Here’s the story of a crazy citythat was bringing in some leggy, lovely girls. Actually, on Thursday, Dec. 8, the bevy of leggy ladies shuttle-bused to the Orlando City Hall rotunda in the name of vapid pageantry wasn’t the real story at all, something easily evidenced by palpable pant-tent excitement of the all-male media types assembled. Sure, the parade of hair extensions and stenciled sashes and Botox representing the hollowed head of the 2011 Mrs. World Contest – the finals are being held at Westgate Resorts on Dec. 15 (today!) – was a sight to behold. The pageant is, after all, a venue for antifeminism of the beauty, brains and “opinions about marriage” variety, so you know, world peace! But the real draw for men of a certain age was the presence of the original Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch, Florence Henderson, petitely presented in a green pantsuit without a drop of Wesson cooking oil to cloud her ageless radiance. Henderson was in attendance because she’s hosting the pageant and she was to receive a key to the goddamned city! The key giving was pantomimed as a secret (although it was in the freaking press release announcing the event), so she feigned elegant surprise at the mayor’s lock-picking generosity.
“Will this get me into your mansion?” she blinked as much as her pulled face would allow.
“My office,” Mayor Buddy Dyer blushed uncomfortably. “I’ve had a little trouble with people showing up at my house lately.” Oh, Occupy jokes. Occupy my office, Brady lady!
And that’s not even the real joke. There are several! Ready? Go! First off, the pageant is being held at Westgate Resorts, meaning that CEO David Siegel was awkwardly in attendance to glower at the ladies – and we use the word lightly, because Mrs. Venezuela was clearly a man.That’s funny because wasn’t it just a few years ago that Siegel was involved in a $5 million sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee? And, speaking of mansions, isn’t Siegel currently selling his unfinished 90,000-square-foot Versailles monstrosity in Windermere for $75 million because of hard times? Take my wife! Please!
And then there’s Florence (whom we love, by the way; “You have a very distinctive look,” she squinched when posing for a picture with us). Florence has a history with mayoral trouble, something she’s junketed to death since the September release of her autobiography, Life Is Not a Stage. We pulled city spokeswoman Heather Fagan aside to see if she had any inkling of the television star’s torrid past. Turns out Fagan had Googled Henderson to death – something that is apparently customary in the bequeathing of magic city keys – and hadn’t, erm, come across anything fishy.
“You do know that Florence Henderson had an affair with former New York Mayor John Lindsay in the 1960s, right?” we stifled a giggle. “He gave her crabs!”
“No!” Fagan’s face went white. “Well, she’s done a lot of good things, too!” Like Wesson.
Following that awkward exchange, we stood around for a few minutes to watch each of the pageant ladies hand a gift representing either their country or their cause – Mrs. Mexico brought a ceramic skull, because, um, cartels? – and wondered to ourselves whether Mrs. Bahamas’ diamond-encrusted pendant on a white-gold necklace would clock in under $25. Also, would the mayor wear it? (It’s all “gifts to the city,” says Fagan, so you can wear it!). Meanwhile, WESH-TV Channel 2 reporter Greg Fox was haranguing Henderson with some oily questions of his own off to the side.
“Here’s a serious question,” he softened his balls before leading into some nonsense about whether the mayor was more excited to see a bunch of gussied-up global geese or everybody’s favorite childhood mom-crush. Gross.
“Mayor Dyer is very diplomatic,”Henderson demurred. “He’s known me longer than those ladies.” Watch out, Buddy!
Unless you were living under an endangered gopher tortoise, you’re probably well aware by now that Mr. 26 Percent, Gov. Rick Scott, unveiled his imaginary budget in Tallahassee last week with a sandy flip-flop: He’d be suggesting a $1 billion increase in education just one year after signing a budget that cut education by $1.3 billion. Clearly intended as a public relations stunt to soften his poorly received angularity, the promise came with few real specifics. As our Orlando Sentinel boyfriend Scott Maxwell was quick to point out, the $110-per-pupil increase – from $6,262 to $6,372 – was nice and all, but not so much when you consider that it used to be up around $6,897 before this terror reign.
