The Campisi sisters talk Playboy, pizza, and brain research (seriously). PLUS: Dallas fashion gets a Lift, Vexillology, and notable Dallas blogs.

{ BUZZ }

MEET THE CAMPISIS: Tara, Corky, Amber, and Gina.

On a recent Wednesday night, Amber Campisi, 23, sits behind a table at the family-run Campisi’s, signing copies of Playboy. No, not the one from December 2003, in which she first appeared, but the February 2005 issue, in which she’s Playmate of the Month. She signs 772 copies—someone counts—“and I didn’t pee the entire time,” she says afterward. Amber is set to leave the next day for New Orleans, where she’ll ride on a Mardi Gras float and hand out free 8-by-10s. After that, who knows? “I haven’t really thought about it,” she says.

Gina, Amber’s 21-year-old sister, sighs. She’s tired. She’s been working for five hours and has at least another five to go. She introduces herself from behind the bar but is interrupted by a woman in her 50s ordering two shots of Jägermeister. Gina works here every day and has been picking up shifts for Amber. She wouldn’t mind running this place herself someday. “We live such separate lives,” she says of her older sister. “We can be cordial, but if we’re around each other too long, forget it.”

Tara says Gina, her twin, is like her mom because she matured so much faster. She, like Gina, is proud of Amber but wouldn’t trade places with her. The psychology major at SMU wants to be a psychiatrist and do research on the brain. You know what really fascinates her? “The way cells communicate chemically,” she says, “via neurotransmitters.” Tara is worried she’ll sound like a dork for admitting such.

Their father Corky is very tan and in constant motion. He escapes friends and well-wishers long enough to go behind the bar, take a swig of Hennessy straight from his own private bottle, open another box of Playboys, count a wad of cash, and hand out beer cozies, all while dancing to the sounds of the R&B band playing in the corner. “I’m going to be the last one in line,” he says, pointing to his daughter at the signing table. And sure enough he is. Amber writes, “Daddy, My #1 fan. I love you, Am.” —Adam McGill

Photo: Larry Travis



This month everyone’s favorite blog, FrontBurner, turns 2 years old. With that flimsy hook, we disguise our shameless self-promotion by taking a look at how our online outpost compares to other notable Dallas blogs.

Blog Maverick


DMN Daily







March 2004

July 2003

October 1999

March 2003



Mark Cuban, billionaire

Keven Ann Willey, editrix; her editorial boarders

Avi S. Adelman, community gadfly

Wick Allison, editor;

his lackeys


“The Mark Cuban weblog”

“Editorial board discusses the issues”

“Taking back our


“A snarky celebration of ignorance” or “a daily conversation about Dallas among the editors of D Magazine”


Exhaustive analysis of referee tendencies; kooky but thought-provoking ideas like starting his own gambling hedge fund. He’ll post entire e-mail exchanges he’s had with reporters, showing how they twist facts to suit their agendas.

It’s free.

A must-bookmark for residents of Lower Greenville. Searchable database of DPD incident reports; news on zoning proposals; finger wagging at

irresponsible bar

owners; pictures of drunks peeing in yards.

Clean design; minute-by-minute updates on the doings of Alexa Conomos; short posts.


He should be brought before the International Court of Justice for the crimes he has committed against grammar. He’s a billionaire, yet he can’t seem to afford a single apostrophe.

Welcome to pop-up hell. Even on a fast connection, the site takes a full minute to load. Overly long posts; overuse of italics to indicate quoted material; overall, not terribly interesting. For better conservative blather, see National Review’s Corner.

Not as many peeing pictures as there once were.

Incessant harping on the DMN; frequent retractions/corrections;

over-reliance on unnamed sources;



“Swaney wanted to make it all hip and cool with local artists. The rest of us just wanted to make money, get drunk, and meet women.”

“After all, the USA is a democracy, and we backed the Contras, who terrorized the Sandinistas. I backed the Contras, too, but then again, I didn’t think they were terrorists.”

“The important thing to remember is that sushi (aka raw fish) requires absolutely drop-dead accurate temperatures not only in the presentation display but the storage system.”

“Just ’cause the lesbians were having a

conversation doesn’t make it not porn.”

Honorable Mention:
Sharon Boyd’s Dallasarena.com, which she bills as “your alternative to the dallas managed news.” Unfortunately, Boyd is clearly insane.


Fashion Lift
Ort Varona’s newest store looks to score at Victory.
by Stephanie Quadri

FAIR VARONA: He lays his scene in high-end boutiques like Premium 93.

Ort Varona may have started out with a career in counseling, but retail is his therapy. The psychology major turned entrepreneur thought Dallas lacked a store that catered to urban-chic adults, so he created Premium 93 and Octane, two of the hottest stores in the West Village. “We didn’t have a place to shop, so we created one,” Varona says.

But the 34-year-old is a little restless, so he’s expanding his arsenal of stores with the Lift Fashion Terminal in the Victory development, which will open in the spring of 2006. Located

Photo: Varona: Joshua Martin












Banner Headlines
The curious art of ranking flags.

By Laurie Dent


Vexillology, the fancy-pants term for the study of flags, is a surprisingly widespread practice. Recently, members of the North American Vexillological Association—and anyone else with time to kill—ranked the top 150 city flags in the United States to see which one did the best pole dance. Dallas rated a ho-hum 21st. When asked how our city could improve, Ted Kaye, NAVA member, flag journal editor, and all-around expert, said Dallas should simplify the seal in the middle and 86 the writing. “Flags are graphic symbols,” Kaye says. “The trick is creating something recognizable at a distance—while it’s flapping.”

So what does it take to be like Washington, D.C., which came in at the top of the list? First, forget crazy colors, slogans, or little bitty images. Second, have down-to-earth expectations. “There are thousands of city flags,” Kaye says, “and expecting to be No. 1 is an unrealistic goal.” Ahh, but a flag can dream. Besides, it could be a lot worse. Dallas escaped ugly commentary. Lubbock did not. “Jesus Christ, are you folks on bad honky-tonk acid or something?” asked one judge. The same could be said for some of the flags below.



G.I. Joe for Your CFO


David Estes bought his first military vehicle for pleasure, not business. That was in 1999, when Estes, a self-taught historian who has never served in the armed forces, purchased a Fox reconnaissance vehicle at a Houston auction for $16,000. Eight months later, he went tank shopping again, and his collection gradually became a fleet, including 20-ton Abbotts and 50-ton Chieftains. Estes now owns about two dozen military vehicles, though he’s not sure. (He’s made a note to himself to pin down the exact number.)

Today, he uses those vehicles to run Tactical Tanks, an “experiential training center” where executives and employees alike can learn communication skills while traversing a 265-acre landscape near Sherman in heavy armor. During a typical seminar, Estes gives each three-person team an “operation order,” which contains the parameters of the battlefield, the nature of the enemy, and the like. Just like the real world. And it’s been a hit with organizations ranging from Raytheon to the Sherman Police Department.

“We try to parallel the competition in business,” Estes says. “That enables you to position yourself to be very successful. Anybody who doesn’t know his competition is going to lose. That’s all there is to it.” Heavy artillery helps, too. —A.M.


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