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MY SMUT RUNNETH OVER

"Laissez les bon temps rouler!" Translation? "Let the good times roll!"--which just happens to be the official motto of Fat Tuesday, a New Orleans-style bar and restaurant in Tempe that promises customers a virtual Mardi Gras on Mill. But for the past three years, the Atlanta-based chain has unwittingly been sending its customers another message that needs no translation--and one that recently had red-faced execs sputtering, "Pardon our French!" The shocking subliminal message--an invitation to oral sex--is hidden in an illustration that adorns plastic cups used to serve Fat Tuesday's twenty- odd frozen specialty drinks. The offending cup, which depicts a cartoonish scene of a mad scientist creating the bar's 190-octane daiquiri, features a variety of less-than-subliminal "hidden" images of a skull and crossbones, a nude woman, and the word "Help."

Considerably less obvious are the words "Eat me," a phrase artfully stippled upside-down in a cloud of smoke.

Alerted to the suggestive come-on after a customer brought it to the attention of New Times, chain founder Jerome Stuart claimed ignorance. "We are totally caught off guard because we had no idea that this was in there," says Stuart.

The owner of the six-year-old chain claims that to the best of his knowledge the cup has never generated a single complaint--even though the tawdry tumbler has been used sporadically throughout the chain since 1987. Still, he says, "We're concerned about this because we obviously don't want to be sending out any subliminal messages like `Eat Me.'"

So who's responsible for the dirty deed? Stuart points a finger at a former employee of Giacona Container, the New Orleans company that designed and manufactured the cup.

"Giacona Containers does the best printing job in the country on these MD120 Col 1, Depth P54.06 I9.08 cups, and it's a crying shame that they have a renegade artist who would take advantage of his position," grouses Stuart. "Some of these artist-types really can get carried away."--

"Some of these artist-types really can get carried away." The chain has unwittingly been sending customers a message that needs no translation--one that had red-faced execs sputtering, "Pardon our French!

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Dewey Webb