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Rubber check

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In this year of safer sex, proper protection carried fashion status. Rappers TLC sported condoms clipped to clothes and slapped over eyeglasses. Liz Taylor clutched a simple sheath on the cover of Vanity Fair. Rubbers also bounced up on episodes of Northern Exposure, Seinfeld, and Love & War, the last of which featured an impassioned question from Jay Thomas to Susan Dey: ”Your condom or mine?” (The Big Three networks, meanwhile, still won’t air commercials for the things.) And, as AIDS cut a lethal swath through the population, everyone from Magic Johnson to Bono educated their fans — some with more inventiveness than others: Magic got the message out in a book and video; Bono preferred the power of Achtung Baby condoms, which became the hottest-selling souvenir on U2’s summer tour. And a gentleman known as The Tube impressed the crowd at the Lollapalooza ’92 tour by snorting a condom through his nose and expelling it from his mouth — then doing it again in reverse, with a skill that might make a lesser man limp with envy.

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