Smoke and mirrors

It's been said that "Sex is everything ... and nothing," which, if nothing else, is a paradox big enough to handle the infinite bemusements waiting under the covers or in our heads. Here, we've exercised the ethos for a subjective but suggestive sampling of locally inspired interpretations that add up to, well, everything and nothing. Don't bother trying to read between the lines. For a more visual (but still probably meaningless) experience, cut out the images below and turn to the centerfold to play a game of dressing up our very own Tabula Ross and Tabula Rose -- we're making a contest of it, but you really can't lose. (See centerfold for rules.)

Buddy Dyer: Scent of a politician

Bill Clinton always oozed sexiness. From the moment he donned a saxophone throughout the Monica ordeal -- granted, she wasn't Playboy material, but doesn't the idea of getting head while making world-changing policy decisions in the Oval Office appeal to the adolescent in all of us? -- Clinton boasted enough charm to weasel his way out of just about any accusation. He could also take credit for accomplishments he had little or nothing to do with, and you'd believe him. At least, you'd want to believe him.

Buddy Dyer is without question the Bill Clinton of this mayoral race. While he'll never have the je ne sais quoi of the Man from Hope, he certainly outshines his competitors in sex appeal. Granted, that's not saying much: Tico Perez will never grace the cover of GQ; Sharon Leichering should comb her hair before media events; Pete Barr looks and acts like that grandfather who just ain't right, and so on.

Watch Dyer work on the stump, and you'll see what we're talking about. His fellow candidates stand like stiffs behind the podium, reading their speeches. Dyer grabs the mike and as he talks, makes eye contact with everyone in the room. There's a gleam to his gaze, a warmth to his ever-present smile and an intangible presence to his baritone. He reeks of an almost inspiring self-confidence, and you can't help but like him.

Plus, he got the endorsement of Orlando firefighters, which means scores of strapping young men have been on the campaign trail working for Buddy. They knock on doors, hold up signs and appear at candidate forums, during which Dyer obligingly and deftly acknowledges their presence and thanks them for their support. That's no small accomplishment for Dyer: Post-9/11, firefighters are an incredibly hot commodity.

At every stage the game, Dyer has borrowed from the Clinton playbook, and come Election Day, we expect no different.

photo: Bob Whitby

Linda Stewart: Peak-a-boo politics

We first noticed her pedaling around the southern part of the county on an old Huffy bicycle, begging for votes dressed in nothing more than a muscle shirt and elastic biking shorts. Then we really felt something when she spanked the crotchety Clarence Hoenstine for District 6 county commissioner, an acerbic little man so arrogant he scheduled a vacation in the middle of a runoff election. But the real turn-on has been the web cam Linda Stewart plans to install in her office so the viewing public can watch her every move. Backroom deals will never look so fine. It might not be "Lobbyists Gone Wild," but Stewart's open-access style of government should stimulate the progressive in all of us. The former head of a nonpartisan watchdog group, Stewart has also shown a willingness to shake it up by appointing an environmentalist to the county planning board and being the sole commissioner to take umbrage at the lavish salary increase awarded to the county's head librarian. Linda, you work it, girl.

Shannon Hori: WESH weapon

TV newswomen are the subjects of rampant sexual fixation, and why not? They're in your home far more often than anyone you're actually dating. At WFTV Channel 9, Marla Weech's formerly priggish on-air image is slowly moving closer to her real-life presentation, which, believe it or not, is hotter than a freshly shot pistol. (Fine, don't believe it.) Over at WKMG-TV Local 6, news bunny Shawn Killinger is making mornings sizzle with her outrageous bangs and piercing eyes, endowing even the tamest sound bite with the subtextual challenge, "Satisfy me or die!" (Take a gander at Killinger's profile at, in which she lists her favorite TV show as "Sex and the City" and her favorite movie as "anything James Bond." Sense a pattern here?) Yet even Killinger's lustful gazes haven't yet snatched the fantasy-factory crown from WESH-TV NewsChannel 2000, which employs not one but two of Central Florida's lushest broadcast babes. The naming of Wendy Chioji is a given: For as long as some of us have lived in Orlando, she's been the veritable gold standard for televised glamour. But an informal office poll revealed even stronger support for anchor Shannon Hori ("and not just for the last name," one of the coarser cubs assured). Hori's porcelain skin and princessly poise, it seems, are doing more than their part to keep the WESH-tosterone pumping. And the station knows it, too. Why else would they keep reminding us they're "where the news comes first"? Cheeky monkeys.

