MARSHFIELD, WI–A purple neon light bordering the license plate of Marshfield 20-year-old Doug Hoechst helped him lure a potential mate Saturday.

The illuminated, female-attracting license plate frame.

The stylish, luminescent automotive accessory, which Hoechst affixed to the rear of his 1990 Pontiac Firebird Formula in July, attracted the attention of fellow motorist Michelle Kopecke, 19, ultimately leading to the exchange of pager numbers.

"I was cruising up and down The Strip when I noticed this chick checking me out," said Hoechst, an oil-change specialist with Kwik-Lube in Marshfield. "We started to tailgate each other and race a little bit–nothing too serious. But then, when we were both stopped at the intersection by the Country Kitchen, she rolled down her window and yelled, 'Where'd you get that rad purple light?' Within an hour, I had digits. The glowing neon had done its job."

Kopecke, a Spencer native who had traveled nine miles to neighboring Marshfield in order to "find something to do" Saturday, was accompanied by fellow Spencer High School graduates Amanda Rutt and Christine Combs. The group had been circling the mile-long stretch of Central Avenue between the Rainbow Foods near the water tower and Lutz Funeral Home for nearly two hours before Kopecke spotted the neon light.

"When I saw that glowing license-plate frame, it was clear that this was someone cool enough to be a potential sexual partner," Kopecke said. "I was determined to meet the owner of that neon frame."

Once initial contact was made, Kopecke tailed Hoechst in her parents' 1988 Buick LeSabre for nearly 20 minutes, flashing her headlights and honking several times to indicate her interest. As an additional sign of her attraction, Kopecke instructed Combs, seated in the passenger seat, to throw a paper cup at Hoechst's car as he passed.

After an extended period of intermittent lane-changing and banter at stoplights, Hoechst and Kopecke took their courtship ritual to the next phase, pulling their respective cars into a Hardee's parking lot.

"Michelle said to me, 'Yeah, I'm still wondering where you got that neon light. It's pretty fucking cool.' I said thanks and told her where I bought it," Hoechst said. "We talked for a while more until the Hardee's manager told us we had to leave the parking lot if we weren't going to eat there. So I got Michelle's number and split. "

Added Hoechst: "I'm definitely going to call her in a few days. I don't usually go for Spencer girls, but she's pretty hot."

Hoechst explained that the purple neon light functions as a "sexual magnet," distinguishing him from other rival males in the eyes of women.

"Let's face it," Hoechst said, "I'm not the only desirable guy around here with an acid-washed denim jacket, bi-level hairstyle, 8- to 15-year-old American sports car and summer job at the feed mill. For chicks to see that I'm special, I've got to have the little extras."

The plate frame, purchased at a Marshfield-area Champion Auto Supply, is just one of the many upgrades Hoechst has made to his car to help him stand out among a crowded field of local males. He recently added a larger rear-end spoiler to his car, as well as a three-foot-wide rear-window decal bearing the slogan "Fear This" rendered in intimidatingly jagged type. Hoechst also recently filed an application with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for vanity plates reading, "2FAST4U."

Said Hoechst: "It's the extra details, like a car horn that plays the Star Spangled Banner, a flamed-out paint job, or a shag-carpeted, Playboy-logo-embossed steering-wheel cover, that separate the guys who only get to second base from the ones who get all the way to third."