If you ain't misbehavin', then you're likely to miss out on Tampa
By MARY JO MELONE
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2001
That bonk I suffered a few weeks back -- the one that taught me it is unwise to put your head in the trunk of the car just as your husband closes it -- has apparently had some lasting effects.
I've had some sense knocked into me.
For I've undergone a change of heart. I've got game now.
I, too, want to welcome the Giants, the Ravens, the other NFL players, their agents, investment advisers and fans who come from every city in America to see the Super Bowl.
Now that the NFL has effectively declared Tampa's biggest draw, the nude joints, off limits to the players, I want to do what any good resident of Tampa would do -- offer some alternative entertainment suggestions.
You could plan ahead and pack a laptop.
While the trophy wife shops at Saks, you could plug the computer into the high-speed jack in your hotel room and in complete privacy enjoy Tampa's other increasingly celebrated venue for male titillation, Voyeur Dorm.
If staying cooped up in the hotel has no appeal, you could drive down Kennedy Boulevard or Dale Mabry Highway and pick up a filmy negligee for your girlfriend at one of Tampa's many lingerie shops.
(One hint: Stay out of the ones that also promise modeling.)
If you want more, you could call an escort service.
If you'll settle for something tamer -- they bill themselves as a family place -- you can hang out at any local restaurant in the chain that began in Clearwater and played a most helpful role in creating Tampa's image as a workingman's Hootchie-kootchieville. I speak of Hooters and its various hung-up-on-breasts-and-hot-pants clones.
The advantage in these settings is that you can also drink the beverage of your choice. Most of the sex clubs don't sell alcohol. It's illegal.
If for some reason none of this interests you, arrange a meeting with Mayor Dick Greco and the Tampa City Council. Show up, sit in a chair and giggle at them. Don't say anything. You don't have to. They know how silly we look.
But if you must speak, ask them whether they think XXX would have been a more appropriate Super Bowl for Tampa to host.
* * *
Close readers of this column will call me a hypocrite. For when the city went after lap dancing, I was 100 percent behind it. Sleazy. Degrading to women, I said. Ya, ya, ya.
But we look worse now for cracking down on the clubs than we do for having them.
It's not the clubs' fault that they were, for years, Tampa's No. 1 growth industry. Blame the Chamber of Commerce. Blame every executive who figured Tampa, and the bay area, could mature on the strength of jobs that pay jack.
That thinking is falling out of favor, but alas, it's too late for Jan. 28.
What woman, any more than a man, wants to take home a paycheck so small she has to borrow against it at one of those storefronts that will lend you your salary in advance at through-the-roof rates?
Taking your clothes off to make men happy sure beats telemarketing. And it pays way better, in that thing nobody uses anymore: cash. The dancers make so much that when the city cracked down, many went out to Vegas to work. Their Tampa experience must have looked good on the resume.
If Tampa's lap dancing is nationally known because the dancers and their dazzled customers could, until recently, do just about anything to each other, nobody should be shocked. This is in keeping with Tampa's long and colorful tradition as a snazzy second cousin to New Orleans. We're one of those cities where a wink and a nod at the law is as common a gesture as a handshake. Only now have we begun to be embarrassed by this. Again, too late for Jan. 28.
Ain't life grand? By the time the clock runs out on the Big Game, the most famous guy in Tampa won't be the winning quarterback. It'll be Joe Redner.
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