Keep the Change

Unreal investigates: holiday tipping practices (you're still not getting anything, mean mail lady), skimpy outfits (!) at a drag show (!!), industrial-plastic Kiss busts and bunny-adopting bloggers.

Christmas. Everybody's shoving their grubby little paws in Unreal's face. The mailman, the paper boy, the upstairs maid, the lap dancer. Even the garbage man expects a little palm-greasing.

Baffled, we turn to Leonard Green, a Washington University psychology professor who has studied tipping behavior at restaurants and who comfortably throws around terms like "delayed and probabilistic outcomes" and "magnitude effect."

Unreal: What is "magnitude effect"?

Dan Zettwoch

Professor Leonard Green: In tipping, we know the obvious: The larger the bill, the larger the tip. On $10 you leave less than on $100. However, what we wanted to see was, what about the percentage of the tip? What percentage do you leave on $10 versus on $100? And what we found was that the percentage of the tip decreases with the size of the bill. Percentagewise, you leave less — up to a point.

We have a lot of friends who are servers, so we're pretty consistently up there.

My wife at one point was a server, so she's a big tipper. But even there I've been sort of looking at her tipping behavior. Even though she's a big tipper, she leaves a larger percentage tip on a smaller bill than on a larger bill.

The ultimate existential question of the service industry: Why do people tip?

There are several theories, but no sufficient answer yet. There's the notion that you tip to get good service. Obviously that doesn't work, because you tip after. You haven't ensured good service. It's too late. Then there's the theory, "There's a norm. If everybody tips, then it does ensure good service in the future." So if there's tipping, then servers are more likely to serve well. But I'm not sure I agree with that, either.

Do you find that servers are able to manipulate diners into tipping more?

We didn't look at that, but oh yes. If I'm running a restaurant or I'm training servers, I can teach them how to increase the tip.

Sell bottles of wine, and dessert.

See, that drives me up the wall. That should not be part of the tip. That's not real work. Open the bottle, give it to me. But when they have to go back and bring me $40 worth of food, they have to go back and forth a lot.

We have this mail lady. She's not a good mail lady. She doesn't deserve a tip at Christmas. But is it because we've never tipped her that she's not a good mail lady?

There's also the other part: "She may not be very good, but if I don't tip, I run the risk of it being even worse." It would be interesting to see how service is affected: On these yearly Christmas tips, do you find better service just prior to Christmas? And do you find better service soon after the tip, but then it drops back down to the baseline?

No to the first question. As for the second, guess we'll never know.

Log Cabin Republicans Seek Investigation of Gay Sex

The Log Cabin Republicans of Greater St. Louis have asked for an investigation of a drag show at the University of Missouri at St. Louis last month.

Charles Stadtlander, president of the political organization for gay, lesbian and bisexual Republicans, attended the Oct. 14 drag show. The second annual show was sponsored by several groups, including PRIZM, an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students.

Stadtlander said performers in the show mocked heterosexual people in the audience, wore revealing outfits, used inappropriate language and simulated sex acts.

From a November 29 news brief in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Log Cabin Republicans of Greater St. Louis have asked for a new investigation involving a drag show at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Two weeks after alleging that off-color behavior occurred during the show, Charles Stadtlander, president of the political organization for gay, lesbian and bisexual Republicans, says he now has reason to believe that homosexual sex occurred after the show.

"Those actors wore revealing outfits, used inappropriate language and simulated sex acts," said Stadtlander. "Pretty inappropriate. But it pales in comparison to what they did later that night."

Stadtlander says he has learned that two of the show's participants had consensual sexual intercourse at a motel.

"Two dudes doing it is just — nasty," said Stadtlander.

Somebody Buy My Crap

Item: Kiss Busts (Ace Frehley,
Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley)

Condition: Still in box
Price: $200 each
Seller/Age: Spencer/37
Location: Kirkwood
Phone: 314-610-9927
Issue: December 6

Unreal: You have only three of the four original Kiss members. What happened to Peter Criss?

Spencer: He's almost impossible to get. I called all over the country trying to find him. I was lucky enough to get Paul Stanley. He was on hold for another customer, but I knew one of the employees at Spencer's. He sold it to me before the other guy could claim it.

What are the busts made of?

I think they're some kind of industrial plastic. They retail for $250. The bust of Gene Simmons is almost life-sized. It goes from the top of his head down to his nipple. It's painted with all the make-up and also has his spiked shoulder pads. Paul Stanley has a rose tattoo on his chest.

Next Page »