Notorious Phoenix

Written by Keridwen Cornelius, Niki D’Andrea & Craig Outhier Category: Valley News Issue: July 2013
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Afterward, in 1998, he relocated to Cave Creek, ushering a statewide “patch-over” in which members of Arizona’s formerlydominant motorcycle club, The Dirty Dozen, were admitted into the ranks of the HA. He continues to live in Cave Creek, where he’s written six books and produced a movie, Dead in 5 Heartbeats, based on his own novel.

Jodi Arias
Code name: The Mormon Murderess
Occupation: Bartender
Distinguishing Characteristics: Bleach-blonde-bombshell-turned-court-approved-modest-brunette-with-glasses
Summary: After enduring – or maybe enjoying – a “debasing” relationship with motivational speaker and alleged tree fetishist Travis Alexander, compulsive liar Arias stalked him, sliced his throat, stabbed him nearly 30 times, then shot him in the head – in self-defense, she claims. She was convicted of the 2008 murder, but after the jury failed to reach a decision on the sentence, the judge scheduled a penalty phase retrial for July 18.

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Photos - From left: Sonny Barger, Jodi Arias

Photo by Nicolle Clemetson, Illustration by Louisa Bertman



phm0713 notorious4 mdWinnie Ruth Judd
Code name: The Trunk Murderess
Occupation: Medical secretary
Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown bob, flapper dresses, permafrown
Summary: After a jealous spat over Phoenix businessman/philanderer John “Happy Jack” Halloran, Judd murdered her friends Agnes LeRoi and Hedvig Samuelson in 1931. Judd and an accomplice then stuffed LeRoi’s body into a shipping trunk and carefully dismembered Samuelson’s body, placing the head, torso, and calves into a trunk, and the thighs in a small bag and hatbox. Judd fled with her body baggage on a train from Phoenix to L.A., where railroad personnel discovered the corpses due to the offending smell and leaking fluids. She was sent to the State Asylum for the Insane, now the Arizona State Hospital, but escaped six times before being released in 1971.

Wendi Andriano
Code name: The Bar Stool Killer
Occupation: Apartment manager
Distinguishing characteristics: Mousiness
Summary: After her allegedly abusive husband, Joseph, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the adulterous mother of two believed she could collect money from a medical malpractice suit. So, in October 2000, she overkilled Joseph by poisoning him with pesticide, bludgeoning him 23 times with a barstool, and stabbing him in the neck. She’s currently on death row.

Brandi Hungerford
Aliases: Eden, Tiara
Occupation: Escort/stripper
Distinguishing Characteristics: Distinct lack of stealthiness (told friends about the planned robbery, failed to disguise herself in multiple security videos, failed to wipe off fingerprints from hotel hair dryer and key card left in room)
Summary: After a few failed attempts to rob Empire Auto Glass owner and jeweler Rick Chance, Hungerford lured him to a Tempe Best Western in 2002 to drug him and steal his jewelry. Her boyfriend, exotic dancer Robert Lemke, instead shot and killed Chance. The pair fled to Washington, but a gold mine of evidence left behind – including the murder weapon, which had been “hidden” in a pizza box and given to Lemke’s friend – led to their arrests.

Susan and Rachel Brock
Alias: Timmy Turner (a name Susan used while sexting)
distinguishing characteristics: Cougar-in-the-headlights expression (Susan); hoodies (Rachel)
Summary: The wife and daughter, respectively, of former Maricopa County Supervisor Fulton Brock were seemingly devout Mormons, but Susan had her lecherous eye on the 11-year-old son of her friend and started to gain his trust by buying him gifts. Her then-18-year-old daughter Rachel began a sexual relationship with the boy when he was 13. Susan subsequently molested him between the time he was 14 and 17, all while buying him numerous presents, including iPhones and assault rifles. In 2011, Susan was sentenced to 13 years in prison; Rachel received 10 years’ probation.

