Best Advertiser Whose Ads We Were Unable to RunTHE EX-GAMBLER PHILANTHROPISTLast May, an eager potential advertiser approached us with what even he identified as "a strange request," designed to help him with his "recovery." Basically, this unnamed man had lost $10,000--"every cent I had"--at a variety of Washington's gloriously legal gambling joints. To prevent others from suffering the same fate, the now-recovered gambleholic wanted to buy out all the advertising space The Stranger dedicates to casinos. (Currently, that's Pete's Flying Aces Casino, a great spot in Tukwila that has $2 Lucky Ladies Tuesdays, and Aurora Avenue North's Drift On Inn Roadhouse Casino, where every Friday brings another "best buns" competition.)

While we sympathized with the Ex-Gambler Philanthropist's plight (and stood to make a pretty penny off his compulsion to save others), we simply couldn't break our contracts with our casino advertisers, and had to reject his offer.

So he pitched another plan: running his ads NEXT to the casino ads. "All I want it to read is: 'I LOST OVER $10,000 AT SEATTLE AREA CASINOS. DO YOU WANT TO?'" wrote the desperate do-gooder. Unfortunately, we were unable to accommodate this idea either. (Placing an ad next to another ad, discouraging people from patronizing the original ad's business, sort of defeats the purpose of selling the first ad.) As a consolation prize, we offered to run his ads elsewhere in the paper, but we never heard from him again--which means we never got to ask exactly how this guy who'd lost his shirt gambling now had enough money to buy expensive newspaper ads.

Best Advertiser Whose Business is a Complete Mystery to U"SAFE SEX•GET PAID"® MEN!Appearing on the back page of our paper each and every week, this mysterious advertiser has baffled us from day one. Just what exactly are they offering? The answer: a book called the "Blackbook," published by the National Research Group, and available for $19.95. And just what does the "Blackbook" tell you? We dunno, though their website is littered with testimonials from people boasting of making thousands of dollars from the secrets revealed within the book, secrets that seem to have something to do with research projects. Fascinating.

Best Advertiser Featuring a Little Girl Next to a Giant Stack of BaconRed Mill Burgers1613 W Dravus StRed Mill owner John Shepherd did not start out loving The Stranger. Back in 1997, when there was the local debate about building Safeco stadium with public funds, Shepherd (who is, as he describes it, "pro-baseball") disagreed with The Stranger's anti-stadium stance, and decided against advertising in the paper. But in 1998, the 51-year-old businessman got over his sports issues, realized we had a "younger readership" ("I won't run ads in the Weekly... don't need 'em"), and started having fun with the quirky images that Seattleites have come to associate with the best cheeseburgers in town. "We have fun with those ads," Shepherd says, "and the staff gets together to come up with ideas. I like to have employees in [the photos]."

Our favorite Red Mill ad is, of course, the one with an adorable little girl seated next to a pile of crisp, glistening bacon, artfully arranged in a stack as tall as the child. ("Actual size of bacon pile. Actual size of 2-year-old," the ad text reads.) This stellar example of graphic design features two of our favorite things--kids and bacon--and is especially close to Shepherd's heart. "That's Sadie [in the photo]," he tells us, "who is Becca's baby, a manager who's been with me for years. Sadie's dad also works here; he and Becca met here at the Red Mill."

Red Mill's burgers and fries--always fresh, hot, and delicious--have such a faithful local following that Shepherd probably doesn't even need to advertise. But we're sure glad he does. "Yeah, at this point, we advertise for fun," he says, "which is nice, because we have such a strong, loyal customer base."

Best Advertiser with Esoteric Ads Linking to a Fabulous WebsiteBRIDALBOYFANTASY.COMWeddings aren't just for brides anymore. Thanks to Christine, owner of Bridal Boy Fantasy, any man with a hankering to wear a big white dress can do so. Christine, who is not gay, sees his enterprise as "an offshoot of the cross-dressing fantasy that has to do with my own discovery of how nice some women's clothing feels. Especially a wedding gown--that's as close as it gets to a feminine experience." He adds, "Men's clothing bores me to tears." At his discreet studio, Christine offers the ultimate private experience: the chance for men to don a wedding gown, have a sparkling-wine toast and some cake, and leave a few hours later with a couple rolls of undeveloped film. The Bridal Boy Fantasy can be done alone, with a friend, or with a small party, with Christine presiding in a matronly wedding-coordinator role. All permutations are welcome. "Society is still busy accepting a lot of other things," says Christine (who asked to keep his daily identity under wraps so his clients wouldn't be upset). "It probably won't be ready for this for a long time. It's just clothing, though. It's not overthrowing the government, not abusing anyone. It's just clothing."

