Build Me an Island

Once More With Brass

And, by the way, sicko: The vaccine goes into the upper arm, not the butt cheek.

The antiflu campaign originated at Rachel's Orlando location a year ago, where the owner decided that he simply could not stand a coughing, contagious clientele. The West Palm Beach Rachel's followed suit, designating a flu shot day of its own. Last year, the shots cost $25 (free for senior citizens), and in a few hours of steamy injection action, the club administered upward of 75 shots, according to George Smith, general manager of the West Palm Beach Rachel's. This year, the shots will be free for all adults.

"We had a big group last year," Smith says, "and we expect it to be even bigger this year."

Sorry, sickos. This nurse will not give you a flu shot.
Sorry, sickos. This nurse will not give you a flu shot.

Smith says he hasn't set a date for the shots yet, but he knows it will be during lunch, general public welcome.

"We get some people off the street who just need a shot," Smith says. "And in this area, we get a lot of older people who aren't really into the girls."

Why give out free flu shots when recipients won't even seize the opportunity to see the tantalizing striptease sirens calling for cash within? Simple, Smith says. "We just want to give back to this community." Say what? You mean T&A isn't enough?

God Bless Un-America

Earl Stewart is misunderstood. Maybe it's because he's speaking Spanish on English-language television commercials for his North Palm Beach Toyota dealership. Maybe it's because Stewart doesn't speak Spanish but reads off cue cards. "I took two years of Spanish in high school and two more years in college," he says, "and I really don't remember a bit of it."

In commercials that air on local network affiliates, Stewart stands in front of the camera and, in rough Spanish with English subtitles, says: "I want to let you know I recognize the importance of Hispanic influence on our culture." He says that several members of his sales and maintenance team speak Spanish and that he hopes the Hispanic community comes to him for its Toyota needs.

"Most Latinos in South Florida are bilingual," he says of the ads. "I speak Spanish because it gets attention. My job in advertising is to cut through the clutter."

Who would have guessed his language experiment would provoke waves of outrage? Stewart says that since the first time the commercial aired in September, the letters, e-mails, and phone calls haven't stopped. They began by calling Stewart "un-American." Then came claims that Stewart is undermining the culture, helping people to avoid learning English.

Then there was the lowest common denominator appeal: "We don't need any more of them Mexicans or Hawaiians in our country" (an exact quote).

"I get the idea people watch a lot of old Westerns," Stewart says. "They think this is the Alamo or something."

Stewart says the English subtitles — "the red flag waving in front of the bull" — was to aid monolinguals like him. "I was trying to be a nice guy," he says.

This is all incomprehensible to Stewart. "I'm a businessman," he says. "I'm not trying to make a political statement."

And a fantastic businessman he is. He sold 375 new Toyotas in September, his highest in more than 30 years. And October is shaping up the same way, so he has no plans to pull the ads anytime soon. Stewart, who was a physics major at the University of Florida, prides himself on being logical rather than emotional.

"Look, you're upset you saw my commercial," he says to the potentially irate. "Next time, change the channel or mute the TV, or even better, go to the kitchen and get a drink of cold water."

Last Model Snoring

When E! television announced that it was filming The Last Model Standing at the Seminole Hardrock Hotel & Casino last week night, the 'Pipe was so there!

Big mistake.

Turns out, getting stabbed is more fun than watching people, no matter how pretty, stand around indefinitely with their hands on something. The competition was to see how long a bunch of beauty queens could stand on a stage, touching a blown-up, cardboard magazine cover - which is somewhat less exciting than challenging your neighbor to a grass-growing contest.

The 'Pipe arrived early, of course, to check out the models. E!'s button-cute P.R. woman, Ilene Lieber, whisked the 'Pipe around but allowed just a minute or two in room 441, where the models were primping. Tailpipe learned that Johanna, a slinky, 23-year-model who lives in Miami but is originally from the Dominican Republic, was planning to stay focused. That was her strategy. Easier said than done.

In fact, none of the girls was prepared. Not nutritionally. Not aerobically. Not mentally. They got scouted in various locations in Miami, signed some papers, and here they were, wearing what looked like 1980s prom dresses with enough sparkles to blind a rusty auto part. They were all svelte, young amateurs, trying to catch a break in a cutthroat industry. How hard could it be to keep a hand on a blown-up, cardboard magazine cover for a few days?

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