TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: XFL kicks off in LA with much pompom and circumstance

In the paraphrased cry of ESPN's Chris Berman, 'She could ... go ... all ... the ... way.'

Berman's famous phrase refers to a score (touchdown), but the new XFL doesn't mind prurient connotations regarding its cheerleaders. The XFL's all-out publicity blitz has advanced the notion that its cheerleaders are encouraged to date the players. No penalty for holding. Backfield in motion indeed.

Yes, football has returned to Tinseltown. Not unexpectedly, it's gaudy, glitzy and sexy. Our hometown team, the LA Xtreme, is one of eight in the league. But we're the only city that could shamelessly promote this league in a manner truly befitting it - and us.

Any publicist would lick their chops over this new league. It's the NFL meets MTV. Glam meets slam. Vince McMahon and the good guv'nor, Jesse Ventura. Oh, and there's football too.

The players might be not-quite NFL caliber, but everything else is over-the-top-notch. Including the cheerleaders. Sorry, I keep getting back to the cheerleaders. But I want to make things perfectly clear: they do not, will not, use pompoms. That's beneath them. Plus, they would only get in the way of their ... um ... uh ... pompoms.

I mean c'mon, let's not fool around here. (Even though the league says let's DO!) This publicity campaign is built around old-fashioned T 'n A. For all its hip associations, the XFL's selling point is downright nostalgic.

One cheerleader, featured on Entertainment Weekly's Web page, went so far as to say that most of the girls' 'talent' comes from padded bras or silicone. She went on to say they were also smart. Not dumb or anything.

Her name is Bonnie-Jill (I can give you no explanation for the hyphen).

She was formerly a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, living a convent-like existence because of the Cowboys' hard-line philosophy that only the players, and not the cheerleaders, were to engage in sex, drugs and 'block-and-roll.' B-J became an Xtreme cheerleader for purely publicity purposes because what she really wants to do is be a model/actress/sportscaster. With all B-J's 'Xposure,' I imagine Al Michaels is looking over his shoulder. If he's watching the games he may be looking somewhere else, though it's not on the field.

When it comes to February ratings sweeps, PR is the name of the game.

The XFL is competing with Survivor 2, Friends and a host of other prime time giants for media space. It is vital to kick it into high-gear. And these gals can kick. And jump. And yell. And, if B-J is to believed, have smart dinner conversation with the players after the game.

Regrettably though, B-J is not a true team player. She won't date the players. It's not taboo, so the thrill's gone. She says she doesn't give out her number. Perhaps she just can't remember it.

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer.





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