Tight is right

From the health club to the nightclub, figure-flattering workout-style clothing is quickly replacing the baggy grunge look on Fort Wayne area women.

Tighter-fitting clothes started as a trend on the West Coast in 1994, yet Fort Wayne clothiers didn’t start stocking workout wear as fashion until late last summer. The local surge in figure-hugging clothes began with a boom

Women are dropping the sloppy look in clothing 

By DAVID SPEAKMAN special to next

From the health club to the nightclub, figure-flattering workout-style clothing is quickly replacing the baggy grunge look on Fort Wayne area women.

Tighter-fitting clothes started as a trend on the West Coast in 1994, yet Fort Wayne clothiers didn’t start stocking workout wear as fashion until late last summer. The local surge in figure-hugging clothes began with a boom in sales of belly-baring crop tops, according to Jessica Jones, a sales clerk in Hudson’s New Attitudes juniors’ section.

Jones said the average customers who buy these clothes range from late teens to late 20s. Popularity of the style has been gaining since Christmas, she said.

Joining with the crop top, now form-fitting silk blouses, skirts and pants have been big sellers in the post-Christmas shopping season.

“Workout fashions haven’t changed a lot,” according to Maxine Brown, ladies manager at the North Clinton American Health Fitness Center. “Women in good shape are wearing leotards and thong.”

Seria Nelson, assistant manager of Merry-Go – Round in Glenbrook Square, agreed that the loose-fitting look is on the way out for women.

“Women’s clothes fitting more toward the figure are selling better,” Nelson said. The store’s biggest seller are Y-legs, which are like leggings and are a typical accompaniment with the crop top.

These clothes are available at most specialty clothing stores and department stores in sections that cater to young women. Prices range from $15 to $60, but may be less because of current sales. Most are made of silk, cotton, rayon, polyester and blends.

“Women are more fashion-conscious,” said William Tyler, fitness consultant at the Fitness Connection. “Men just throw things together. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t.”

From the Hip

Hip-huggers – slinky body-hugging, gravity-defying pants which barely cover the backside – are the newest addition to the retro fashion scene. A 1970s-era fashion world response to the feminist “She Decade,” hip-huggers “celebrated” the female form – albeit an ultra-toned, thin and anorexic female form.

It takes a certain type of person to wear hip-hugger – mainly, someone with a perfect body.

By DAVID SPEAKMAN special to next

Like many new clothing trends in Fort Wayne, they first appeared on fashion mavens at trendy nightclub dance floors.

Hip-huggers – slinky body-hugging, gravity-defying pants which barely cover the backside – are the newest addition to the retro fashion scene. A 1970s-era fashion world response to the feminist “She Decade,” hip-huggers “celebrated” the female form – albeit an ultra-toned, thin and anorexic female form.

Although originally designed for women, men too can be found donning the occasional pair of hip-huggers in the unisex ’90s.

These pants, jeans, shorts or skirts, often made of cotton or polyester, are not for the meek. Usually worn with a body-conscious ribbed or waffle-knit top, ’90s hip- huggers can dip way below the navel in front.

Hip-huggers range in price from $20 to $80, and can be found at stores such as Merry-Go-Round, Rave and L.S. Ayers. Or you could go the cheaper – and more authentic – route by finding a pair at a local thrift store.

The rising popularity of navel piercing may help explain their modern-day appearance. With their natural dip, hip-huggers won’t rub the freshly pierced the wrong way – and won’t do anything to hide the proudly pierced.

Because of its body-revealing qualities, however, the hip-hugger won’t be embraced in every wardrobe. In fact, it probably will be a “fashion don’t” for most.

“If you’ve got a bad body, you might as well just forget about wearing these,” said 22-year-old Cherie Damos, a Fort Wayne resident we found wearing a pair of hip-huggers at Glenbrook Square. “You know there’s people out there who still wear them and shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t dare wear them if I wasn’t looking good. Anyway, that’s the point of fashion.”

How do you know whether you can pull off this hot trend in pants? A good body is key. If the average person looks at your thin waist or toned figure with envy, hip huggers might be for you.

According to fashion magazines, such as February’s issue of Self, hip-huggers actually have a slimming effect. If your tummy is less than toned, they recommend tucking in a shirt and adding a blazer.

