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AUGUST 16 & 17

Trish, my new roommate, sat on the living-room floor, a dusty cardboard box balanced on her lap. “Hey, do you want to see my doll collection?” she asked. “Jesus Christ,” I thought, “I’ve moved in with a doll collector.” I half expected her to hang decorative wicker hats on the walls and call it interior design. “Sure.” I smiled. Beaming, Trish introduced me to each doll as if they were her old college roommates: a Russian doll in a native ensemble, a porcelain-faced nun complete with green-glass rosary and white underwear, a ’50s Elvis figurine in a pink jacket posed in front of a mike stand. “Oh yeah, and here’s Cock-Ring Ken,” she said as she nonchalantly handed me Barbie’s best boy, clad in a purple pleather vest, matching mesh shirt, earring in his left ear, and what appeared to be a cock-ring dangling from a silver chain around his neck. “When did Mattel make Ken so into leather?” I asked, wondering if Barbie was now a little too vanilla for her boyfriend’s sexual requests. “Actually,” Trish explained, “it’s ‘Earring Magic Ken.’” Mattel, in an effort to update Ken for the ’90s, supplied him unwittingly with the studly accouterments to entice GI Joe out of the closet. Once the gay community celebrated the introduction of what appeared to be a homosexual doll, Mattel pulled it from toy-store shelves. Today, Cock-Ring Ken is worth over $70. Barbie and her other playmates can be found during the expo from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at the Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW. $7.50 (benefits Children’s National Medical Center). (800) 800-2327. (Elisa Nader)