LATTER-DAY SAINTS AND SINNERS
BY CLIF GARBODEN
Wherever he lives, Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney has never exactly been considered an antic figure of fun. But back in Salt Lake City, where secular types figure the Mormons deserve it and can take it, Romney often found himself the butt of satire. So when John Saltas, publisher of Utah’s sole alternative newspaper, the Salt Lake City Weekly, needed a cover for his 2002 "Best of Utah" issue, he decided to go high-concept — casting Olympics savior Romney in the role of Dudley Do-Right, and pairing him with Nell, the archetypical damsel in distress, as played by the buxom model for a local microbrewery.
A little background is in order. Prior to the Olympics, amid the din of speculation over whether Mormon-ruled Salt Lake City would relax its draconian liquor laws for the Games, the waggish local Wasatch Brewery butted heads with Reagan Outdoor Advertising over the latter’s refusal to erect a billboard for Wasatch’s Polygamy Porter (slogans: WHY HAVE JUST ONE? and TAKE SOME HOME FOR THE WIVES). Billboard ads for Wasatch’s blended pilsner, a St. Pauli Girl take-off named St. Provo Girl, featuring the brew’s trademark spokesmodel — a former snowboarding pro named Ingrid ("I may be from Provo, but I’m no saint") in a sky-blue mini-dirndl — remained in place during the games.
Romney’s Olympics rescue; the liquor regs; the Wasatch Brewery flap — the connection, to Saltas, was logical. "Everybody out here got it immediately," he says. "And Romney does deserve credit for a doing a good job with the Olympics. They were certainly the best thing that happened in Utah in 2002."
And the beer? Well, everybody in SLC knows Ingrid, who gladly appeared to ham it up for the Weekly’s photo shoot. Romney was never invited to participate. Production manager Susan Kruithof applied computer-graphics magic to paste his head on the body of a Weekly writer in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform.
But some Utahans, apparently, are easily fooled. Even weeks after publication, Saltas reports, people call up asking how the paper convinced Romney to pose.
Issue Date: June 13 - 20, 2002
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