Welcome to the land of excess and instant gratification. You sensed it when you got off the plane or maneuvered into that I-95 exit lane. Or maybe it was the first time you spotted that shady, mustached man with sunglasses and a briefcase, standing conspicuously under a palm tree. This isn't the canned, corporately manufactured indulgence of Las Vegas. You're in South Florida now, the land of champagne dreams and billion-dollar Ponzi schemes. You can have anything you want for the right price. Down here, there's a general understanding that everybody needs something.
Maybe it's sex or drugs. In this vice-laden land, you can visit dozens of strip clubs, score seven kinds of drugs, hire prostitutes of eight races and three sexual orientations, and find a group of people willing to dress up like horses and let you whip them, all before dinner. Maybe it's the thrill of a gamble you seek or the excitement you get from living a life of luxury — even if it's all on credit. Here, you can bet on things your relatives up north have never even heard of, all in a place overpopulated with ridiculously expensive cars and glorious penthouse suites.
But nothing ruins the perfect party week like someone dying or going to jail. So we've done the arduous research, taken the dangerous journeys, and interviewed dozens of local experts to bring you the definitive guide to depravity in the Sunshine State.
Sex in SoFla
During those late nights in South Florida, when the warm breeze blows in off the water, you can almost smell the scent of sex. Those are sea turtles. And those sea turtles probably just got done bumping shells. Because, in a land where Viagra is king, bikinis and bathhouses are in bloom year-round, and even politicians pop up at the neighborhood wine bar swinger parties, sex is by far the most popular pastime. With scant searching, you can find hookers, strippers, swingers, and all sorts of fetishists and porn stars. Anything your lecherous heart desires. Here's how to get in on the action.
EXPERT ADVICE: HOW TO MAKE IT RAIN POLITELY
Nobody knows more about South Florida strip-club etiquette than retired rapper Ricky "Disco Rick" Taylor, formerly leader of the pioneering Miami hip-hop group the Dogs. He's the "talent manager" (read: stripper-wrangler) at the colossal, all-nude King of Diamonds club in Miami Gardens, which caters to pro athletes and rappers and features a basketball court and barbershop on premises.
Whether the dollar bills you're planning on tossing onto gyrating honeys come from that sneaker deal you just signed with Converse or your Arby's paycheck, there's no need to appear like an amateur. Heed Disco Rick's sage advice, as told in his own words:
The number-one rule is, do not come to the strip club if your baby mama's dancing. That never ends well. We're gonna throw you out and her out.
The second rule is, don't ever hand a stripper a large amount of money to get you your singles. Nine times out of ten, she's not coming back.
There is sex in the champagne room. There's not supposed to be. What we don't know about, we don't give a fuck.
Do not hold up your camera phone. Disco Rick sees you do that, we have a problem.
We're the guards of the prison, and the strippers are the prisoners. You have to remember, they're drunk too.
When a dancer tells security that she gave you 12 dances and you say she gave you six, who are we going to believe — her drunk ass or your drunk ass? Her drunk ass.
Please ask how much each dance costs before you have a girl dance on you for 20 songs.
The top performers make $400,000 to $800,000 a year. I've seen one girl make $28,000 in a night. Her name is Tip Drill. She's more like a Cirque du Soleil performer than a stripper.
Our making-it-rain policy is this: We tell you not to throw money all over the customers. And not to throw money on girls who are not working as strippers.
If you're a customer and money falls on your head, just throw it to the ground. Or, to be courteous, throw it toward the dancers. If you put it in your pocket, I'll cut the music.
If you got invited to the White House, would you light up a joint inside? So why would you light one up when you're invited into my house? Nuh-uh. No fucking way. I'll cut off the music.
The guy who nurses a Coke? He has to go home early.
Florida is not all-nude. Miami and parts of Fort Lauderdale are the only places where it's all-nude. You won't see no little stickers on tits here.
We don't want to put anything in the free buffet that everybody really wants. That's what the menu's for. So, no shrimp.
Baked chicken, mashed potatoes, beans, and corn. Those are the things we can't mess up. Meat loaf, if available.
A free buffet is just to fill your stomach so you can keep drinking.
