The decision to weigh possible offers for the company, which owns the Post-Dispatch and the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis, could lead to the end of one of the nation's most enduring media empires.
-- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 22, 2004
And the P-D's shocking follow-up story: Ladue News Realizes It's for Sale, Too! (82Kb)
The Unreal Fairy
In case you're out of the loop on current trends in decorative Santa merchandise, Unreal's here to tell you: Mark Roberts is a superstar. Roberts, who specializes in winged Santa Claus ornaments of many shapes and sizes -- including an African-American Pumpkin Pie Fairy, a Safari Fairy, an Enchanted Forest Fairy and a Renaissance Fairy -- sells more than a quarter-million of 'em a year.
Unreal caught up with Roberts before his recent visit to Mary Tuttles Flowers in Chesterfield, where he was signing his fairies.
Unreal: It's not really historically accurate, is it, to put wings on Santa Claus? Has anyone ever called you on that?
Mark Roberts: Well, to put it in a timely way: My fairies sell well in the red states. With the exception of California, where I do well, New York and New England are my weakest areas by far. It's amazing. You go into Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado and they do very well. Kansas is about as red as they come, and they love these things! They're so whimsical and charming that I don't think that people look at them and see fairies and think about some political issue.
Have you ever gotten complaints from the religious community about fairies and their association with the dark arts?
Well, being a red voter and a regular churchgoer I'm sensitive to that, but it's a really small group of people who would be offended by them. We did have one group of protesters in Topeka, but I found out later it was the same group who protested the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the gay boy that was murdered or crucified up in Montana [sic] years ago. And when they protested, they also had signs that said, "Thank God for 9/11." They're beyond the fringe.
Fairies have long been associated with the homosexual lifestyle. Why do you think there's that connection?
I haven't been asked that one before, but of course I'm familiar with that connection. My fairies don't go in a political direction. They bring out the best in people.
Is there a line you will not cross? Do you make dog fairies? Is there even such a thing as an animal fairy?
Well, there are, but they're not part of my collectible line. There are a few now and then, but pretty much all the fairies are Santa-based. Most of them have the Santa head, the Santa face. What they are is they're all little elves from the North Pole that got their wings and became fairies and helped Santa out in all these different ways.
Winston-Salem-based Inner Self, known for peddling slinky skivvies, launched the Archipelago Sugar Skincare Collection at its Westfield Shoppingtown outpost last month. Unreal, always intrigued about food and body (especially when they mesh), had a few questions for store manager Francine Neeley.
Unreal: What makes sugar a great beauty product?
Francine Neeley: Sugar acts as an exfoliant, so it helps to cut away dead skin cells and leaves the skin nice and smooth and soft.
Does it matter whether the sugar's brown or white?
We have both brown and white sugar, depending on the line. The brown sugar in the vanilla fragrance is sweeter, and the white sugar is blended with mango, so it's more of a fruity fragrance.
Are there Splenda versions for the low-carb crowd?
Not that we carry, no.
So they're in formulation?
I'm not sure about that, to be honest.
If I ate some Body Butter, would it chub me up?
[Laughs] I don't know how they would taste, but -- I don't know.
You haven't tasted the line?
I haven't tasted it, no, sorry. But they're made out of sugar, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, almond oil -- different things like that. So they shouldn't taste too terribly bad.
Which product is guaranteed to make the gentlemen go crazy?
Probably the Body Butter in the brown sugar and vanilla -- it's great for massage.
Have you had any massage demos in the store?
We do complimentary hand massages with any of our lotions or Body Butters.
What if I wanted to come over and get one going with a buddy? Could we?
I would have to talk to corporate.
If I'm marinating in sugar, what would happen if it got inside any of the body's many cracks and creases?
I'm not a doctor or anything, but I don't think it would cause any type of irritation, because the sugar does dissolve, just like in your tea.
So I wouldn't need someone to clean them out?
I'm thinking of starting an RFT skin-care line featuring malt liquor and motor oil. Interested?
We're all about making the woman feel good about herself and the way she looks. If motor oil had some type of benefit to the woman's body or to her senses -- like our lavender line helps soothe the senses -- I think we could definitely look into that.