Just about the hottest tourist attraction in Washington, D.C., this summer is a sightseeing excursion that highlights the low points of the capital's recent past. Among the stops: the Watergate complex, Gary Hart's townhouse, and the Tidal Basin where the late Rep. Wilbur Mills made news with stripper Fanne Foxe.
Begun last August as a publicity stunt for a local comedy troupe called Gross National Product, Scandal Tours was an instant hit. That surprised everyone, including writer Rick London, who coproduces the tours. "We started getting calls from convention groups and meeting planners," London says, "and all of sudden it struck me that we had started a business."
During the height of the tourist season, it's a pretty good business, too. Customers pay $20 each for a 75-minute voyage on the Scandalimo, a 45-seat European bus. There impressionists act out skits for each scandal on the route. "Judge Douglas Ginsburg" hands out "joints" and talks about the "highest" court in the land. A Marilyn Monroe lookalike belts out "Happy Birthday" to JFK. At the Watergate, "Richard Nixon" and "G. Gordon Liddy" sing "The Way We Were" And at the Old Executive Office Building, "Fawn Hall" waxes poetic about Oliver North and passes out souvenir bags of shredded documents to passengers.
Recently, the tour has been expanded to include The Monocle, once John Tower's favorite watering hole. "We always keep trying to add things," London says. Unfortunately, they never seem to run out of new material.
-- Jay Finegan