Funeral strippers crackdown

A “funeral misdeeds” hotline has been set-up in China after a crackdown
on hiring strippers to attract mourners, the state media agency
reports. Five striptease troupe bosses were arrested in east China’s
Jiangsu Province last week after “obscene performances” at a funeral,
the Xinhua agency reported. Strippers were once a common sight at
funerals in the Donghai area, as local villagers believed more mourners
increased the honour of the deceased, it reported.

The crackdown by authorities came after two troupes were invited to
strip off at the funeral of a villager called Liang on August 16, the
report said. The agency said about 200 villagers, including children,
rolled up to Liang’s funeral. Better-off families usually hired two
troupes to make funerals “more bustling”, it said. After the arrests,
local police issued notices banning stripping at funerals and gave a
hotline number for people to report on funeral misdeeds, the report
said. The report said callers to the hotline were in line for a reward
of about $50.…

BEIJING (Reuters) – Striptease send-offs at funerals may become a thing
of the past in east China after five people were arrested for
organizing the intimate farewells, state media reported on Wednesday.
Police swooped last week after two groups of strippers gave “obscene
performances” at a farmer’s funeral in Donghai County, Jiangsu
province, Xinhua news agency said. The disrobing served a higher
purpose, the report noted. “Striptease used to be a common practice at
funerals in Donghai’s rural areas to allure viewers,” it said. “Local
villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more
the dead person is honored.”

Wealthy families often employed two troupes of performers to attract a
crowd. Two hundred showed up at last week’s funeral. Five strippers
were detained and local officials “issued notices concerning funeral
management,” Xinhua said. Now village officials must submit plans for
funerals within 12 hours after a villager dies. And residents can
report “funeral misdeeds” on a hotline, the report said.


4×4 Funeral Services

Alpha 4×4 Funerals offer you the unique opportunity of using the first
Land Rover Hearse and Limousine Service in Great Britain, run by
dedicated Land Rover enthusiasts.

The service is aimed at those who would prefer to take their final
journey in a vehicle that holds special and dear memories for them.
This, coupled with excellent support and guidance for the bereaved,
they will assist families and friends to celebrate the life of a loved
one, by incorporating his or her life’s interests and passions –
enabling the family to pay their respects and add that special
individual touch to the funeral ceremony.

The importance for individuals to have a choice in their funeral
requirements is very much Recognised and acknowledged by Alpha 4×4
Funerals. The Land Rover hearse is suitable for any one, whatever their
faith. It is a statement about the person’s individuality, style, and
who they were.

It is only fitting that not only enthusiasts but people such as
Farmers, Country Folk, Equestrians, World Explorers and Adventurers who
have spent most of their lives driving and working with Land Rovers
should have the opportunity to take their last journey in a vehicle
that some may see as a “Faithful Old Friend” that has served them
well during their lives.

Some say it with flowers, our customers say with Land Rover.

The Zambesi Silver Land Rover Defender Hearse and matching Limousine
are very distinctive and are a fitting tribute for any person looking
to add an individual touch to that final journey.

Our unique role in the Funeral Profession

For professional Funeral Directors wishing to enhance their service we
provide unique and tasteful motorcycle hearses, constructed to UK
funeral industry standards.


ability to sensitively place a little child’s coffin by the rider’s
coach built Industry standard hearses
construction around actual motorbikes
‘experience’ of a last ride by the side of the deceased

Is this British?

As British as it gets. British Designed, Built, Owned and Isle of Man
TT track tested! We do all coach building, engineering and fitting here
in the UK. For our Hayabusa we involved a UK racing team and our
Harleya Rolls Royce hearse builder, which is why some refer to it as
“The Rolls Royce Sidecar.”

Is this unique?

The UK has no other ‘motorcycle’ hearses. Our unique hearse has design
rights with a full British Patent, full US Patent and an International
Patent Pending. No other company offers this service.

The bike to my door?

Our enclosed transporter ensures immaculate arrival and our ability to
get to you with ease. So far to Deal in the South East, Lands End in
the South West, the Scottish Highlands in the North, Wales in the West,
Norfolk in the East and the Isle of Man.

How can I be sure to get the bike I want?

Your Funeral Director needs to check our availability before booking
the crematorium or cemetery. If the funeral cannot wait with a specific
date required with the preferred bike unavailable on that particular
day please ask a question, would the deceased really prefer a Volvo to
one of the other bikes?

Can I sit beside my loved one?

This photograph presents an example of where the deceased’s best friend
sat beside him. This is a unique and sensitive service where mourners
hold onto the flower rail with one hand, thus putting an arm round, and
sometimes lean onto the glass itself. This is an intimate and deeply
personal experience.

