Then higher-ups at the University of Missouri-Kansas City heard about the crotch confections, which were to have been sold at a campus sex fair. That's when the cocoa genitalia hit the fan.
Organizers of the event, a campus group called Feminists United, were called before university brass to explain the purpose of the fair. Aside from the candy cooters, university authorities were especially stiff over plans for something called a Consent Tent in which consenting adults would have 90 seconds under wraps to do whatever they wished. Ninety seconds ah, we remember our college days well.
The tent didn't go over with Mel Tyler, the university's associate vice chancellor for student affairs. In an e-mail to Feminists United, Tyler wrote: "I have had a conversation with legal council [sic]: I want to confirm with you that legal has advised that the Sex Fair 'absolutely not' have a consent tent until they have had the opportunity to fully review the event and the university's liability. I expect that Feminists United will adhere to this recommendation."
Feminists United President Victoria Pickering, a UMKC junior, says her group agreed to ditch the tent to avoid friction with the university hard-ons. Tent-free, the group went forward last week with its original plan: a six-hour sex fair at Pierson Auditorium.
The place was a bit racy even without the free-romp tent. Images that flashed on a projection screen showed Lego men getting all Brokeback, frogs getting it on doggy-style, and a bound woman with "I love sex" scrawled on one butt cheek. A table of aphrodisiacs strawberries, chocolate and avocados tempted fairgoers. On the other side of the room, a woman interviewed students about their sex lives for a documentary film. Tables advertised passion parties and sold sex toys, vibrators and massage oils. And there were free rubbers. Mounds and mounds of free condoms. Memory of the consent tent was kept alive with a mournful sign marked "RIP Consent Tent" in front of a tape outline of a tent surrounded by yellow "caution" tape.
In the center of the hall, Karen Harrison offered a beginner's guide to tantric sex. "How many of you have synchronized your breathing with a partner?" she asked. One hand shot up. "What did it feel like?" she asked. A few in the crowd giggled. Harrison explained that such an effort "harmonizes your energy." Harrison talked about achieving hands-off orgasms by breathing and how men could manage multiple orgasms. Students quickly signed up for her e-mail list.
"Want me to turn you into a girl?" Tyler Parsons asked a Pitch reporter. The answer was no, but Parsons found a gender-bending guy willing to sit in the chair and let him brush silvery eye shadow on him.
A young woman slipped a condom over a banana to win the banana condom race. Her prize was a strap-on vibrator called "the lightning bug."
By the time a spread-eagle woman was dominating a body-tangling game of sex Twister ("right hand, blue balls"), it was time to leave. But first, we bought a chocolate-vagina sucker. We had a mystery to solve. We wondered if Mr. Owl from the Tootsie Pop commercials knew how many licks it would take to reach orgasm.
Red in the Face
Jo Anne Imre believes that her seventh-graders meant well.
Imre is a performing-arts teacher at Mission Valley Middle School in Prairie Village. Earlier this year, she split students into groups and had them choose a poem to recite for an event titled "Poetry Live." Some of her students chose staples of grammar school, like Shel Silverstein and Edgar Allan Poe. Imre was delighted when a group chose to recite poems from Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. It would be the perfect tribute to Black History Month.
On the evening of February 9, the students performed in costumes they'd designed themselves. The Silverstein kids donned bright, playful colors. The Poe readers went goth-black. And the Angelou and Hughes group wore red bandannas over their heads and what looked like field clothes. They played "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" on a boombox and pretended to be working with tools in the fields.
With their faces painted brown.
At least two of the parents in the audience reacted with shock. Around them, other parents continued proudly recording the performance with handheld video cameras, seemingly unconcerned.
"I wasn't concentrating on the poetry. I was so dumbfounded," says one parent whose daughter performed that night. She spoke to the Pitch on the condition that we didn't make her kid's life hell by naming her. "I just thought people didn't do that anymore. Living in Johnson County, it's such a secluded little world. Sitting in the audience, watching these blond, blue-eyed girls with their faces all brown, I just wouldn't have let my daughter do that."
When the Pitch asked Imre about the "blackface," the teacher got emotional. She said her students were merely trying to portray slaves at work in the fields. Imre said the kids meant the makeup to be a tribute and had no idea they were venturing into taboo territory. "I'm 62 ... I'm old enough to remember what blackface was," she explained. "A number of us are concerned that this very positive message, and the recognition of the contribution of African-Americans, not only to the growth of our country but also their literary contribution, would be in any way criticized by people [parents] who perhaps didn't understand what blackface meant. Blackface was meant to denigrate African-Americans. These performers meant to celebrate them."
At least the Prairie Village seventh-graders' blissful ignorance may have come to an end. Before hanging up the phone, Imre added: "I'll be discussing the history of blackface with those students today."
Stoning the Glass House
Sports metaphors worked overtime last week as politicians and business leaders launched a campaign to convince Jackson County voters that $1 billion is a sane amount to save the Chiefs and the Royals.
The kickoff event took place February 23 at the Save Our Stadiums campaign headquarters at an Independence strip mall. Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Kay Barnes and Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields were among the officials encouraging voters to hit a home run, score a touchdown, pick up the zone blitz and hoist a pail of Gatorade. All voters have to do is say yes to two tax questions to refurbish Truman Sports Complex.
The event did nothing to discourage the impression that Royals owner David Glass is an absentee chairman. Glass, a Wal-Mart officer who lives in Arkansas, did not attend the event, nor did his son Dan, the team president. Instead, VP Mark Gorris spoke on behalf of the Royals.
The Chiefs, by contrast, were represented by the team's founder, Lamar Hunt. The frail 73-year-old, who has battled prostate cancer and uses a cane, stepped up to the dais and reiterated the NFL's promise of a Super Bowl in Kansas City if voters approve a rolling roof.
After the applause for the last speaker, the Pitch stopped Gorris and asked where the Glasses were. "I don't even know, to be honest with you," Gorris replied.
Later, a Save Our Stadiums official said Dan Glass was in Arizona, where the Royals hold spring training. Glass was presumably fulfilling important executive duties, such as sitting in the sunshine and watching Mike Sweeney take batting practice.