Before we dive into today’s lengthy content, just want to mention that I have an ESPN piece today about Wes Welker’s new helmet — look here.
Now then: I always get a kick out of niche-specific obsessions, so I’ve long been a fan of the blog Appreciation of Booted News Women, which is exactly what it sounds like — a fan site devoted to female TV newscasters wearing boots.
I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to the site in the Ticker at some point, or maybe as a Catch of the Day, but I had never communicated with the site’s webmaster or even paid attention to his name. Then, last month, I received a Ticker submission for a Uni Watch reader named Barry Brite (he had sent in something relating to high school football uniforms), and I noticed that his email address was email@example.com. “Hey,” I wrote back, “I dig your site. Maybe we should interview you for Uni Watch!”
So that’s what we did. While Barry’s site isn’t about sports, his obsessive focus on a particular footwear niche feels very Uni Watch, no? Here’s how our conversation went:
Uni Watch: How old are you, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?
Barry Brite: I was born in 1964, I live in the Twin Cities, and I work in I.T.
UW: Is Barry Brite your real name?
UW: What is it about booted newswomen that fascinates you so much, and when did you first realize that you were interested in them?
BB: It goes back a long ways. I mean, I was a young kid when I first noticed it.
UW: When you say “young kid,” how young were you? Like, 10, 12 years old?
BB: Yeah, right around there.
UW: Was there one booted woman who had a particularly formative effect or impact on you?
BB: Not particularly. Jane Pauley was probably an early one, but it’s not like there was one who I can single out as the one who changed my life or anything like that.
UW: Would you describe your relationship to booted newswomen as an interest, a hobby, an obsession, a fetish — all of the above?
BB: Probably all of the above. What I do want to say, as far as festishes, is that a lot of guys who are into boots are also into, like, BDSM, or maybe licking boots and stuff like that, and I’m not into that. I just enjoy seeing women wearing boots. I find them attractive; that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with all of them.
UW: Are you fascinated by other booted women, or booted men for that matter, or even boots in general, or just newswomen?
BB: Women. All women.
UW: So why have you singled out booted newswomen as the focus of your your website?
BB: Going back to when I was younger, I’d see some of the newswomen wearing boots here on local TV, and I’d think, “Well, what about Milwaukee? There must be women wearing boots on Milwaukee’s news shows, too. And what about other cities? But there was no way to see ’em. This was the ’70s, you know? But then the internet came along and changed everything.
There was this Yahoo group called Newswomen and Boots, which I posted a lot of photos on. But the Yahoo groups are kind of limited in terms of what you can do, and I figured I could do it better with my own site.
UW: So that’s how you got the idea to start the site. When was that?
BB: It actually started as a place where I just stored pictures of one particular newswoman from the Twin Cities who I was fond of, named Alix Kendall. The site itself was actually called the Alix Kendall Worship Site, or something like that. But I didn’t publicize it, I didn’t do anything with it. It was just here, I might have done a couple of posts in 2007, and maybe a couple more in ’08 and ’09. It wasn’t until December of 2010 that I really started to work at it, and that’s when I changed the site’s name.
One of the main things I try to do is send out a message that the site and I are not creepy, not stalker-ish or anything like that. Don’t want that, don’t want guys hanging around the site if they’re like that. Other sites, guys will post comments like, “Oh yeah, I want to smell her stockinged feet,” or whatever, and that’s not what my site is about.
Believe it or not, I’m almost more of a prude. I often won’t even approve a comment if it has the word “sexy,” even though that’s probably socially acceptable. I just don’t want it going there. Like, here’s a picture of these women wearing boots — enjoy that and let it end there. Maybe once or twice a year I’ll post something like “If I hear about any of you guys creepin’ on these women, I’m gonna shut the site down, ’cause it ain’t worth it if you’re doing that.”
UW: Has anything like that ever happened?
BB: No. But sometimes there’s a reader who’s just a little too active, too involved, and you just want to be careful.
UW: I am familiar with that type of reader, Barry.
BB: I can believe it!
UW: Are there other sites that compete with yours?
