For the Rest of Us, It's Strictly Business

For the Rest of Us, It's Strictly Business

January 28, 2001: An overhead view of the halftime show during Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Florida.

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Why you should care

Because in the long run, naïveté could end up saving you some cash.

It was the year 2000, the dawning of a new age, or at least a new millennium, and post the realization that the world would not fry when the calendar clicked over from partying like it was 1999. Americans’ thoughts at the end of January, the 28th to be exact, turned to Super Bowl XXXV. Location? Tampa Bay, Florida.

The Baltimore Ravens were playing my hometown heroes, the New York Giants, and I had pulled into Tampa to cover the event and its attendant lunacy as a member of the press. And, oh, to emcee a fashion show. As editor-in-chief of the multi-award-winning CODE magazine, a fashion magazine for the rest of us, I’d been hit up to helm a pre-Bowl fashion show with players who weren’t playing but were in town, cohosted by ESPN’s late, great Stuart Scott. The idea was to slather some of the league’s slickest in a stunning array of bespoke finery.

And with a solid business reason in place, the secondary order of business — to raise as much hell as possible — could be addressed with a quickness. Almost easier done than said since, if you were Black, weighed more than 240 pounds and both booted and suited, you were, in the eyes of fans and assorted Nathanael West, Day of the Locust–like fame-watching flotsam, a player. Figuratively and even possibly literally.

On the flip side, if you were a man over 30 and not wearing a suit? Well, there was the cavalcade of coach-ery.

“Coach? Meet Coach!”

“How ya doing, Coach?”

“Not too bad, Coach.”

Coach this, coach that. Everyone with a penis who wasn’t a player or an autograph hound? A coach.

It was like a concentrated OD of anything and everything football, and the vibe wasn’t just celebratory. It was well beyond that, approaching some kind of religious ecstasy. Later, limo’ing it over to Tampa’s downtown strip after some pre-event show and making my way through the crowd, I heard my name and swiveled my head to see I was being waved at by a porn star I had just interviewed back in L.A.

Discretion guaranteed. If you call showing up with a porn star of stage and screen discreet.

 

“What the hell are you doing here?”

She laughed, hugged me and said, “Look at you, dressed all fancy,” not answering my question at all.

“Wait. I had no idea you were a football fan.”

“Are you?”

“Not really, but I’m working. But what are you doing here? Didn’t you tell me you were going to be in Chicago or New York or something?”

She cleared her throat, laughed a light trill and headed off toward a famous player who’d waved her over.

“Wait. Are you two dating?”

And again, a laugh. But this time, not with me. At me. Then as I watched her pinkish blonde hair bob across a sea of coaches and players way too late to be able to claim any kind of cool, I figured it out: She was working too. Just not on film.

While online debunkers Snopes call bullshit on the notion that Super Bowl cities are suddenly overrun with prostitutes, this could be an issue of semantics: Streetwalkers who could easily be arrested? Probably not. Escorts whose services are secured prior and who travel with their purchasers? Very possibly a different deal.

In this case, one that was put together by a company called Body Miracle (later shut down by the Feds for the old standby: tax evasion). Leveraging the pull of porn stars and promising, on the low end, $6,000 two-day package deals, flights not included, it was, apparently, a perfect way to spend nonfield time. Discretion guaranteed. If you call showing up with a porn star of stage and screen discreet.

And once you have the eyes to see, you suddenly can’t stop seeing. Between all of the “Hi, Coaching,” not only did I see women I had interviewed, but I also saw male porn stars I had interviewed. Not gay porn stars, but straight male porn stars who just came for the party. Football be damned.

Later in Los Angeles, after the game and the Giants getting drubbed, she and I were chatting.

“So, did you dig the game?” This time with a knowing smile.

Then a beat, a smile and finally, “Game?”

Yeah, games are for kids and rich people. For the rest of us? Strictly business.

“I figure it like this,” she finally spelled it out for me. “I’m getting $1,200 for a scene, which could take a half day to shoot and could be with any number of dudes.” But when Body Miracle was in business, the sky was the limit, especially with name recognition from prior film work. “One guy, plus airfare, meals and partying?” She shrugged.

“Yeah, I like football. And champagne. And nice hotels. And box seats too.”

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