October 04, 2002

Putting the FUN back in

"The Lighter Side of Funerals" c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 23, 2002

It's widely understood that there's very little to laugh about when it comes to death and funerals. Traditionally, funerals are somber affairs, with all sorts of weeping and emotional memorial tributes.

According to a Sept. 17 Reuters news item out of Rome, Italy, however, there are apparently some enterprising individuals determined to put the fun back in funeral.

To quote the article, death is hardly something to look forward to, but one Italian funeral home is trying to make the afterlife a tad more tempting by using bikini-clad women to sell its coffins. Cisa srl, a Rome-based funeral home and coffin factory, features its hand-crafted caskets alongside models sipping champagne or reclining seductively on the lids.

Now, when I first read this story, I could scarcely believe it. So, I logged onto the Cisa Web site to see for myself. I assure you, my desire to peruse the site had everything to do with journalistic curiosity and nothing to do with my desire to see bikini-clad women sipping champagne and reclining seductively.

Lo and behold, with a couple clicks of the mouse, I was confronted with exquisitely carved coffins complemented by women wearing next to practically beckoning me to the afterlife.

One casket, called the Madonna, includes brilliantly chiseled features and perfect flowing curves. And the casket really isn't that bad either.

Upon closer inspection, it was revealed that the images of female models are, in fact, superimposed over photos of the caskets.

With a little more journalistic sleuthing, I discovered that at least one model, Asia Carrera, is a big name in the adult film industry. I won't say exactly how I uncovered this tidbit of information. Suffice it to say, it was some of the most fulfilling research I've ever done in my entire life.

"We wanted to make the whole idea of picking your coffin less serious, maybe even make people laugh a bit," Giuseppe Tenara, one of the partners, said.

I don't know if Cisa's unique casket marketing strategy will be successful, but if it is, I'm relatively certain the enterprise will ensure a long line of happy stiffs, er, customers. Then again, I could be wrong. Still, not all clients have been charmed.

"Some people are scandalized, but we just explain that we're trying to make people laugh," Tenara said.

For those corpses that really want to see the world rather than scantily clad women, we turn to yet another Sept. 17 Reuters article, this time out of San Jose, Calif.

The body of a California man headed for burial in his native Mexico mistakenly ended up in Greece and weeping relatives only discovered the mix-up when they opened the casket and found a stranger inside.

Now, this is no minor-league misplacement of Delta Airlines luggage. In this columnist's opinion, a mix-up such as this requires a monumental level of incompetence.

BAGGAGE HANDLER #1: So, anyway, Chuck. There I was in a traffic jam yesterday when this one guy cuts me off. I was so mad, I got out of my car and. . .

BAGGAGE HANDLER #2: Whoa! Hold on, Tony! Did you check the destination on that casket? I think it's supposed to go to Mexico, not Greece.

BAGGAGE HANDLER #1: Greece. Mexico. What's the difference? So, anyway, I got out of my car and. . .

Delta spokeswoman Peggy Estes said on Monday the airline was conducting an investigation to determine whether proper procedures for transporting human remains were followed.

I haven't really been brushing up on my procedures for transporting human remains, but I'm pretty sure that, if a body ends up half-a-world away from its intended destination, someone took some liberties with the procedures somewhere along the line.

Or, perhaps the wayward corpse was once heard to say during his living years that "I'll journey to Greece over my dead body."

Then again, maybe, just maybe, he had heard that there's some pretty racy coffins in Italy.

I guess we'll never know. But will Shakira know? Here's a list of celebrities in the hopes I boost my Web traffic. Sarah Chalke. Sarah Chalke. Ciara. Carrie Underwood. Carrie Underwood. Catherine Zeta Jones. Catherine Zeta Jones. Alison Angel. Dawson Miller. Raylene Richards. Sarah Chalke. Sarah Chalke.

Posted by Ryan at October 4, 2002 11:47 AM
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