Debra Milke
Code Name: The Denier
occupation:  Insurance company secretary
distinguishing characteristics: Soft voice, ambiguously innocent expression
Summary: In 1989, Debra and her 4-year-old son, Christopher, moved in with Jim Styers, who later took Christopher to Metrocenter Mall and claimed the boy disappeared. During a missing person investigation, police arrested Styers’ friend Roger Scott, who led police to Christopher’s body; he had been shot three times in the head. Scott allegedly told the lead detective, Armando Saldate Jr., that Styers killed the boy because Milke “wanted it done.” (Scott later refused to testify against Milke.) Saldate interrogated Milke alone, without setting up a tape recorder, and she confessed to soliciting Christopher’s murder, the detective reported. Milke was sentenced to death in 1990, but her conviction was overturned this past March due to the dubious confession allegedly obtained by Saldate, who had a history of lying under oath.

Point Guard: Muhammad Ali
In his boxing heyday, the longtime Paradise Valley resident fed incendiary, headline-grabbing quotes to journalists like alley-oop dunks. Defending his decision to seek conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War, the Muslim convert dropped a zinger for the ages: “No Viet Cong ever called me a nigger.”

Small Forward: Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu
Though he has yet to play a down for the Arizona Cardinals, the former LSU cornerback and Heisman finalist arrives in the Valley with unbeatable notorious bona fides, having failed more than 10 drug tests in college. Our high-flying, above-the-rim swing man.

“Shooting” Guard: Barry Bonds
Hard to believe the bulked-up baseball pariah was once a fleet, 185-pound centerfielder for the ASU Sun Devil baseball team. Behold: the miracle of a high protein diet.

Power Forward: Mark Grace
Like any effective post-player, the former Diamondbacks slugger – and two-time DUI convictee – spends a lot of time on the line. Now if he could only walk it straight.

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Photos - Clock-wise from top left
Photos courtesy Arizona State University Libraries, department of Archives & special collections

Center: Mike Tyson
For an intimidating presence in the middle, you can’t do better than Paradise Valley’s pigeon-raising ex-heavyweight champ. Is he more notorious for the Maori tattoo on his face, or the lingering aftertaste of Evander Holyfield’s ear? Discuss.

phm0713 notorious6 mdHead Coach: Charles Barkley
Perhaps the most beloved figure in Phoenix sports history, Sir Charles is also no stranger to controversy, from his “I’m not a role model” quote to the time he got popped for DUI after boozing it up with TV über-nerd Steve Urkel and told an employee at the East Valley DUI Task Force that if it would get him out of the DUI, “I’ll tattoo your name on my ass.” And, yet, we’d still vote for him if he ran for governor. How does he do that?


phm0713 notorious8 mdDon Bolles:
Every cub journalist knows the story of Bolles – the Arizona Republic reporter who was fatally wounded in a car bomb attack in June 1976 outside the Hotel Clarendon in Phoenix. Ultimately pinned on Phoenix contractor Max Dunlap, who maintained his innocence until dying in prison in 2009, the murder elevated Bolles – who specialized in uncovering influence-peddling and land fraud – to somewhat mythic status in the Valley’s media community. The Arizona Press Club’s investigative journalism award is named after the late scribe.

Pete’s Fish and Chips Owner:
Besides the flaky fried cod that has made his local chain of fast food restaurants a Valley favorite for more than six decades, Pete Grant Jr. had one great passion in life: precious coins. And coins, ultimately, proved his undoing. In December 1987, an acquaintance named James Karis shot Grant to death in his Phoenix apartment and absconded with his $30,000 rare coin collection. Grant Jr.’s daughters reported the theft to Coin World magazine, and a Scottsdale coin dealer who read the article called police when Karis attempted to sell several distinctive Pete’s 25th anniversary rounds to him six weeks later. Karis was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.

Emil “Mal” Vaci:
What do Arcadia-area fine dining haunt Crudo and the Martin Scorsese organized crime saga Casino have in common? As it turns out, not much – but authorities once suspected Chicago mobster Anthony “The Ant” Spilotro, reportedly the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s squeaky-voiced sociopath in the movie, for the 1986 murder of Vaci, a maitre d’ at now-defunct Phoenix eatery Ernesto’s Backstreet. Spilotro was found dead in a shallow grave in the Midwest a week after the murder. And Ernesto’s Backstreet? Resurrected first as Backstreet Wine Salon, then as Crudo.

phm0713 notorious9 mdBob Crane:
Probably the most famous of the Valley’s infamous murder victims, Hogan’s Heroes star Crane was a sex addict and videophile whose sad, dissolute lifestyle was later chronicled in the Greg Kinnear-fronted biopic Auto Focus. He was performing in Scottsdale dinner theater at the time of his bludgeoning death in 1978. A jilted enabler named John Carpenter was tried for the murder but found not guilty, and the case remains officially unsolved.

