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Strip Club

Candy Phelps swings.
Emily Piraino

When the Valley's own Jonathan Kaye returns to the FBR Open this week to defend his title against Vijay Singh, he might be swinging with BlueBalls. And it's entirely possible that, when local favorites Phil Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia grab their shafts this week, there'll be a naked lady there. That's how Chris Wehrle and his mom, Candy Phelps, would like things to be, anyhow. The duo -- Wehrle's a mortgage broker; Phelps a Scottsdale retiree and former peddler of golf attire -- is pushing the Putt-Her golf club, which, like those old stag-party ballpoint pens, displays a bikini-clad woman when you tip it over. They've named their company BlueBallSports (Well, what would you name it?) and are hoping to introduce an all-nude stick featuring porn star Jenna Jameson one day soon. Meanwhile, Candy and son have hit a hole in one with a Polish babe and a deep understanding of the relationship between the birdies and the bees.

New Times: Excuse me for saying so, but you don't look like the inventor of such a naughty golf club.

Candy Phelps: I didn't. My son, Chris Wehrle, did. He was looking at a putter sitting in the corner of a friend's office, and there was a shadow falling on it that looked like a pretty lady. He thought, "What if there was a golf club with a lady on it?" And he thought about it more and more, and then he came up with the whole thing.

NT: So you just sort of gave him permission to do it?

Phelps: No! He's a grown man. He just asked me to invest. So I gave him the money for the prototype, and he had it made, but then he didn't know what to do with it. I found someone in Arizona who could take it to a major manufacturer, and we went from there.

NT: I'm trying to imagine the conversation. "Mother, I have invented a golf club with a naked lady on it."

Phelps: I have a pretty good sense of humor, and I remember seeing those Tip and Strip pens in Europe in the early '60s. [They have] a little lady on them, and you turn them upside down and the lady's bathing suit comes off.

NT: Can the Putt-Her be used in place of my regular putter?

Phelps: Yes. It's fashioned after a regulation PGA putter. The dimensions and length are right. But it's definitely meant as a novelty putter.

NT: Your Web site suggests that the Putt-Her is a great way to distract other golfers. Distracting someone on the green doesn't seem, er, cricket.

Phelps: So that they can't putt? So that it throws off their putting? You do want to do that, if you're competing against them. Get them laughing and enjoying it, and they can't quite concentrate on their putt.

NT: Who is the lovely model on the handle of this club?

Phelps: She's a Polish girl from Phoenix. She's beautiful, but she wasn't a model. I met her through a friend.

NT: How did you know she wasn't a porn star or a prostitute?

Phelps: I didn't. We had her sign a release, though. It didn't really matter. It was just finding someone who was going to help us out and who was pretty. She knew her photo would end up on the shaft end of a putter.

NT: But how come, when you turn the club upside down, the nice lady doesn't end up naked? I'll bet you'd sell a lot more of these if we got to see her ta-tas.

Phelps: As far as a nude version goes, we may go with that. [For now], we were advised not to do a nude because nudes offend women. Chris originally thought of a nude -- I guess it's a guy thing -- but I wouldn't have been as comfortable with it. I think women probably won't buy a nude image for their husband or boyfriend as much as they would a --

NT: A woman in teeny scraps of lingerie? I notice she still has her high heels on.

Phelps: Well, yes. She's a lady. She's also available wearing a bikini.

NT: What about a more zaftig model on, say, the golf bag?

Phelps: What's that?

NT: You know. Rubenesque.

Phelps: (Stares blankly.)

NT: A curvier woman.

Phelps: What?

NT: Big gals! Large women! Some men like larger women. Have you thought about maybe using a photograph of a girl who looks like she's eaten recently?

Phelps: No. She wouldn't fit on the shaft of the putter. But sometimes women see the Putt-Her and ask why we don't have a man on there. It's just that I don't know if a man would sell well enough. We do hope to take these into the corporate sector, where we can add your company logo under her photo on the putter.

NT: Plastic surgeons might like that. How about housewives? A spatula with a naked man on the handle would be nice. And auto mechanics might like a wrench with some busty broad on it.

Phelps: Yeah, that would be fun. We have a couple other sporting items in mind, but we've been careful not to get carried away so we mess this up. Tennis rackets or baseball bats won't work, because of the impact. We have to be intelligent about it, to go step by step to add some longevity to [the product].

NT: Right. You wouldn't want to do, say, an Infant of Prague golf club. Although that would be cool. You turn the club upside down and it changes its clothes.

Phelps: Yes. Right. Um, we would do that if the customer wanted to pay for the set-up fee. It would be fine to do a small corporate order. It would just take a little longer. The Infant of --

NT: Prague. It's a Catholic thing. You have to change his clothes every couple of months or the pope gets mad or something. Now, I read where your golf clubs are made with a special patented "mystery liquid."

Phelps: Oh, we don't actually know what it specifically is. It's an oil, but we wanted to indicate that it was something other than water. But here's what's exciting: We're also adding glitter to our next order.

NT: No way!

Phelps: Yeah, it looks great. It adds a little sparkly effect for the golfer.

NT: That's so important. Does Tiger Woods use one of these?

Phelps: We haven't been able to get celebrities to use them yet, and we're not really looking for endorsements. There are a lot of athletes and golf pros who are glad to have them, and in fact we're selling so well that we had to stop marketing until we get our next order in.

NT: You ran out of glittery naked lady golf clubs?

Phelps: Not yet, but we would have if we had gone too far with [the promotion]. You know how people want something like this right away, and it will take us a while to get our next order in. We've had to slow down a little bit.

NT: Hey, maybe you could have celebrity versions, with a female pro golfer. Who's a hot woman golfer?

Phelps: (Whispering.) There isn't one!

NT: Oh. I guess that was a stupid question.

Phelps: You don't need a golfer on it. It's meant for guys, even guys who don't golf.

NT: But I'll bet the Putt-Her would be popular with the Dinah Shore crowd. If you know what I mean.

Phelps: With this image on it? I don't know that women would buy it for themselves with a female image on it. I don't know women who buy putters for themselves, anyway. Women don't like to practice.

NT: Fortunately, they seem to like to take their clothes off for photographs. What will feminists say about the Putt-Her?

Phelps: I don't know. I haven't heard from anyone who's opposed to it or offended. Women think it's hilarious. This whole process has been a lot of fun. I've learned a lot about technology and marketing.

NT: And naked ladies!

Phelps: Oh, I already knew about them. They've been around a long time.

E-mail robrt.pela@newtimes.com


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