As we walked through the parking lot of Sullivan's — past a Corvette with a vanity license plate (JAK POT) — I glimpsed a flash of electric-blond hair through a window. Then, an unbuttoned white shirt. That trademark loose red tie.
I clamored through the door. The man on stage was yelling in a thick British accent. His black pants were obscenely tight.
I parked myself beside a long table packed full of folks nipping their tipples and bobbing in time with the music. A bleached blond snuggled close to a ponytailed/slightly balding man wearing a T-shirt that said "Shots Happen."
"This next song... is Viagra for women," yelled Rod from the small corner stage. By "Rod," I of course mean Hot Rod, South Florida's premier Rod Stewart impersonator. Although his real name is George Orr, he's a dead ringer for Stewart himself, and he plays frequently around town, as his website (hotrodlive.com) declares: ALL LIVE, ALL ROD, ALL NIGHT. Anyone who has witnessed this show usually describes it with some variation of the word magical.
The crowd, enrapt, clapped and cheered. Cameras flashed, and numerous glasses of wine were sipped.
I inspected the menu. It featured a good blend of bar-standard brews and European favorites — Newcastle, Carlsberg, Stella, Harp, Heineken — plus an exhaustive list of food options, including one of the best salads I've had in awhile.
"This song makes them feel like you do when you're banging your next-door neighbor," Rod continued. "This inspires slutty sex — the kind women save for strangers... or musicians.
"Do not let your woman stare at me while I sing this song," he warned. "You will lose her forever."
Our baby-faced waitress sighed and dropped a tall glass of Newcastle brew on the coaster in front of me. "These people think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread," she said. She was the only person in the venue not mesmerized by His Rodness. "And he's here until 11."
"Have I told you lately that I love you?" crooned Rod, his voice matching the legend's with amazing ease. "Have I told you, there's no one else above you?" Couples flew to the dance floor faster than seniors flocking to an early-bird special. Newsflash: White men still can't dance. They are, however, awesome at awkward shuffling.
The bar itself was nearly invisible in the midst of the Hot Rod frenzy. Trophies, photos, Guinness posters, and tons of boxing memorabilia spattered the walls. John L. Sullivan himself, the mustached heavyweight boxing legend for whom the pub is named, was immortalized in pictures. Boxing gloves and speed bags hung over the restroom doors.
"Tiger had 14 mistresses," Rod said after the song. "Surely your woman won't be mad if just one slips under the net!"
As I leveled my gaze around the room, I almost missed the rail-thin, tanned woman wearing a leather minidress and stilettos wiggling by my table. She was probably a grandmother, but she fit into six square inches of fabric way better than I — and many women my age (mid-20s) — would have.
"You know, I used to be intimidated to come and play out here," Hot Rod told the well-heeled Lighthouse Point audience. "You people, with all your yachts and money." He paused as the crowd cheered riotously. "But that was before the AIG fiasco — now you're all broke!" he yelled. "And your girlfriend's looking at me and thinking, 'He's cute — he has a job.' "
As Rod exploded into "Oh No, Not My Baby" (which he noted should be appropriately renamed "Hell No, Not My Ho" for the younger generation), I was distracted by a bachelorette party in glorious full swing.
Sandra, the blushing bride-to-be, introduced me to her pink-tiara-clad bridal band — including her three gorgeous, adult daughters.
The dozen women — all of varying ages and shapes — waved demurely over the rims of their wineglasses. Their table was smack-dab in the middle of the room, mere feet from the busy bar and in perfect view of Hot Rod's partially exposed chest.
"Did you plan to have your bachelorette party at an Irish pub with Hot Rod?" I asked.
"Absolutely," said Sandra, who wore a white veil atop her bushy brown hair; she had stern blue eyes and exuded the confidence of a cutthroat businesswoman. "It was never a question; he is absolutely the best.
"He even slow-danced with me and sang to me personally." She smiled and dropped her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. "He knows my fiancé isn't here."
"She's had a bit of wine," her blond daughter — who was waifish and prim and kind of resembled a fairy princess — cut in apologetically.
"What's it like to be at your mother's bachelorette party?" I asked the blond.
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"It's been interesting," she said, glancing at her mother, who was boogying her way back onto the dance floor. "Honestly, the family doesn't get together much, unless there's a funeral. It's great to get together for something fun." She jerked her head toward the stage. "This guy is crazy. The women love him."
Speaking of fun, a woman launched herself atop a speaker and was grooving to the music and pointing at the crowd, which of course was going apeshit.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been a weird and embarrassing antic, but there was something in the room — or should I say someone — that made all defenses drop, all jadedness fall away, and made the whole spectacle collectively awesome.
Never underestimate the power of Rod.