Buddhist Temple Victims:
Six Buddhist monks, a nun and a pair of acolytes were senselessly murdered at the Wat Promkunaram Temple in Waddell in August 1991 – an act of savagery made doubly notorious by the staggering ineptitude of the investigation that followed it. Acting on a tip from a Tucson mental patient, authorities coerced false confessions from four innocent men before finally snaring the real killers, a pair of West Valley teenagers who hoped to steal the temple’s nonexistent “gold Buddha.”

Think you can tell the difference between real, what-were-they-smoking-type bills proposed by the Arizona Legislature and a few we made up ourselves? Find out with this handy quiz.

1. SB 1892: Makes it a felony to use harsh or demeaning language toward a handgun or other small firearm. Also known as the Preserve Firearm Dignity Act.

2. SB 1202: Guns in bars? Sure, but don't drink.

3. SB 1507: Forbids government entities in Arizona from adopting any sustainability, resource-management or poverty-eradication program if an obscure, non-binding United Nations resolution dating back to 1992 adopted
it first.

4. SB 1307: To prevent the secret British practice of creating “chimeras” or a possible Planet of the Apes scenario, the bill bans the genetic engineering of human-animal hybrids as well as human cloning.

5. SB 5950: No municipality shall use taxpayer dollars to “fund a planet-destroying superweapon, like the one in Star Wars.”

6. SB 1024: Before qualifying for the Arizona ballot, presidential candidates must submit a valid birth certificate to the Arizona Secretary of State, who will use his or her keen forensic skills to determine whether the document is legit.

7. SB 1112: Bars civil litigation against pro-life-minded obstetricians and family doctors who place pregnant women in “safety bubbles” for the duration of their
pregnancies, so long as they update the woman’s family with daily proof-of-life photos via cell phone.

8. SB 1045: Protects business owners from potential lawsuits for forbidding transgendered people from using a bathroom designated for any gender other than their birth gender.

9. HB 2455: Forces municipalities that hold gun buyback programs – designed to take guns off the street – to resell the guns, thereby putting them back on the street.

Real bills: 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9


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Dale Hausner & Sam Dieteman
The serial shooters that terrorized the Valley at the same time as the Baseline killer had a name for their murderous spree: Random Recreational Violence, or “RVing.” Late at night, the pair cruised the near-empty streets of Phoenix, gunning down lone people and animals like they were nothing more than video game avatars. “I love shooting people in the back; it’s so much fun,” Hausner told Dieteman during a wiretapped conversation. All told, they would murder six people and injure more than two dozen people and animals. Dieteman is serving life in prison, while Hausner is on death row.

phm0713 notorious10 mdMark Goudeau aka The Baseline Killer
August 6: Goudeau molests two teen girls near Baseline Road.  
September 9: Goudeau shoots and kills Georgia Thompson, 19, outside her Tempe apartment.
September 20: Goudeau sexually assaults two sisters near Baseline Road.
September 28: Goudeau kidnaps and sexually assaults a mother and daughter.
November 3: Goudeau robs a store, abducts a woman and sexually assaults her.
November 7: Goudeau robs two restaurants and a woman.
December 12: Goudeau takes Tina Washington, 39, from a Tempe bus stop and shoots her to death.

February 20: Goudeau kills Romelia Vargas, 38, and Mirna Palma Roman, 24, at their West Valley lunch wagon.
March 14: Goudeau abducts and kills Chao Chou, 23, and Liliana Sanchez Cabrera, 20.
April 4: The body of Kristina Gibbons, 26, is found. Police believe Goudeau killed her on March 29.
April 10: Goudeau shoots an acquaintance, Sophia Nunez, 37, in her bathtub.
May 1: Goudeau abducts a woman and sexually assaults her.
June 29: Goudeau abducts and kills Carmen Miranda, 37.
September 6: Goudeau is arrested and later sentenced to death.