BB: There was this one guy who focused mostly on L.A., where he lived. And we collaborated some — I’d send him some of my photos, he’d send me some of his. He stopped doing his site, but he still sends me stuff every so often. And there’s another guy who does it Europe, I think in the Netherlands…
UW: Do you do international coverage yourself, or do you stick to the U.S.?
BB: A little bit of international. There’s so much out there, and I only have so much time. And that’s the thing — there are lots of sites where you can see photos of, say, Natalie Morales from The Today Show. She’s nationally known. But I try to show women who you might not know otherwise.
UW: Has the site changed your life in any way?
BB: I would say I’m blown away by how well-known it is, how much traffic we get. I’m blown away talking to you right now!
UW: How much traffic are we talking about?
BB: In November, we had over 500,000 visits. Now, is that one guy visiting 500,000 times? Could be!
UW: Probably more like five guys each visiting 100,000 times.
BB: And that would be fine by me.
UW: How do you get your content? Like, do readers send screen shots or videos to you, or do you scour the web, or what?
BB: It’s mostly me scouring the web, but I do have a lot of collaborators. I also get a lot of stuff off of Facebook and Twitter, where the gals will often post their outfit of the day.
UW: Oh, just like a college football team will say, “This is the uniform we’re wearing this week.”
UW: How often do you post new content to the site?
BB [laughing]: This time of year, I probably have between 20 and 35 new posts a day.
UW [incredulously]: A day?!
UW: And when you say, “this time of year,” that’s because women are more likely to wear boots in the winter?
BB: Right. It’s definitely a seasonal thing. I’m in Minnesota, so it’s boot season for about nine months of the year.
UW: When did newswomen start wearing boots, anyway? Do you know anything about that history?
BB: You know, I honestly don’t know. But I assume it happened when boots got more popular and when women became more involved in TV broadcasts. It was a pretty male-dominated field until the ’70s, so I’m guessing that’s when the boots started.
UW: Was there ever a golden age of booted newswomen? Are we in that golden age right now?
BB: I think we’re living in it right now, Paul. The reason I said that is because of the great variety we’ve seen the past few years. For a number of years the only boots you would see were black leather knee-highs. While those are and always will be classic, in the past three years it’s been more socially acceptable to wear over-the-knee boots. And I really want to point out that there is a huge difference between over-the-knee and what Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman. Those were thigh-high boots and obviously are associated with hookers. Over-the-knees cover the kneecap and end right above the knee, whereas thigh-high extend halfway between the knee and crotch.
Katie Couric was the first newswoman I know of to wear OTK on a national news program (The Today Show), in 2004 or 2005. Around 2009 to 2010, OTK became very popular for women as a whole, and newswomen followed suit.
Also, in the past few years we have seen many more colors than just black. Brown finally made a big comeback after it had been the most popular boot color from the mid-’70s to mid-’80s. We have seen many boots in red, gray, maroon, purple, tan and taupe. And white may finally be coming back as a boot color.
UW: Aside from the seasonal thing, what sorts of trends or patterns have you noticed regarding booted newswomen? Like, are boots more commonly seen in certain parts of the country, or on women of a particular race, or anything like that?
BB: Boots cross racial lines, definitely. And that’s another thing about me: I don’t care what race the woman is, I don’t care how large or small she is, I don’t care about her age, I don’t care what her face looks like — I just care about the boots. Some guys only like to see, say, blondes in their 20s. But I care about the boots.
UW: You have repeatedly referred to your readers as “these guys” or “some guys,” but what about women? Do you have female readers? Can’t women appreciate women in boots?
BB: Definitely, definitely. We have a few female readers. But I’m always wondering, “Is that really a woman, or is it a guy using a woman’s handle?”
UW: If you had your way, would all newswomen wear boots, or would that make it less special?
BB: Yes, that. It’s more of a treat this way. There are some women who wear boots almost daily, and then there are some that are almost holy grails — like, “I really want to see her wearing boots.” And once in a while those will come to fruition. That really makes it special.
UW: Do you prefer a newswoman who wears the same pair of boots night after night, or one who rotates through lots of different pairs every night, or one who only wears boots every once in a while, sort of as a nice surprise?
BB: I like to see a variety of boots. But there are some who’ll stick to the same pair. There’s the one in Cleveland, Hollie Strano, who’s cute as a button, but it’s always the same pair of black knee-highs.
