Dirty Dogs give Fred Fits
The Athens Observer, p. 13 on Thursday, November 11, 1976
By Phil Sanderlin
The infamous “Porno Piñata”
Say the word “Mexico” to different persons and you’ll suggest a variety of mental images. Some will think of tamales and tacos and delicious Mexican food. Others will think of dark-eyed senoritas, or the lively music of the mariachi bands. Some will think of the Alamo or the daring exploits of Pancho Villa. Fred Brown will think of 250 pornographic piñatas.
Brown, a student affairs advisor with the University of Georgia, calls the buying of 250 bulldog piñatas “probably the biggest faux pas I ever made.”
A piñata is a paper mache figure, usually in the shape of an animal. In Mexico, the piñata is used as a game at Christmas parties. The figure is filled with toys and candy. A blindfolded child tries to hit it with a stick. If he succeeds, the piñata will burst open and the goodies inside will fall out for everyone to enjoy.
“Back in 1973,” said Brown, “I noticed that at the International Gift Bazaars the Union has at the end of Fall Quarter, piñatas were a very popular item. We couldn’t keep them in stock. The best came from a company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They were real piñatas made in Mexico.”
Seeing how well the piñatas sold, Brown got what seemed at the time to be a brilliant idea. “Boy, I thought, we’ll make bulldog piñatas. Have them specially made by this company in Albuquerque in the image of the Georgia mascot,” said Brown.
He contacted the company, sent a copy of Uga, the bulldog, to the company and had 250 bulldog piñtas made up and sent to Athens. At this point, the piñatas began to cause trouble.
“We didn’t consider the shipping cost,” said Brown. “The piñatas were sent ten to a box in a container as big as a refrigerator carton. It took a train to bring the things here. That was an extra $600 right there.”
Next, the cursed piñatas refused to attract buyers. People liked piñatas that looked traditional and Mexican, in the shape of a bull or a burro. The bulldogs were too Americanized. “We sold three the first day of the bazaar,” said Brown, “Then two were brought back. We started off with a price of $5.95 each, just to make up for the extra cost in shipping. Then we marked them down to $4.75, then $3.00, but nobody wanted them.”
The 250 bulldog piñatas were stored in a room in Memorial Hall. Brown thought the piñatas had embarrassed him all they could, but he was wrong. The worst was yet to come.
“A grammar school teacher called me up,” Brown said. “She asked if she could have a piñata for her class’ Christmas party.” This seemed to be a ray of hope. If the teacher
liked the way the children enjoyed the pinata, she might tell the other teachers to buy the rest.
“She called me back after the party,” said Brown, “and she wasn’t too happy. The kids were picking up the paper and saying, “Gee, Teacher, what’s this? What are the man and woman doing?” She was rather upset. We looked into some of the others but they were just stuffed with ordinary paper. So not all of them are pornographic piñatas.” Since it can’t be determined how many are, however, no more of the bulldog piñatas have been given away to children’s groups.
Brown has been needled about the piñatas for the past three years. “Those piñatas are my albatross,” he said. “They’ll follow me to the grave.”
If the memory will continue to haunt Brown, the physical presence of the ill-fated piñatas will not. “At this year’s International Gift Bazaar,” he said determinedly, “we’re going to move these things. We may have to admit we’ve lost the money and sell them for a lot less. But we will get rid of them, if we have to lose money.”
Brown invites all students and interested citizens to come to the Bazaar on November 21, 22, and 23rd in Memorial Hall. “Everyone should have a bulldog piñata,” he said. “There are only 250 left, a limited collector’s edition.”
Thanks to CyberDawg (Kent) for supplying this article and photo.