Runner-Up:SUSHIWHORE.COMFinally, a restaurant that understands sushi is not simply a meal, but a deep-rooted addiction (producing intense shame in some people), with specific needs that can only be serviced by talented professionals. A concerned gentleman once called the restaurant to ask if they were aware of the meaning of the word "whore," afraid that some innocent Japanese-speaking restaurateur had been duped into using a dirty word.

Sushiwhore.com (the website) boasts a handful of entertaining features, such as a webcam (to spy on sushi-johns), philosophy from the owners, and a refreshing lack of frat-boy "fish joke" innuendo.

Best Advertiser Offering CouponsDÉJÀ VU SHOWGIRLS 14556 Bothell Way NEHere's an advertiser that brilliantly captures what Americans want most: boobies and bargains. Offering a free pass to the Lake City Déjà Vu (drink required, pass not valid for special events), Seattle's largest strip-club chain is not just one of our best advertisers (in every week's issue, sometimes with more than one ad), but also one of our smartest. Sex not only sells, but it also keeps lowly weekly newspapers afloat, and for that we owe Déjà Vu our gratitude.

Runner-Up:JAI MA YOGA323 Queen Anne Ave NAfter redeeming your coupon at Déjà Vu, why not reconnect with your higher drives by redeeming the ever-popular "free class" coupon offered by Jai Ma Yoga? Reliable sources say it's the best coupon deal in town--and there's no better way to slough off strip-club residue than the soul-cleansing powers of sweet, sweet yoga.

BEST ADVERTISER SELLING BODILY FLUIDSALPINE KLEEN PEEIs your pee clean? Are you sure? If not, Randy (not his real name, obviously) at Alpine Kleen Pee can provide you with the genuine article, guaranteed to pass that random drug test you lie awake at night fretting about. He can also advise you on your 4th and 5th Amendment rights, and the legal loopholes that make Alpine Kleen Pee possible and not illegal. Randy started this side business quite recently to protect himself against the frequent random tests he's subjected to at his regular job, and chose The Stranger for his advertisements because, "How should I put this? The people who read The Stranger need my product."

Best Advertising AestheticCLEAR CUT PRESSwww.clearcutpress.comThis tiny press, jointly run by Rich Jensen and Matthew Stadler, will put out its first book in September. In the meantime, they've produced the best-looking Stranger ad ever. Designer Tae Won Yu's collage of letters--which are not computer-generated fonts, but cut from magazines and then, in the designer's words, "perverted into the next stage"--creates an abstraction of language.

There's an idea embedded here about reverting to first things, about re-thinking the qualities that we take for granted, about re-inventing the book. "You recognize the letter forms," Yu says, "but by rearranging them you appreciate the painterly forms, the abstract constructions." Like Robert Yoder's art made from street signs, the tension lies in the gap between what you should be able to do and can't: They look like words, but you can't read them. And so you start over.

Lovely!

Runner-Up:SALON VIRTU1417 Fourth Ave, Suite 500The darling little lady-drawings in the Salon Virtu ads are the work of Sean Patrick, one of the salon's owners. Mr. Patrick is very hard to get hold of--always with a client--so in lieu of commentary from the artist, we would just like to admire the deft glamour-heads he has created, with two drawn-out dots for eyes, cupid's bow lips, and a swirly line representing hair. It's this last bit that makes the ads so smart: A salon is all about hair, but Patrick has chosen to make it abstract, a suggestion, something you almost don't have to think about. What is implied is that style is a larger entity, something so all-encompassing that a piddling detail like hair registers as an afterthought. But you will look good, the ad tells you. Oh yes, you will.

