Blog Posts by Holly Bailey, Yahoo News

  • Two breeds make their Westminster Dog Show debut

    Russell terriers Pepper and Madison make their pre-Westminster Dog Show debut (Mario Tama/Getty Images)Russell terriers Pepper and Madison make their pre-Westminster Dog Show debut (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK—At certain moments it had the air of a red-carpet event, with camera shutters clicking in rapid fire and flashbulbs igniting the room in white light. But there were no famous celebrities here—only a pair of Russell terriers named Pepper and Madison, who grew sleepier and sleepier on their handler’s lap as photographers jostled back and forth to take their picture.

    It was the dogs’ official debut as part of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which held a press conference Monday to show off the two new breeds competing in next month’s show. In addition to the Russell terrier, a breed called the treeing Walker coonhound—so named for its ability to run raccoons up trees—will also compete for the first time at Westminster, which kicks off Feb. 11 in New York.

    Organizers announced Monday that 2,721 dogs will compete at the show—making it the largest in 15 years—with 187 breeds vying for the ultimate title of best in show. Also for the first time in its 137-year history, the event will be split up into two venues: Madison Square Garden, and New York’s Piers 92 and 94 along the Hudson River. The additional space means more people can see the dogs up close.

    Westminster has long been considered the most famous dog show in the country—a fact that was evident on Monday as dozens of reporters and photographers crammed into a tiny conference room at the Affinia Hotel across the street from Madison Square Garden to eye the new breeds.

    “Now, now, play nice,” David Frie, Westminster’s communication director and longtime announcer, declared at one point as the room descended into chaos. Frie wasn’t talking to the dogs, but to photographers and videographers who pushed and shoved each other trying to get close to the dogs while the canines surveyed the scene calmly.

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  • ‘Beautiful women and booze’: Famed Coyote Ugly bar celebrates 20 years

    A bartender dances on the bar at a Coyote Ugly in Tampa, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK—Liliana “Lil” Lovell was just 25 when she walked away from an up-and-coming career on Wall Street to open her bar Coyote Ugly in New York’s East Village in 1993. The bar marks its 20th anniversary this weekend, and Lovell has more than a few stories to tell.

    Lovell, who had just graduated with a degree in psychology and communications from New York University, was struggling to live on a $250 weekly salary as an apprentice at an investment bank and had picked up bartending shifts to make ends meet.

    Soon, Lovell was earning the equivalent of her weekly salary in tips in a single night working at a grungy dive called The Village Idiot, where the owner was known to drink Guinness by the gallon and pass out by the front door. When a tax issue closed that bar temporarily, Lovell scrounged up her tips and found an investor to help her open her own place in a vacant Italian restaurant directly across the street.

    Her business plan at the time was shockingly simple: “Beautiful women and booze,” Lovell recalled in an interview. “It seemed like the most obvious way in the world to make money.”

    But it was also groundbreaking. As Coyote Ugly prepares to mark its 20th anniversary, it’s easy to forget Lovell’s dingy little honky-tonk—which eventually spawned a Jerry Bruckheimer film, a chain of spin-off nightclubs around the world and, briefly, its own CMT reality show—was once a rarity in the nightlife world.

    In those days, even in New York, it was unusual for a bar to be staffed entirely by female bartenders—even more so for one of those bartenders to be the owner and manager of the place.

    “It was virtually unheard of for a woman to be bartending. There were very few women on the scene. It was almost impossible to get a job,” Lovell recalls. “[But] what I found were that women were better sellers. I can get them with practice to be fast, but they were able to chat with the customers and created better sales. But it was considered very odd at the time by most people.”

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  • The ‘Fifty Shades’ effect: How a kinky novel boosted the sex industry

    A "Fifty Shades of Grey" gift pack sold in stores (Andrew Walker/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS—It takes a lot to stop traffic on the floor of the Adult Entertainment Expo, the porn industry’s premier convention. But shortly after noon on Thursday, near dozens of scantily clad adult-film stars and tables of sex toys that would probably make even the most enterprising of lovers blush, a crowd gathered, riveted.

    A woman, dressed in a hot pink corset and matching lace underpants, had decided to try out one of the more buzzed-about products that debuted at the expo: the Orbit Bed. Featuring a frame in the shape of a cradle, it allows its occupants to rock back and forth. Priced at $3,600 for the queen size, the bed also features red satin ties that allow partners to tie each other up.

    As the woman rocked and forth, dozens of people stopped dead in their tracks to stare—including a man and a woman who quickly moved to inquire about the bed.

