Back Talk | Back Talk | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published April 3, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

Here’s the skivvy, er skinny, on Tania Kupczak. As a Burlington underwear artist, she’s fully out of the drawer. The Oberlin grad earned a Master’s in visual art at Vermont College with a panty project designed to “reclaim underwear as an empowered object of identity.” She put out an APB for worn undies that would serve as “metaphors for experience.” The exhibit title, “Identifying Marks,” may have scared off a few potential participants. But Kupczak got about 62 specimens — including a few giant-sized pairs and a couple of thongs — from a pool of friends and fellow art students. The undie art project quickly evolved. “The more I explored and showed people my work, I realized I couldn’t empty the object of its sexualized meaning,” Kupczak says. Now it’s about “exchange, and building relationships through physical objects — in this case, underwear.” She’s still collecting the real thing — “I can’t stop,” she confesses — but is also set up to accept virtual unmentionables. A form on her Web site ( soon will invite male and female visitors to draw a picture of a favorite or ideal pair of underwear. The results will be compiled eventually into a book . . . Hey, it worked for Rachel Comey. The former curator of the Exquisite Corpse Artsite at Jager DiPaola Kemp Design got her sartorial start making underwear for small retail outlets in Burlington. Now living in New York, she’s dressing Courtney Love. The Hole story is that Love loves Comey couture — she’s pictured in one of the latter’s original men’s shirts in the April issue of the London-based Face magazine. Comey herself recently popped up in the Style Section of the Sunday New York Times. Her thrift-shop hat caught the eye of the “On the Street” photographer.

model citizen? Not too many models can be seen in both Parenting magazine and the Maxim Swimsuit Issue. But Doug Rumsey of Colchester pulls it off in style, with a face reminiscent of a young Robert Redford. In fact, he’s the spitting image of the Sundance Kid in a recent spread in Issue magazine. The 28-year-old heartthrob got his start with Debra Lewin Talent and Productions in Burlington. Now he’s appearing in catalogues, commercials — Bud Lite, Burger King and AT&T — and glossy magazines. Rumsey was Mr. Vermont in Cosmo’s national bachelor round-up last October, and more recently he was first runner-up in a big Wrangler deal. Yaaa-who knows where he’ll turn up next?

fiber optimism: The clothes may make the man, but who makes the clothes? Vermont is home to a number of artists and entrepreneurs who design, manufacture or broker textiles. Burlington’s Laura Lienhard designs fabrics for interiors — “upholstery, window treatments, anything that can be utilized inside the home,” she explains. Her “line” is hanging in fancy stores across the country, samples of which showed up in the February issue of Interior Design magazine. Lienhard, a Rhode Island School of Design grad, will soon have a small showroom adjacent to her studio in the Hood Plant . . . Matt Mole shepherds vast flocks of sheep from his office in Burlington. But instead of a crook, he uses a computer and a phone. The 30-year-old University of Vermont grad is an organic wool broker who connects responsible sheep farmers with eco-friendly manufacturers of socks, comforters and throws. His three-year-old company, Vermont Organic Fiber, is onto something. Chemical sheep dips can “get pretty nasty,” says Mole, who grew up on a beef farm in Pownal. Not a baaad transition.

in brief: There aren’t too many opportunities to glitter in the Green Mountains. The Oscar-inspired Vermont Bessie Awards is one of them. Burlington City Arts has resurrected the not-exactly-annual event that selects “outstanding” Vermont-made film and theater endeavors. Judging movies, however, is a lot easier than seeing every single play produced over the past two years. Apparently no one on the selection committee showed for a Theatre on a Shoestring staging of The Reindeer Monologues. As a result, organizers can count on one less tuxedo in the crowd on June 15 at St. Michael’s College. In a letter circulated on Monday, director Dean Pratt announced he will boycott the proceedings. “Since no one attended our show,” he gripes, “there is no way we could have won” . . . The producers of the “Oprah Winfrey Show” flew a Charlotte couple all the way to Chicago so they could settle a dispute on daytime television last week. At issue is a toy sheep — Tawny — who shares a bed with Jamey Damato and Ekiah Pickett. “My wife went to the Oprah Web site and typed in, ‘I’m 25 years old. I sleep with a stuffed animal. I’m married. Is this normal?’” They called back right away and invited the duo to appear on the show with resident therapist “Dr. Phil.” Tawny, too, although he did not get his own seat on the airplane. Pickett explains, “I stuffed him into the carry-on.” The verdict? Dr. Phil diplomatically suggested there’s a “wide range of normal,” adding he wouldn’t mind if his own wife brought a live sheep to bed.