delicious. So I can't comment on Denver's sense of style, but what little I've seen, I've enjoyed, and in terms of the people I've met, they've been pretty nice. Denver seems like a very diverse community, like it's sort of a portal to the rest of the state.
Q: What would you do to help out the straight guys in Denver?
A: I'd like to come do the mayor; that'd be fun. I love him, he's so nice -- but he needs some color. He's very blah, sort of a monochrome guy. I mean, he's a sweetheart, but color! And his hair's a little flat. I'd give his hair a zhoosh, a little product. And a new haircut. He's got such a crazy name, he needs hair to match his name -- something "edgier" for "Hickenlooper."
Q: What's your least-favorite fashion trend?
A: I hate anything where people are trying too hard; I think everyone's got their own thing. Some people don't know what their thing is; they don't know who they are and just copy whatever they see and try so hard to chase this thing -- it never works. The way that each person does this is different, whether it's a guy who's trying to cover his gray, or a woman who has no business being blond, but who insists that she has to be. People wearing clothes that aren't appropriately sized. There's a certain confidence that comes from knowing who you are and just giving expression to that. I always cringe when I see people who don't know who they are or what the hell they're doing; they're just doing what they think everyone else is doing. Trying to be that clone. There are so many ways to express yourself. I love looking at men and women who are very conservative and classic, nothing too out-of-the-box, when that's who they are. But at the same time, there are people who have a crazy-ass style that just looks beautiful on them because it's an expression of themselves, and it's great. So that's what I like to see.
Q: What's the best way to care for your skin in a dry climate like Denver?
A: Oh, my God, I'm just figuring that out; it's unbelievable! My lips have been so dry today. I'm trying to figure out my hair here right now. Obviously, moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Drink lots of water, especially water that has electrolytes in it. And sunscreen -- that's important. Sunglasses. Denver is a dry place, and we're closer to the sun here, so plan accordingly. It's so sunny here, even in the winter. That's what drives me crazy about New York; it's like cold, cold, cold there for about six months, and then we have this crazy heat.
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Q: What's your favorite part of being a Fab Five guy?
A: It's just fun. It's fun to get up for work every day and sort of have a different environment. I had a corporate desk job once for exactly a year, and it drove me up the wall; I thought I was gonna die. Although it was a great company, I'm just not someone who belongs behind a desk organizing things. I was terrible at my job -- and miserable. I love this job. You get to help somebody out along the way. The perks are great. It's fun to go places, and wherever you go, somebody knows who you are. Not everybody, but somebody. We've had the opportunity to do all kinds of things. I'm a spokesperson for L'Oreal Paris, which is crazy, being a man, a gay man, and a spokesperson for a global beauty brand. That's amazing! And we won an Emmy last year, which is just nuts, ya know?
Q: Do you have plans to do a show in Denver?
A: We're shooting in New York and are gonna be in New York the rest of the year. We may do a little traveling, and I don't know if they've figured out where we're going to be. It exponentially increases the cost of making our show to travel, so it's really tough.