Fear and Loathing in Tampa

From cash-hungry strippers to protesters dressed as vaginas, your gonzo guide to the Republican National Convention

"Florida is such a huge piece of the pie in terms of national elections," Mandvi says. "So it becomes a kind of lightning rod for all kinds of political energy. There is a reason why the Republicans are having the convention in Tampa this year."

He pauses before offering another explanation for the locale of next week's event: "You can't ignore the fact that the Republicans are coming and having their convention in the city that has the best strip clubs in the world."

In five years on the campaign trail, Mandvi has learned what to expect from moments like the RNC. In Tampa, there will be a vastly different scene from the one at the Dems' convention in Charlotte.

"The DNC felt like just a big frat party, with kegs and people having a great time and dancing. The after-parties were all video games," he says of the 2008 convention in Denver. "Then the parties at the RNC always seemed to be debutante balls, with ice sculptures and women in ball gowns."

In Florida, The Daily Show won't struggle for material. Just ask executive producer Rory Albanese, who has helped coordinate coverage of six past conventions.

"A lot of that is just because it looks like America's penis," he says of Florida. "We didn't invent that. If it was Long Island, like I'm from, we wouldn't be a very well-hung country."

The Tampa convention also dovetails with two of The Daily Show's most recurring themes: the mainstream media's failings and money's ever-expanding role in politics.

"We all love watching CNN during debates or on election night," Albanese says. "It's like they have Q from the James Bond movies in the basement saying: 'OK, Anderson [Cooper], here is the new jet pack. You're going to be flying around the studio.' What weird piece of technology will CNN have spent $50 million on and have no need for tonight?"

In May, The Daily Show's close cousin, The Colbert Report, poked fun at a mysterious South Floridian named Josue Larose for forming more than 600 PACs and 64 Super PACs, supposedly representing everyone from supermodels to Taco Bell customers.

As usual, Comedy Central's pranks hint at a deeper, darker truth. For months, the Tampa area has been flooded with political attack ads by shady, well-financed Super PACs, says Mayor Buckhorn. On a national scale, these anonymous expenditures could decide the election.

"There is so much political advertising coming through here, none of which is saying anything nice about anybody. And that's true of both sides," he says.

For a moment, Buckhorn sounds almost as cynical as Mandvi peeking behind the political curtain and finding nothing but frat boys drinking and screwing.

"The ads are just nonstop," he admits. "It's gotten to the point where we see so much of it that I almost long for the days of those Cialis ads."

Under the black lights of the Mons Venus strip club, Monica's eyes and teeth glow like St. Elmo's fire. Six-inch stilettos dangle from her toes as she sits at a waist-high table. Her folded arms prop up her bare, surgically enhanced breasts, nipples staring in opposite directions like a gunslinger's pistols. She smells like mint chewing gum and cigarettes.

It's a Monday afternoon. On an octagonal stage, a thin Asian girl grinds her naked hips against a pole as a few customers gaze at the gyrating spectacle.

"It's going to be as big as the Super Bowl," Monica says of the convention, over the heavy thumps of a hip-hop song. "Why do you think they are having it here in Tampa? It's the Mons. People have got to see what it's all about, even Republicans."

For millions of Americans, the RNC will be a pivotal political moment. In picking Romney and Ryan, Republicans will commit to a radical vision in which government and its social role are decimated, while the rich pay lower taxes than at any point since the Spanish flu ravaged the earth.

But for strippers, porn stars, and a small group of savvy small-business owners, the convention means something much simpler: money. And lots of it. They're banking big on the fact that the same guys waxing nobly about family values will be lining up at titty bars after midnight.

"The history we've heard about the RNC is that there are people who will come out and spend, whether it's the delegates or the construction guys setting up and breaking things down," says Tony Hernandez, the manager of the Tampa Gold Club.

Strip clubs have pimped themselves out in anticipation. The Gold Club has installed more black granite and marble tile than in a P. Diddy mansion. There will be $7 grouper nuggets and an $18 veal shank on the menu, Hernandez says, plus Dom Pérignon and cigars, of course. There will also be giant flat-screen monitors, so delegates can tweet about the convention even while getting a lap dance.

But if that isn't elite enough for 1 percenters, they can rent a private skybox with its own bar and stripper stage. A private entrance allows limos to pull right up to the door and prevents paparazzi from snapping politically embarrassing photos. And as a special convention bonus, delegates will also be treated to an assortment of their favorite adult-film stars.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
30 comments
JPMcMahon
JPMcMahon

Well, the convention is over, and only about 300 protesters showed up rather than the 15,000 predicted in your article. There are a lot of reports out there that the strip clubs actually made far less money while the convention was in town than they would have made during a normal week. When you write your companion piece about the Democratic convention in Charlotte, I hope that you don't waste over half of the article talking about stuff that really didn't turn out to be of any consequence to the event like you did with this one. Maybe you should do like Hunter S. Thompson did, and actually go to the convention and write about it afterwards.