Jason Todd “J.T.” Ready
J.T. Ready wanted to eradicate what he believed were the criminal elements destroying America. So what shall we make of the fact that he took his own life? Ready took great pains to cloak himself in American patriotism but seemed to overshoot the wardrobe department by a continent and a half-century, emerging with Nazi Germany jackboots. His personal slogan was “The purity of the Aryan race is the most precious resource nature has to offer all of humankind.” At a rally outside the Arizona capitol, he posed smilingly with a poster of Hitler. He posted things on neo-Nazi forums like, “Stop Negroid immigration and integration now!!!” He appeared in a video announcing, “I firmly believe in having a minefield across the border.” He joined the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, patrolling the Arizona desert with assault rifles and announcing to an interviewer that if his group of vigilantes came across undocumented border-crossers, “We’ll kill them.” He became a committeeman for the Maricopa County Republicans and president of the Mesa Community College Republican Party Club. He campaigned for the Arizona House of Representatives, the Mesa City Council, and Pinal County sheriff. But his instability and predilection for violence culminated on May 2, 2012 when, following an argument in their Gilbert home, he shot and killed his girlfriend, Lisa Mederos, 47; her daughter, Amber, 23; Amber’s daughter, Lilly, 1; and Amber’s fiancé, Jim Hiott, 24. Ready then shot himself.

phm0713 notorious13 mdRobert Fisher
Wanted: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of Robert Fisher, who allegedly shot his wife and slit their two children’s throats before blowing up their Scottsdale home in 2001. It’s believed the avid hunter and fisherman first fled to a remote location in the Tonto National Forest and may still be in Arizona. But hundreds of leads over the years have all been red herrings, and authorities are still searching for a tobacco-chewing loner with ramrod posture and a gold crown on his upper left bicuspid.


phm0713 notorious15 mdFrom recalls to secession proposals to Obama-defying forefingers, the last decade has been a wild one for Phoenix politics – elevating Arizona’s profile to both the delight and derision of its citizens. Charting our national notoriety:

Jan. 2003: Governor Jane Hull – whose term was rocked by the alt-fuel scandal of 2000 that cost Arizona $200 million – vacates the office after losing the general election to Governor-elect Janet Napolitano.

Jan. 2004: A resolution empowering Arizona to dissolve the federal government and secede from the Union passes committee. Authored by State Rep. Karen Johnson (Mesa-R), the resolution dies on the floor.

Sept. 2006: State officials unveil the 9/11 Memorial in Arizona, inscribed with perceived anti-U.S. slogans such as “You Don’t Win Battles of Terrorism with More Battles” that inflame conservative pundits.

March 2009: The Department of Justice notifies Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that it will launch an investigation into the MCSO for civil rights violations.

Dec. 2009: Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon reveals his romantic relationship with fundraiser Elissa Mullany; critics later note that Mullany drew $140,000 from various mayoral kitties despite doing very little fundraising.

April 2010: In quick succession, Arizona signs SB 1070 into law, passes (then vetoes) the “Birther bill” and ratifies legislation to allow concealed firearms without a permit.

April 2010: Funnyman/faux newsman Jon Stewart calls Arizona “the meth lab of democracy.”

Sept. 2010: After an excruciatingly long silence during a gubernatorial debate on the PBS show Horizon, Jan Brewer proves she don’t need no education: “We have did what was right for Arizona.”

April 2011: Senator Jon Kyl erroneously states that abortion is “90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” (The actual figure is 3 percent.) His camp defends his remark by clarifying that truth-telling is not how Kyl rolls: “His remark was not intended to be a factual statement.”

July 2011: Six months after the brutal shootings in Tucson, State Senator Lori Klein playfully points her raspberry pink handgun at Arizona Republic reporter Richard Ruelas on the statehouse floor.

Nov. 2011: Senate President and SB 1070 firebrand Russell Pearce loses a recall vote to fellow Mesa Republican Jerry Lewis.

Jan. 2012: Finger-gate (above).

May 2012: Arpaio dispatches an envoy to Hawaii to investigate President Obama’s birth certificate; he later says, “I cannot in good faith report to you that these documents are authentic.”