Rod Johnson: At the top of his voice

Nothing is less sexy than the Botox brow and Dan Rather swish of the male news anchor -- insincerities uttered in nauseatingly predictable pentameters, followed by mechanical turns to lipless female co-hosts in soul-drained camaraderie. The New York Times typeface is sexier. But Rod Johnson is an anomaly in his field. With a face that betrays a far deeper truth (not to mention a come-hither glance), a voice that could melt margarine and a virile name that induces giggles, Johnson makes watching even the latest updates on cats in trees and dogs in heat (so definitive of the Central Florida News 13 machine) almost imperative. At times, Johnson's baritone is virtually inaudible, clearly in an attempt to protect us from the miscellany we don't need bothering our lives. Sometimes just the gentle hum of an unintelligible sentence, dropping off at the end into a Barry White purr is enough, anyway. Who else sounds sexy saying "light rail"?

TV twins: Small-package surprise

There's a venerable tradition of sexlessness in Central Florida's TV commercials. And it's alive and well every time that nameless, terminally wholesome saleslady invades your screen to shill for Lexus of Orlando. You know the one we mean -- the one who comes on like a refugee from Satan's glee club. Just look at her, staring up and into the camera in a wide-eyed plea for your hard-earned dollar. Doesn't she make Sally Struthers seem dignified? Doesn't she make you want to give up coitus and driving forever?

Then again, it's not as if relief is close at hand. Turn the dial, and you know what you'll find: the belly-slapping bubbas from Family Auto Mart. They're not exactly anybody's idea of pulchritude, either.

Given the almost total lack of commercial stimulation, we have half a mind to decree that the sexiest pitchman on the local airwaves is Toyota of Orlando's foxy terrier, Mr. Toyota. But we've already used that poor pup as a punchline too many times in this newspaper over the last year or so. Plus, admitting an attraction to a dog is just plain sick if you have less than four legs yourself. Instead, our utterly capricious libidos pledge allegiance to the pair of outwardly identical little people who are not only two of the partners in the Hulett pest-control chain but its pitchmen as well. Why? Because, in one fell swoop, Greg and John Rice managed to embody two kinky fetishes: twins and midgets.

Oops! We're not supposed to say "midgets." Let's start again. Um ... "Hey, check out the packages on those leprechauns!"

There, that's better.

John Morgan: Questionable makeup

There's nothing sexy about personal-injury attorneys. Period. We live in an increasingly litigious society, and anyone who contributes to our "sue everybody" mentality really should be fed to sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads. The ubiquitous John Morgan of Morgan, Colling & Gilbert is no exception, and if you live in Central Florida, there's no escaping him: billboards, print ads, radio spots, television commercials and even public-service announcements. One has to wonder whether the drive to plaster his name and picture all over everything is the result of a poor marketing strategy or a genuine inferiority complex. So pervasive is Morgan's stiff, soooo-not-sexy visage that he's quickly surpassing Micky Mouse as Central Florida's most recognizable icon. Soon, children everywhere will beg their parents, "Mommy, Daddy! I want to go see that man on TV who wears too much eyeliner in his commercials." And how about that motto? "For the people" eh? Funny, no one around here seems to recall him ever doing any volunteer relief work for the Congolese.

