The Stranger's Best Advertiser, the Rad Dyke Plumber--a.k.a. Zan Scommodau--has been advertising on the back-page Bulletin Board since 1994, just two years after she started her own business.

"I think I was running my business off the coffee table," she says. "So we were both kind of starting up then." Scommodau, who turned 46 last week, has been happy with her eight years of Stranger advertising, and the customers it's led to her decade-old business.

"I don't want to spend a lot of money on advertising. Many people have courted my advertising dollars, but I love my Stranger ad," Scommodau says. "That little Stranger ad has done more for me than the Yellow Pages ever has." The ad's wording is both strategic and comedic, she says. The moniker Rad Dyke Plumber is "right up front. It tells you this is not a mainstream plumber. It cuts through a bunch of bullshit." Plus, she says, it gives people a taste of her personality. "I don't want customers who don't have a sense of humor," she explains.

Her little ad, however, has brought her more than laughing customers. It's also brought her a bit of fame. "People don't think I'm anything special, but when I tell them I'm the Rad Dyke Plumber, they just light up," she says. The Seattle Times even did a story on her a few years ago, after seeing one of her Stranger ads.

But there's more to Scommodau than plumbing skills and advertising savvy. She's also taking night classes at South Seattle Community College, and has done standup comedy around town--winning a local lesbian talent show back in the late '80s. Plus, she's political: Scommodau rode her purple motorcycle in this year's Pride Parade, adorned with a sign making fun of President Bush's colon polyps. She even made it onto an early cover of The Stranger (June 1991) for her political doings. (Scommodau, sipping a Big Gulp, was photographed at a Volunteer Park Pride Week protest against a right-wing Christian group.)

"I try to live up to the name 'rad,'" she jokes.

Being a woman in the male-dominated field of plumbing (according to 1990 stats, only about one percent of plumbers are women) has made life a little difficult for Scommodau. "People still say to me, 'I've never seen a woman plumber,'" she says, 23 years after she joined the plumbers union (as the third female member from Washington). "Some people act like they're really progressive if they're hiring a woman plumber."

But Scommodau can get the job done: She's worked on everything from major projects at Benaroya Hall and Boeing, to (relatively) smaller jobs in private homes. "I can fix just about anything," she boasts--and rightly so. "If plumbing was easy, I'd be out of a job." And we'd be out of our best advertiser.