Best Advertiser Featuring Ads Infectious in Their EnthusiasmSONIC BOOM2209 NW Market; 3414 Fremont Ave NWhen it comes to independent record stores that advertise in this paper, there are so many great ones to choose from that it would be impossible (not to mention unfair) to single out any one over any other. However, when it comes to writing infectious ad copy about the records they sell, only one store gives Stranger music critics a run for their money, and that's Sonic Boom, the five-year-old, two-store chain that puts the "emo" back in Fremont. We know what you're all thinking: Who writes that stuff? "Generally, the record label writes it," says store co-owner Jason Hughes. "Either that or we pull it off a website. We don't write it." Interesting! Turns out the idea for the "breakers" program coincided with the opening of the Sonic Boom Ballard store in March 2000. "[Co-owner] Nabil [Ayres] is really the advertising guy," Hughes chuckles. "You can blame it on him."

Best Advertised ManifestoANTHRAX ATTACK ANALYSISGranted, Charles Trunkhill's manifesto Anthrax Attack Analysis stands alone in its category, but it's hard to imagine a manifesto that could match or surpass the zeal and dedication that drives Trunkhill's analysis to its terrifying conclusions. The manifesto looks at a number of current events that have preoccupied the national media--the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the anthrax attacks, and so on--and determines their hidden meanings.

According to Trunkhill, the FBI and DEA are not only the perpetrators of the anthrax attacks but have been "infiltrated by members of a satanic cult." As amazing as all this sounds, the manifesto is thorough and logical. But what makes a manifesto great is not competence but passion, and Trunkhill's manifesto is filled to the brim with passion.

In person, however, Trunkhill is not passionate but calm, nice, friendly, and very professional. He says that The Stranger treated him and his ideas with great respect, and he was happy to exercise his First Amendment rights in our pages.

Best Naked AdvertiserPAZZO'S RESTAURANT & BAR2307 Eastlake Ave ESurely you're familiar with Pazzo's, home of the late-night special (from 10 pm to midnight, any large pizza is $12, seven nights a week) and scintillating Stranger ads. Who doesn't appreciate three nice naked boys with socks hanging from their penises? Nobody, that's who.

Co-owner Dave Mendoza has been a Stranger advertiser since '93. He's been pleased with his customers and is quick to point out that "business is on the rise." Of course, he does get the occasional letter from shocked and appalled members of the community who find his ads "disgusting" --including one irate house mother from a UW sorority, who threatened a sorority-wide boycott of Pazzo's. (Other Pazzo's images include a kid on a toilet and a shirtless obese man holding his gut.)

Mendoza takes it all in stride. "A lot of the ideas are from Europe," he shrugs, "and the naked ad is a spoof of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' album cover. And besides, if naked people offend you, what are you doing picking up The Stranger?"

Runner-Up:DOUBLE TROUBLE508 E Pine StThey're not quite naked and they're not quite Pazzo's, but the two adorable boys featured in the ad for Double Trouble--the popular new vintage clothing store ("casual thrift") on Pine Street--still deserve a congratulatory pat on the ass for their lean physiques and exuberant poses. Look closely and you'll recognize Double Trouble co-owner Carlo Louvenco and drummer Erin from local band Minus the Bear (or, in this case, Minus the Pants).

Best Advertiser Whose Ads Work as an Appetite SuppressantTHE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON'S BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS STUDYDespite the wishes of Dan Savage, the majority of us here at The Stranger are decidedly pro-vagina. Still, nothing slammed the brakes on our lunch plans quite like last year's University of Washington ad campaign, inquiring about readers' propensity for "feminine" itching and "fishy odor."

For those who don't know, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common infection of the vagina that can cause weirdly colored discharges, bad odors, and intense itching. To study the use of Lactobacillus capsules and other BV-busting antibiotics, UW researchers issued their now-legendary call for itchy, fishy participants--who received free STD and vaginitis screenings and $100 for their pain and candor.

But readers should feel comfortable having sushi again, as the BV study has ended, and we hope it was a success. Check out future issues of The Stranger for upcoming ads about Harborview's male chlamydia study!

Best Advertiser We Pissed Off So Much They Stopped Advertising with UsDIMITRIOU'S JAZZ ALLEY2033 Sixth AveOkay, we poked a little fun at Michael Feinstein, running an Up & Coming blurb that immaturely mocked his CD art rather than celebrating his career. And yes, we implied he had an audible problem with his digestive system instead of exploring what folks in the Jazz Alley community commonly refer to as "chops." Sorry, but we just couldn't help ourselves. It's in our nature to take the piss out of folks who play soft jazz for an audience that thinks food served during a live show is to be eaten and not thrown.

