But the three dozen guys who have blown their lunch hour are either too excited to clap or not into seeing politicians writhe in their skivvies. There is, after all, something surreal about it all, watching Carey clothed on CNN a few weeks ago, then being offered irrefutable proof that her prime assets are either fake or, well, very firm. "Come on, guys," the DJ chastises, "make some noise out there." She flips over, and the DJ gets excited. "Oh my God -- it's Mary Carey doggy-style." If only the gubernatorial debates were this animated.
This ain't no strip-club floozy here; two weeks ago, Carey managed 10,524 votes in California's recall of its governor, tenth in a crowd of more than 135 candidates, not far behind Larry Flynt and Gary Coleman. More than anything, the election was terrific publicity, making the star of such titles as Hot Showers 6 and Thumpin' Melons a well-known name in two seemingly dissimilar fields: porn and politics.
Last week, the hometown headliner rode that fame to a three-day engagement at the squalid inky T's (the club is painted black from top to bottom), down the street from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Halfway through a performance last Thursday, the stage is already littered with dollar bills when the DJ announces what everyone must be waiting for. "Hey, guys, how about a little titty tipping?" Carey displays her political mettle by grasping greenbacks between her bosoms in a way perhaps no other politician but Arnold himself could manage.
From there, the show -- Carey's bottoms off, "Welcome to the Jungle" on the turntable -- gets raunchy. Anybody want to see Mary rub lotion all over her naked body? Yeah. By then, all that's left of her outfit is two shards of leopard pelt tied to her forearms. Well-lotioned, Carey flips onto her back and places a plastic cup next to her crotch. The DJ dares the guys to make a backboard shot as the stage spins. In two minutes, the stage is littered with dollars. No hits. Finally, she makes it easy, replacing the cup with a champagne bucket.
Somebody collects the fistfuls of dollars strewn on-stage as Carey ducks out to the entranceway. There, she poses topless with fans for 10 bucks or naked for 20. She uses the same pose for each shot: boobs pulled out of her dress, face contorted into phony orgasmic pain, and hands cupped over her crotch. A half-dozen guys sign up for the Polaroid, including a fidgety man in shadowy glasses who sneaks out afterward like a shoplifter.
Carey reluctantly agrees to talk about her future in politics. Sitting at a small bar in the back, she wears a crimson spandex dress with a cut-out oval that offers a glimpse of her double-D debate-stoppers. "I'll talk to you about politics and stuff," Carey says, expressing some hesitation after what she called unfavorable New Times coverage of her campaign. "But you know what? I hope every writer at the New Times dies." She lets the effect of it hang in the air before flipping her hair around playfully. "I'm just kidding. Here, I'll give you a little something to make up for it." Carey casually rubs her hand across the crotch of the interviewer, a gesture meant to be sexual that instead has the effect of a hernia check.
Carey turns away teasingly and looks to the bartender. "What do I want to drink?" she says, perhaps as a cue for someone to buy her one. A guy to her left with a six-inch mullet quickly complies. The bartender mixes her a gin and tonic, and Carey goes on to politics. "I'm gonna run again," she says. "Mayor, governor, I don't know. Mayor of Los Angeles, I'd like that. I gotta wait 12 years before I can run for president. Then I'll be 35. I'm 23 now." (One T's waitress, though, thought Carey looked like she was "pushing 40.")
Next big project: a reality TV show called Can You Be a Porn Star? It hasn't been picked up by a network yet, she says, but she's optimistic. "I mean, it's perfect, right? Who wouldn't want to be a porn star if they could?" She's also going to do, with the help of goofy-movie pro Paulie Shore, some standup comedy. "I mean, I've been doing standup for five months, right? Every time I got up to do a speech, I was doing standup."
All things considered, Carey says, compulsively flicking her cigarette in a plastic ash tray, crossing and uncrossing her legs, her clear plastic shoes with four-inch platform soles banging on the bar, she's glad to be back where she belongs. She flips her hair over her shoulder to look in a floor-length mirror to her right. "I was glad I ran," she says of her five months in politics. "But I'm glad to be back in the porn industry. I'm less exploited when I'm in porn, you know? Politics, they really exploit women, especially if you're beautiful. They don't care if you're smart."
Fighting in the political arena was nothing compared to what she's going to take on next, Carey says. The porn studio that produced her movies put up $15,000 for her campaign, she says, and it's something that's become as contentious as a Viagra shortage in Hollywood. Because they made an investment in her political venture, the company wants her to fork over the $21,200 she made for winning a Game Show Network face-off among the lesser-known candidates. Besides, she already wants to go after the porn studio for contract negotiations. "You know how much my movies are worth now?" she asks, flicking her cigarette again. "I mean, I was the smartest person in the porn industry, and that's why I ran for office. But I should've gotten a better deal on those movies. I'm not making anything off them now -- can you believe it?"
With the dollar bills thrown on-stage and the money she makes selling her movies after shows, Carey pulls in about $200 every performance, or $800 a day. The club pays her a flat fee and puts her up in an apartment above the stage. In a given week, she can make a few thousand for performing. Like anyone from Hollywood, though, what she really wants to do is direct. "You have to think long-term, you know? You can't do porn forever."
Carey's got a few close friends from her days at Pine Crest Preparatory School in Fort Lauderdale (Class of '98), but mostly she tries to avoid people from her past. "I was in New York one night and I got together with some of those people from high school. I was supposed to see, you know, like, three of them and like 20 or 30 people showed up. It was stupid. They were totally kissing my ass. Do you know what it's like to have your ass kissed all the time? No, I guess you don't. Oh, that was mean."
She says she has no family. The grandparents who raised her have died, as did her dad. Her mom's an invalid, she says. "I'm gonna try to see her while I'm here, actually. I should go see her, don't you think?"
As for Pine Crest, Carey knows it doesn't want a porn star alumna hanging around. "I'd like to go see my old high school, but I'd better not," she says, finally burying her cigarette in the ashtray. "But you know what? I think my old ballet teacher would shoot me."
Carey's show wrapped up in West Palm on Saturday, but she takes her porn star-turned-politician-turned-stripper act on the road this week. She performs at Alex's in Stoughton, Massachusetts, through Saturday. Practice your bank shot.