Zoiks
Zoiks

This is a great article.  The "stand your ground" law is a great example of how what these anarcho-fascists do in their Florida "test lab" can spread like a cancer through the nation. 

defrockedbitterapost
defrockedbitterapost

"Believe in America" from a tax fraud that closes companies and lays off workers and sends their jobs to third world countries while he pockets tents of millions of dollars each time all while refusing to pay taxes, hiding his money in secret numbered bank arrounts.

 

These Republican dung heap Christians are evil. Every one of them. They don't "believe in America," they believe in war crimes, baby killing for Jesus, and treason of every country they infest.

elawgrrl
elawgrrl

@craigtimes jerks - however, if that keeps a few carpetbaggers away I'll take it!

organicsulfur
organicsulfur

Organic sulfur can make those stupid enough to go the the Fear and Loathing Party smart enough to vote for Anonymous over Mutt or Jeff.

If you have your health, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,is a cake walk.  Mutt or Jeff just want to make your sickness profitable to the one percent, we don't need no guns to let reason and the almighty dollar function.  Want to scare a CEO, whisper boycott in their ear.

Hunter Thompson received a 1776 belt buckle from this artist, advertised as "bullet proof."  Fear and Loathing is what drives the republicans, democrats as well, left brain triggers, "you nigger!"

Organic sulfur addresses stupidity, born or acquired from the fear and loathing of our vaccination program based on a lie, and profit.  Somebody pays, too often our children or parents.

It could be too late for Tampa, we will send the sulfur punch crew, and are taking applications for those who wish to be a citizen, and a Republican.

Organicsulfur@sisna.com is the Cellular Matrix Study and the Campaign headquarters of Anonymous for President, the third parties best hope to avoid "fear and loathing."

Gill Scott Heron, died not from Heroin but from the fear and loathing in that hospital, his words ring on, the revolution will not be televised, but we win.

As Hunter S. Thompson said in some interview, if we would all vote, all of us, we can prevail.

The Name of Anonymous will be revealed the day before the election, who can Mutt and Jeff attack?

We are 270,000 since Hunter S. Thompson referred to the one percent, they are still the one percent when it takes  two to tango and 3% to rule.  Isn't greed interesting?

Anonymous  for President 2012.

 

@

 

ejstembler
ejstembler

@joelintampa Wow, that article is bad

BeerTampa
BeerTampa

@joelintampa @bobbuckhorn seems like this story was more about FL and the governor than Tampa.

thommyberlin1
thommyberlin1

Re-e-e-e-e-ally. I'm a Floridian. I've been fighting against these bastards longer than anyone I know. While these charges are mostly true, it is not the native Floridians who should shoulder the blame for these imported fucks, and I'll be damned if I get painted with the same brush. Watch the polls Michael, and mind the sharks.prusin, you wouldn't know a fascist if he fell on you.  (hey... fascists are conservatives... dumb ass)

prusin
prusin

Redner should be looking at the current CinC (Barry--BarackHussein Obama, Jr.--FrankMarshall--Davis-Soetoro) for a Reich style takeover of the U.S. Barry is for certain a Marxist with National Socialist leaning tendencies. For all those on the left who don't see it, well, you are in for a big surprise when you become an unemployed state slave, and/or a slave to the state (super high taxation) if you are employed. Redistribution always brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator (the poorest individual), which is what we are about to become under Barry Hussein Soetoro if he is elected to another 4 year term.

prusin
prusin

Mandvi is a "native son" (of Florida) from Mumbai, India, via Great Britain? EGADS! Who writes this nonsense? You cannot be native unless born here. Mandvi is not native, unless your being racist here in describing him as a "native.' Where I come from that, also, often, means "primitive." V V wouldn't be making a funny would it? If so, it's not humorous.

prusin
prusin

I've never heard so much scare tactic drivel about anything in my life. The scariest part of page 2 is that there are leftists and anarchists who talk about riots, and bloodshed, fighting, and mayhem if they don;t get to do what they want where they want to? Really? Of course, "rule of law" long ago died in the U.S. thanks to leftist introductions of rights (job, Health Care, housing) that don't exist w/o the responsibility to provide them yourselves by working your tail off if necessary. Even the right to keep & bear arms comes with the responsibility to do so in a manner consistent with the constitution, and within the parameters of not only protecting others rights, but making sure you do not intrude on their right(s). The Republicans have as much a right to "peaceably" assemble as do the protestors. But the protestors instead threaten anarchy, rioting, mayhem, death? That's the left for you.

