By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
"Dance Like a Ho" by 2 Live Crew
He doesn't brag about the dancers he's slept with. But he says he met a former Penthouse Pet at a club in West Palm Beach while he was DJing and she was the featured dancer. They're divorced now, and the stocky, 38-year-old Italian-American doesn't like to reminisce. Especially not with so many attractive women walking past him every two minutes pining for his attention.
"Can you play that new Usher song?" a white dancer named Dreamer requests.
"Hey, I really like your hair," Todora answers back with a smile. "Did you do something different to it?"
"Really? You like it?" she says with a smile. It's her time to dance, and she hits the stage without getting the song she wanted.
"In this business, you learn how to say no without saying no."
A few minutes later, a dancer makes it known that she's not happy with Todora's music selections. "That motherfucker keeps playing bullshit music for me," she complains to another dancer. "Give me Pitbull or Daddy Yankee or something. I'm fucking Puerto Rican!"
Todora says he can't be bothered trying to satisfy every dancer. About 170 girls dance at the club, and catering songs to all of them isn't possible. "You have no idea what it's like back here some nights," he says. "Playing music so that the customers are happy, that's my job."
The music culture is drastically different here than it is inside of black strip clubs. Todora says he gets CDs passed to him all the time, either from artists themselves or middlemen. But he says the way it's done has changed significantly since he started.
"It used to be, guys in suits would come by, and you knew right away they were from a record label or something like that," he says. "They'd buy you a bottle, hang out, and sort of schmooze you into playing a few songs. Now, guys just walk up, give you a CD, don't even give you a business card or anything, and just walk away." He points to a bin with about 20 CDs given to him recently that way. "It's all hip-hop stuff," he says. "I used to have guys bringing rock music in, but that hasn't happened in a long time. Rock music isn't stripper music any more; rap is. These guys are now like the Mötley Crüe of the '80s."
At 3 a.m inside of Take One Lounge just north of Little Haiti in Miami, Ball Greezy stands behind the bar like he owns the place. DJ Nasty is on the one and twos, and the music is all local hip-hop. The club's other popular DJ, Sam Sneak, has already left for the night. Greezy's "I'm da Shit" is playing, and even though there's barely 30 people, the tiny club feels packed. DJ Nasty is a comedian when he's on the mic, and he's cracking jokes on everyone — bartenders, security, dancers, anyone. He calls out customers by name and tells them to throw money on stage. "I just like to make people feel appreciated," Nasty says between songs. "That goes a long way. A lot of DJs don't do that."
"Hey, nephew," he yells, "throw a hunnit on the stage." Without hesitation, a short, bearded black guy wearing a gray T-shirt and a blue-and-orange baseball cap takes a stack of a hundred singles and tosses it toward a black stripper dancing on stage behind him. The woman, a Georgia transplant whose stripper name is Bianca, barely acknowledges the money as it falls. Sticking singles inside a woman's G-string barely exists inside Take One.
Nasty's spinning Trick Daddy's "Take It to the House" now, and the energy level picks up even more. Greezy is on hand testing out his new song, "So Amazing," that he finished mixing just two days ago. Nobody else has heard it yet, and he's previewing it here at Take One to gauge the reaction.
"My relationship is with the DJs — that's who I attend to when I show up," Greezy says. "Once a nigga feel like you're supporting him and what he's doing, he'll play your music just out of love. So many people come in and say 'Play my song, play my song,' but I'd rather build a relationship. So whenever I get a new song, they don't hesitate to play it."
As if on cue, Nasty teases Greezy's "So Amazing." "This is the new Ball Greezy track," he says two or three times before spinning it.
Now girls are dancing all over Greezy, and the usually screwfaced rapper can't help but flash a bright smile. A guy in the corner takes off his shoes and drapes his shirt over his shoulders. Judging by the hoodtacular reaction, Greezy thinks he might make the song his new single. Nasty pulls up the track after a minute and says into the mic, "I got that new Ball Greezy. Nobody else has got it." When he drops it again, the reaction is even better. It's impossible to say if the song will go national, but on this night, it's a hit. "This is what I needed to see happen," Greezy says. "I want folks to lose their minds when this song comes on. If this happens more frequently, then I'll be all right."