Pulse

LeAnn Rimes hits a high note, the old Trader Vic’s landmark surfaces, and Sheila Doss stands tall.

{ MUSIC }
RIMES WITH REASON
It’s easy to think of LeAnn Rimes as nothing more than a pre-packaged child star. In that oh-so-familiar tale, the kid from Garland found stardom, but fame turned messy. She feuded with her father, her label, and herself. All of that drama—no reality show required—made it easy to forget her overwhelming talent. Now 22, Rimes has survived the marketing machine that casts young girls as innocent darlings before transforming them into come-hither sexpots. She is married, has ditched Los Angeles in favor of Nashville, writes children’s books, and studies sign language, of all things. On January 25 her new CD, This Woman, hits stores and marks a critical point in her career. “The title exactly fits where I am right now, moving from child star to woman,” she says. “I think people will really see me as an artist instead of just a voice.” She shines on songs that are closer to power pop than country, and her voice is powerful yet delicate. But do fans still care after Rimes took a short break from the music business? “I don’t worry about my staying power,” she says. “I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, and I have the stuff to back it up.” —BRIAN D. SWEANY

Photo: Rimes: Courtesy of D. Baron Media

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{ MYSTERY }
The Tiki Has Been Found!
The old Trader Vic’s landmark surfaces—sort of—with the sale of Hotel Santa Fe.
by Tim Rogers

TREASURE HUNTERS: The 14-foot statue is in an “undisclosed location.” Posing with their trophy (from left to right) are Kip Sowden, Jon Dooley of Behringer Harvard Funds, and Jeff Berry.

In 2000, after standing guard in front of the old Trader Vic’s on Mockingbird Lane for more than 30 years, the giant tiki vanished. Another piece of our history had been erased, and sadness settled over the city like a wet palm frond.

But now the tiki has returned, having survived an arduous, lawsuit-littered journey. And it could be yours.

Joe Hunt was the man who took the tiki. As a kid, his father used to take him to Trader Vic’s. So the local financial consultant offered to buy it from the Hotel Santa Fe for $2,400. But then things got weird. The hotel—which was owned by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s organization and which was part of his plan to establish peace on earth through transcendental meditation—backed out of the deal. Hunt sued. The Maharishi’s people never showed up in court. And a judge awarded the tiki to Hunt, who carted it off to a friend’s warehouse in Ennis.

But then the hotel sued Hunt, and Hunt was forced to return the tiki to the hotel’s heavies in May 2003. But the statue never made it to its rightful post, and its whereabouts remained a mystery to all but a few of the Maharishi’s operatives.

Leap forward to November 2004, when the dilapidated hotel changed ownership. Realty America Group and Behringer Harvard Funds, two Dallas firms, bought the place from the Maharishi Global Development Fund. Soon, an $80 million redevelopment of the property will begin. But the plans do not include the tiki.

Jeff Berry, one of the principal owners of Realty America, says the contents of Trader Vic’s will likely be auctioned off, with proceeds going to charity. That includes the tiki, which Berry says will remain in an “undisclosed location” until the auction. He himself didn’t know the details of the location until after the sale of the hotel had gone through.

“I didn’t know where the undisclosed location was,” he says. “And then I stumbled across this huge piece of wood and said, ‘I guess this is it.’” Berry says the tiki was surrounded by empty beer cans, and he quickly brought Kip Sowden, the firm’s other principal, to see it.

The two Highland Park High School grads had fond memories of the totem and rejoiced to be back in its company. Says Sowden, “We looked for a big scorpion glass that we could put umbrellas in and have a drink to celebrate.”

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{ SOCIETY }
High Life
There’s a reason everyone looks up to Miss Tall Dallas.
by Laurie Dent

TOWERING FIGURE: Believe it or not, Sheila Doss, the reigning Miss Tall Dallas, is only 6 feet tall.

Sheila Doss says she’s no Barbie Doll. But that doesn’t stop her from wearing a tiara and riding around on floats. So goes it for Doss, the reigning Miss Tall Dallas and the spokesperson of beauty and grace for the Tall Texans of Dallas, a nonprofit social organization created for—you guessed it—tall people. At 6 feet, Doss can reach a book on a high shelf with ease. But after winning the Miss Tall Dallas pageant in December 2003, Doss became the queen bee with typical figurehead duties: charity events, recruitment activities, interviews, and fundraisers to help battle Marfan Syndrome, an incurable disorder that affects the connective tissues of tall people. She’s even competed for the Miss Tall International title. (She lost.) Much of the time Doss is escorted to events by Mr. Tall Dallas, a role filled by Alan Sanders, who says being king is more namesake than action figure.

TTOD offers much more than pageantry, however. It’s a serious 90-member club and offshoot of Tall Clubs International. Membership requires men be at least 6 feet 2 inches and women be at least 5 feet 10 inches. Heels don’t count; neither does big hair. Miss Tall Dallas acts as spokesperson for the group, helping to dispel myths associated with tall people—namely that women of substantial height automatically love sports, are born leaders, and are inherently aggressive. “I’ve been accused of being rude when I’m not, and it’s only because I’m tall and my voice is loud and carries,” Doss says.
Staci Hayden, who is 6 feet 1, and her husband Mike, 6-7, met via TTOD and married in 1997. They say they’ve heard it all—“giraffe,” “too tall,” even “how’s the air up there?” But stupid comments aside, the biggest annoyances are finding things that fit, from shoes and clothes to cars and beds. And forget searching for chandeliers. “A light shop’s a killer,” she says.

Still these tall Texans profess their perch gives them an advantage in crowds or when playing basketball. With TTOD, they have a kinship, a family in which they can—in every way—see “eye to eye.” And, most important, TTOD and the Miss Tall Dallas pageant show that tall people shouldn’t get the short end of the stick. “We’re getting used to all types and sizes, and we’re accepting that whatever anybody is, it’s okay now,” says Gail Wagner, a former Miss Tall International. “You have to have more than just height to be unusual.”

Photos: Rimes: Courtesy of D. Baron Media; Tiki and Tall Dallas: Scott Womack

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