If you happened upon a bunch of greasy men in gold chains and busty, barely clad women last weekend, those were probably the movers and shakers of the Internet porn world. They congregated at Hollywood's Westin Diplomat for the Internext Expo, a biannual convention that usually jumps between South Florida and Vegas.
The event was closed to the public and the media, but New Times reporter Ashley Harrell tried to gain entry through the temperamental founder of Screw magazine, Al Goldstein, who said he might be able to dig up an extra pass for her.
That wasn't all. Goldstein, who is 71, was also hoping, based on Harrell's phone voice, that there might be some relationship potential.
"I'm not looking for somebody to fuck, just somebody to spend time with," he explained, before warning: "I'm very difficult."
Like she didn't already know. This is a man who may be best-known in these parts for having in the backyard of his former manse on the Intracoastal in Pompano Beach a giant statue of a hand giving neighbors and passing boaters the finger.
Harrell made it clear that her goal was to follow Goldstein around at the convention rather than sit down for a formal interview. After all, there was potentially juicy porno-networking to eavesdrop on, not to mention tension-filled auctions of adult-oriented domain names.
Goldstein, who once ran for sheriff of Broward County (and next to the current officeholder, he'd be an improvement), wanted to meet at noon in the lobby. Harrell figured that meant noonish, considering she was meeting him at the site of the convention. She certainly didn't think he'd get all self-important about having to wait a few minutes. He is, after all, a self-proclaimed "nobody." Screw went under long ago. Goldstein lost all his money and that Pompano house. Now he's blogging on Booble.com, a porn version of Google.
His tumble from smut royalty notwithstanding, he damned well expected to be met promptly at noon. So when Harrell had to stop to get batteries for a tape recorder, it was a deal breaker.
"Who do you think I am?" Goldstein screamed into the phone when he was informed that the meeting would have to be pushed back 15 minutes. He was also ticked off that Harrell had waited a couple of days to phone him after his "webmaster" gave the go-ahead for a story.
"This is a fiasco," he said before hanging up on Harrell.
After arriving at the Diplomat, our game reporter tried to get in the front door but was turned away. Apparently not just any riff-raff can get into a porn convention. So she called Goldstein again and tried to reason with him.
Ah, but it wasn't a total loss. Harrell watched from the stairs as porn stars came and went, their Expo passes dangling precariously over cleavage, their skirts falling shorter than their underwear.
And those auctioned domain names? Gold standard latinpussy.com took the top prize at $135,000. Meanwhile, poor internalcreampies.com went cheaply, if you ask the 'Pipe, for just $1,500.
The red-and-white banner hanging from the wrought-iron fence along Hollywood Boulevard speaks the truth: Hollywood — arguably the most woebegone burg in all of South Florida — is a winner in the 2007 All-America City Awards.
No, this is not one of those ironic contests like the Razzies, which honor the year's worst films. According to the application for the award, put forth by the Denver-based National Civic League, the contest prizes "civic infrastructure," "community celebration," and "community projects," among other things.
The 'Pipe scanned the application, certain the All-America judges must give extra points to cities whose police officers have been convicted of felony corruption charges or whose commissioner resigned after being indicted on felony corruption charges.
And yet, no. Nor are there extra points for darkened downtown storefronts or for tax money spent on downtown high-rises that will never be built or may never be filled.
So how in the name of the Star-Spangled Banner did Hollywood win?
Give the credit to Mayor Mara Giulianti, who was apparently willing to put aside her city's desperate need for city services so that she and her allies could embark on an aggressive fundraising campaign that ended with a free trip to California to bask in the All-America glory.
The Hollywood Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, which can't afford to give tax relief to the small hotels that give the district its distinct character, somehow found $1,200 in its budget for the All-America endeavor.
The ultraconnected law firm of Becker & Poliakoff, where Hollywood political insider Alan Koslow works, chipped in $1,000.
The development group for the swanky Villas of Positano, home to Giulianti and her husband, chipped in $5,000 — the largest sum, and one for which Giulianti herself took credit.
Judging by the list of donors, much of the $27,782 in total funds raised for the All-America gambit came from firms with city contracts or with projects that depend on city approval. The rest, more than $10,000, came from the city's Community Development Block Grant, which, according to federal guidelines, is supposed to provide economic development, particularly for low- to middle-income families who cannot afford housing. In Hollywood's case, those funds did provide housing — in high-class California hotels. City dignitaries took an expense-paid trip to Anaheim for the awards ceremony in June.
This battered cylinder can't help but wonder: If Hollywood is an All-America city, what does that say about America?
The world has had coin currency since, oh, probably 600 BC. And the first paper money showed up in China around the end of the Ninth Century. Even so, for a growing number of South Floridians, it's hard to resist the oldest form of commerce: bartering.
One of the 'Pipe's favorite pastimes is seeing what folks dream up for trading on the local posts of Craigslist.com, if only because it confirms that our South Florida home is still, as Dave Barry once put it, a "howling hurricane of hypocrisy, hokum, and hype." Don't get the 'Pipe wrong: Some proposals make perfect sense, even if they might indulge a bit of wishful thinking. Like the Pembroke Pines biker looking to exchange a sporty Honda racing motorcycle for something more staid but of similar value, like maybe a Harley. His bike, he says on Craigslist.com, is probably worth $5,500.
Items on a few other wish lists, though, are truly bizarre.
One fellow is looking to exchange 220 tubes of lipstick in a variety of shades for male undergarments, the more sweat on them the better. He appeals to all the ladies out there for help in delivering the goods, writing: "Do you have a hot boy friend, husband prefreabley [sic] older son?"
There's just one catch: The waistbands must be a size 32. Everything else is negotiable, though ideally, for the poster, the original wearer of said unmentionables would be under the age of 30 and white. And in a perfect world, our dirty underwear lover in Lauderdale says he'd get a variety of items out of the trade, like maybe some tighty whities, boxer briefs, bathing trunks, and/or gym shorts.
The strange offerings aren't limited to undies. In Key Biscayne, someone is willing to trade "several" colon cleanings for a good, reliable bicycle.
Then there's a licensed chiropractor in Aventura who'd happily treat your ailments — maybe even with cold laser therapy — in exchange for bass guitar lessons.
And attention, oral surgeons and dentists: There's an awful lot of folks with rotten or missing teeth willing to do just about anything — clean your house, build you a motorcycle, be your personal love slave — for free dental work. Sounds like a bargain, but then again, the 'Pipe never went through dental school.