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When Smokin’ Joe was startled by a white woman ...


OK, that’s admittedly an incendiary headline, but one that’s appropriate nonetheless and also an accurate and a fair representation of what took place six years ago at the Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

Joe Frazier was the featured guest and a headlining consignor at the Sports Immortals Auction in 2003 at the recently opened Borgata, perhaps the most spectacular hotel that this humble reporter has ever stayed at. The live auction itself was just as noteworthy as its surroundings, and was jointly conducted by Guernsey’s and Hunt Auctions, a pretty good one-two punch for any auction event.

But it was during one of the breaks in the two-day, Oct. 25-26 event that produced the Frazier fun. Joe decided to take a stroll around the casino, ostensibly to look at the famed pinstriped 1977 Rolls Royce in the lobby of the hotel, the one with (at that time) about 160 signatures of some of the greatest Yankees of all time.

Anyway, Joe was more intrigued by what seemed to be these stunning snow-white statues in flowing white robes scattered around the lobby and looking, for some reason you had difficulty putting your finger on, fascinating and oddly creepy all at the same time.


Frazier stood quietly in front of one of them for nearly a minute, then cautiously reached out to touch the “statue,” at which point the model moved abruptly, startling Frazier, who jumped back as if he were evading an Ali roundhouse.

As is their charge, the “model” did not speak, but did gently cradle Joe’s chin, perhaps out of her own curiosity to see what that famous jaw might actually be made of.

BTW (by the way, for the cyber challenged), the only reason I wasn’t as startled as Smokin’ Joe was that I had seen them in action the day before, and had seen similar kinds of models in Las Vegas and elsewhere where the individual holds absolutely still for several minutes before dramatically shifting to another position.

It was the most fun I had all weekend, which is saying quite a bit. I am sure there is a technical name for this esoteric kind of modeling, and I welcome any reader who might like to pass the information along.

I suspect it’s a French thing.

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