The Oct. 4 lunchtime State of Downtown Address was as pleasant as a ranch-soaked crouton in your eye. Large people with large bankrolls locked into mingle-step, only occasionally calming their booster cackles for a disingenuous hug or peck on the cheek. You had your City Beverages, your Florida Citrus Sports, your Orlando Magic and your Baker Hostetler tables pressed to the front of the room – as close to the mayor’s as possible – while a distinct odor of smugness, cologne and salad dressing permeated the air.
The meaning of this catered back-patting was to bear witness to Mayor Buddy Dyer’s wisdom on just how great things are going in the downtown corridor (although you’d think the irony of choosing the abandoned Church Street Ballroom to speak of “the future” wouldn’t have been lost on some planning lackey). Up on the stage, seven empty rocking chairs did not rock. We were confused, so we pored through the mayor’s prepared speech and found this tidbit: “I’d like to welcome all of you to Orlando’s front porch – right here in the room.” Hokey!
“Four years ago, we stood up and challenged the status quo,” the mayor speechified. “We ignored the notion that Orlando could never compete with the great cities of the world. We dreamed big, we acted boldly and today, I’m here to tell you, Orlando is the envy of those cities.”
Paris? London? New York? Are you listening?
Meanwhile, outside, a tangle of mud and construction equipment blocked the sidewalks while cranes leered menacingly overhead. Just a block over sat the hollowed-out Trans Continental building. Such is the state of downtown.
Speaking of Trans Con, imagine the giggle-fit we fell into upon reading Bryan Burrough’s “Mad About the Boys” feature in next month’s Vanity Fair. For nearly a decade we’ve been dancing around the big fat pedophile issue when it comes to Big Poppa Lou Pearlman, mostly for fear of big fat litigation. But now that the pink elephant is in the big house, the gloves are off. Item: Lou liked little boys.
Burrough was in town a couple of months ago researching the piece and we did our journalistic best to point him in the right filthy direction; all attempts we’ve made at telling the same story have been derailed by people not wanting to go on the record. He apparently ran into similar trouble, but was able to get Rich Cronin of LFO to sing (ha): “He was so touchy-feely, always grabbing your shoulders, touching you, rubbing your abs. It was so obvious and disgusting.” He also got Lou’s former assistant, Steve Mooney, to relate this stomach-turning quote about what it really took to get in a boy band: (“`Lou` leaned back in his chair, in his white terry-cloth robe and white underwear, and spread his legs. And then he said, and these were his exact words, ‘You’re a smart boy. Figure it out.’”).
Most disturbing was the account of him jumping into bed with two 13-year-old boys and wrestling with them until his robe fell off. OK, everyone, vomit now!
Just a little reminder: Our forward-looking city leaders were in bed with this man the last time they fantasized about revitalizing downtown.
You know what this town needs? A list of places where a guy can hook up with hot gay studs, that’s what. Happily, such a list exists. We know because the super-awesome Central Florida Future newspaper told us. Turns out the University of Central Florida library is a good place to go the bathroom and rub feet with the twink in the next stall.
The Future references a website called www.squirt.org – which isn’t creepy at all, promise – to tell us that the bathrooms in the first, third and fourth floors of the library are excellent places to find some man-on-man action. But we imagine the UCF cops are going to be swarming the aforementioned stalls, so you should look elsewhere.
Happytown™ is here to help. A search of cruising spots in Central Florida on website Squirt.org (ughhh) reveals 264 other spots to get your love on. Some favorites: the Parliament House (duh); the Clermont Kmart (really?); the Disney World Dolphin and Swan Resort gym; the bathrooms at the Downtown Disney movie theater; the parking lot behind the Mary Queen of the Universe Shrine Catholic church (WTF?); the restrooms at the aptly named BJ’s Wholesale Club on Conroy Road; some bathrooms at Rollins College; the bathrooms near the food court at the Mall at Millenia; RDV Sportsplex in Maitland (go, Rich!); and of course, the Barnes & Noble near Colonial and Bumby.
You know what this town needs? A titty bar in city limits, that’s what. “Well, duh,” you say. “But that will never happen. This town is way too prudish.”
Yes, it is. But maybe that doesn’t matter. On Oct. 4, strip-club attorney extraordinaire Steve Mason sent City Hall a letter saying that he had a client, whom he wouldn’t name, who wanted to erect (hee hee hee) a good ol’-fashioned strip club inside city limits. As he notes, the city has some 200,000 people and no place where those 200,000 people can drink a beer and get a lap dance at the same time, which deprives us of the pursuit of happiness, in this column’s opinion.
The city doesn’t necessarily prohibit adult entertainment venues; by law, it can’t. But it doesn’t roll out the welcome mat, either. In fact, Mason says that the city’s zoning restrictions make it almost impossible for a strip club to open, and that’s illegal. Because courts have considered erotic dancing a form of free speech, he says, any restrictions must be “clear and ministerial in nature,” he wrote in the Oct. 4 letter. “In other words, the city cannot institute rules or policies providing the city discretion to grant or deny the operation of such a business.”
The city gave us a big “no comment.”
On Oct. 9, an Orange County jury found Eric Montanez not guilty of feeding too many homeless people in Lake Eola Park. The city passed an ordinance last year that said you can’t feed more than 25 homeless people at a time without a permit. On one Wednesday in April, Montanez fed 30, which booked him a bed on 33rd Street.
Food for thought, No. 1: The city actually spent your tax dollars taking this case to trial. Food for thought, No. 2: The city actually spent your tax dollars to have cops count how many homeless people Montanez was feeding.
Ben Markeson of Orlando Food Not Bombs, Orlando’s favorite anarchist, believes this might just be a case of jury nullification. “Maybe `the jury` just realized that arresting someone for ladling out stew to the homeless too often is just fucking stupid,” he says.
Montanez told local media after the verdict that he would soon be back to Lake Eola Park and feed more homeless people.
This week’s report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Bob Whitby.firstname.lastname@example.org