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Puffy shirts, a little red Corvette, but no Electric Slide

Tampa columnisthooper
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© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 20, 2001

I told my friend to meet me at The Castle Monday night and he wanted to know what to wear.

The answer was anything, because fashion has no limits at The Castle, which sits just behind Centro Ybor. For years, it has been one of the few places to party on a Monday night, and my idea was to define the crowd, which has been described by various acquaintances as gothic, new wave and freaky.

What makes The Castle great is that the crowd is beyond definition. After a couple of Mondays there, I can only guess at what you might find there.

You will not see U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, but you will see "The Senator," a middle-aged man usually dressed in women's lingerie. The Senator figures putting on wild costumes should not be limited to just Mardi Gras and Halloween.

You will see at least half the people wearing black, and a fair share wearing either leather or lace. (Stevie Nicks would be proud.) You also will see a lot of folks dressed as normally as any bank teller, cashier or receptionist. You might see your bank teller.

You will see eclectic T-shirts touting such things as the 1970s movie A Clockwork Orange, Nickelodeon cartoon Sponge Bob Square Pants and MacDill Air Force Base. You will see a Seinfeld puffy shirt.

You will see tattoos and piercings. You will see someone's navel. But be honest, you've seen all of that at the grocery store.

You will hear Depeche Mode at least twice, and you will discover A-Ha had more than one hit. You will not hear the Electric Slide.

You will see at least one guy wearing a stringbean tie from the 1980s, a cute girl using a steel Olivia Newton-John lunchbox as her purse, and a guy who appears to be dancing like a character from Peanuts.

You may see a 37-year-old columnist wearing a Pac-Man shirt, provided his wife doesn't read this.

Most of all, you will see people liberated from the demands of fashion and pretense. With an open mind and an appreciation for self-expression, you will enjoy it.

* * *

The new restaurant set to open this fall in Old Hyde Park Village will be called Mia's. Southwest Florida restaurateur Michael Hernandez, who is developing the former Selena's, is naming the restaurant after his 7-month-old daughter. He already has a restaurant in Naples named after his other daughter, Zoe.

If the menu from one of Hernandez's other restaurants, Bistro 41 in Fort Myers, is any indication, we should expect a variety of entres ranging from snapper en papillote to vodka penne and chicken pot pie.

* * *

What happens when the Super Bowl Task Force is finished with its task? Well, director Mike Kelly landed nicely last week with a new job as USF's associate athletic director. Meanwhile, Stephanie Owens-Royster, who was the director of community opportunities for the task force, has joined with Julie Williamson to open The Agency, a public relations firm.

Krista Soroka, who was the task force's director of special events, also got the PR bug. She's calling her company Wonder Events.

I just wonder if all these people are going to quit their daytime jobs the next time we get a Super Bowl.

* * *

I want to be as cool as Joy Culverhouse when I turn 81. We knew life wasn't slowing down the widow of the Bucs' original owner when we learned last month she was about to marry Robert M. Daugherty, dean of the USF medical school. But I didn't know until this week that she tools around South Tampa in a boss '98 red Corvette.

Now, is she a Prince fan?

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or

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