Queen bid didn't turn up roses
By Eric Heyl
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2001,
What Mindy Peskie wanted was to become the University of Pittsburgh's homecoming queen. What she got instead was a photo of herself, topless, circulating through cyberspace.
Funny how things work out sometimes. Or, as Peskie puts it: "Oh, my God! I never expected anything like this would happen. This is totally out of control."
Her strange sojourn began last month, when Peskie, 21, mounted the unsuccessful homecoming queen bid.
Lacking the sorority backing typically necessary to prevail in such elections, the senior communications major from Uniontown, Fayette County decided that drastic measures were in order.
That's where the campaign posters featuring Peskie in risque repose came in.
"I really wanted to do something that would capture the average college student's attention," she explained.
When she posed for the poster, off came her top. Peskie and a friend subsequently altered that photo at a university computer lab, adding two strategically placed roses to preserve a modicum of modesty.
The maneuver ultimately proved futile, however, for the original picture somehow ended up in a public portion of Pitt's computer system. Others apparently could now view - and forward - Peskie's picture without the computer-generated roses in the way.
On the "Whoops!" meter, the needle suddenly jumped into the red.
Pitt is aiding Peskie's attempts to determine exactly how it happened, but she confessed: "I'm really not too good with computers." There appears little reason to doubt her.
As the rose-adorned Peskie campaign posters went up on campus, the photo of the roseless, topless Peskie traveled through university circles and the Internet.
(Now might be a good time to note I became aware of Peskie's plight by reading about it in The Pitt News. Honest.)
Peskie discovered her newfound celebrity status after a call from a mysterious man purporting to be from Wisconsin, who provided a specific adult site on which her photo was located. How thoughtful of him.
"I got on the computer right away and went to this site, and as soon as I pulled it up, there I was," she said. "I was like: 'Oh, my God!'"
Peskie immediately contacted the Web site operators and let them know she had not given permission for the picture to be posted. The photo was removed from the site shortly thereafter.
Peskie, though, is realistic enough to realize that copies of the picture probably have surfaced on other sites, that her image likely is destined to forever float through the Internet.
Has this misadventure made Peskie feel like a bit of a b... - no, that's too easy, even for me. Let's rephrase the question: Does Peskie regret her publicity stunt?
"Yeah, kind of. People said I should have known something like this was bound to happen, but I didn't anticipate things turning out this way. I tried to do something original and fun, and it really backfired."
Peskie, you see, wants to pursue a career in advertising. And this awkward incident has proven she has a certain knack, however unintentionally developed, for product promotion.
Peskie may have lost her bid for homecoming queen and suffered some embarrassing, unforeseen consequences for her efforts. Despite these missteps, I'm sure you'd agree her future seems quite rosy.
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