Once you throw up, you're escorted out. And we take your keys. You have to call somebody to pick you up, or we'll take your phone and call for you. Whoever's been calling you the most, that's who we call. That could be your wife or your girlfriend.
We want you to behave like you are out with your parents. We're providing a fantasy world. Don't get caught up in the illusion.
IS YOUR PROSTITUTE A COP?
Plenty of cops will be conducting prostitution stings this week. Sadly, short of witnessing her have sex with your friend, there's no sure-fire way of knowing that the prostitute you're trying to patronize is not an undercover officer. So we spoke with a few local prostitutes, both male and female, and put together some tips to help make your exchange of money for sex in South Florida a little less awkward. Here are some clues that your would-be hooker could be a cop:
She's in a rush. "Working girls want your money, simple as that," says a local escort we'll call Amber. "They'll take the time if they think it'll pay off in the end." Police officers posing as decoys want to arrest as many people as possible that night and don't want to have a conversation longer than one minute with any of them.
She looks too good. She is. Police want to attract as many men as possible, so they aren't going to use an unattractive decoy. If she seems out of place strolling along Federal Highway or sitting in a shabby motel room, you might be looking at five-0.
She doesn't do drugs. If the man or woman you're feeling out is unwilling to partake in whatever mild drugs you may be offering, there's a decent chance that person is a police officer. The good news is that you know. The bad news is that you just offered drugs to a cop.
She mentions money. Prostitutes generally call the cash being exchanged a "donation," often referring to the dollar amount in "roses" or "kisses." If she seems quick to talk about money, mosey on out of there, cowboy.
She won't get naked. Police officers won't want to take off their clothes for you. A prostitute who believes it will lead to a sale probably will. Also, it's not illegal to ask someone to pose for naked photos.
She says she's not a cop. Just remember, there's no law that says police officers can't lie to you.
DECODING ESCORT ADS
There are plenty of adult-services ads all across the internet and free publications (like the one you're reading), but finding the right prostitute can be hard enough without having to figure out all of the industry jargon. Below is a legend for decoding those ads.
Incall — You drive to the prostitute, usually at a hotel.
Outcall — The prostitute comes to you.
LFK — Light French kissing, open mouth maybe, but no making out.
DFK — Making out is a go.
BBBJ — Bareback blowjob, or oral sex without a condom.
CBJ — Covered blowjob, AKA oral sex with a condom.
DATY — Dining at the "Y" is a male performing oral sex on a female.
K9 — The prostitute is willing to allow entry from behind, though not necessarily anal.
Greek (or speak Greek, trip to Athens) — The escort is willing to participate in anal intercourse.
HH — Half-hour, generally accompanied by a monetary amount.
GFE — Girlfriend experience means you get her affection, in addition to her body. This might include going on dates, kissing on the mouth, or role-playing.
PSE — Porn star experience can include dynamic positioning, moaning, and the general showmanship of adult cinema.
Getting Wasted in Paradise
Even if the local cocaine industry isn't what it used to be, South Florida remains the drug's cultural capital of the world. Some locals think it's their civic duty to powder their noses as if Boy George were still on the Top 40, and tourists won't allow themselves to visit without sampling an eight-ball — that would be like going to San Francisco without taking a trolley ride. And loose laws have once again made South Florida the undisputed champion when it comes to another type of drug: the pain pill, available for little hassle at the ubiquitous local dispensary. Sure, they produce a more floaty high than you get from coke, but pain pills achieve the most important objective of any drug: They make techno music bearable.
Procuring Party Pills
Prescription pill addiction is among the most insidious, degenerate afflictions known to man, ripping apart bodies, families, and the health-care system. Your problem: You didn't want to risk transporting the ridiculously disgusting number of pills you and your friends are going to need for your time in South Florida. Or maybe you've heard about all the pill dispensaries down here and you're thinking, When in Rome... Either way, if you're looking for somewhere to score pills, you've come to the right place.
In 2008, about half of the illegal prescription drugs in this country came from the Sunshine State, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. In Florida, OxyContin and Xanax aren't the new cocaine; they're coke, plus heroin, pot, meth, and all hallucinogens combined. Three times as many people here die from prescription pills than from all other drugs combined, according to a Florida Medical Examiners Commission report that was published in 2008.
