|A bust of a Lingerie Bowl|
By Patrick Hruby
Page 2 columnist
In retrospect, three things I'd rather watch than an encore showing of Sunday's magically un-arousing Lingerie Bowl:
1) "The Bachelor," starring Patrick Swayze;
2) Katie Couric getting another on-air colonoscopy, or Al Roker having the remaining six inches of his small intestine scooped out like the inside of a pumpkin;
3) WWE Slip N' Slide!, pitting a bra n' panties tag team of Rosie O'Donnell and Roseanne Barr against Oprah and Queen Latifah in a pool-sized tub of K-Y Jelly.
Busty as it was, the big game was a bust, perhaps the biggest halftime letdown since the Denver Broncos deciding to return to the field for the second half of Super Bowl XXIX.
I wanted to like the Lingerie Bowl. I mean, I really wanted to like the Lingerie Bowl. For one, I figured it was pretty much the best assignment I was going to draw from Page 2, seeing as how the Sports Guy had the Super Bowl locked up and Jason freakin' Whitlock is covering the Pro Bowl. In Ha-freakin'-waii. Not that I'm jealous or anything. I hear the islands aren't that nice this time of year, unless you're a fan of sunshine and palm trees and bikinis and such. Personally, I'll take dodging ice patches on my way to work, along with the taste of Chapstick. Yum. But I digress.
On paper, the Lingerie Bowl was a great idea. Of course, so was "Emeril!" the sitcom. First, take the two best aspects of football: sex (cheerleaders) and violence (hitting). Next, eliminate the middleman (large, sweaty men in tight pants). Voila! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you pay-per-view gold -- or, at the very least, a fundamentally sound business plan to rival scrawling "cocktails and dreams" on a soiled bar napkin.
Granted, the passing and tackling might look a little ragged. But with 14 pouty-lipped vixens -- excuse me, model-actresses -- bouncing around at any given time, the visual stimulation should take care of itself. After all, it works for Anna Kournikova, until she inevitably hurts her back and loses to somebody named Anna Pistolesi in the first round of the Uzbekistan Open.
Even better -- and the importance of this cannot be understated -- the Lingerie Bowl marked the head coaching debut of Lawrence Taylor, the linebacker-cum-thespian whose scene-stealing brio made "Any Given Sunday" one of the top 20 highest-grossing pro football-themed films of all time.
As it turned out, the Lingerie Bowl was about as titillating as tossing a football through a tire hanging from a backyard tree. Suprisingly, the football was almost decent, in a Pop Warner/XFL-ish sort of way. On the other hand, the sex appeal was sorely lacking. Blame it on the player outfits, which simply weren't skimpy enough. I was counting on thongs. Tassels. A smattering of pasties. In short, everything a reasonable person might expect in return for a cover charge. Yet both teams were decked out in short-shorts and what appeared to be Kevlar-plated push-up bras -- not bad, but nothing compared to Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime number.
At this point, a disclaimer is in order: I'm not a lingerie guy. Never have been. Hollywood romantic comedies have it right: It's what's inside that counts. I mean, I can remember every good Christmas present I've ever received. But as for the wrapping paper? Just use the Sunday comics.
Still, I kept an open mind about the game. To her credit, so did my fiancée -- no small thing, considering our cable account is in her name, and as such she had to approve of my pay-per-view purchase by phone:
Snide cable operator: "Are you authorizing your boyfriend to order the lingerie bowl?"
Fiancée: "Yes (swallowing hard). (To me) Is she judging me? I think she's judging me!"
That was the second bad omen of the night. The first? While checking out the Lingerie Bowl Web site -- for, ahem, research -- I noticed that the official team rosters contained no triplets, only one pair of twins, three Aussies and a single, solitary Swede. No triplets? Have we learned nothing from Hugh Hefner? Plus, the Aussie-Swede ratio seemed backwards, like a basketball starting lineup with four centers and one guard. Very confusing.
That said, the girls on hand formed an impressive international coalition of the willing, with Canada, the United Kingdom and Louisiana all represented. Better still, the game also featured scantily-clad cheerleaders, model-actress sideline reporters and a fishnet-wearing chain gang, a delightful redundancy akin to Hugh Jackman's "Van Helsing" taking on Dracula, Frankenstien and the Wolfman (the Mummy, the Freddy Kruger and Grendel from "Beowulf" apparently had prior commitments).
The pre-show started strong, thanks to a half-second shot of a model in a thong. In the interest of fair and thorough reporting, I replayed the scene on my TiVo a half-dozen times, just to make sure. Color commentator Amy Weber, also a model-actress, referred to Taylor as "LT Slater" -- maybe she's a "Saved by the Bell" fan -- while co-host and play-by-play man Mike Goldberg spent a lot of time looking down Weber's low-cut blazer. Among the other highlights, intentional or otherwise:
BINGHAM: Now, Gwen, you're killing me with that body!"
OSBOURNE: "Oh my God, am I? Look at you!"
Once Weber noted for the 50th time that none of the girls wanted to look foolish out there -- and Goldberg took one final peek at her cleavage -- the two teams took a warmup lap around the Los Angeles Coliseum, Team Dream clad in blue sweats and Team Euphoria wearing black. Next came what may have been the longest touch-your-toes hamstring stretch in sports history. Not that I'm complaining.
"It's obviously good versus evil," cracked my friend Chad. "I'm for the black team."
At that point, the Super Bowl was underway, so I flipped over to the thrilling first half. After an hour and a half of Tom Brady throwing three-yard slants, halftime arrived. Eager to see some actual offense, I turned back to the Lingerie Bowl ... and discovered that the game's second half had already started.
Trust me: If I wasn't expensing the whole thing to Page 2, I would have called my cable company and demanded a refund.
Luckily, the score was 0-0. I hadn't missed anything. In a sense, it was much like the actual Super Bowl. On the first play of the second half, Team Dream's Hayden Kristianson was gang-tackled by three Team Euphoria players. Limping off the field, she dropped a pair of F-bombs, the last at the trainers who were examining her twisted ankle.
"Are those bruises on her back?" I asked my fiancée.
"No," she replied. "I think they're tattoos."
While the football was spotty -- three players tackled each other well after an incomplete pass fell to the ground -- the crunching contact was oddly compelling. Both teams sported shoulder pads and hockey-style helmets and appeared to be putting their equipment to good use. Plus, I think I saw part of a nipple during a sideline reaction shot. Then again, maybe I had changed to Jackson's halftime number by mistake.
As Team Euphoria coach Taylor looked increasingly perplexed on the sidelines, wearing a headset that didn't seem to be plugged into anything, Osbourne scored a touchdown for Team Dream. Inexplicably, the camera crew cut away from her subsequent rumpshakin' end-zone dance.
Following a couple of incomplete passes and a pair of fumbles, Team Euphoria a chance to tie with 38 seconds left. Confusion reigned, as they attempted to call time-out twice and the clock ran down to zero while Taylor argued with the referees.
"That's bad clock management by LT," said my friend Paul. "So much for his future in coaching."
"How do you end up as a referee in the Lingerie Bowl?" asked Paul's girlfriend, Jessica. "What did you do wrong in your career?"
Ultimately, the officials gave Team Euphoria a final play. Cassie Moore managed to get free downfield, but spared the audience overtime by dropping a sure touchdown catch -- all the better, considering that I had seen more than enough of the Lingerie Bowl, and not enough of its players.
Next time, I think I'll stick with Jackson. Miss Janet, if you're nasty. Which the Lingerie Bowl wasn't.
Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for the Washington Times.