Green Lake’s “underground” hobby scene picks its top hunk

Who’s got it “going on”? Winston Lionel does, now that he’s been named 2003’s “Sexiest Model Train Enthusiast” by the readers of Hobby and Fetish magazine.

“This award is for all the ladies,” Lionel told the crowd at last week’s award ceremony at the Watering Hole bar in Green Lake. He was presented with a gift certificate at Nudespapers, Appleton’s adult magazine emporium, as well as a model train car with “World’s Greatest Lover” written on the side, courtesy of Mel’s Hobby Parts.

Voting was heavy in the 2003 poll, with Lionel receiving 18 of 30 first place votes cast. “There’s something about the way he places his InterMountain cars that makes me want to be his little caboose,” wrote one Hobby and Fetish reader. Don Washington of Appleton, who won last year’s winner, finished second with 10 first place votes.

Lionel was introduced to model trains, “the world’s greatest hobby,” at age seven by his father, who was a lifelong railroader: “We’d sit down there, dad and me, and paint scenery, build tracks. It was real bonding time for us.” Lionel’s father also introduced him to Green Lake’s underground fetish scene at age twenty-one: “We’d sit at a club, talk trains, get into spanking marathons with the girls. I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh?” The elder Lionel was a perennial contender for the “sexiest” crown, but his best finish was 33rd, as a posthumous honor. “Dad sort of got electrocuted doing something unusual on his train table,” Lionel explains, “but I won’t go into detail. Respect for the dead and all.”

Hobby and Fetish publisher J. Harold Bigfiddle explains that “not everybody fits that stereotype of the mild-mannered train hobbyist. Actually, trains and fetishes are almost the exact same thing. They’re both something you do in your free time, usually in a dark basement, you have to use your hands… to me, the real question is why more people don’t put the two together.” The magazine’s most recent issue gives tips on building a replica of a historic train line in Texas, as well as a bedroom technique called “tunneling under” which this reporter does not care to describe in detail.

More mainstream hobby communities try to downplay the Hobby and Fetish crowd, or preferably ignore it altogether. “Sickos,” mutters Bill Lawrence, known best for writing an eight-word column each week for the Home Trains Weekly newsletter. “Bunch of weirdos.” All major model train suppliers outside Green Lake have denounced the contest as well, isolating the Green Lake County model train community from the rest of the country.

An interesting caveat to winning the title of “Sexiest Model Train Enthusiast” is that the champion must defend the title in model train orgies across the region. “The sexiest model train enthusiast can’t just rest on his laurels and sit around all year,” explains Bigfiddle. “He’s got to be out there showing everybody how he got that title.” For his part, Lionel is anxious to strut his stuff. “This was my lifelong dream, and I’m ready for action,” he says. “I know my dad’ll be up there watching and cheering me on.”

Hobby and Fetish plans to introduce a similar contest for women in 2005, known as the “HO Scale Honeys” contest.

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