Tailpipe had just emerged from the roiling riptides at the park, his rusty hide covered in sea lice bites, when he heard sirens and watched an ambulance skid into the park's picnic area. Sun-dazed families looked up from their barbecues to see paramedics leap out and race across the beach toward 36-year-old Vance Sainvil, who had been pulled from the waves moments before. Frantic family members said he had just disappeared under the water, only feet from them.
The 'Pipe gawked as the medics hoisted Sainvil onto a stretcher and raced him back toward the ambulance across the sand; then he joined the knot of screaming family members around the ambulance, listening to them wail in Creole as EMT personnel vainly tried to resuscitate Sainvil.
Into this grief-wracked scene strode an irate, apparently Hispanic, young woman with long hair. Her face writhed with emotion. She screamed and waved her arms, pushing her way through a clot of distraught Haitians toward Park Ranger Robert Barker, who was trying to move back a crowd of curious onlookers.
"I don't need a dead person's ambulance hanging around!" she yelled at Barker, her face working with outrage. "It's my 3-year-old daughter's birthday. I don't need this for my future mental health. I don't need her to remember an ambulance here on her birthday."
Chihuahua! She was right. The ambulance had been parked in the picnic area for about 20 minutes, casting the pall of death across the beautiful sunny day. But, then, what's too long when a man is dying?
Ranger Barker replied with a stony look. "We don't need this right now," he said.
The woman took her grievance to the source of the problem: Sainvil's family members. "I don't need this right now," Tailpipe heard her telling a tearful woman, who didn't even respond but turned her back and continued wailing.
Tailpipe, hypnotized by the display, followed the mother as she retreated from the gruesome scene. "If he dies here or he dies at the hospital, it doesn't matter," he overheard her telling a man in an orange vest holding a broom and a dustbin.
"Yes," the man returned. "It's really hard."
The woman disappeared into a changing hut.
News stories the next day noted that Sainvil, a Pompano Beach resident, had been pronounced dead upon his arrival at Memorial Regional Hospital. They made no mention of a spoiled birthday party as a Haitian man, apparently much loved by his family, was giving up the ghost.
Boca Raton comedy club manager Norm Jeanis reluctantly called off the Playgirl cover model competition the other day. After only two contestants had shown up for his planned American Idol-style competition at New York Comedy Club, Jeanis declared the Playgirl cover model competition "in abeyance."
"You can't force people to compete," Jeanis shrugged after nobody at all showed up for what was to have been the second round of an eight-week run.
In truth, the "chance" meant that International Entertainers, a Florida male strip revue that is said to have a Playgirl connection but never answers phones, must approve of the winner, whom they would then present to the magazine. The punch line: No guarantees. Was this Jeanis' own quirky comedy routine or, Tailpipe wanted to know, a rip-off?
The 'Pipe has had little intimate contact with the stripping profession, but he long ago discovered that the truth about promotional scams travels faster than air from a punctured balloon.
The week before it all came crashing down, the stout, red-nosed club manager actually recruited a pair of contestants Christopher and Timothy from Boardwalk, a gay Fort Lauderdale strip club.
Christopher, 20, an agile, good-looking stud with a hawk cut and multiple piercings and tattoos, had recently blown in from Baltimore, hoping to find a pot of gold in South Florida, the mecca for male strippers. Timothy, a green-eyed 24-year-old, recently fled Minneapolis, he said, after his younger brother was stabbed to death by gang members.
The Monday-night crowd at the comedy club, which is tucked behind a Burger King in the back of Piccadilly Square shopping center, was almost as sparse as whiskers on a cue ball. But the two gave it what-for. Highlights included Timothy's saucy ass-shake and a racy glimpse or two of the package in Christopher's jockstrap. Christopher was clearly the more experienced stripper, but the more rough-hewn Timothy got the nod.
Then it was "Thanks, guys" from Jeanis, but no prize money tonight from the club that often packs audiences in for B-list comedians like Artie Fletcher and Al Romero.
"They knew the rules," Jeanis told the surprised 'Pipe, without making eye contact. He pointed to the sign-up sheet, which clearly indicated that, unless at least four dancers showed up, there would be no $100 prize. The dancers were also required to bring four guests each, though Jeanis said he'd have been willing to waive that rule. Timothy had noticed the stipulations but didn't much care. Christopher hadn't looked before he signed.
Nobody from Playgirl, which is published by Crescent Publishing in New York, returned Tailpipe's calls.
"I should get a complimentary fucking blowjob," Christopher fumed.
Footnote: After repeated queries by Tailpipe, the club dug into its petty-cash drawer and gave Timothy his prize.
The Egg and Jeff
File this under "Information that you may not need or even want but that the 'Pipe is providing for the edification of the public."
Jeffrey Epstein, the 53-year-old billionaire who was arrested last month for soliciting prostitutes in his Palm Beach mansion, was an absolute turnoff for one of his alleged teenaged sex partners.
According the Palm Beach Police Department's probable-cause affidavit, the young woman discovered Epstein's member to be, uh, odd-looking. "Deformed," she told the cops, describing her encounter with the money manager who was named one of New York's most eligible bachelors by the New York Post in 2003. "Oval-shaped." Having a hard time picturing this, officers asked her to clarify. "When erect, it was thick toward the bottom but thin and small toward the head portion," she explained. The girl finally described Epstein's manhood as "egg-shaped."
And he's still eligible, girls.
As letters to the editor go, the LED display in the front window of Rita Olwell Travel in Fort Lauderdale couldn't be more direct: "TRASH JOURNALISM STRIKES AGAIN... DON'T SUPPORT THE NEW EXPRESS INQUIRER..." Tailpipe has been called worse, for sure, but it isn't every day that a paper gets ripped in lights on Sunrise Boulevard.
Seems folks at the agency took umbrage at the Express News' July 8 story about Rita Olwell owner Agopijean Jacob Torossian's being charged with two counts of grand theft and criminal use of personal information. Those are, in the words of Torossian's domestic and business partner, Mike Dareing, "bullshit charges," all based on a misunderstanding with American Express.
What really riled Rita Olwell's dander, though, was the way the Express, South Florida's largest gay newspaper, used some of the agency's former employees as sources.
Paul Stalbaum, who in the article was identified as a former sales agent and a sometimes writer for the Express-owned 411 Magazine, said he left Rita Olwell because of "questionable ethics" at the agency. Dareing contends that Stalbaum was fired. He also would have liked the story to mention that Stalbaum now promotes a cruise for "bears" (loosely defined, gay men with stockier bodies and an aversion to razors) similar to the one Rita Olwell still runs, Bear Voyage, that Stalbaum started.
Reached by Tailpipe, Stalbaum contends that the cruises aren't competitors and, without providing details, reasserted that he left because he didn't like the way the business was run.
"How do I say this?" he asked. "I needed to protect myself and my clients."
Criminal trials have a way of dulling any axes that need grinding. In the meantime, the scrolling sign reminds passersby, "BEAR VOYAGE IS UP TO NEARLY 500 BEARS!" That's voyage as in bon voyage.
Bear voyage, kids.
As told to Edmund Newton