A dear old friend of ours used to call them "loads" people who serve no discernible purpose in life yet manage to achieve an astounding level of renown anyway. Loads everywhere marked a major milestone last week, when it was announced that the internationally feted Bitch-Queen of Irrelevance, Paris Hilton, will be opening the first of her signature Club Paris nightclubs on New Year's Eve in Church Street Station.
According to a front-page article in the Orlando Sentinel, the snootily vacuous Hilton will be a regular presence at the $2.6 million hotspot, a pink-painted shrine to her unique "personality" that city fathers hope will jump-start the overdue revitalization of Church Street. That's a heckuva lot of responsibility to dump on the coke-emaciated shoulders of somebody who's become famous for doing absolutely nothing; then again, can you think of a more accurate public image for Orlando to present to the nation at large?
Making this dream of glamorous insignificance a reality will fall to owner Fereidoun "Fred" Khalilian, who appears to be quite the load himself: Though he's never run a club before, he nonetheless presented himself to the Sentinel as something of an expert on the subject, noting that he spent $275,000 patronizing such establishments in the last year alone. (Way to self-market, Fred. Following that line of reasoning, everyone Dog has ever dated automatically qualifies for a degree in abnormal psychology.)
Mayor Buddy Dyer whose loadish credentials are, of course, without challenge has called the project "the type of redevelopment we had hoped `would come to` Church Street." We at Orlando Weekly wholeheartedly agree. But we wonder why the city's forward march into high-stakes automaton-suck should stop at tossing a skinny harlot a martini bar. We say all of Church Street should be made into a living tribute to the nonentities, day players, toadies, second bananas and other species of Page-Six chum that make American culture such a rewardingly vast wasteland. Here are some proposals for load-themed businesses we whipped up when we could have been doing something of real consequence like adjusting the camera for our next bout of videotaped fellatio.
Club Ed Time has proven that nobody's better at doing nothing than Ed McMahon. He was his era's reigning champion when it came to assiduously refraining from all socially enriching activity, and he did it or didn't do it, as the case may be longer than any of his rivals. The club that bears his name is a full-on salute to agreeable inertia a cozy place to nod out on cheap malt liquor while listening semiattentively to the success stories of people far more interesting than you. And you'll definitely get to meet them up close: Instead of whisking celebrities off into a traditional VIP area, Club Ed invites them to recline on couches set out in the main bar area, forcing nobodies like you to move down a spot with each new A-list arrival. When you're finally forced to abdicate that last corner of the sofa, you can always go off and shoot the breeze with one of the hors d'oeuvre waitresses who will be circulating with trays of Alpo-smeared Ritz crackers. Faced with sedentary opulence like this, the only appropriate response is … well, to chuckle indulgently. And often. Hi-yo!
Ridgeley's Believe it or Not Where the Hard Rock Vault went horribly awry, this downtown music museum will succeed by focusing entirely on one landmark recording-industry figure: Andrew Ridgeley, who played the vital role of tone-deaf butt boy to George Michael in Wham! See the actual Gretsch guitar Andrew pretended to play in the seminal video for "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," then took out on a worldwide tour so audiences from Sydney to Saskatoon could enjoy the full measure of his unplugged (and unmiked, and untrained) thrashing. You'll also be able to view the outfit Andrew wore in the "Careless Whisper" clip, carefully preserved under panels of a vaguely glassine substance whose 1/16" thickness befits the blue-book value of such an irreplaceable artifact. Going the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame one better, all memorabilia items on display are up for sale, under a uniform "best offer" policy that eliminates the need to maintain an updated price list. And by stepping into the karaoke booth, you'll be able to add your own, undoubtedly superior vocals to Andrew's solo "hit," "Shake" the minute anybody on the attraction's staff can locate a copy.
Kato Brian's Not to be confused with a homonymic Irish pub situated on Central Boulevard, this cleverly named fitness center represents a last-ditch lunge for the spotlight on the part of rapidly aging surfer leech Brian "Kato" Kaelin. A complete array of weight-training machines and Pilates classes will get you in shape to survive the long days of cross-examination you'll encounter should one of your rich benefactors ever go on a jealousy-fueled knifing jag. Extra services provided to aspiring turncoats include a styling salon to help you cultivate just the right look of sun-kissed sleaze and an on-site success coach, who'll teach you to parlay your "unwanted" notoriety into a three-month engagement hosting your own radio talk show. (If the gig you land happens to be on WPRK, add an extra six months.)
Mel's Diner Who cares if the name is already taken? That kind of detail is only a momentary impediment when a business has the mighty Bush dynasty on its side, as will this gourmet burger joint themed to the life and accomplishments (whatever they may be) of our own Mel Martinez. Raise a strawberry malt in celebration of the profoundly undistinguished politico's Cinderella-like rise from Orange County chairman to HUD honcho and endlessly malleable pawn in one of the nation's key senatorial races. Smart-alecky liberals will say that paying homage to Martinez' emergence as a political titan a status that seems entirely dependent on his ability to bring in the minority vote is a backhanded endorsement of affirmative action. But you'll just call it delicious. A welcoming painted portrait of Citizen Mel smiles vacantly down on the waiting area, where, in a refreshing twist on the standard Denny's experience, customers are automatically whisked to the front of the line if they look Hispanic or can produce an ID proving same. Gay couples, meanwhile, are issued directions to the nearest all-night sex-and-drugs party, or wherever it is they'd feel more at home. And if the diners who choose to tough it out get hot under the collar about Mel's' nonexistent service, outrageous prices and total ineptitude in satisfying the public hunger … well, did we mention that he grew up under the shadow of communism?