Spend ten minutes driving around this area — anywhere from north of Palm Beach to south of Miami — and it might seem like Florida has more pain clinics than orange groves. Most clinics have a licensed medical professional who sees patients, "diagnoses" medical problems, prescribes medication, and fills the prescription — all in the same place. Many of these establishments advertise in various local publications (like this one), offering discounted or free first visits. Though their signage might look like they're some sort of emergency room, most pain clinics are open only a few hours a day. It's safe to say that some of their doctors might not like working long hours away from their big, shiny yachts.
How to shop
If you're in from out of state, it might be difficult to find a clinic that doesn't require Florida identification. This is a recent development, a reaction to pressure from various law enforcement agencies. You can still find a few places that don't require local I.D., but expect to pay — $200 to $300 per visit.
Cash might be the quickest option, but most places accept credit cards. One local pill connoisseur — for her sake, we'll call her Pained Patty — says that if you have a few hundred dollars, an I.D., and you can say you have a vague medical problem, "You can basically ask for the drug you want by name and be in and out in under ten minutes." Patty adds: "It helps if you don't ask for like 20 different drugs all at once and if you don't look like a smuggler. None of these people want to get in trouble."
Be prepared to brush up against the other clientele in the small waiting rooms. These could be some wide-eyed, spaced-out, unwashed, greasy-haired pillheads who quite literally do not know you're in the room even though you've been sharing an armrest for half an hour. Bring hand sanitizer.
What's your pleasure or pain?
For a beginner, this could be the trickiest part. You know what kind of drug you're looking for, but you don't want to ask for it by name — despite Patty's suggestion. You're also not sure exactly how to describe what's wrong with you. Here's some help:
Darvocet, Percocet — You have some mild pain, perhaps a sore jaw.
Xanax — You have a lot of anxiety, some tension in your chest.
Valium — You have some anxiety and a sore lower back, though you're not sure why. You're also a little sad.
Vicodin, hydrocodone — You hurt your back moving boxes. It's been very sore for more than a week, and you've had to miss work.
Methadone — It started with a back injury, and now you've been on pills for a while, and it hurts when you stop.
Klonopin — You've got a lot of anxiety and you aren't fond of how you feel on Xanax.
Adderall — You can't focus when you read long magazine stories. Or you're already on an antianxiety med and need some balance.
OxyContin, oxycodone — You fell off a roof. It was two stories. You're in severe pain. You can hardly sleep. You were just barely able to get to the clinic.
Roxycet — You were hit by a car. It's the worst pain you've ever felt, and you feel it all over.
SCORING COKE LIKE A LOCAL
There was a time in South Florida when cocaine simply fell from the sky. Really: Smugglers in airplanes being chased by cops often tried to ditch the evidence by making it snow on the cities below. A kilo once crashed through the roof of a Baptist church during a Sunday service.
Today, most of the old cocaine cowboys are either hustling powder in the celestial kingdom or eating taxpayer-bought meat loaf, so it's a bit harder to procure a taste of Bolivian marching powder. But far from impossible.
What type of fiend are you — the poor soul who braves perilous streets with a few grubby dollar bills clenched in your fist? Or do you just have your marketing intern pick up a vial on the way to the office? Either way, we probably don't want to hang out with you, unless you're that one cokehead out of ten who isn't as annoying as a Lil Wayne album on a daylong loop. With that as a disclaimer, let's break down the different ways South Floridians procure cocaine nowadays:
Over the phone
Who cops this way: hedge-fund traders, touring musicians, exiled foreign dictators.
How the conversation starts: "Diamond Larry, this is your congressman. Listen, about those resolutions of national importance you're working on: Could I make it five instead of three? Yeah, I'm having company."
Pros: You don't have to leave your penthouse, meaning that you can continue to impress those two prostitutes you hired with your immense knowledge of the new Phil Collins album.
Cons: If you call with your cell phone, that's a federal crime. And under the Patriot Act, cops can listen to all of your phone calls. And, look out the window! Do you see those black helicopters, man?!
