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Like many of the people Botello covers, Marcason, the city councilwoman, went years without meeting him. But in 2009, someone from the city invited Botello inside the City Council's suite at the Sprint Center. He accepted and repaid that generosity by taking an unflattering photo of Marcason and posting it online. The Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus also invited him to an event. He obliged: "Come see these bitches." (They were "kind of offended," he says.) And last month, Botello was invited to be the moderator — the official voice of electoral reason — for a City Council debate at UMKC.
"It was the first kind of serious deal," he says. He showed up five minutes late.
Wading into the public eye, Botello says, he has managed to avoid getting his ass kicked. "It's kind of like being the toughest kid in Catholic school," he says, referring to the media and political circles he orbits. "You're the toughest person out of a bunch of pussies."
That said, he admits that this new engagement with the outside has complicated matters. Marcason is an example. He has never called her a skank, perhaps because he actually met her. Before I met Botello, he had mostly written off The Pitch, dismissing the paper as "a glorified blog guilty of wasting a lot of paper," arriving at the conclusion that "everybody who works at The Pitch is a homosexual." But the day after we meet at his dad's house, he'll laud The Pitch in his weekly Kansas City power rankings.
"I try not to meet people," he says. "It's harder to take the hatchet out when I've met someone."
How long he can keep that hatchet sharp is another question. How long does this go on? he sometimes finds himself wondering, presumably while surfing cleavage.tumbler.com. What's the endpoint?
He has bigger plans for the site, he says, but nothing will happen until he has more money, and he admits that he'll never attract advertisers or investors without toning down the site. Besides, he says, ads couldn't save him anyway.
"I don't think advertising is going to carry websites in the future," he says, reciting a common refrain among skeptical media obsessives. "I don't believe in it as a profit model." Besides, "If you really want to do unique stuff, if you really want to be cutting-edge, and even combative, you're not going to be able to pick up advertisers. Especially not in this town."
As the afternoon wears on, Botello's eyes stray less and less from his screen. It's obvious that he's itching to post something. It's been a few hours.
He walks me out. We linger on his dad's front porch, which overlooks Southwest Boulevard and Interstate 35, an appropriately bruised view of the city for a guy who spends so much time swinging at it. I remind him about a photo shoot scheduled for the next week.
"Are there really going to be models there?" he asks, and for a moment, I worry that he'll back out, that some fleeting sense of legitimacy will overtake his inner teenager.
"Yup," I say, hoping to cut off any reservations.
"That's fucking awesome."