Sunday, August 3, 2003

Bottled water for the winners

Heinola, Finland -- Braving 230-degree heat, a dozen men and women sweated in wooden cubicles Saturday as long as they could stand it, aiming to grab the Sauna World Championship title in southern Finland.

With a time of 13 minutes, Belorussian Natalia Trifanova won the Sauna Queen title under the watch of doctors and judges, beating out local favorite Annikki Peltonen.

"I'm pink but happy," beamed Trifanova, 36, a music teacher from Minsk.

The men's winner, Timo Kaukonen, a Finn from nearby Lahti, lasted 16 minutes, 15 seconds.

About 3,000 spectators cheered wildly as participants, pictured above, sat in wide-windowed hexagonal saunas on the stage of an outdoor theater in Heinola.

'Drunken master' to aid tourism

Hong Kong -- Action film star Jackie Chan is starring in a television commercial that will be broadcast around the world in a bid to revive tourism in Hong Kong after the SARS outbreak.

The Hong Kong-born star won't perform any of his trademark daredevil stunts in the commercial, the city's Tourism Board said Saturday.

Hong Kong business leaders estimate the SARS outbreak earlier this year cost the city $4 billion to $6 billion in retail trade and businesses.

Television viewers in the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada will see Chan's commercial in the coming weeks.

Glove not included

Tokyo -- Japanese businessmen will be able to cast off their ties and dress like Michael Jackson with a new lineup of suits planned for next spring.

"You know those clothes Michael wears on the stage? They won't quite be that wild because we do have to sell in bulk to regular people," Junichi Ota, spokesman for clothing maker Wakita Co., said Thursday. "No glove either."

The company, based in Gifu, central Japan, signed an agreement with a Singapore-based agent to use the "MJ" logo, photographs and other designs evocative of the singer, he said.

The suits will sell for about $480, slightly more than other Wakita suits.

Armani accessories included

New York -- Giorgio Armani has a new muse: Barbie.

Armani has created a strapless, silk chiffon top and crepe skirt embellished with dark beads and covered with sparkle tulle for the 11 1/2-inch doll. Both pieces are taupe. An evening purse, also in taupe crepe and dripping with beads, a matching necklace and earrings complete the outfit.

But couture fashion doesn't come cheap. The price of the limited-edition Armani Barbie, due in stores in September: $134.99.

The designer is donating royalties to charity.