Lead Stories

Exotic dancer Pamela Harrison stated in October that she was wrongfully fired by the Kat Tales club in Stuart, Florida, after fellow dancers complained she was a health hazard. Harrison wears a colostomy bag tucked into her G-string, into which body waste can flow during her performances. An expert cited by the Associated Press said there is no health hazard to others.

Several news services reported in October on the growing number of “telephone clubs” in Tokyo, where mostly middle-aged men call junior high and high school girls and talk about sex. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 8 percent of schoolgirls participate at least occasionally, often agreeing to meet with the men and have sex because of the large sums of money they can make. The age of consent in Tokyo is 12, and prostitution is illegal only if arranged by a pimp.

Hiding place of choice: In September in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Robert L. Johnson, 42, was captured after a three-hour foot chase during which he managed to elude police while rolling a spare tire containing about six pounds of marijuana. Said police chief Richard Crowe, “That’s the fastest runner I’ve ever seen–of somebody rolling a tire.” And back in February in Kanab, Utah, Germain Berrelleza, 18, was arrested for marijuana possession hours after his car broke down. He aroused the suspicion of the tow-truck operator when he insisted on taking the spare tire out of the car and carrying it with him to a nearby motel.

The Continuing Crisis

In August, Reuters news service reported that Brian Howson, 51, of Perth, Australia, repaired his single-engine plane’s landing gear in flight while dangling out the door at 4,000 feet with three passengers holding his legs.

In September, Michael Potkul, 33, won a $400,000 malpractice award against Dr. Dominic A. Brandy in Pittsburgh. Brandy had convinced Potkul that he could give him a nearly full head of hair by surgically–in six operations–grabbing the hairy back of his scalp and stretching it over the thin-haired top of his head. Potkul suffered such pain and depression by the fifth operation that he attempted suicide.

Mean business: In July in Cape Town, South Africa, four cabdrivers were killed and several customers wounded when gunfire erupted in a continuing war between taxi companies. And in September in Los Angeles, police said that four of six recently missing boardinghouse residents had been kidnapped by a rival boardinghouse. Apparently this is an increasingly common tactic to get access to the boarders’ government checks.

In July in Japan, a four-year-old boy drowned while frolicking unattended as his mother played Pachinko, a pinball/slot-machine craze sweeping the country. More than two dozen toddler deaths have been attributed to parents’ obsession with the game. Also in July, the New York Times reported that the Russian government is cracking down on various gambling manias, including “one purely Russian refinement–virtual-reality cockroach races,” in which images of the insects scurry competitively across video screens.

Family Values

The parents of four-year-old Sarah Engstrand filed a $1.2 million lawsuit in New York City in September against the girl’s paternal grandparents. Apparently the grandparents’ Akita, Becky Bear, bit and deeply scarred Sarah’s nose and cheek during the girl’s birthday party in 1994. The grandparents are heartsick at being sued by their own son, who, along with his wife, is a lawyer.

In May, Maria da Conceicao Dos Reis, 66, married British citizen David Ian Harrad, 38, in Rio de Janeiro. She agreed to the marriage only to help her son Toni, who’s Harrad’s lover, because Harrad would have been deported unless he got married.

Quality time: In July a 33-year-old woman in Stone Mountain, Georgia, was arrested and charged with hitting her 15-year-old son on the wrists with a meat cleaver after he broke the TV remote control. During the same month, police in Newark, New Jersey, said a woman pushed her nine-year-old daughter through a department store window after learning that the girl had left the family’s $900 on a city bus. And also in July, police in Tunbridge Wells, England, arrested a young couple who were lying on the ground outside a sports shop having sex in the middle of the day. The woman was using one of their two kids as a pillow for her head.

The Jakarta Post in Indonesia reported in August that a Sumatran woman and her two adult children ganged up on a neighbor, who had allegedly been spreading rumors that the woman’s 21-year-old daughter was not a virgin. The three viciously bit the neighbor “all over her body.”

The Diminishing Value of Life

Recent reasons for killing people: Wouldn’t stop playing the piano (a Highland Park boy allegedly chased his father out of the house and into the street and then stabbed him to death); upset about being scolded for high America Online bills (a California, Missouri, boy shot his mother to death and then shot himself); dispute over method for paying off a water bill (a Kamloops, British Columbia, man allegedly strangled his wife of 28 years).


Apparently little has been done about the alarming report in News of the Weird in 1988 that an ingredient in barnacle-resistant boat paint was causing spontaneous sex changes in a snail called the dog whelk. A British biologist reported then that female dog whelks were developing sperm ducts and growing penises “of alarming lengths.” A Canadian government biologist said in September 1996 that similar findings were reported in the country’s Atlantic provinces. In Nova Scotia’s Halifax Harbor, his team found 50 female dog whelks with penises.

Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration by Shawn Belschwender.