    “Soft bondage is really hot right now,” explained Rick Lockett, a vice president of Liberator, an Atlanta-based company that created the bed and markets what it calls “bedroom adventure gear.”

    Despite the still-shaky economy, Lockett said business has been booming—a rise he credited, in part, to the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the New York Times' kinky best-seller about a young woman’s submissive relationship with a sexually adventurous businessman. The erotic novel and its sequels have sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, thanks to its popularity among female readers—many of whom have been inspired to be more daring in their own bedrooms as a result.

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  • Dick Cheney defiant as ever in new film on his life and career

    A still of Dick Cheney from the new movie, "The World According to Dick Cheney" (via Showtime)

    Director R.J. Cutler knows a few things about landing tough interviews, like prickly Vogue editor Anna Wintour and some of Bill Clinton's campaign advisers. But nothing has compared to landing Dick Cheney, the former vice president and subject of Cutler's new documentary premiering Friday at the Sundance Film Festival.

    For more than nine months, Cutler--whose credits include “The War Room,” about Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign staff--pursued an interview with Cheney, who has never tried to conceal his disdain for the media. But early last year, well after Cutler had begun work on a documentary about Cheney’s 40-year political career, the ex-VP finally agreed to meet with Cutler to hear the director's pitch about why he should participate in the movie.

    “It took a lot of patience and calming of nerves because up until that point, we didn’t really know if we were going to even have a chance to make the movie we really wanted to make,” Cutler said in a telephone interview with Yahoo News.

    Over lunch, Cheney pressed Cutler on whether he would have a chance to tell his side of the story or if it the film was just going to be a hit job featuring Cheney's many critics. Cutler told the former VP that he wasn’t entering the process with any “pre-conceived notion or agenda”—in spite of the fact that Cheney has been considered one of the most polarizing political figures in recent memory.

    “I just told him that I wanted to tell his story and that included making his voice as central in the film as anybody else’s,” Cutler recalled.

    Not long after their two-hour meeting, Cheney agreed to cooperate with the project and ultimately sat down for four days and nearly 20 hours of interviews. Those interviews form the foundation of “The World According to Dick Cheney,” which is scheduled to air on Showtime in March after its debut at Sundance.

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  • Adult film executives warn of broader impact of Measure B condom law

    LAS VEGAS—Some of the adult film industry’s top executives warned Thursday that a new Los Angeles County law requiring porn actors to wear condoms while shooting sex scenes could have a “dangerous” impact on all entertainment companies, including mainstream film productions.

    In a panel focusing on the state of the industry at the annual Adult Entertainment Expo, leaders from companies including Wicked Pictures, Adam & Eve and Hustler suggested that if the government could assert control over how how they shoot their movies, it could intervene in other Hollywood projects, as well.

    “My concern is about a domino affect and that this could be implemented elsewhere, that they aren’t going to stop,” Christian Mann, general manager of Evil Angel Productions, said. “It’s very dangerous. It’s a regulation that hugely impacts how we can make movies, and even mainstream should be concerned. That kind of regulatory scheme could have an impact on everybody.”

    Wicked Pictures chief Steve Orenstein echoed his concern, warning, “We don’t yet know how far they are going to take it. ... And to me, that is the greater issue.”

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  • ‘Hand Sanitizer is your friend’: A trip to the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas

    A porn actress poses for a photographer on day one of the Adult Entertainment Expo (Holly Bailey/Yahoo News)

    LAS VEGAS—The Adult Entertainment Expo, the nation's premier porn convention, at first might seem like any other business gathering, with free tote bags branded with the logo of a corporate sponsor and a thick program of seminars. But that impression doesn't last long.

    On Wednesday afternoon, more than 50 people packed into a conference room at the Hard Rock Hotel just off the Strip. Some of the men wore suits that looked as though they had just been pulled off the rack at a Men’s Warehouse, while the women teetered around in tall high heels that seemed more like stilts than shoes. All were taking meticulous notes—some on their iPads—about how to generate media coverage for their business.

    Live chat 12:30 p.m. ET: The Adult Entertainment Expo and the changing porn industry

    “A lot of the outlets I deal with are not really interested in helping you promote your products,” Jay Kopita, a longtime publicist, explained to his audience. “So unless there’s some sort of interesting angle, it’s gotta be something really newsworthy, something really relevant.”

    Kopita paused for moment. “Obviously, promoting a mother and daughter going tag team is kind of an easy sell,” Kopita added matter-of-factly, referencing two of his clients who had recently appeared on Anderson Cooper’s syndicated talk show to discuss their joint adult film venture.

    A titter of laughter moved through the room.