UW: Are there any newswomen who are, like, superstars in the world of booted newswomen?
BB: Oh, definitely. In fact, I have a Hall of Fame on the site. I try to keep it somewhat exclusive — you know, just like the Baseball Hall of Fame.
UW: Sure, you have to maintain high standards.
BB: Yup, exactly.
UW: The women featured on your site — are most of them anchors, reporters, meteorologists, sit-down talk hosts, or what?
BB: All of those. But less so reporters, just because of the nature of the camera work — the reporters usually aren’t shown below the waist. For anchors, I love the stations where their news set doesn’t put the anchors behind a desk. Sacramento is a great example of that.
UW: So they can do a full-body shot, and that’s what you’re looking for.
UW: What about sports — is the local sports anchor ever a booted newswoman?
UW: Oooh, that does sound good. But let’s stick with the boots — do you prefer to see them being worn with a dress, a skirt, knickers, or pants?
BB: If I had to pick one, I’d say a dress or skirt with nylons. But I like boots with pants, too. Some guys like the bare legs, but I don’t care for that as much.
UW: And as long as you can see the boots, do you prefer to see your booted newswomen sitting or standing?
BB: I prefer standing. The worst is when someone’s sitting and there are tables or plants blocking the view of the boots!
UW: Sometimes you’ll see someone walking across the set, like from one monitor to another. Do you like that, when they’re in motion, or do you prefer that they stay stationary?
BB: I like watching them in motion, but it’s harder to make a screen grab.
UW: When you see a booted newswomen, do you try to identify which brand of boot she’s wearing? Do you have favorite brands?
BB: Yeah, I try to do that, but I’m not great at it. One brand I like is Vince Camuto. They make good boots. And one thing I’ll do is in September, when the new lines of boots come out, I’ll post some of the new boot designs, so people know what to look for, what to expect.
UW: Have you ever made contact with a booted newswoman, either via email or on Twitter or whatever, and told her that you like her boots, or that you’d featured her on your site?
BB: Yes, I definitely have.
UW: And how has that gone?
BB: Oh, fantastic. I converse on Twitter with quite a few of them, actually. They say things like, “Thanks for featuring me on your site” or “Love it, love your site.” Several of them — five of them, I think — even let me interview them for the site.
I’ve also had a few newswomen call me out when I didn’t have them on the blog — “Hey, you missed me!” I’ve had some send me pictures if there was no other way for me to get them, like if they were sitting behind a desk, or if only their face was shown.
UW: Has anyone ever reacted negatively after being featured on your site?
BB: Yes. This one woman saw that I had posted about her, and she wrote about it on Facebook, saying she thought it was creepy and whatever. So I took that post down and wrote her a nice email saying, “I’m very sorry you were creeped out by this. That’s not my intention at all. I took that post down and won’t bother you again.” And she wrote back and said, “Oh, I think I overreacted — you don’t have to take it down. I was just a little stunned to see that.” But I kept that post deleted.
UW: Have there been any other situations where you had to take down a post?
BB: The day after the Newtown shootings, there were several women who don’t usually wear boots on the air, but they wore them that day. So I put some photos up, but I also wrote to my readers, “Guys, you gotta give me some guidance on what to do here. They’re covering Newtown — I kinda feel bad putting these up. What do you think?” And people said I should take ’em down, so I did.
UW: Have you met any of these newswomen in person?
UW: Would you even want to, or do you prefer to see them through the lens of the TV camera?
BB: I do not want to meet them.
UW: Not even to interview one of them?
BB: Maybe if they initiated it. My site has been mentioned on-air a few times.
UW: Wait — mentioned on-air by a booted newswoman?
BB: Yes. [You can see a few examples below — PL]
UW: That must be a dream come true! What an incredible validation of what you’re doing. That’s awesome!
BB: Yes, validation, that’s the word.
UW: Are you married?
UW: Were you still married when you started this project?
BB: Yes. I mean, we weren’t legally divorced yet, but we were separated.
UW: I’m sorry — I don’t mean to tread into painful territory here. But did your wife know about the website?