Who cops this way: Prostitutes looking to cut out the middle man, Second Lifers who haven't slept in four days, and, sadly, your little sister.
How the conversation starts: "This ski lift is looking for a cute snow bunny 4 a night-long ride on the slopes! Tons of frost! Come ride the slalom!"
Pros: Well, free coke.
Cons: You have to have sex with a very disgusting, dirty, and chubby man.
On the corner
Who cops this way: Individuals who are known around the neighborhood only as "Pink Eye," "Loose Linda," or "That guy who's always trying to sell me a broken VCR."
How the conversation starts: "Red tops! We got red tops!"
Pros: Just $5! (Also, some dealers take stolen jewelry.)
Cons: That's pure laxative you're about to smoke. And that's a cop across the street in the Buick LeSabre. And, man, wasn't that your great-uncle's graduation ring?
From an undercover law enforcement official
Who cops this way: That guy Diamond Larry whom you used to make runs with.
How the conversation starts: "Hey bro, it's Diamond Larry. Just made bond, man! What can I say, I got a great lawyer. Hey, listen, wanna make another run?"
Pros: The cops want you to help them nab the guy one step higher up the food chain than you. And you never liked Manolo anyway.
Cons: You have to become George Smith, a grocery bagger in Peoria, Illinois.
NIFTY PLACES TO GET BUZZED IN SOUTH FLORIDA Nifty Places to Get Buzzed in South Florida
Disclaimer: Consuming or acting under the influence of any type of inebriant in any of these places significantly increases your chances of death and/or incarceration.
It's isolated, dark, quiet, and you're surrounded by nature. The long Florida sky twinkles every night over the swamp. There are police, though, and the physical risks are obvious: killer gators, pythons, panthers, skunk apes, and drunken swamp men.
A high-rise balcony
The fourth Nickelback song of the night just played on the stereo, and the party you're at is beyond salvageable. Outside, though, the cool kids are passing around something to make this awkward debacle a little more bearable. The view is great from any high-rise in South Florida, but death is just one misstep away.
Your bar bathroom
In Miami, it might be in a strip club. In Fort Lauderdale, it could be an old spring break bar along the beach. In Palm Beach, you would be at a swanky, gilded restaurant, one sink over from a hedge-fund manager looking to share. True Florida debauchery.
Golf or disc golf course
Often overlooked and forgotten, this place requires some planning and scouting. But if it's a beautiful day and you're with buddies in the woods between the fourth and fifth holes, who could blame you? On the other hand, getting kicked out of a club is really embarrassing, and going to jail in golf clothes is an unbelievable nightmare.
Of course. You're in Florida. You wouldn't be a complete degenerate wannabe reality star if you didn't take your partying to the beach at least one time. Beware the angry parents, the beach cops, and the sharks, in that order.
Betting Big South Florida Style
Every time you pull onto I-95, you're gambling with your life. But for the truly debauched, that isn't enough. You need the extra thrill. You crave that moment when you learn whether you'll be dining on steak and fine wine for a week or you'll be cursing the world with a wad of losing betting stubs in each hand, trying to figure out how you're going to tell the wife that you lost the kids' college fund.
Well, South Florida has dozens of ways you can satisfy that urge to risk your rent money. Before pro football and spring break, the main tourist attraction in these parts was the pari-mutuels — the horse tracks, the dog tracks, the jai-alai frontons (where you can bet on men who barely speak English flinging a goat-skinned puck about 200 miles per hour). In the past few years, most of those places have added rows upon rows of slot machines and crowded poker rooms. These days, all across South Florida, at any hour of the day, you can find chips clacking and slot machines rocking. Here's a guide to help avoid going belly-up in the first few hours.
PLAYERS YOU'LL MEET AT YOUR POKER TABLE
There's something beautiful about the bond poker players share in South Florida. In a place full of dazzling beaches, fine dining, and nonstop nightlife, these men (and a few women) would rather be in a dark room, sitting around a table of strangers and staring at cards. Make no mistake; that mutual agreement doesn't preclude anyone from taking all of your money in a single hand. The maximum buy-in everywhere is still $100 (that's going up soon), but chip stacks rise and crumble with veritable ease.