“I’ve never been on a motorbike with my Grandma before”
“We were courting on a motorbike and sidecar over fifty years ago”
“We always wanted to get a Harley Together”
“Give it some then”
“He was by my side the whole way”
“I told her I’d get her on a bike with me”  Gentleman referring to his
93 year old mum!
A modern day Shillibeer.

Can a child sit beside the deceased?

On public roads a child’s feet must reach the footrests and a correctly
fitting helmet worn. If the child is too small we can stop at the
cemetery gates and help the child to get on there. We have much
experience to offer on helping children to express themselves

What do you wear?

No matter the weather we wear immaculate, smart and appropriate
motorcycling clothing.  Temperature permitting we do our best to
facilitate requests for a  specific era or style of motorcycling
clothing. On one occasion a football shirt was requested. In all we do
we strive to maintain the dignity.

Can you do The Ton?

Our Hayabusa can do The Ton on a funeral but this has to be carefully
planned, is dependent on finding a suitable place, the law, the weather
and road surfaces. We don’t offer this service on any other bike but a
good burst is of course possible on all of them.

Does the Funeral Director wear a Top Hat?

Our famous incident with Avon and Somerset Police brought this to a
head. Was our motorcycle hearse a motorcycle or a hearse? This forced
our application for a ‘new category of vehicle’ through and the
Government’s DVLA did recognize our vehicle as a ‘2-wheel hearse.’ So
now whether Funeral Directors wear their top hats or not is entirely on
their own heads!

Can you take the service?

Most families use their local Vicar, Priest, Non-Religious Celebrant,
Pagan, Humanist or other. However, two of our riders are ordained
ministers who can take services when available. We are never asked to
wear a collar but always requested to wear our motorcycling clothes.

How did this all start?

After the war a combination was devised to carry the deceased from
battle fields and paupers. This can still be seen at a Norfolk museum.
Although it was attached to a Norton this was basically a crude coffin
on a hinge rather than a professional hearse, considered undignified
and never used.

Amongst motorcyclists in the UK a tradition emerged where the
deceased’s sidecar would be removed so that the coffin could be carried
on the chassis. Sometimes a bereaved friend or family member would lend
their outfit for this purpose.

In the late 1990s a few sidecar chassis adaptations were launched
professionally in Australia. Each had a wooden platform with various
forms of cover. In Australia this proved ideal but with our weather it
was always evident an open deck would not work.

What UK motorcyclists needed was an agile, powerful and tasteful
motorcycle combination for a dry final ride, a literal hearse. This is
why we developed Britain ‘s first and only motorcycle hearses. The
first was launched in 2002.

Did you see William and Mary?

Rev. Paul was consulted for the ‘Biker Funeral’ and ‘The Ton’ sequence
in William and Mary where a send up TV emulation of our unique service
was shown. We now throw a friendly challenge to Mr. Clunes. Next time
you do The Ton use our Hayabusa, with you on pillion!


Fortune Small Business Magazine Feb 05

Coffins to Die For

In Ghana what you do in life determines the style of your burial. The
Ga tribe, located in the country’s capital Accra, models coffins to
reflect their occupants hobbies and occupations from peacocks for bird
lovers to airplanes for pilots. Now five-year-old exporter is giving the burial vessels new life aboveground in
the living rooms of Europe and America. British-born founder Cordelia
Salter-Nour 47, spent two decades in Africa in technology development
before moving to Rome, where she decided to start a company that would
give Ghanaian artisans an escape from exploitive practices. “One artist
we use, Samuel Naah, paid off his apprentice fees with two commissions
from us. Now he has his own business,” says Salter-Nour. Prices range
from $125 for desktop chests to $1250 for six foot models. In 2004,’s sales for all its art exports – including drums,
textiles and jewellery- topped $50,000. – SUE KARLIN


Funeral chic
Colorful coffins convey the deceased’s interests, profession

Eleanor Cooney / October 30, 2002

In Jessica Mitford’s classic “The American Way of Death,” we were
ushered into a hushed and carpeted place where brass and dark mahogany
gleamed, lids rose noiselessly on oiled hinges, creamy silk rustled and
we were ever- so-soothingly separated from our money. Mahogany, or
perhaps we could interest you in oak or teak or brushed steel?

What if you could say, “Gee, I just can’t decide between the big green
fish and the striped spotted lobster with the fabulous long feelers.”
If you were in Fort Bragg, just north of Mendocino, at a shop called
Ananse Village, you could say just that.

The proprietors of this superb African crafts and imports bazaar are
Paa Joe and Rebecca Amissah-Aidoo, and they spend about three months of
every year in Paa Joe’s native Ghana. He comes from a village about 6
miles from the town of Teshi, famous for its artisans who create
fantasy coffins that look as if they came out of a dream.

