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Entrepreneur Drags Stars' Names Through the Dirt

September 14, 1986|LARRY PRYOR

Grime pays. Entrepreneur Barry Gibson, a 38-year-old delivery driver for a Lansing, Mich., lumberyard, has a business on the side. He travels around the country with his spade, digging dirt from property owned by the rich and famous. "Celebrity Dirt" comes in small packaged vials encased in wood blocks, with a certificate of authenticity and retails for $5.95 in stores in eight states. Gibson says he has made about $10,000, but much of it has gone to covering the cost of trips, packing and research. Dolly Parton sells best, Gibson said, but he also has reaped from the homes of Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman, Sylvester Stallone, Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Meryl Streep, Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson, Olivia Newton-John, Goldie Hawn, John Forsythe and Lucille Ball. "I just got back from Connecticut getting Katharine Hepburn dirt," he said, estimating that he shoveled enough from a mud hole behind her house to fill as many as 12,000 vials. An FBI spokesman in Detroit said Gibson theoretically could be charged with transporting stolen property across state lines, but added that it probably would not pay to make a case.

--Those clever guys at the University of Wisconsin's Sigma Pi fraternity in Madison, led by their president, Glenn Hameister, built a bigger mousetrap, turning the frat house into a giant hamster cage, complete with 1,200 pounds of shredded newsprint and large cardboard tunnels. Party goers this weekend could have scooted through connected rooms representing the tubes and plastic boxes used to make playgrounds for pet rodents. But firefighters showed up before the event and were not amused. "One cigarette or match and it would have gone poof," said Lt. Rick Anderson. They ordered the paper removed and doused with water. "We rented 15 fire extinguishers and put up no-smoking signs," said Hameister, "but they didn't think that was sufficient." The party went ahead on schedule, however, with a new theme--the Firefighter's Ball.

--Country music station WFMS-FM in Indianapolis gets a lift from the songs it plays by putting the lyrics on promotion billboards around the city, tucking the station's logo in a corner of the display and changing the lines every 60 to 90 days. The station's management said the idea originated several years ago at a sister station in Dallas. Some examples: "My wife ran off with my best friend, and I miss him." "You can't rub Ben-Gay on a heartache." And here are two personal favorites of the station's general manager, Nancy Vaeth: "If today was a fish I'd throw it back in." "You're the reason our kids are so ugly."

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