So it helps to know who you'll be seeing at the tables. Here are some players you might run into around South Florida:
He's been receiving Social Security for quite some time now. He doesn't see his family, but he sees the same degenerates in the card room every day without fail. Randy talks to the dealer so much that it makes everyone at the table feel weird. Don't worry, though; he'll leave the table when they open the dinner buffet.
The local pro
Generally a male, age 22 to 38. This guy will tell you over and over how much he makes at tables, how many tournaments he wins, how everyone knows him. He'll explain that he has a system. He may even refer to himself as a "grinder." He will also blame your lack of skill if you beat him in a hand.
Quiet kid in the corner
This young man will be wearing a hooded sweatshirt, even in the middle of summer in one of the warmest places in the country. He has an iPod going at all times and dark sunglasses, and he wants you to think he's quietly studying you. He's actually fondly recalling a rather special masturbation session from a few weeks ago and how much cooler he is than the suckers who stayed in college.
A cubicle monkey by day (and avid sci-fi fan), Mr. Poker will be dressed from head to toe in poker-themed attire — from his ace-of-spades ring to his poker shirt to his other poker shirt on top of that to his pokerstars.com hat to his customized poker shades. He also may bring his wife with him sometimes, pay for her buy-in, then criticize her play all night.
One of the few females at the table, Shirley is sweet and polite. She doesn't seem to mind the guys flirting with her or the lewd joke the first time she said "All in." She's sly, though. If you call her when she's got all of her chips in the middle, you can kiss your money goodbye.
LOCAL RULES FOR BLACKJACK
Chances are, if you've played blackjack outside of Florida, it was in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or on a boat somewhere. Well, you've got a few things to learn before hitting the tables here. Sure, the basic strategies and numbers are the same, but all the little things are different. South Florida has its own set of rules when it comes to playing 21:
No dealer on duty
Several local casinos now offer blackjack, some for as little as $5 a hand. Unless you're playing at the Seminole Hard Rock, though, you won't have a dealer. The gaming laws of Florida allow only electronic blackjack in any casino not run by the Seminole tribe. So if you want to play traditional blackjack with a living, breathing dealer, there's only one place. You'll have to join the Ed Hardy crowd at the Hard Rock in Hollywood.
You must pay
Assuming you've chosen to play with a dealer, the first thing you'll learn is that you didn't bring enough cash. Most of the tables require at least $25 a bet. Many tables have $100 minimums. The cheapest table you can play will cost you $10 a hand. That's about $30 a minute. And most of the time, there's only one of those tables.
You must wait
Unless you're looking to wager hundreds of dollars every minute, you can expect to wait a long time. There is a constant mass of humanity huddled around the $10 tables, and opportunities to grab a stool are rare. Your best hope: weaseling in and apologizing later.
Unlike the classic casinos in downtown Vegas or on the Jersey shore, these card rooms don't have that mystical carcinogenic blue haze. If you want to smoke, you'll have to leave the table. And good luck getting that spot back.
At least not for free. One of the best parts of playing most places is the nonstop delivery of free or heavily discounted drinks. The casino wants to get you wasted and get you betting badly. Here, the casino expects you to get yourself wasted before handing over your money.
Ask for hot chocolate
This is one of the little-known secrets of South Florida blackjack. Alcohol is expensive. Even soda and water will cost you a few bucks. But of all the things to give away in the subtropics, hot chocolate is free.
You must not play "by the book"
Yes, the odds say you should hit that 16 when the dealer shows 7. But if you do and you get the card that would have busted the dealer, be prepared for a shitstorm of South Floridian insults. And heaven forbid you're "playing third base" (sitting in the last position on the left). They'll follow you to your car.
You must play "by the book"
Say you decide to stay when the odds said you should hit and everyone loses as a result. Drunk bystanders will mock you. Old women will curse you. Some people will actually ask you to leave the table. Like any absurd vice wonderland, sometimes you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.
You must tolerate religious fanatics
At every crowded table, there will be at least one crazy asshole who believes every loss is the work of the devil and every win is a reward from Jesus. Nothing takes away from the rush of a well-executed double down like some nut chalking it all up to his drunken delusions. But if you retort with anything that might offend him, you're both getting kicked out. So be tolerant, and go in peace.