    It was day one of the Expo, an annual event sponsored by Adult Video News, the porn industry’s most important publication. Every year, an estimated 30,000 people descend on Sin City for the confab—the industry types to hobnob with each other and test out the latest sex toys, and fans hoping to meet their favorite adult film star.

    The runaway success of the "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy has also made adult entertainment more mainstream.

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  • INAUGURATION 2013: Michelle Obama steps out in style — and substance?

    When First Lady Michelle Obama joins her husband at his public inauguration next week, the most immediate question for many in the audience will be, “Who is she wearing?”

    But while the first lady's style at the swearing in and balls will no doubt generate headlines, the occasion presents a larger question about what her role will be in her husband’s second term.

    Michelle Obama's choice of attire are among the few genuine unknowns surrounding the President Barack Obama's second term inaugural. And while it may seem laughable to some, it’s an endorsement that could potentially mean millions of dollars in new business for a designer. Her decision to wear a flowing ivory gown by young designer Jason Wu to the inaugural balls four years ago made the young designer a major force in the fashion industry, which is watching Obama's 2013 choice closely.

    “The inauguration is being anticipated almost like a

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  • NARAL picks a new president amid push for younger supporters

    Young pro-abortion rights activists hold a vigil in support of Roe v. Wade (Brenden Hoffman/Getty Images)

    NARAL Pro-Choice America announced on Monday it has tapped longtime Democratic operative Ilyse Hogue to serve as its new president as the group seeks to appeal to a younger generation of pro-abortion rights supporters.

    Hogue replaces outgoing president Nancy Keenan, who is leaving the post after eight years. In May, Keenan announced she would step down from the group after the 2012 election in order to bring in someone who could appeal to younger voters.

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  • Dozens of commuters injured in NYC ferry crash

    First responders at the scene of the ferry crash in New York City. (FDNY Incidents)

    NEW YORK—A commuter ferry crashed as it was docking in lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning, injuring more than 70 passengers, two critically. The ferry was taking hundreds of commuters from the New Jersey shore into New York City's Wall Street area.

    “It was like we ran into a concrete wall,” said Bill McKenzie, a 62-year-old bond broker commuting from his home in Highlands, N.J. “You’re never prepared for something like that. Bodies were just flying.”

    The crash occurred at about 8:45 a.m. as the boat, operated by Seastreak Ferry, pulled into Pier 11 near Wall Street in lower Manhattan. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but a massive gash could be seen along the front right side of the boat.

    Dozens of police and fire officials descended on the scene, as did workers from the American Red Cross, who were helping dazed passengers even as they were being questioned by investigators. Several passengers were seen being carried from the scene on flat boards, their heads and necks secured.

    Officials said there were about 300 people on the boat, including five crew members. At least two passengers were critically injured with severe head trauma and nine others had serious injuries, according to New York City Fire Commissioner Joe Bruno.

    Bruno said the boat's captain and other crew members were being interviewed by local authorities on the scene, and fire officials were preparing to turn over the scene to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board. Officials said the pier would be closed until further notice.

    Commuter Ashley Furman said the ferry had pulled into the pier as usual and that she and other passengers had stood up to prepare to disembark.

    “I was talking to someone and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground,” Furman said, visibly shaken. “A woman was shaking me and asking me if I was OK, and I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t speak."

    Furman said she was thrown about six feet through the air. "I felt like I was in a movie," she said.

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  • Group aims to improve New York’s ‘horrific’ airports

    An aerial view of New York's LaGuardia Airport (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK—Flight delays have long been a fact of life at New York’s three main airports—along with massive security lines and crumbling facilities, many of which haven’t seen major updates since they were first built in the 1960s.

    City, state and federal officials have been promising for decades to improve New York’s troubled airport system, but little has been done. Now, however, they're getting a major push from a prominent Manhattan developer, who has pledged to help fix what he describes as a “blight” on the city’s image.

    Joseph Sitt, founder of Thor Equities in New York, has put up $1 million of his own money to launch the Global Gateway Alliance, an advocacy group that aims to push officials into improving New York’s airports.

    Sitt, a frequent traveler who commutes worldwide developing real estate, retail and tourism projects, said he was inspired to act due to years of feeling “embarrassment” as he walked through John F. Kennedy International Airport after traveling to airports in cities like Paris and Dubai.

    The difference between those airports and the ones in New York, Sitt told Yahoo News, is "horrific."

    ‘There, everything takes off and lands quickly because they have the best radar system. They have enough runway. There, you go through the security lines quickly and safely because they have enough people," he said. "The place looks physically beautiful… You’re impressed when you come in. You’re impressed when you leave."

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