BB: No. She still doesn’t know. Nobody knows — my friends, family, co-workers. Nobody knows about it.
UW: You’ve mentioned to me that you have two teen-aged daughters, and part of the reason you’re secretive about the project is that you’re worried about any blowback that could affect them.
UW: Do you have any plans to grow the site into something bigger? How long do you think you’ll keep doing it?
BB: I was kinda thinking this might be the last year, but it’s probably not going to be.
UW: Why were you thinking that, and what changed your mind?
BB: Because of trends in boots, actually. I don’t like ankle boots, combat boots, granny boots…
UW: Oh, I had meant to ask that! How high does a boot have to be to qualify as a boot, at least for you?
BB: It can depend on how much content there is that day. If I already have 25 potential posts where the boots are either knee-high or over the knee, I’m not gonna bother with the ankle- or calf-high. But if it’s a slower day, I’ll include those.
UW: Is there ever a point where you’re thinking, “This is just the same thing over and over” and you’re not really getting anything new out of it? Or do you still have the same excitement for the new content?
BB: I hit ruts, definitely. But, you know, it’s what I do. It’s an obsession, obviously, but I think it’s also a service to my readers. So that keeps motivating me.
UW: Can you imagine not doing the site? Does the thought of that make your life feel a little empty?
BB: Yeah, I’d probably have to find something else to put my energy into. And I probably should!
UW: Sometimes I try to recall what my life was like before Uni Watch, and it’s hard to even remember. So a lot of the things you’ve said, on various aspects of your project, really resonate with me.
BB: Well, I have to tell you, I take pride in seeing how popular your site is, and how much attention you’ve gotten for it, because I’ve been a big fan of your site for a long time.
UW: So Uni Watch’s success makes you feel validated on some level?
BB: More like I’m just happy for you.
UW: Thank you! One last question: Do you ever wear boots yourself?
BB: No, I don’t.
And there you have it. Big thanks to Barry for sharing his story, and congrats on all his success.
Australian Open Update
By Brinke Guthrie
In other AO news:
• Nike has reissued one of the old Agassi shoes to commemorate AA’s success Down Under, and I don’t mind saying I’d like to own these. Wore a pair of them in the orange/powder blue and lava pink/black combos way back when.
• Spain’s Tommy Robredo has switched clothing suppliers, from Chinese brand Erke to Sergio Tacchini.
• Sam Querrey has moved from K-Swiss to Fila. (And wearing a black cap on his noggin in 100+ degree weather?) Still wearing K-Swiss shoes while Fila makes custom molds for his size 13.5 feet.
• Adidas has re-released the venerable Stan Smith shoe, and their flagship endorser Andy Murray approves. Further info about the packaging here.
• German pro Tommy Haas, who was known for wearing whatever he wanted on the court, (did I see him wearing a Target/Champion C9 T-shirt on court once?), has an actual clothing deal now, with the stylish 1980s Italian line Ellesse (pronounced “LS”).
• Asics AO stuff is here. Ugly.
ESPN reminder: In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, my latest ESPN column looks at all sorts of NOB variations — full names, first names, accents, “Jr.” and “Sr.,” and more. Enjoy (and my thanks to everyone who pointed out a few important omissions when the column went live yesterday).
Raffle reminder: I’m currently raffling off a game-used Bengals jersey. For details, look here.
QBC update: If you’ve been thinking about attending this Saturday’s Queens Baseball Convention (which will feature a Mets uniform panel discussion featuring myself, Phil, and four other uniform luminaries), here’s a bunch of additional info from event organizer Shannon Shark. See you there!
Tick-Tock: Today’s Ticker was compiled and written by Mike Chamernik.
Baseball News: In addition to designing the Charlotte Hornets’ uniforms, fashion designer Alexander Julian created the early-1990s Charlotte Knights unis, too (from Brian Mazmanian). … The Royals will be giving away camo-lettered jerseys in May … SportingNews had a 10-year-old rank the MLB mascots, and the highlight was his take on the Oriole Bird (from Matthew Edwards). … I’m a huge fan of comedian Adam Carolla, and it turns out he has a beef with pine tar on batting helmets and baseball pants. Quote from the Aceman in the piece: “In baseball half the guys are wearing stirrups above the knee and the other guys have pants dragging behind them. Do we have rules? It’s called a uniform. Get your uniform together! What’s up, baseball? Get your crap together!”
