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updated: 6/19/2011 11:29 PM

Rosemont's tale of two conventions

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Personally, I was always deeply offended that Donald E. Stephens, the founding father of Rosemont, was allowed to store his own collection of Hummel figurines inside the public convention center that bore his name.

Sure, it was the world's largest agglomeration of the porcelain statuettes -- cute Bavarian kids playing horns and frolicking with their birds, dogs and rabbits -- but I always thought Stephens' garage simply must not have been big enough and he needed a place to stash the trinkets.

Whatever, now that Mr. Stephens has passed, the collection has been moved from the Stephens Convention Center to a storefront "museum." And just in time.

"Exxxotica Expo 2011" is coming the Rosemont Convention Center!

"Sex seminars as well as 24 hours of live entertainment with rap music performances, bondage and burlesque entertainers, fire breathers, sword swallowers, midgets, as well as women performing on swings, poles, stages and trampolines" is how the event was described in Saturday's Daily Herald.

Glory be to Heaven that the Hummels are residing elsewhere.

Can you imagine 20,000 porn industry stars, tradesmen and aficionados having to rush past the encased handiwork of German nun Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel? All of those blue, wondering, porcelain eyes looking up innocently from the figurines conceived in a convent as if to say "where are you going in such a sweat?"

Come July 8-10 though, the porn-loving and love-porning crowds will simply gush undeterred into Don Stephens Center. Of course, it won't hurt attendance that the previously little-known Exxxotica had a scandal last week involving a Chicago Bears player and a top NFL draft choice from the University of Illinois. When the ABC7 I-Team reported that they and other pro football names had appeared (in uniform) in an ad for an Exxxotica kickoff party in Miami, the story attracted national attention.

Even faced with throngs of porn-hungry patrons, the son-of-the-Don, Rosemont's current Mayor Bradley Stephens, maintains that Exxxotica is in keeping with his village's new family-friendly image.

"Expositions are put on by diverse groups and associations of people and may be faith-based, politically affiliated, trade oriented or sports and entertainment associated," Stephens said in an emailed statement.

Indeed, I hope the conventioneers from the event right before Exxxotica don't cross paths with Flower Tucci, Alexis Texas, Snake Babe or any of the other porn movie "stars" as they arrive.

The previous event at the D.E. Stephens Center is the 48th annual ISNA Convention. ISNA is the Islamic Society of North America.

The theme of their convention is "Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony." Some in Rosemont might actually confuse that with the motto of Exxxotica: "The Largest Event in the USA Dedicated to Love," except that porn expo adds "Sex" at the end.

The Islamic convention, which ends on the 4th of July and is expected to draw 50,000 Muslims to Rosemont, has had its own public relations problems.

For years, the Islamic Society of North America has been fending off accusations that it is a front for foreign terrorists. Federal prosecutors listed ISNA as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in a 2007 Texas case, a label a federal appeals court later said prosecutors had no right to make public. The organization has vigorously fought continued allegations that it is a cover group for terrorists.

So Rosemont can't catch a break. After decades of denying it was mobbed-up, the suburb lost a casino that village officials now claim they didn't want anyway. Then, just as Rosemont is digging in to replant itself as a family spot, it is dirtied up by porn stars and a group that the feds once said was helping to grow overseas terrorists.

What I want to know is how to this day the Hummel Museum gets away with using a welcoming photo of Don Stephens, who died in 2007, on its website. And there is the claim that "Mayor Stephens continues to consult with the museum board in the acquisition of rare pieces to add to the collection."

Now that is a story to investigate.

Chuck Goudie, whose column appears each Monday, is the chief investigative reporter at ABC7 News in Chicago. The views in this column are his own and not those of WLS-TV. He can be reached by email at chuckgoudie@gmail.com and followed at twitter.com/ChuckGoudie.