So the owners have turned Gulfstream into what Savin calls "an entertainment destination." It's enough to send Tailpipe into a soot-spewing funk. You go to the track for the thrill of the race and the gravel-voiced wisdom of racing veterans and you get yuppies humming "A Horse With No Name."
But wait. Gulfstream isn't going to forget about its racing fans, is it? There's something for everybody in the 2004 package. Hey, we've got skyboxes.
On a recent Saturday, Tailpipe got a glimpse of the brand-new Finish Line Sky Suite, the track's version of an arena luxury box--"ideal for corporation, small special events, or racing enthusiasts," according to the brochure. This little island of grandeur, with its forest green carpet and dark upholstered furniture, reminded Tailpipe of the lobby of a Doubletree Hotel. Without binoculars, the horses look like a blur out there on the backstretch, and the view of the track's south turn is blocked by another skybox. For this, you pay $750 a day on Saturdays and Sundays. Nathan Detroit and the Lemon Drop Kid are spinning in their graves.
So the rusty cylinder stumbled light-headedly back to the more earthly levels, where the crowd milled around in confusion, trying to figure out where to get the best look at the feature race, which pitted Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide against a big, hard-driving horse called Medaglia d'Oro and six other speedsters. Tailpipe ended up in the standing-room area in front of the cheap seats.
There was a quick, exhilarating view of the pack churning and grunting out of the starting gate before it disappeared around the turn. Then they were skimming along the backstretch, a blur of colors partially blocked by the brand-new, 18-by-32-foot video screen that now hovers over the tote board. Tailpipe strained to see, then succumbed to the Big Tube when the horses hit the exciting last turn. There, in wide screen detail, was Medaglia d'Oro moving commandingly ahead of the pack toward the finish line, with Funny Cide coming in a dispirited third.
It was all sort of like trying to enjoy beautiful animals, beautiful women, and cold beer by watching ESPN. Why the hell didn't the Pipe just stay home?
Joseph Lott escaped rainy England back in 1989 for the welcoming sun of South Florida. Along with business partner Kevin Bean, he made a living selling British-made Jiffy brand condoms to spring breakers on the Florida coast. Another big hit for them: the brand's T-shirts, which sport such sage advice as, "Real men come in a Jiffy," and, Tailpipe's personal favorite, "Got a stiffy? Wear a Jiffy?" From those humble but poetic beginnings was born Gasworks, Lott's Oakland Park sex-novelty distribution business, which pulls in nearly $3 million in sales a year.
"It's the food stuff that got us out there," Lott explains of the company's evolution from flavored condoms to sex foods, toys, and novelties. The top-selling fare is Penis Pasta, Pasta Boobs, Penis Gummies, and Jelly Horny Devils. "Of course, the pasta is the same you could buy for 90 cents anywhere else," Lott concedes. But take that package and add a grinning cartoon phallus bedecked in a chef's hat and a box-front advisory ("Warning! Increases in size when cooked."); then you've got 8.8 ounces of Penis Pasta worth about seven bucks. "If it's packaged right and the food is in the right shape and it's under $10, it'll sell," he adds.
Same with other offerings. Workaday breath mints become marketable gems when shaped as Peppermint Peckers and Pert Peppermint Nipples -- to say nothing of Cream-filled Willies, Bite-size Boobs, Dick on a Stick, and Chocolate Flavoured Willy Spread (with applicator). What appear to be simply chocolate-covered raisins become a whole lot more remarkable when loaded into a poo-pooing pig candy dispenser.
But Tailpipe is sucking oxygen in excitement about the sexy food soon to be offered: Macweenie and Cheese, an Italian cuisine that has all the cheesy carbo goodness many know and crave, combined with the pecker shapes many love to eat. "It's pasta that got us out there in the first place," Lott gloats.