NFL News: Many people sent this in: What if NFL logos were inspired by hipsters? … Here’s what your 49ers jersey says about you. The explanation for a Kyle Williams jersey should have simply been, “I am Kenny Williams” (from Patrick O’Neill). … Niners coach Jim Harbaugh addressed his affinity for eight dollar khaki pants. He was also photographed buying Khakis at a Wal-Mart (from Brinke). … “My daughter picked up ‘The Young Author’s Do-It-Yourself Book,’ and on this page it has what is clearly late ’80s- early ’90s John Elway,” says Marc Burgess. “I had to admire the placement of the bird and the margins to avoid any trademark issues. No idea who Celtics No. 23 is supposed to be, though.” … Jeff Flynn found a Daryle Lamonica Raiders helmet that was recently sold on eBay. “Check out the little Raiders shield on the front of the helmet!” he says. … John Alexander sends along some bizarre uniform concepts. … President George H. W. Bush has a pair of Texans socks. The man has an A-plus sock wardrobe (from Robert Silverman). … This Peyton Manning Omaha endorsement thing went from internet joke to potential reality in just three days. “No. Just… no,” says Bobby Pinkham. “Just the fact that they asked consultants and took the time to crunch the monetary numbers, the fact that they took it so seriously really just makes me lose all faith in humanity.”
Hockey News: Talk about burying the lead (for us at least): Check out item No. 30 of this article from last week, where it says that Adidas is considering putting its own name on uniforms, replacing the Reebok wordmark. … Switzerland is experimenting with transparent boards (from Phil). … From yesterday’s comments: The Islanders will wear their stadium series jerseys for a few home games this season. … Brett Hull wore baseball glove-styled hockey gloves in the 1996 All-Star Game (from Tim Donovan). … Russian president Vladimir Putin doesn’t quite know how to put on a hockey helmet. … Not only does Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall have his jersey ripped off in this 1989 video clip, but it turns out he’s another goalie who wears a glove under his catcher (from Tony Kellogg).
NBA News: Creative services firm Sid Lee will handle the Toronto Raptors’ redesign (from Phil). … A South Florida school counselor shaved off a Miami Heat logo that was in a student’s haircut, reportedly because he thought the logo was “gang-related.” … The Trail Blazers are giving away some really cool player caricature drinking glasses. … The Evanston (IL) High School Wildkits have this as a logo, but for basketball they’ve borrowed the Charlotte Bobcats’ look.
College Hoops News: Kansas is planning multi-colored T-shirt cheering sections for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State (from Kyle Romine). … Also from KU, the team will keep their new alternate uniforms through the rest of the season (from Alan Bloomquist). … Ohio has a new home white uniform (from Johnny Bruno). … Virginia Tech went GFGS with TNOB last night (from Andrew Cosentino).
Grab Bag: An Alabama player has Crimson Tide spinners on his car, which would be cool if it was 2003. … Sanfrecce Hiroshima has new uniforms (from Trevor Williams). … Commenter Rydell sends in this logo-related tale: “I received a memo from my bank stating ‘The cardholder name embossed on your credit card must be a maximum of 20 characters (shortened from current 25 characters). This is an industry standard which prevents names from overlapping the logos that appear on the cards.’ Sorrrrry.” … A news report on a Minnesota outdoor ice rink contains some excellent old sports photos (from Barry Brite). … Here’s a roundup of the top-selling jerseys from each major sport in 2013 (from Phil). … Also from Phil, Nike is doing just fine economically. … John Daly wore some pretty loud pants at the Sony Open (from Matt Mitchell). … Olympic curlers are putting an emphasis on getting in shape (from Tommy Turner). … “Cool overview of 2014 team kit for pro cycling,” says Sean Clancy, “and a plea to do away with having to pin numbers on jerseys.” … Black & Decker, I mean, Black + Decker, has a new image. … University of Nebraska Kearney is now an Under Armour school, as submitted by Mike Vamosi, Jason Johnson and Joseph Andersen, all UNK alumni. They all have to know each other, right?