June 2012: Former State Rep. Richard Miranda, a Democrat whose district was in the West Valley, is sentenced to 27 months in prison for stealing thousands of dollars from two local nonprofits that support Latinos.

March 2013: In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, the Arizona Senate passes SB 1325, allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns.

May 2013: Despite President Obama’s reluctance to get more involved in the Syrian conflict, Senator John McCain – an advocate for arming the Syrian rebels – sneaks into Syria and has a secret meeting with leaders of the Free Syrian Army.

Heart Attack Grill:
It’s a counterintuitive business model – potentially killing your customers – but it’s one that’s attracted a raft of sadomasochistic eaters, as well as the merely die-curious. At the hospital-themed eatery, which originally opened in Chandler, waitresses dressed as nurses issue hospital-style wrist tags to customers listing their order, and “patients” who finish a three-patty triple-bypass burger or four-patty quadruple bypass burger (10,000-plus calories, not including “flatliner fries”) are taken to their vehicle in a wheelchair. Encouraging the obese to push the limits of atherosclerosis, customers who weigh more than 350 pounds eat for free. The restaurant’s 575-pound spokesman, Blair River, died at age 29 in 2011. Following the PR fiasco, the eatery could go only one place: Vegas. At the new location, a customer had a heart attack while eating a triple-bypass burger; a woman collapsed while simultaneously eating a double-bypass burger, smoking, and drinking a margarita; and the new unofficial spokesman died at 54 of... a heart attack.

The Deuce
From the 1920s to the early 1970s, this squalid mosaic of flophouses, porn theaters and dive bars served as Downtown’s skid row. Stretching north from the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks to Van Buren along Second Street, it was a whoring-and-gambling hotspot during Prohibition, and dirt-cheap paddock for the unskilled produce laborers who worked near the tracks. Today, it’s where you go to see Suns games.

Bucket of Blood
A vestige of the Valley’s segregated past, this poverty-chewed slum covered the southwest side of Phoenix from the warehouse district to the city dump in the days when African-Americans were generally discouraged from migrating north of Van Buren. Water and power was scant, and so was medical care until the founding of St. Monica’s Hospital in 1944.

ZIP codes with the most resident sex offenders.
85007: 205
85006: 122
85009: 97

Polyamory ringmaster Tanya Rathjen held “My Secret House” swingers parties in her 6,500-square-foot Chandler home until authorities put the kibosh on her operation in 2012.

Auto-theft Mecca
The West Valley town of El Mirage boasted the Valley’s highest auto theft rate in 2011, with 1,309 thefts per 100,000 residents, according to

The Coochie Corridor
Once a popular destination for winter visitors, the Van Buren Avenue strip between 16th and 44th streets became such an infamous hive of hour motels and prostitution that a local photographer published a book about it: The Hookers on Van Buren.

Party Down
The Galleria district in Old Town Scottsdale has become the Valley’s main locus for Mardi Gras-style nightlife mayhem, with myriad incidents over the past year, including the infamous squad-car-defecation incident involving actor Jason London.

Desert Divas
It was a VIP list nobody wanted to be on. In August 2008, Phoenix police starting arresting people in connection to a high-priced prostitution organization stretching from Phoenix to Albuquerque known as Desert Divas. Men paid upwards of $375 per visit with the “divas,” and meetings took place at homes and hotels like the Arizona Biltmore, The Phoenician, and The Boulders. The company’s books boasted more than 3,000 Johns, including some funny pseudonyms (“Phil Donahue”) and quasi-prominent folk like Charles Jensen, founder of GOP-flavored confab Politics on the Rocks, but ultimately nobody as “winning” as Charlie Sheen in Heidi Fleiss’ little black book. More than 50 people were arrested, including Arizona Desert Divas ringleader Paul Nichty, who was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and seven years probation in 2010. Phoenix radiologist Ross Levatter was convicted of financing the Albuquerque operation and sentenced to three years in prison and five years probation.