Otherwise, hippy chicks and those whose abs of steel are more like abs of flab should probably just say no to this low-slung design.

Depending on your fashion taste, some styles are cut lower in back than others. But even if the refrigerator-repairman look is what you’re going for, remember that others have to look at you too.

Like thong swimwear, few men or women can successfully wear hip-huggers – the right way. But if you can, indulge yourself.

A hair-razing experience

Something frightening is happening to many men in their 20s. Through no fault of their own, hey are victims of a cruel twist of fate – an unlucky spin at genetic roulette.

The signs may be noticed by a chance glance in the mirror after a show

(Fort Wayne Journal Gazette – Page 8D – January 9, 1996) 

Some like hair on their backs. Others remove it.

By DAVID SPEAKMAN special to next

Something frightening is happening to many men in their 20s. Through no fault of their own, hey are victims of a cruel twist of fate – an unlucky spin at genetic roulette.

The signs may be noticed by a chance glance in the mirror after a show or by more embarrassing means.

Imagine waking up one morning to the gentle kiss of a loved one while hearing the appraising words, “Hmm, I never noticed your back was getting hairy.”

A hairy back?

Chewbacca is hairy. Sasquatch is hairy. Robin Williams is hairy. But guys in their 20s don’t get hairy backs, right?

Wrong. From a light dusting of darkened down to full-blown wall-to-wall shag, many guys younger than 30 are dealing with the onslaught of hair in that hard-to-reach spot.

“Eww,” was the first reaction Molly Norton had a few years ago when she first saw a guy with a hairy back.

“Honestly, when women picture the perfect male, you don;t expect back hair,” Norton said. “Young girls think its mainly when guys get facial hair, but you don’t think of hairy backs.”

Unwanted hair does not necessarily mean the end of a social life, For some people it may even be a bonus.

Norton, a resident of Berne, has dated hairy-backed men – and gotten used to it.

She talked of an ex-boyfriend with overactive back-hair follicles.

“He was always talking about how to get rid of it, but there was no easy way,” Norton said. after the initial removal, “he didn’t like the idea he had to keep it up.”

Women have been removing unwanted body hair for generations.

“Women have to do this,” Norton said. “We know hairy armpits and legs would be a definite turnoff to 99 percent of the population.”

Why should guys with unsightly back hair be different? That other percent of hair aficionados does exist.

“Why would you want to do that?” Asked Keven Howard, laughing at the thought of removing back hair.

Like some gay men and straight women, Howard is attracted to the Grizzly Adams-style of hairy men. A body type he and others call “bear.”

He has lived with his “husbear” for more than two years in a house east of Defiance.

“It’s a turn-on,” Howard says of hairy-backed men.

Howard first noticed his attraction about three or four years ago.

“They look better to me,” he said. “It’s like the preference some people have for blonds or brunettes.”

Howard talked of groups on the Internet and clubs like the Tri-State Bears, which cater cater to gay men with an appreciation for the ursine.

Howard admits his bear-loving friends are a minority. Most gay men and heterosexual women don’t like furry backs.

“Everyone has their own little hangups,” he said.

So, what’s a guy to do if he finds himself in this, well, hairy situation?

Shaving, waxing, electrolysis, tweezers, depilatory creams or the electric-spring action of the Epilady pro dives hair removal options with benefits – and drawbacks.

Norton talked about a male friend who bought a bottle of depilatory cream to cure his back-hair nightmare.

After the hair fell out, he put lotion on the newly denuded area to sooth the skin irritation, she said.

In place of the unsightly patch of fur, the guy sprouted an equally eye-pleasing crop of black pimples.

This apparently was not the effect he wanted. According to Norton, her friend gave up and now lives with the hair back there.

38

WATCH YOUR BACK, MAN

  • Shaving
    Pain factor: Razor burn, cuts
    Cost: Less than $1 a time
    Upkeep: Every few days
    Comments: If you can scratch your own back, you can shave your own back
  • Waxing
    Pain factor: Hair is ripped out after hot wax is poured onto the area
    Cost: At least $15 each visit
    Upkeep: Every couple of weeks
    Comments: Good for borderline masochists
  • Depilatory cream
    Pain factor: Skin irritation from caustic substance
    Cost: $2 to $6
    Upkeep: Bottle claim three to four weeks. Life says one week.
    Comments: Possible drips may cause additional unwanted hair loss.
  • Electrolysis
    Pain factor: An electric shock kills hair root
    Cost: $20 or more each session (multiple sessions required)
    Comment: Way too expensive – deal with it.
  • Epilady
    Pain factor: A metal spring whirs ant high speed while tearing hair out.
    Cost: $20 to $30
    Upkeep: Every few weeks.
    Comments: Could be tragically confused with other bedroom toys.