Celebration: Fake it till you make it

The name alone reeks of controlled irreverence, but this artificially inseminated community just to the right of reason (and Disney) presents a loopy sexual quagmire worthy of smutty investigation. Crafted as both a city of the future and a, um, celebration of the homey spirit of the past, Celebration's study in paradox makes for shifty, sexy territory. Imagine yourself a Stepford Wife, animatronically traversing Market Street in search of some vague, opaque, machine-lubricating happiness, and you get the idea. More likely, you'll find yourself deprogramming on housewife hoppers in little pills of red and blue, occasionally wiping your electronic smile with your starched apron. With a new branch under construction to accommodate the over-50s (always sexy) and the inexplicable land-breaking of a new Four Seasons hotel (good for sex), your sexual needs -- be they artificially induced or not -- should always find a home in Celebration. (No joke: The community holds its "Great American Pie Festival" -- sponsored by Crisco -- this very weekend, with "The Never Ending Pie Buffet" among its crusty competitions.)

is that the calendar girl?

The Holy Land Experience: Soul-stirring attraction

Remember when Madonna made Jesus sexy (and black)? Well, just like a prayer, The Holy Land Experience may tow the line on the traditional Kris Kristofferson vision of the supernatural martyr, but that doesn't mean that Mr. Nazarene can't be just as sexy there, too, given the proper imagination. A self-described $16 million, 15-acre, living biblical history museum, The Experience positively oozes with rhetorical raunchiness: costumed theme-prophets, a gift shop, goats. But the real pièce de résistance comes in the form of the cave from whence Our Lord disappeared. Quietly nooked off to the side of a side path, said temporary domicile would seem the perfect place for just about any handmaiden or shepherd to disrobe and de-sanctify. As a bonus, one lone loincloth is strewn across the arguably too-hard-to-get-down-on makeshift bench, making it not too hard to clean up in the sweet thereafter. Roll the rock, baby. And knock the boots.

Jim Faherty: It's the accessories

What is local promoter and longtime scenester Jim Faherty's sexy secret? No stranger to controversy, nor the pages of this tabloid, Faherty's downtown ubiquity sees him arm-hosting only the cream of the female species. They can't get enough of this guy. (Read porn actress Juli Ashton's endorsement.) Where over-the-top boisterousness might normally repel, he only gets sexier by the year. Clearly, Jim Faherty is an Orlando icon, boasting claim to the roots of everything that remains compelling in downtown culture. So there's that. But he's kind of cute, too, all salt-and-pepper, tattooed, with biker bravado and big-eyed, big-voiced intensity. What's not to love? He's the kind of boyfriend you have to mop up after, and God knows how sexy mops are. Nice use of an ankle bracelet, too.

photo: Carlos Amoedo

Nancy Roux: Right in the kisser

photo: Carlos Amoedo

She sometimes wears a T-shirt that says, "I'm a classic girl. May I help you?" but Nancy Roux is anything but a classic girl. She's the anti-girl, defying conventions of beauty as dictated by the mainstream fashion industry. As the merchandising queen behind Orlando's most righteous punk/new wave/goth boutique, Static in Winter Park, she's redefined what it means to be a "babe" with her neon-pink hair and myriad tattoos and piercings (which she had long before they became trendy). She's modeled for underground fashion shows like "Amp" and recently starred in the local, future cult film "Gorgeous Graves." But her most memorable role as of late was that of the kissing-booth girl at the "Anti-Valentine's Day" party at Bodhisattva last February. One customer hailed her talents, saying, "She's the best kisser ever. But don't print that I said that; my girlfriend will be pissed." When asked what she thinks her sexiest traits are, she replies, "I've never thought of myself as sexy." The sexiest people never do.

Eugene Snowden: Mr. Tingle

When musician about town Eugene Snowden walks into a room, the event should automatically cue background music, maybe something from "Superfly," something that lets everyone in the joint know that this man is the quintessential bad-ass mutha. As the architect of Umöja's hypnotic world beats, he conducts sensuous, rhythmic orchestrations like a powerful voodoo priest communing with the spirit gods. It's as close to sex as music gets. But it's his sharp-dressed alter-ego as the ultrasmooth, mack-daddy frontman for The Legendary J.C.'s that makes respectable women seriously consider careers as professional groupies. When he bounces and struts onstage, the consensus among the female of the species is strong: "He makes my girly parts tingle." Snowden exudes a raw, uninhibited sexuality that makes the ladies want to take a bite out of him (and he gives a tasty bite, right back to ya). Alas, he's the kind of man you just can't hold down. But we can all dream.

photo: Gregg Matthews


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