Phoenix Goddess Temple
Before being raided as a suspected brothel in 2011, the temple was touted as a place to attain blessings of “sexual wisdom” and express “sacred sexuality,” with the aid of women who allegedly specialized in healing arts like “prostate healing” and “sacred cacao ceremony” for suggested (and mostly mandatory) “donations” from $204 to $650. The sex church, set in a building off 24th Street and Thomas Road, was shuttered after the raid, which resulted in more than 30 arrests and charges of pandering, money laundering, and illegal control of enterprise. The defendants, including “Temple Mother” Tracy Elise, go to trial this October.

phm0713 notorious16 mdErnesto Miranda
The fact that Ernesto Miranda has been overshadowed by the rights that share his name might lead one to say, “Oh, poor lamb, the cops didn’t read him his rights. I’m sure he was really a nice fellow who fell victim to the heavy hand of justice.” No, he was a chronic schmuck. The Mesa boy was convicted of burglary both as an eighth-grader and high school freshman. A month after doing his time in reform school, he was charged with rape and assault. After doing his time in jail, he was promptly put back in for sex offenses. He joined the army but went AWOL several times, was charged with being a peeping Tom, and was dishonorably discharged. Then he stole a car. In March 1963, he was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and raping a teenager. He was identified in a lineup and interrogated, then confessed three times: verbally, in a written statement that asserted he was making the statement voluntarily, and by positively identifying the victim. But no one informed him of his right to be silent or to have an attorney. He was imprisoned but appealed two years later; in a landmark decision, the court ruled his rights had been violated. He was tried again, his common-law wife testified against him, and the jury determined – surprise, surprise – he had committed the crime. He was sentenced to jail; after his release, he was killed in a knife fight in Kingman.

Giovanni Vigliotto
It presumably wasn’t the flaccid jowls, aquiline nose and Billy Joel pompadour, but something about Giovanni Vigliotto made women love him. Maybe it was the flowers he bought them, charmingly taped to cases of beer. Or that he listened to their problems, and told them he was a Sicilian-born Mafioso who escaped Nazi Germany, fought in the Greek and British armies, and joined the CIA before pursuing his dream of becoming an ocean liner-owning cowboy. Whatever the reasons, 105 women married Vigliotto, and he never divorced any of them, putting him in the Guinness Book of World Records for most prolific polygamist of all time. His idea of a honeymoon was convincing his new bride to sell her home and pack all her possessions and thousands of dollars in a U-Haul, then fleeing in said U-Haul, never to return. He was captured after his 105th wife, Patricia Ann Gardiner of Mesa, chased him around the country. In 1983, he was tried in the Maricopa County Courthouse and sentenced to 28 years in prison. He died eight years later of a brain hemorrhage.


phm0713 notorious17 mdFrank Lloyd Wright

In addition to constructing some of the country’s most notable structures, Wright built quite a reputation as a philanderer. During his 20-odd-year marriage to his first wife, Catherine, Wright became known as a playboy. In 1903, while building a home for his friend and neighbor, Edwin Cheney, Wright fell in love with Edwin’s wife, Mamah. Wright and Mamah left their spouses and children in 1909 and traveled to Europe, but Catherine refused to give Wright a divorce. After the adulterous couple returned four years later to Taliesin, in Wisconsin, a deranged servant set fire to the house and murdered seven people, including Mamah and her children, with an axe. Weeks later, and still married to Catherine, Wright began a relationship with Maude “Miriam” Noel. Catherine finally granted Wright a divorce in 1922, and he married Miriam in 1923. Their tempestuous relationship and her morphine addiction led to their separation in 1924. Soon after, Wright began a relationship with soon-to-be divorced dancer Olgivanna Lazovich Hinzenburg. Miriam filed for divorce in 1925, but the bitter proceedings took two years to finalize. Olgivanna and Wright were married in 1928 and remained married, living part-time at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, until his death in Phoenix in 1959.

Paolo Soleri
When it comes to famous artists, the line between model/sex object/lover has always been of a blurry, watercolor nature. Take eco-architect Soleri, who, as an octo- and nonagenarian, advertised for women between the ages of 21 and 40 to model nude while he sketched them for 80 minutes. They would not be paid but would get one sketch of themselves for free. While at least two women on an online forum said their experiences posing au naturel for the Arcosanti visionary were “not creepy” and “beautiful,” writer Margie Goldsmith’s session ended with Soleri asking, “May I have the privilege of kissing your nipples?