When I saw the coffins, I assumed I was looking at a manifestation of
an ancient Ghanaian tradition. Not quite. The gorgeous specimens in
Rebecca and Paa Joe’s store are from one of the many workshops whose
lines of apprenticeship go directly back to the inventors of this
funerary art form, two men plenty of people alive today knew and
remember well.

Although it’s true that funerals in Ghana have always been big, noisy,
colorful celebrations of the life of the one who’d died — about as
different from a standard American funeral as a crow from a cockatiel
— the elaborately carved and painted sarcophagi of Teshi were a
mid-20th century phenomenon.

First there was Ata Owoo, born around 1904, a woodworker of legendary
artistry who was known for the custom palanquins he made for village
chiefs. He’d designed and built a magnificent one in the shape of an
eagle for Teshi’s chief to ride in during processionals. A nearby chief
was so impressed with his colleague’s eagle palanquin that he ordered
one for himself, only he wanted his to be shaped like a giant cocoa
pod, a major crop in Ghana.

The chief died before his cocoa pod was finished, but he still got to
ride in it: It was modified into a coffin, and it carried him into the
next world. That was around 1950.

One of Ata Owoo’s most talented young apprentices, a fellow named Kane
Kwei, was powerfully inspired by the chief’s cocoa-pod coffin. When
Kane’s grandmother died in 1951, he built a coffin just for her —
shaped like an airplane. The old lady had never been in a plane, but
she’d seen them in the sky and longed to fly. Thanks to her grandson,
she finally got her airplane ride.

People loved that airplane coffin so much that Kane Kwei understood
that he’d found his true calling. He opened his own shop and started
making custom coffins symbolic of the deceased’s status and worldly
occupation: boats for fleet owners; fish or crabs or lobsters for
fishermen; cows and bulls for breeders; lions and leopards for hunters;
cocoa pods, peppers, green onions or corn cobs for farmers.

Designs evolved quickly, encompassing hobbies and passions, with people
being buried in everything from lizards to locomotives. And nowadays
you can zoom off to the other side in a scaled-down replica of your
favorite Mercedes- Benz (complete with your actual license-plate
number) or perhaps your big shiny truck, or, if you were a pilot, a
miniature jetliner. A guy who repaired outboard motors got a Yamaha 40
complete with propeller, and a mason got a huge trowel with a tall
graceful curving handle. And there’s an eagle coffin, but you really
have to be a chief to merit one of those.

Kane Kwei went to his reward in 1992, but his legacy is vibrantly alive
in the coffin workshops of Teshi.

Paa Joe told me that in Ghana somebody always knows of a funeral
somewhere, and it’s like a big community party. “Soon the word is all
over town,” he said.

“People will be saying things like, ‘Oh, Honey, no need to cook
tonight, let’s go to the funeral.’ ” Better than a party — you get to
eat, drink, dance and cheer up the survivors of the deceased, whether
you knew the person or not.

As Paa Joe put it: “It eases the sorrow to look around and see so many
people still there with you.”

Although throwing a funeral is expensive — sometimes costing the
deceased’s family the equivalent of several years’ wages, including the
price of the coffin — it’s a great investment. Just about everybody
who comes contributes so generously that sometimes the family will
actually come out ahead.

The coffins sold at Ananse Village run $1,500 to $2,500; in Ghana they
might cost $1,000, a major expenditure for the average Ghanaian.

Rebecca said that while a custom coffin is built, bodies are often
frozen — sometimes for quite a spell. “The record had to be the Queen
Mother of Teshi. The different sides of her family argued over her
coffin for two years.”

Finally the government stepped in. The Queen Mother was buried in a
truly unique coffin that was half fish and half bird. And her funeral,
of course, was gigantic. A sendoff fit for a queen.

What if you’re not rich? Paa Joe said there are simple designs —
boats, canoes, books — that are more within the range of most people.
Still, a fantasy coffin is never cheap. The custom is to haggle
vigorously over the price, throw your hands up and pretend to walk out,
get called back inside by the coffin-maker, and so forth. A far cry
indeed from the lugubrious casket showroom death march exposed by

I had to know: What kind of coffin did Kane Kwei get? What design could
possibly do justice to the man? “He got a plain box,” said Paa Joe.
“He’d converted, he was a Methodist, and the church doesn’t like the
fancy coffins.”

One of his apprentices built the coffin. He did put some tasteful but
powerful symbols on each of the four corners of Kane’s coffin: a
hammer, a chisel, a saw and a T-square. The church did not object, and
Kane Kwei went in style.


— Ananse Village, 17800 N. Highway 1, Fort Bragg. (707) 964-3534.

— Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday or by appointment.

— Coffins cost from $1,500 to $2,500. Special orders are welcome. The
store also sells jewelry, cloth, drums, masks, CDs, furniture, baskets,
and objets d’art.

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