But the governor’s obvious headline chase was foiled when The Daily Show crashed the announcement with a piss-cup in hand.Aasif Mandvi, correspondent for the faux news program, challenged our gubernatorial dome of mutilation to provide a urine sample, because, you know, Gov. Scott wants all of the poor people in the state to pee for their “needy” benefits. “I’ve done it plenty of times,” the governor sneered exactly twice before telling Mandvi, “You don’t get to run the show.”
Oh, but he did.Mandvi went on to pull the same stunt on Attorney General Pam “Barbie” Bondi on Dec. 8., except Bondi came prepared with a name-labeled cup of her own “urine,” which Mandvi promptly drank only to declare “It’s apple juice.”
Mandvi reportedly obtained legitimate urine samples from four other state legislators, including our own State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando. We called Randolph on Friday to get the dirty lowdown.
“It was clearly something they didn’t think all the way through,” Randolph says, referring to the length of time it would take The Daily Show-administered home urine tests to process. Randolph thought The Daily Show was inviting him to an early sit-down interview, but instead “they said, ‘Would you pee in a cup?’ I said, ‘You’ll need a bigger cup.’That was my one funny line,” Randolph says.
What transpired thereafter is the stuff of men’s awkward bathroom fantasies. Randolph was followed into the bathroom by the whole production team, which proceeded to put a boom mic over his shoulder and cause him performance anxiety. When Randolph finally did produce the liquid gold, the team stood around and stared at the cup, waiting for the 10-minute home drug test to process. Men don’t talk in bathrooms, see. Hilariously, one of the strips testing for opiates wasn’t registering correctly – or, cleanly – something Randolph later figured was the result of the Propofol he was given during a routine endoscopy on Dec. 5. Had this not been a stunt – had Randolph actually been poor and in need of temporary assistance – he basically would have been fucked. Well, maybe fucked isn’t the right word. “We declared that the drug test showed I was pregnant,” says Randolph, whose uterus-loving wife is pregnant.
Speaking of medicine – and, well, the governor’s budget – it’s worth pointing out that Scott’s education nonsense is basically being funded by $2 billion in cuts to hospitals dealing in Medicaid and Medicare. By way of extremely dire explanation, Scott’s budget director, Jerry McDaniel, defended the cuts with this amazing salvo: “The governor operated 343 hospitals while he was in business. He was very successful at it. He said his best-paying clients were Medicaid and Medicare.”
That’ll happen when you allegedly defraud said entities and end up paying $1.7 billion to clear your name. Somebody pass the cup.
Just don’t pass it to Santa Claus!In what was supposed to be an innocent family affair – well, as innocent as something called “Jingle Jam: A Crazy Kind of Christmas Market” can be – the Downtown South Main Street board of directors set out to launch a new annual tradition on Dec. 3 with a festival-like vendor fair in the Southside Market parking lot on Orange Avenue. Nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Well, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, the board was forced to swallow some of its holiday cheer and send out an email apology.
“It came to our attention after the Jingle Jam was over that the volunteer we had playing Santa Claus was drinking adult beverages at the event,” the email reads. “This was inappropriate and we apologize to all who attended that this occurred.”
Because drunk Santas never occur, especially when they are not paid to deal with children while their parents drink, we called Downtown South program manager Holly Vanture for more of the sordid details. Turns out that somebody’s mom called the Monday after and spilled the eggnog on Santa’s wayward ways, and it will never happen again.
“In hindsight, very often you think that you didn’t have to say certain things,” says Vanture, who allows that, though the event did provide alcohol to some of its 1,200 participants, it was as far away as possible from Santa’s place. “Every year, we have a list of things we would change. This year, on that list is Santa drinks sodas and water only. Actually, Santa drinks milk only. Milk and cookies for Santa all day!” Santa needs a flask.
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