News Round-Up [1]

“Puttanopoly is a board game based on Monopoly,” Daniela Mannu explained to onlookers at the Furlan Gallery in the Italian town of Pordenone, “and up to eight players can take part. It’s fun to play, and educational too. Because instead of simply buying property, players find out what it’s like to be an immigrant prostitute, enslaved by the Mafia and forced to work in the sex industry.”

Mannu and Lucia Mainetti were demonstrating the game which they had devised together, and which is being marketed in Italy by the Committee for Prostitutes’ Civil Rights. “At the start of the game, each player is given an identity card and a space on the street, but then they’re on their own. Depending on each throw of the dice, they might have to give 90% of their earnings to a pimp, escape from a serial killer, have a back street abortion, avoid a police raid, travel to a brothel in Amsterdam, be on the receiving end of pack rape, or be killed by the Mafia and end up dead in a river, all while trying to earn enough money to survive. The idea is to give people an idea of what prostitutes are up against in this country, but it’s not all gloom. The winner is the player who manages to find the love of their life, gets married, and leaves the streets forever. It’s exciting, it’s educational, it’s Puttanopoly.”
(“Noticias locas”, 03/21/03)

“It wasn’t the most successful disguise he could have chosen,” a police spokesman told reporters in Nagoya, “because few grown men can convincingly pass themselves off as schoolgirls. The five o’clock shadow was a giveaway when you got up close, as were the hairy legs visible beneath his skirt. And even from a distance, you could tell there was something wrong, because he’s 175 centimetres high, which would be astonishingly tall even for a grown woman in Japan, let alone a schoolgirl.”

The spokesman was commenting on the arrest of Yoshifumi Moriwaki, a twenty-four-year-old Nagoya man who later admitted responsibility for a string of smash-and-grab robberies in the city during the past three months. “We finally caught him at a railway station, after he’d snatched a handbag from a woman cyclist, and he was wearing his usual outfit of blue skirt, grey blouse, painted on freckles, and a chestnut wig with plaits. During questioning, we asked him why he dressed up as a schoolgirl when he robbed people, and got an interesting answer. He told us that he knew the disguise was ludicrously unconvincing, but he believed people would only remember the clothes, and not him. And it’s true that although he robbed dozens of people, none of his victims could describe him accurately, except to say that he was a tall hairy man dressed up as a schoolgirl. So in a bizarre way, his disguise was quite effective.”
(“Mainichi Shimbun”, 05/16/03)

“People have got used to the idea that ‘Botox parties’ are safe,” Dr Tim Johnson of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons told reporters in Fort Lauderdale, “and they think that silicone ‘pumping parties’ will be much the same. But unlike Botox, the effects of silicone injections don’t fade with time, and they can cause bumps and unattractive swelling. Yet people seem willing to trust their bodies to any charlatan who offers breast augmentation on the cheap, even though injections with impure silicone can cause serious illness, or even death.”

Dr Johnson was speaking after Mark Hawkins had been found guilty in a Florida court of the third-degree murder of Vera Lawrence, a fifty-three-year-old Miami secretary. Commenting on the case, a prosecution spokesman noted that “Hawkins advertised and ran ‘pumping parties’ together with his associate, a transvestite called Donnie Hendrix, also known as Viva. Neither had any medical training, but they bought silicone intended for use as a cleaning product for $8 a gallon, and charged up to $300 for each injection into the breasts or buttocks. On the night Ms Lawrence died, she attended one of these parties and received dozens of silicone injections into her hips and buttocks, a total of about twenty pints. She then became breathless and unable to speak, and was declared dead shortly after arrival at Memorial West Regional Hospital.

“Pumping parties are popular nowadays with transgender and transvestite people, especially those who take part in beauty pageants and want a quick and cheap way of enhancing their bodies. But industrial-grade silicone is a poison, and people should be aware that if it enters their blood stream and reaches their lungs, they will die.”
(“Orlando Sentinel”, 05/27/03)

Sounds reminiscent of Life as a Black Man.