Pretty faces, party places
From athletes to celebrities, local residents to models, those in town for the Super Bowl kicked the partying up a notch Friday night.
|[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
The Maxim Girls, from left, Heather Varnadoe, Janet Simoneaux and Amber Esposito, grace Maxim Magazine's Super Bowl party in vinyl outfits Friday night at A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa. Tickets were $250 a piece.
By SUE CARLTON and WILMA NORTON
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001
TAMPA -- Futuristic limos ferried the well-heeled to exclusive downtown fetes.
Across town, a girl in fake white leather and pink hair cruised a posh affair that featured cutting-edge Cosmopolitan drinks, an oxygen bar and a hot tub.
And in Ybor City, hordes of happy partygoers spilled into the streets, drinks in hand, on the lookout for celebrities.
|[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, talk with the media as they arrive at the Maxim Magazine party at A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa Friday night.
It was the eve of Gasparilla and Super Bowl weekend, and the partying had officially begun.
Hottest ticket in town Friday night: the exclusive NFL Commissioners Party at the Tampa Convention Center. There, decked-out former players, team owners and CBS execs noshed on sushi, seared duck and leg of lamb in 160,000 square feet of party space bedecked in planets and stars. The guests watched fire dancers, moved on to the piano bar, and lingered at the 45-foot dessert bar.
"It's mind-boggling," said Maxine Morehouse, whose son is the son-in-law of the Giants' owner. "I go through one area of this and I can't even tell if I've been here before."
Mythological Greek figures handed out drinks. Above the party-chatter buzz, two burly men covered in gold paint moved in slow motion on a pedestal, portraying Gemini.
Spotted among the 5,000 guests were Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, former Bears and Saints coach Mike Ditka and former players Lynn Swann and Nick Buoniconti.
"I don't know if it's true, but I heard Britney was here," an actor dressed as a philosopher confided, referring to pop idol Britney Spears.
It was a different scene across town at the chic $250-a-ticket Maxim Magazine party in the A La Carte Pavilion.
A girl in a white pleather outfit, with more real skin than fake leather showing, walked by in lace-up knee-high boots with 4-inch heels.
|[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Models greeted guests at the Players Masquerade in Tampa.
"Is this your job, to walk around all night like that?" asked equity trader Ethen Terry, 27.
"Yeah," she replied, making a sharp turn with her pink wig.
"Rock on," Terry said.
The oxygen bar was crowded. Tish Schroeder, a Stride Rite store owner, sipped her Cosmopolitan, inhaled through a tube and said, "this was the party I just had to be at."
It was one celeb-heavy bash: spotted were actors Tom Arnold and Kirstie Alley, model-actor Daisy Fuentes, Colleen Haskell from Survivor, and Lance Bass of 'N Sync.
Not that Tampa was all tuxes and haute couture.
Even hours before sunset, revelers were filling up Ybor City's Seventh Avenue, chugging from plastic cups, dancing to music spilling from bars and gawking at burly athletes. From storefronts, vendors hawked baseball caps, cigars and cocktails to go.
The NFL Players' Party inside of the historic Cuban Club was filled with cigar smoke, fur coats and people greeting each other with, "Hey. Who let the dogs out?"
NFL players took the runway for a fashion show sponsored by Code magazine, a fashion magazine for men of color. The biggest oohs and ahhs came as former Patriots' running back Robert Edwards took off his jacket to reveal a cream sleeveless sweater and tattooed biceps.
Commentator Stuart Scott of ESPN asked Buccaneer Shaun King, "What happened in Philly?"
King, dressed in SeanJohn jeans, white tank top and flip flops, said he would overcome next year.
"We'll be back, Tampa," he said, and the crowd cheered.
Giants' receiver Amani Toomer, in a leather jacket, told Scott you don't have to brag about your team. "It's inner confidence is what you need," Toomer said.
Earlier, at Ybor's Full Moon Saloon, languid supermodel-types moved about the darkened bar at the Taste of Soul Player Cookoff. Aproned athletes obligingly put their arms around tourists and smiled as friends snapped memories with disposable cameras.
|[Times photo: Bill Serne]
St. Louis Rams tight end Roland Williams, left, holds a bean pie made by his grandmother, Grandma K, center, at the Taste of Soul Player Cook-Off at the Full Moon Saloon in Ybor City on Friday. At right is Jacksonville Jaguar Damon Jones fixing some garlic potatoes.
At a hot new bar called FUN, a waiter surveyed Seventh Avenue from a balcony and said he had never seen the street so packed.
Below, as the tune YMCA blared from the club, a man in an Indian headdress and another in a hard hat began to dance in the street. The crowd circled them and joined in the classic Village People moves pantomiming the letters.
FUN managers were optimistic that the Backstreet Boys, Carson Daly and 'N Sync, who had partied there until early Friday morning, would be back late Friday. As it neared 11 p.m., though, a private celebrity area remained empty.
Partyers milled between the bars, some in winter coats, others in halter tops. Among them, several people carried placards that read, "Attention revelers. Repent or Perish. Judgment is Coming."
The crowd partied on.
- David Karp, Kyle Parks, Jounice Nealy, Babita Persaud, Dave Scheiber and Christopher Blank contributed to this report.
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