A Verdi Christmas

The second half-century of Texaco-Metropolitan Opera live Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts will begin with Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 on WBST-FM 92.1.

The broadcast marks the 5th birthday of the Texaco-Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, which constitute the longest continuous national sponsorship of a radio program in broadcast history. It was on Dec. 6, 1940, that the very first Texaco-Metropolitan Opera

By DAVID SPEAKMAN
For The Muncie Star  (Page T-15)

The second half-century of Texaco-Metropolitan Opera live Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts will begin with Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 8 on WBST-FM 92.1.

The broadcast marks the 5th birthday of the Texaco-Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts, which constitute the longest continuous national sponsorship of a radio program in broadcast history. It was on Dec. 6, 1940, that the very first Texaco-Metropolitan Opera broadcast was presented, and the opera that historic afternoon was Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

The cast for Saturday’s broadcast of La Traviata will feature three American singers in the major roles: Diana Sovierro as Violetta, Jerry Hadley as Alfredo Germont and Brian Schexnayder as his father, Giorgio Garmont. American conductor Rico Saccani will make his Met broadcast debut leading the performance. The announcer is Peter Allen.

To mark this 50th anniversary, WBST is offering a special 1990-1991 Metropolitan Opera broadcast schedule to the readers of The Muncie Star who read this column. All you need to do is write: WBST, Ball State University, Muncie IN 47306-0550 and ask for your free schedule.

Special Stuff

Last week I mentioned that WBST plans on airing about 40 special programs for the December holiday season. Get ready, because next week they will be listed in an easy-reference format.

Today, however, you’ll get a special preview of our holiday music specials that will air Dec. 11 to 25. During these weeks, WBST offers a variety of special programming.

Western Wind: A Celebration of Light, A Jazz Piano Christmas, Handel’s Messiah at St. Thomas Church, the 1990 St. Olaf Christmas Special and An Acoustic Christmas: Steve Wariner and Friends will evoke reveries and reminiscences, from traditional and contemporary to regional and international.

The history and legend of contemporary religious celebrations are woven together with music in the Dec. 18 hour-long special, Western Wind: A Celebration of Light. The acclaimed Western Wind Vocal Ensemble’s unique repertoire includes music and songs representative of the spirituality and significance of the winter solstice, renaissance and Hanukkah.

America’s original art form is the focus of A Jazz Piano Christmas, a 1-hour Dec. 22 special featuring keyboard specialists Billy Taylor, George Shearing, Marian McPartland and other notables from the jazz world. A Jazz Piano Christmas will use the “let’s-take-it-easy” philosophy of its genre for high-energy celebration.

Two musical events that mark the season’s sacred mood are the production of Handel’s Messiah at St. Thomas Church, hosted by Dudley Moore, and the 1990 St. Olaf Christmas Special: Arise ans Set the Captive Free. These specials will be broadcast Dec. 22 and 24, respectively.

Messiah presents original instruments and a men’s and boy’s choir as specified by the 18th-century composer. The ensemble of soloists and instruments, exquisitely blended by Handel, is under the artistic direction of James Richman.

The St. Olaf Choir joins the St. Olaf Orchestra in the all-new musical event – the 1990 St. Olaf Christmas Special. The 90-minute concert features the world famous 400-voice massed choir and 100-member orchestra conducted by Anton Armstrong.

Dec. 23’s An Acoustic Christmas reaffirms the true American spirit with 2 hours of outstanding performances by some of Nashville’s finest musicians and greatest storytellers. Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Maura O’Connell and othres get together in the city where country and western sound began.

The Woman of Japan

At 5:30 tonight on Horizons, host Vertamae Grosvenor explores the world of the modern Japanese woman. While Japan advances as a world power, women in Japan are still struggling to break free from traditional roles, as seen in tonight’s features, “Women in Japan Speak Out.”

