How now Howard Stern? Contest: With flowing locks, dark glasses and trademark sneer, seven guys compete in a look-alike contest at Camden Yards. Funny, but not many women show up for the event.

February 27, 1997|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Yesterday's Howard Stern Look-Alike-Contest at Camden Yards begged a few questions:

Who wants to look like Howard Stern anyway?

Is this Louis XIV-retro look something women find appealing?

Do men aspire to his Sun King ... uhhhh ... intriguing looks?

To what lengths would a man go to look like this?

And, for that matter, when a man wants to look like the world's most overexposed shock jock, does he don a leather jacket and shades -- or mascara and spike heels? Stern did, after all, top 1995's "Worst Dressed Women" list after numerous appearances in drag.

The answers to these pressing inquiries were not easy to find at yesterday's rally promoting "Private Parts," the autobiographical film in which Stern plays himself during a pivotal sequence of bad hair years.

Seven men took up the look-alike challenge offered by radio station WJFK (1300 AM). None appeared in drag, despite Stern's trailblazing efforts to make cross-dressing an acceptable lifestyle choice for the average working stiff.

And, strangely, women were scarce among a sea of men in jeans, and so unavailable to attest to Stern's sexual magnetism. About 250 fans turned out, mostly guys with bad skin, facial hair disguising weak chins, who skulked around, hands stuffed in pockets.

Guys who came alive only when they knew the answer to Howard trivia questions tossed out by a WJFK producer, who rewarded them with dog-tags and movie stills. Guys who hooted and hollered when they spotted the cross-country promotional caravan's legend emblazoned across the first bus to pull into the parking lot: "Howard Stern or Bust!!!" Never mind the accompanying illustration.

The few women who turned out were not anxious to give their full names.

Sherry, 35, said she admired Stern for his wit, not his looks. "He says what other people want to say, but don't have the courage to," she explained.

Clearly, tough questions about an outrageous sex symbol who attracts more men than women to look-alike events required research beyond the Yard parking lot.

Howard Stern, attractive?

"I personally don't find him attractive," said Lee Killeen, who LTC works at Thredhed, a hip Hampden clothing store.

"I mean, he's just not an attractive guy. His hair is in his face. He has a really long, narrow face. He's kind of old looking, like older than his time."

But Howard as a woman is a different story, Killeen said. "He looks better in a dress than I do," she said. "I mean he's really tall and he's really thin and guys have nice legs, generally; they don't have to work on them."

Good legs are a little-known fashion plus for males. "I try to get as many men in dresses as I can," said Killeen, who has a steady drag queen clientele.

But Susan R. Green, a Baltimore attorney who frequently judges gay beauty contests, says Stern is no femme fatale. "Quite frankly, I think he's a disastrous woman. If you ever see people who compete, they're so completely talented. It's such an art. Howard just has fun with it."

Judy Pressman, former hippie turned image consultant, looks at the whole Howard phenomenon a tad differently. Stern, she says, is dangerous. And dangerous can be exciting for women who otherwise live safe, conservative lives, said Pressman, 48.

"A part of us wish we were something different than what we were, something that would take us out of our reality," she said. "Howard Stern represents part of the unreachable reality."

Not that Stern holds any particular appeal for Pressman: "To me he's so abrasive that it's not like I run to see him, hear him or read about him. He reminds me of Tiny Tim, was that his name?"

Green put it another way. Stern is "campy," she said. "What he's got is shtick."

Speaking of shtick, back at Camden Yards, it was the moment of truth for the seven would-be Howards. The stakes were high: The winner would receive a pair of tickets to attend the "Private Parts" premiere in New York tonight. So there they stood, hiding behind shades, hair blowing in the wind, a few spewing Howard-like snippets of venomous wisdom as they vied for applause from all those Howard-adoring men.

In the end, it was Lou Lydard, 42, a computer consultant, who clinched the contest with his Stern-like height, vaguely sinister sneer, flowing locks, lumbering posture and bad leather jacket.

Suddenly, he was an instant celebrity, a microphone shoved in his face by the E! Entertainment network, and on his way to New York.

Hey, Lydard said as he was besieged, if you spend your life being told that you look like Howard Stern, "You gotta get something out of it."

Pub Date: 2/27/97

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