lesheight
lesheight

I've lived in Florida my whole life of 50+ years and you've got the place down cold.

prusin
prusin

How can a law to test applicants to a give away program (welfare) be unconstitutional (4th Amendment)? If one doesn't wish to take the test, they need not apply for the welfare. But, you;d think the VV would want people to get drug tested if it helps them become productive citizens n the long run, right? Apparently, not. It would prefer people be drug laden, future suicide s, to them getting any real medical help with their addiction problem. Huh! Sounds a bit ridiculous to me.

prusin
prusin

A bit hoplophobic Village Voice? Why the EMPHASIS on guns so often in the article? Why the belief that Republicans are all of one mold, and all pro-gun, or anti-gay? And what makes the VV so willing to believe that anyone with a gun is going to get into the Republican convention? I would be more likely to see a Democratic nut job outside the convention trying to see if they can pop off a few rounds at some Republican. As to your contention that we are all willing to kill any opponent, I would really like to see where you get your false statistics, or, is this purely rhetoric to scare people away from the Republican Party? Yes, thinking minds know what is what regardless of the drivel this paper sometimes promotes as fact. As for Hunter S. Thompson quote, I've yet  to hear more drivel from the LameMainStreamLeftMedia in a long time.

Fresh_Pineal_Gland
Fresh_Pineal_Gland

The illustrator, Rick Sealock, is channeling Ralph Steadman beautifully. Great work!

encyclomedia
encyclomedia

... I'm so happy journalism is still alive ~ thank you VV!

GreatMartin
GreatMartin

When the hurricane hits will the preachers blame the Republicans for His wrath???

Tessa
Tessa

Amazing story, loved it, shared it about 4 times already on Facebook and I just got to the last page. Bravo! Excellent reporting by the VV as always!!

Jen Setteducato
Jen Setteducato

Wish HST was here today to comment on this year's circus, er, election.

repete86
repete86

@villagevoice as someone who lives here, I think that you're being too nice to this strange time capsule of the worstworst of the 1960s.

Flaman
Flaman

Miller seems to have caught the right drift of the State of Florida particularly well.  Especially our esteemed Governor who made his fortune off purloined government  welfare payments.  The saddest aspect of this hilarious essay is the hollowness of the protesters:  Abortion zealots and know nothings.  Alas, the pending hurricane will steal the show.  Well written.

vito33
vito33

The trees are the right height!

j_swinbanks
j_swinbanks

@lukebuckmaster @villagevoice Agreed, great article.

LiveWithUsNYC
LiveWithUsNYC

@villagevoice are there any rnc viewing parties for liberals in the city?

igmo123
igmo123

 @thommyberlin1 LOL....ooooooo...scary.....you reek of flop sweat and fear, the signature scent of the poseur's cabal...man up tommy, this clown is done.  There's a poll being conducted in early November...watch it.  

leaf
leaf

 @prusin I don't believe that you understand either Marxism or National Socialism. How could a Marxist (far left) have National Socialist (far right) tendencies? If your comment is full of logical inconsistencies and displays a lack of knowledge, then why should people listen to what you say?

 

Moreover, the President's name is Barack Hussein Obama, not "Hussein Sotero". Choosing to refer to him by a name you know to be incorrect is not only rude, but makes it sound like you think that implying someone to be of Middle Eastern, East African or South Asian descent is an insult. It makes you sound like you don't think of Obama as being as American as you are. All of those things reflect badly on someone, but it's not President Obama.

prusin
prusin

 @leaf  I understand Marxism/Socialism, communism, NAZIism quite well, It is you who apparently have been misled. Socialism/communism, and National Socialism are two sides of the same coin. Both are socialist in nature. At their core belief is socialist policy where all work together for the betterment of the community. Who guides those depends on the path they follow. In Germany, following Hitler led to World War, concentration camps, and millions of dead. Communism such as that practiced by the Soviet Union resulted in the deaths of tens of millions from starvation, and purges. In the u.S. Republicanism with a Constitution as it base is the right, It is a right that determines individual freedom , and rights. See, once upon a time i thought similar to you. I believed what the 'tards who teach today taught me until I got schooled myself. Then I learned something else, something problematic; that being that the public education system, the LameMainStreamLeftMedia, the socialist party (Democratic Party) are all in cahoots to revise history. You are just a dupe for them. 

 

What I call Barry Hussein, or whoever he may be (he called himself Barry Soetoro in high school), has no bearing on truth, because the truth is, no one knows who Barry Soetoro is. He may not even know himself, except for knowledge he is a devout Marxist with totalitarian NAZI tendencies.

 
New York Concert Tickets
Loading...