During the past 10 years, many Japanese women have been making changes in the office and at home. This program features women from many walks of life – all reflecting on Japan’s complex society from a feminine point of view.

Unusual Operas

Classic Tales of doom and death are recounted in three magnificent ground-breaking works this month on NPR World of Opera, National Public Radio’s continuing series of operatic masterpieces from around the United States and the world.

NPR World of Opera has its season premiere on WBST at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. This trio for the Halloween season starts with the production of Philip Glass’s acclaimed

(The Muncie Star – Page T-15)

By DAVID SPEAKMAN

Classic Tales of doom and death are recounted in three magnificent ground-breaking works this month on NPR World of Opera, National Public Radio’s continuing series of operatic masterpieces from around the United States and the world.

NPR World of Opera has its season premiere on WBST at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. This trio for the Halloween season starts with the production of Philip Glass’s acclaimed The Fall of the House of Usher, based on the story by Edgar Allen Poe.

Minimalist composer Glass is one of the most prominent and controversial composers on the international music scene, and is known for revising traditional operatic writing, often incorporating high-tech video electronics into his productions.

Glass’s brooding, atmospheric music takes center stage in this production. David Trombley, Dwayne Croft and Sharon Baker sing the roles of the principal characters who lead listeners through Poe’s horror story about an ancestral curse and a premature burial.

The world premiere of Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus by Libby Larson has received wide critical acclaim. The opera is based on the haunting 19th-century novel by Mary Shelley. Libby Larson, regarded as one of America’s brightest young composers, created the work as an exploration of intellectual ambition, technological arrogance and isolation. All the music and vocal parts are electronically mixed.

The month concludes with The Flying Dutchman, the dark tale of a legendary voyager, doomed to roam the Earth for eternity until he can find a woman who is willing to faithful to him “until death.” The opera by Richard Wagner is heard in a production from the world-famous Bayreuth Festspielhaus, the venue Wagner built for his works.

Wagner was inspired to write the opera by a sailor’s tale he heard on board a ship on the North Sea in 1839. The work marked the first time Wagner used musical themes or “leitmotivs.” that now are so closely associated with his work. It was also the first time he used the orchestra more as a character itself than as an accompaniment.

Steve Curwood, host of NPR World of Opera, says, “Each of these operas reflects what I regard as opera’s gift – its magnificence as human symphony, with all the passion, cruelty and beauty of life itself.”

The Model Minority

Hard working parents and smart, obedient children who graduate from the best schools and become top professionals – this is the stereotype of Asian Americans, the so-called “model minority.”

“The Chinese American community abounds with examples that seem to bear out the stereotype, but this is only a partial truth,” says Helen Borten, producer of the first October documentary to air on Horizons, at 5:30 tonight on WBST.

Borton’s story is the first of five documentaries to profile various multicultural groups as they struggle for economic, political and social success at home and abroad.

In her story, “Chinese Americans” Climbing the Golden Mountain,” Borten reports from New York City on the success and the heartbreak of Chinese Americans as they pursue the American dream. Borten says, “School dropouts, youth gangs, garment industry sweatshops, cultural isolation and mental illness are also what many Chinese immigrants encounter after they come to America.”

In the next Horizons October documentary, airing at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14, producer Scott Schlegel spotlights the music of black women composers who struggle for recognition and acceptance in the male-dominated world of classical music.

In “Black Women Classical Composers,” Schlegel reports that getting classical music published is difficult for anyone, but it is especially hard for women. “There is a belief in the world of classical music publishing that women’s compositions are less deep, less emotionally powerful than men’s,” Schlegel says.

In the coming weeks: “Latino Performing Artists: Art for Troubled Times” and “Daughters of Zion: Women in Israel.”

Storytime

At 11:30 a.m. today The Sound of Writing features “Voice From the Outer Banks” by Richard Hill. This story is the tale of  a woman dead for 175 years who still manages to speak. Richard Hill tells this outlandish tale written by the daughter of Aaron Burr.

Ursula K. LeGuin, one of the most popular authors in the genre of speculative fiction, reads “Texts,” a vignette of a woman trying to escape the pretentious communications of today.

This text of an unnerving message tells of the woman, even alone and in silence, everything she sees seems to be at once of this world and another.