HIGH SCHOOL ROTC: `LET’S BE REALISTIC’ Don Hyde Lohengrin-A-Go-Go at French’s Corpus Christi Since last November leaders of this city have become a bit uneasy about the premiere and succeeding titillating performances of topless ballerinas du ballet au go-go under the auspices of Gene French the Beachcomber’s Lounge. French’s is located on Padre Island, beyond the reach of municipal gendarmes. The local advent of the topless dance, the latest development in Texan folk culture, is seen by some Corpus Christians as a threat to the city’s burgeoning tourist trade, much of which is geared to attract families. Corpus, unlike some of its Texas coastal neighbors, has never been a sin city. So, at least, is the local civic brag. The topless danseuses, it is feared, might attract less desirable, less wholesome tourists, driving the families off to, say, Six Flags over Texas. There are, however, other business and civic leaders here who believe topless dancers are moving in the right direction. No, what I mean is; These dissenters are quietly, very quietly, in favor of easing restrictions on local entertainment as a of this city in luring more tourists and conventions. Against this background of muted civic debate there recently erupted Corpus Christi’s widely-publicized topless wedding, conducted at French’s “go-go” establishment. It is not to be alleged that Mr. French was unaware of the publicity values of such nuptials, particularly if solemnized in his place. The prospective bride nee Trisha Beall, 19, is one of Mr. French’s star performers. She and her intended, Mr. Vernoy Dale Shaddix, 23, were sitting around at French’s one day, passing the time with several of Miss Beall’s colleagues by discussing the coming wedding, which, it was planned, would be a ceremony of the more usual sort church, white dresses, a minister, and lots of stephanotis. “Someone,” Miss Beall recalls, “said something about wouldn’t it be funny to have a topless wedding here at the lounge. Everyone laughed it off, but Mr. French got kind of a funny look on his face.” One week later Miss Beall became, briefly, America’s most famous bride. HEARING OF THE impending nuptials, I made my way out to the small lounge, which is located on an otherwise desolate stretch of Padre Island. All night long I had trouble believing my eyes. I kept expecting young movie director probably with a beard to step out from behind a movie camera I hadn’t noticed before and shout for quiet on the set. The The Corpus Christi resident who wrote this report has, ‘for business reasons, requested anonymity. He is personally known to the editor, who vouches for his character and good judgment. 12 The Texas.Observer topless ceremony at French’s Lounge was to the American way of marriage what “The Loved One” was to the American way of death. All that we lacked was Jonathan Winters to perform the ceremony. Or, perhaps, the casting was perfect as it was. Presiding was Justice of the Peace Peter Dunne, a short, portly, balding gentleman with a mustache. The bride was radiant, of course, All brides are. She and her maid of honor wore sweet, little \( very right decolletage, which extended to their respective ah navels. The bride and groom appeared to enjoy the ceremony enormously; they said later that they were completely happy with it. Sharing their contentment were perhaps 150 to 200 friends, and others, who paid two bucks a head for the right to gape and, sometimes, giggle as the young couple solemnized their union. The crowd, consisting principally of young persons, seemed to consider the whole thing a good show and no one seemed offended. As one young man put it, “It all seemed kind of silly, but I’ve seen elaborate church weddings that seemed just as silly.” Justice Dunne had been told, beforehand, that the bride would wear “pasties,” a circular, adhesive garment of limited circumference at times embellished by gay tassels employed during the course of the bride’s professional appearances. But somehow the pasties were forgotten. Justice Dunne said he didn’t notice; he had drat the luck forgotten to bring his glasses along. After the ceremony there was much kissing of the bride and of the maid of honor, too, it must be reported. Dunne, interviewed by the pack of newsmen who were in attendance, said he didn’t see anything wrong or unusual with a topless wedding if it made the bride and groom happy. But he was soon to learn that many persons did not agree Austin Continuation of a Reserve Officers Training Corps program at a local high school has become a minor issue in the affairs of this city. Two weeks ago several the school board of their opposition to continuation of the program at Reagan High School, which is located in suburbian northeast Austin. The R.O.T.C. education is a cooperative effort of the Air Force and the school; not many Texas high schools offer R.O.T.C. with his view. In the following days he was bombarded with complaints from those who considered the wedding immoral and shocking. Lengthy articles were called in by stringers to both the major wire services. Newspapers across the nation and, to some extent, in foreign countries, lapped up the story. Johnny Carson had some fun with it on his nationally televised “Tonight” show. Photographers came all the way from Houston and San Antonio for the wedding. The single source of press restraint was the hometown Caller-Times, which in its civic-mindedness did not want to call much attention to the happening in sinless Corpus Christi. The Caller-Times dispatched one reporter, without camera. A brief, low key account appeared on page eight the next morning. The story got less play than another page eight story which read “Mahler’s symphonic song cycle, ‘Das Leid von der Erde,’ was the hero of the night last night at the Corpus Christi Symph6ny Orchestra concert.” CITY OFFICIALS here have issued stern warnings that clubs within the city limits will not be allowed todisplay dancers in topless outfits, “pasties” or no. The fear, as one city official expresses it, is that the pressure of competition between the club owners will result in “sexier and sexier dances.” Go-go girls in scant, but not topless, costumes are now a familiar sight in Corpus Christi. Many of their dances are more suggestive than those performed by the topless dancers at French’s. In fact, if the girls at French’s wore , more than pasties above their waists, even a staunch moralist would have trouble finding anything to complain about; their dancing reminds one of little girls practicing basic dancing steps. Well, almost. Eighty boys receive elective credits for the work at Reagan. Mainly the program consists of classroom instruction in science and such military subjects as the history of aviation, aerospace, flight, aircraft instruction, propulsion, air navigation, weather, spacecraft and launch, and aircraft organization. Also, there is some drilling and marching. The instructor is, and must be, a certified teacher who has had experience as an Air Force officer. No weapons of any kind are issued. Students must be male, 14 and older,
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