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Lex in 'Playgirl'? That's as likely--and as real--as the River Street sign popping up on eBay.


Indie Spirit

Survivor star Lex van den Berghe is a busy boy these days. Besides auditioning in Hollywood, giving interviews and making an album with his "y'all-ternative rock" band Luckydog, the much-inked Lexster is trying to launch his film career by playing the part of a tattoo artist (duh!) in a locally made independent film.

Set in a tattoo parlor, the film, which is tentatively titled Gold Coast, consists of three shorts about being in the right place at the wrong time. (Sounds like a metaphor for being a Santa Cruz renter to us.)

"I only have three lines, which consist of one word:'No,'" says Lex of his part in the indie, which has been entered in the upcoming Santa Cruz Film Festival (SCIFF), the first project of its kind since the late 1980s, according to SCIFFie producers Jane Sullivan and Johnny Davis.

Sullivan and Davis, who plan to show 80 films, including shorts, features, documentaries, music videos and animation from all over the world, say they decided to put on the event because, "Santa Cruz is saturated with artists hungry for a film festival."

Sullivan adds that the SCIFFies inaugural theme--"that all digital films be handmade"-- is an attempt "to create less of an elitist art form."

"It's possible and plausible for everyday people to make a film with a digital camera and some editing equipment."

Though the film festival is taking place in Santa Cruz, Sullivan assured Nüz this doesn't mean that entries need to be politically corrected to make SCIFFies' final cut.

That might be good news for self-described capitalist Fritz Jünker, who co-wrote and co-produced The Truth about Beef Jerky, a sick and twisted short that's reportedly making a stir on the SC underground viewing circuit. Jünker's film is about a Ted Nugent-lookalike who lures hippies from Santa Cruz only to hunt and process them into beef jerky. (Question to self: Do people under 50 years old count as hippies?)

So far Sullivan and Davis have received 130 entries, including two from Academy Award-winning directors and two Sundance festival winners, so there's no guarantee that either Jünker's or Lex's, er, shorts will make the SCIFFies.

But Lex will be appearing on the CBS Evening Magazine show every Friday, when he interviews the person most recently voted off Survivor: Marquesas, whose French Polynesian setting Lex cannot resist disparaging.

"Coconuts will be falling out of the trees, there's fresh water aplenty and they'll probably all get drunk on homemade booze made from all the mangos," scoffs Lex.

On a more serious note, Lex says he was never under a CBS gag order concerning a screwup over which female Survivor: Africa contestant had no body piercings--a balls-up that may have cost Lex the Survivor crown.

"The reason I didn't say anything was I didn't want people to think I was a poor loser, but it's fine that it has come out," says Lex. "Everyone makes mistakes, sometimes small, sometimes huge. This one was a monumental drag."

Meanwhile, readers of Playgirl may be in for a Lex attack.

"During Survivor: Africa some of the girls got offers to do a Playboy spread," explains Lex, who likes Playboy's "compelling journalism and boudoir-style nudity."

"So I said I'd be available to sprawl on some leopard and zebra skins, if they wanted a little extra splash of color. I even offered to strategically place a bulge in my trousers."

Though Playboy didn't bite--Playgirl did. "But they'll only get me with my clothes on," Lex insists.

The eBay Way

It's official. The River Street sign is on eBay. Only now it's "an ideal gateway," "bright and vibrant," "the crowning jewel of the River Street Project," according to the sales pitch devised by City Councilmember Ed Porter.

In spite of these sudden glowing kudos, there'll be absolutely no backsies on the sale, and whoever buys it--bids start at $5,000 and must be in by March 8--must have it taken down--though the city will help with road closures.

All of which makes Nüz hope some philanthropist will buy and install the sign on a highly visible piece of private but local land as a monument to chronic navel-gazing, SC-style.

Cruisin' Matters

Is it a dolphin? Is it a whale? No, it's a friggin' cruise ship.

News that the Star Princess and other luxury ships (purportedly seeking safer waters in the wake of Sept. 11) will be dropping anchor in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, beginning in May, has area business leaders cheering--Monterey, Carmel, Salinas, Pebble Beach and the Bayonet/Blackhorse Golf Course in Seaside are all scheduled day-trips--even as environmentalists predictably scream blue murder.

According to Kaitlin Gaffney of the Ocean Conservancy, some of the ships coming our way carry almost 3,000 passengers, making them akin to "floating cities." But whereas cities have to comply with the Clean Water Act, apply for permits for wastewater discharges, treat their waste and meet water-quality standards, cruise ships, says Gaffney, usually don't.

"Raw sewage can be dumped directly into these areas, provided the ship is more than three miles from shore. Graywater from sinks, showers, kitchens can be dumped, untreated, anywhere, and cruise ships can also hit and kill whales. Cruise ships dump ballast water that can contain invasive species; and they are significant sources of air pollution," says Gaffney, who hopes cruise companies will help protect the sanctuary.

Sounds like they and their well-heeled customers could easily afford to take the necessary steps. Consider that the brand-new 18-deck Star Princess, the first of the luxury ships to moor near the Monterey Wharf and the largest ship in the line, offers its 2,800 passengers (half of whom are expected to take day trips) nine daily dining choices, three major stage shows each evening, a wedding chapel and a wedding-at-sea program, a 24-hour Internet cafe, a nine-hole putting green, a swim-against-the current lap pool ... need we go on?

And since federal law requires that all cruise ships making port stops in the United States be bound for an international destination, it makes perfect sense that federal law would also require monster ships that stop in the federally governed sanctuary to do everything to minimize negative environmental impact on this zone. Stay tuned.

RCNV Critique

Following accusations of being "pro-Palestinian" and thus "anti-Israel," the Resource Center for Nonviolence is holding a panel discussion which will critique the center's work. Robin Kopit and Scott Kennedy will speak on Wednesday, March 13, at 7pm, 1515 Broadway, Santa Cruz. Call 423.1626 for details.

Parting Shots

Nüz bids a fond farewell to Metro Santa Cruz advertising executive and former cover girl (Jan. 16, 2001) Emily Hein. Hein plans to deal blackjack in Vegas before heading to Georgia. You go, girl.

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From the March 6-13, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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