Living Large in the Sunshine State
We've heard rumors that in far-flung lands such as Massachusetts, the locals discriminate between "old money" and "new money." In South Florida nightlife, there's no such snobbery. (Except for Manalapan and Palm Beach, but there, Bernie Madoff pretty much turned "old money" into "no money.") In fact, in the SoFla jet-set scene, they don't even do "money" at all. They do credit cards. And as long as your AmEx can handle a few more bottles of Cristal, you'll be treated like a Kennedy partying in Cape Cod. Just make sure you transfer your balance to a new card the next morning. Here's how you can live like a shah for a weekend, even if you're actually a kindergarten teacher.
RENT A LIFE
First, you'll need a car that costs more than your parents' house. Preferably, this vehicle should be of Italian make, as loud as a Hell's Angels motorcade, and the color of a Skittle. There are countless places to rent a Lamborghini or Ferrari in South Florida — but you don't want to do business with 98 percent of those hucksters. More often than not, the hirsute and gold-chained fellow trying to rent you an exotic vehicle doesn't have such a car in his possession — he's planning on renting it himself from some down-on-his-luck music producer. Which means there's no proper insurance. Which means if anything happens to the car on your watch, you're going to end up owing Scott Storch $400,000, which could get messy.
There are a few places on the up-and-up. In Miami, try American Luxury Auto Rental (305-526-1016), where you might be berated by the gruff, exotic-car Nazi manning the front desk, but you can have your pick of hundreds of luxury rides, and the insurance situation is legitimate. And if you're in Broward or Palm Beach counties, it's Gotham Dream Cars in Dania Beach (561-992-8700) — perhaps the only rental spot in the region where the staff seems to appreciate that you're shelling out $700 a day for the experience. They even wear uniforms. (And, yep, that's how much a "budget" Ferrari will run you. On the high end, a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren will cost more than $4,000 for a weekend.)
If you park your rented Lamborghini outside of a Biscayne Boulevard flop hotel, not only will it look tacky but somebody's going to have sex in it. No, you'll need matching lodging. You're going to have to rent a mansion. Pay a visit to what might be South Florida's quintessential industry: the "lifestyle broker" — where they will not only procure you a few days in a villa that belongs to an indicted Fort Lauderdale financier; they will also get your Elephant Man-esque mug past the velvet ropes at exclusive nightclubs. One of many providers that will sell you the full package is Carefree Lifestyle on South Beach (866-589-8796) — but considering that plebeians are attempting to rent their one-bedrooms for thousands a day during Super Bowl weekend, you better come armed with a mighty high credit limit. And don't worry: Your borrowed glitz need not be land-locked. Lifestyle brokers rent yachts too.
LOOK THE PART
In South Florida, there are some well-known rules concerning personal appearance if you ever want to make it into the VIP section. First, every square inch of your body must be the hue of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Every inch. Yep. We'll get to that in a moment.
Second, the only places where hair follicles are acceptable are: (a) on the top of your head, (b) in threaded form, above your eyes, and (c) above your upper lip in bushy form — but only if you're a male who's smuggled more than a kilo of cocaine into this country and can prove it with old police reports. That third rule is strictly enforced.
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How can you acquire such a look? Read on, our naive Kansan friend.
For that "every square inch" thing we mentioned above, there is a product called "anal bleaching cream" that really requires no explanation. It sells for $50 a tube, and you can find it at most waxing centers in South Florida, including the South Beach Body Waxing Co. (305-531-3130). That's where a counterperson reminded us that, for maximum effect, you should probably get your nether region's 5 o'clock shadow removed by one of their technicians before applying the cream. Their bikini wax costs $14 for women and $35 for men.
Then head to a tanning salon — and leave your Speedo on the floor before stepping into the capsule for the full-body effect. Sure, there's the beach, but that just doesn't supply the same radioactive glow. Little-known fact: On some corners of SoBe and Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, municipal officials shut off streetlights so tourists can watch the glowing people stream from club to club. It's like a subtropical version of the northern lights.