Best Advertiser We Wrote a Bunch of Nice Things About, but Still Managed to Piss Off So Much They Stopped Advertising with Us and Formed Their Own Alternative NewspaperHI*SCORE ARCADEHi*Score Arcade (R.I.P.), whose former owner Beth Fell is the founder and chief executive senior editor of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Best Advertiser Featuring Notable Locals in a Kick-Ass WayARGOSY UNIVERSITY1019 Eighth Ave NIt's a sad fact: Smart folks, the ones who change the laws and find the cures and generally make shit happen, are locked away in labs and cabinets and courtrooms while the bubble-headed beauties--Britney Spears, Colin Powell--get all the glory. Well, the good folks at Argosy University (formerly the Wash-ington School of Professional Psychology) are doing their part to subvert the dominant trend by putting ass-kicking geeks right where they belong--in the spotlight!

Wisely, Argosy has sought to boost its enrollment by boasting about one of its best professors--Dr. Laura Brown, whose adorably dorky mug stands front and center of the school's latest print ads. But don't let that Peanuts grin fool ya--Dr. Brown is an international force to be reckoned with. A former president of the American Psychology Association's Women in Psychology division and longtime advocate for sexual-minority rights, Dr. Brown became something of an APA pariah after the publication of her groundbreaking feminist-therapy manifesto, Subversive Dialogues. Now, when she's not flying around the world giving expert testimony, Dr. Brown graces Argosy with her glorious presence. (Plus, the year before last, she was the behind-the-scenes shrink-in-residence for the cast of Survivor: Outback.)

Best Advertiser Featuring Local Notables in a Kinda Depressing WayACT'S FULLY COMMITTED ADSMaybe you've seen the ads: Various PMLCs (piddling, minor, local celebrities) stare out at you. Paul Schell (former mayor) or David Brewster (former publisher) or Kent Phillips (your guess is as good as ours) demand a table at a hot, new, impossible-to-get-into restaurant with variations on the classic star bitch, "Don't you know who I am?" The ads are for Fully Committed at ACT, "[a play about] an out-of-work actor who mans the red-hot reservation line at [the city's] number-one restaurant. Coercion, threats, bribes, histrionics--a cast of desperate callers will stop at nothing in their zeal to land a prime reservation, or the right table." The show originated in New York City, and the original ad campaign featured Donald Trump, Joan Rivers, Henry Kissinger, and other actual celebrities. While ACT successfully brought the play to Seattle, the ad campaign for the Seattle run of this one-man show is depressing as hell. Unlike New York City--a place overrun with expensive, hard-to-get-into restaurants, and prickly, honest-to-God celebrities--Seattle has pitifully few honest-to-God celebrities, nor does our city have any "red-hot reservation lines." Even before the economy tanked, getting a table at Brasa or Flying Fish or El Gaucho was about as difficult as picking up the phone.

Best Advertiser Preying Upon Readers' Sick Heterosexual Tendencies

FOUR-WAY TIE:TURGEON-RAINE JEWELERS1407 Fifth AveFOX JEWELERS520 Pike StMICHAEL NUTTER JEWELERS7613 SE 27th St, Mercer IslandGOLDMAN'S JEWELERSFirst & Pine St (R.I.P.)Perhaps, like The Stranger's homo-heavy editorial staff, you're confused by the preponderance of schmancy jewelry ads strewn among our alterna-weekly pages. Or perhaps, like The Stranger's hetero-heavy sales staff, you know exactly why they're there. It seems that, for a majority of our readers afflicted with heterosexual tendencies, the standard post-collegiate decade of personal ads, one-night stands, and home pregnancy tests gives way to a lifetime (or some semblance thereof) of marriage--which means rings, rings, RINGS!

Best Advertiser Preying Upon Readers' Sick Homosexual Tendencies

NINE-WAY TIE:GUPPY'S4752 California Ave SWTHE WILDROSE1021 E Pike StR-PLACE619 E Pine StNEIGHBOURS1509 Broadway AveTHE PINK ZONE900 E Denny WayTHE CRYPT113 10th Ave EBROADWAY VIDEO813 E Republican StBAILEY/COY BOOKS414 Broadway Ave ETHE STRANGER'S HELP-WANTED ADSStranger Classifieds, every week

Best Advertiser with the Most Misleading NameBOOTYLAND1329 Pine StAt first glance, Bootyland is a stunning curiosity, eliciting both a double take and what can only be described as the all-American "what tha...?" Upon closer scrutiny, things only get more confusing--the place is called Bootyland, and right there on the sign is the image of a chubby baby's ass. But thorough inspection reveals that the enticingly titled Bootyland is, in fact, a baby boutique featuring new, handmade, and gently used and vintage baby clothes. Manager Lauren admits the name leaves them wide open for snide comments: "We get semi-frequent crank calls."

