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The Maverick : Meet John Boston, Santa Clarita Valley's resident newsman-with-attitude. His life-long mission? I guess I've always been into monkey business.'

August 15, 1993|ROY RIVENBURG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Because our office microwave oven hasn't been cleaned since the Truman Administration, bizarre creatures have mutated out of leftover food particles and now threaten all life as we know it. --John Boston in "Something Is Having Sex In My Microwave"

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Just down the street from Tattoo Heaven--one of numerous elite cultural institutions in greater Newhall--John Boston is talking about belly dancers, Bigfoot and his offer to pay $100 to anyone who will bring him the head of film critic Roger Ebert.

The bare-stomached dancer, it turns out, is an ex-girlfriend. Bigfoot is the star of his first novel, "Naked Came the Sasquatch." And Ebert, who could be mistaken for Bigfoot, has written one too many bad movie reviews, Boston says, probably because "he is up at the snack bar for as much as 80% of the film he's supposed to be (watching)."

Boston, 43, doesn't stop with corpulent cinema critics. During the past two decades, he has skewered and lampooned nearly everyone and everything in and out of the Santa Clarita Valley.

As chief writer and editor of Son of Escape, the Signal newspaper's off-beat entertainment tabloid, it's his job to get under people's skin. But in a friendly way.

"Our mission is to entertain, enlighten, tickle and tell you where you can get a good cheeseburger," says Boston, who writes under such aliases as vampire gossip columnist Count Sauguslavsky, gun-worshiping restaurant reviewer Miss Blanche Tooth, and J. Ross Perot, long-lost brother of H. Ross Perot and president of the Santa Clarita Valley Society of Insufferable Film Critics.

Not everyone is amused. But even Boston's targets find him hard to resist.

"He's the first thing I read every Friday morning," admits one, referring to Son of Escape's publication day. "You can't help but laugh."

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John Boston on lingerie models: These (women) are supposed to be emoting, "Hi. I'm wrapped like a python around the bedpost, I've got bedroom eyes, these BVDs will run you $29.95 and don't put them in the dryer." But actually, to me, they're saying, "Hi. I scored 22 points on my SAT test. Do you own a Porsche?' '. . .There's (also) a raw, animal hunger in these underwear models. It's not sexual. It's hunger. No one in the catalogue weighs more than 48 pounds. U.S. armed forces should invade the catalogue and bring them bread and rice and Kraft macaroni and cheese dinners with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

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It's just past deadline on a recent Thursday and Boston--6-foot-2, 260 pounds--is unwinding over a plate of corned beef hash and eggs at the Way Station, his "home away from home."

Alternately eloquent and silly, he recounts his ascension to the summit of Santa Clarita comedy. It was not instantaneous. Before and between hitches at the Signal, he coached high school basketball, dug trenches, served as personal assistant to actress Lesley Ann Warren (chief accomplishment: "burying her dead poodle in the back yard") and directed TV news broadcasts for a tiny, now-defunct NBC affiliate in Newhall.

"It was like Albanian television," he says of the latter. "Everything was in black and white. And we had this anchorman with big ol' giant hair who would never look up at the camera."

Around 1974, in what would become the first in a series of hirings and firings, Boston joined the Signal as sports editor. Notoriety soon followed. When visiting high school football players picked a fight with the local team, for example, Boston wrote that the rivals' hometown "sits in the desert like a brown stain on a hobo's underwear."

On another occasion, when newspaper management pressured him to run a photo of the 50-member Valencia Women's Golf Club, he shrank it to postage-stamp proportions, complete with a "pictured from left to right" caption that ran "3 feet long."

"I guess I've always been into monkey business," he says.

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John Boston on absentee employees: Since the dawn of time. . .man has been searching for ways to avoid going to work. In a recent excavation in France. . .archeologists unearthed a prehistoric drawing of nine early hunters stalking a mastodon. Several inches to the left of the cave painting is a 10th hominid in a bearskin suit. . .holding his stomach and sticking out his tongue. Scientists theorize this unknown reticent warrior was the first man in recorded history to call in sick to work. (Archeologists have also translated a papyrus document) discovered in the fertile Nile region of Egypt:. . ."Unable to work on the pyramids today. Must attend aunt's funeral."

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If Boston seemingly got away with a lot, it's probably because his first boss, legendary Bay Area newspaperman Scott Newhall, was even wilder. Newhall, who died last year, came to the Signal after two decades as executive editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, where his journalistic legacy included a crusade to clothe naked animals and sending a reporter to Mexico in search of Pancho Villa's buried head.

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