Runner-Up:HONEY HOLE707 E Pike StWith its close proximity to Toys in Babeland, one might assume the Honey Hole sandwich shop and cocktail lounge chose its name as a tribute to the female sweet spot. However, one would be wrong. Bass fisherman will tell you that a "honey hole" is the sweet spot for catching prize-winning bigmouth bass--and sandwich lovers will tell you that the Honey Hole is Heaven on Earth.

Best Advertiser Offering a Perfectly Credible and Health-Bestowing Exercise We Wouldn't Do for a Zillion DollarsTHE SWEATBOX417 10th Ave, Suite BThe Sweatbox, the Capitol Hill "hot yoga" studio that's been advertising with us for six months, is run by three women who like to crank up the heat on their customers. Laura Culberg, Marta McDermott, and Frankie Oser opened the Bikram-method studio in November of 2001, offering classes in a room heated to about 104 degrees, which they say promotes flexibility, prevents injuries, and detoxifies the body. Though 104 degrees sounds like Hell to us nervous-Nellie claustrophobics at The Stranger, the Sweatbox ladies swear by it: "People are often apprehensive at first about the heat, especially in the Northwest, where high temperatures are uncommon. But invariably, people adapt and are enthusiastic. Longtime students often complain if the temperature drops below 104."

Best Advertiser Whose Patronage Draws Furious Letters from Clueless, Guilt-Tripping BusybodiesCIGARETTE ADSEvery year around the time of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout, we get a slew of letters from people blaming The Stranger for every last cancer death in Western Washington. Apparently people see cigarette ads in our pages, run out, buy some smokes, and before they know it, they're having their lungs removed at the Hutch (with or without their informed consent).

But wait a minute... Seattle is crawling with heroin addicts, too--and coke and crystal-meth addicts. None of these other three highly addictive, wildly popular substances is advertised in our pages... and yet without the benefit of full-page, four-color ads, some of our readers nevertheless get addicted to heroin, coke, and meth. What can explain this perplexing phenomenon? Here's a theory: A certain number of dumbass people are going to get themselves addicted to some dumbass drug or other--legal or illegal, heavily advertised or not advertised at all--because the desire for mind-altering substances is as old as humanity itself, and banning cigarette ads won't stop people from smoking any more than banning the sale of cocaine stops people from snorting.

BEST LIVE MUSIC CLUB ADVERTISERIn an amazing, unprecedented, unlikely result that will go down in the history of "Best of..." issues, the Best Live Music Club Advertiser resulted in a 23-way tie! All of the clubs listed below are hip and happening, and each and every one is packed to the gills seven nights a week with the coolest people. At all of these clubs the drinks are excellent and reasonably priced, the bouncers are friendly and courteous, and the bartenders are good-looking and great in bed. For a good time in Seattle, the clubs listed below--each and every one an advertiser--are everywhere you want to be.

Ballard Firehouse

Catwalk

Central Saloon

Century Ballroom

Chop Suey

Crocodile Cafe

Galway Arms

Graceland

Hell's Kitchen

Little Red Hen

Lock & Keel

Molly Maguire's

Mona's

Owl 'n' Thistle

Patti Summers Cabaret

The Rainbow

Rendezvous

Showbox

Sit & Spin

Sunset Tavern

Tommy's Nightclub

Tractor Tavern

Zak's Fifth Avenue

BEST DANCE CLUB ADVERTISEROh. My. God. What are the odds? Astronomical! Yet the Best Dance Club Advertiser resulted in a 22-way tie, with each and every dance club in town receiving the same number of votes. Why should you visit these dance clubs? Because the drinks are excellent and reasonably priced, the bouncers are friendly and courteous, and the bartenders are good-looking and great in bed. For a good time in Seattle, the dance clubs listed below--each and every one an advertiser--are everywhere you want to be.