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There he is: a guy in a chicken suit, flailing around in a pseudo-mock mosh pit on the rain-slick concrete floor of Churchill's back patio theater. As a punk band screams in the background, someone hurls a plastic cup of shitty beer, beaning him on the side of the head. He trips and falls onto the stage, landing near the singer. His fuzzy yellow head begins to fall off, and he sits, propping it up with his hands — or maybe doubled over in pain.
It's a recent Thursday night and I'm on the set of a porn shoot, for a Web site called MoneyTalks.com, yet another project from the infamous Reality Kings (who have also brought us classics like Bangbus.com and 8thStreetLatinas.com). There won't be any human-on-human sex taped at this punk rock dive tonight, but what ensues is probably more ridiculous and humiliating. And, I have to admit, just a tiny bit funny.
A few days before it all began, I'm sitting at happy hour, chatting with P., a friend of a friend. "I'm actually in a band," he tells me.
Checking out his blond greaser 'do, I say, "Let me guess — rockabilly?"
"Nope," answers P. "It's actually a punk band and I only just joined, playing guitar."
"What are you guys called?"
"Johnny SexFuk and the Flesh Rockets."
"My, what a marketable name."
"We're actually playing at Churchill's this Thursday."
"Oh, that's cool...." I'm thinking now might be a good time to refill my drink.
"But it's actually for a porn shoot," says P.
I was intrigued. Almost everyone in Miami who's just a little ... depraved, knows someone, or knows someone who knows someone, who's worked for or with Reality Kings at some point. P. is no different, and a friend has asked his band to play in the background of an episode for MoneyTalks. Apparently this site specializes in episodes that begin with people doing stupid things, pseudo-Jackass-style, for a little bit of cash. Guys getting hit in the nuts with tennis balls, teabagging their friends, and so on. At the end of each episode, somehow there is sex.
This taping is for the site's Halloween special, P. explains, so there will be costumes, and the band will play its trademark sloppy cover of "Monster Mash." Beyond that, P. has no idea what the shoot will entail. "You guys should come. You can write about it."
Maybe it was the vodka soda talking, but I agreed. Porn and music are no strangers; in fact Reality Kings operated a record label, Southbeat.
The following Thursday, I arrive at Churchill's at 10:30 p.m., an hour and a half after the shoot was supposed to start. Nothing's happening. I ask someone at the door where the shoot is. "Oh, it's just in the back, love."
The main room reverberates with the guttural squawk of what is possibly an open-mike night, but there's nothing in the back to indicate any kind of taping is going on. A ragtag bunch of the band and crew's friends is gathered, and eventually P. finds me. "So we're gonna play 'Monster Mash,' and then this guy is going to fuck a pumpkin."
"Yeah, for $200."
It's unclear whether this will happen during or after the Johnny SexFuk performance.
And so the time comes for the shoot, just past 11:00 or so. The extras are now pretty liquored up. They exchange taunts with the band. "Pretend you're in Hollywood!" the bassist exhorts the crowd.
"Hollywood sucks!" Someone yells back.
"Shut up and someone fuck the pumpkin already!" another one hollers.
Johnny SexFuk launches into one of its original songs, a rollicking, fun, sloppy punk number with just a hint of surf bass. The faux mosh pit starts in earnest — plastic patio furniture is kicked aside, beer is spilled, dudes wail on each other.
Suddenly a cameraman with a skull tattooed on the back of his shaved head appears. In front of him marches a pretty girl with long hair, clutching a microphone.
On cue, the band complains, "Who brought the camera?"
"We did," the girl answers, stepping onstage. They're from MoneyTalks.com, she says, and they're filming their Halloween Mashup Mosh Pit special. They're looking for "punk-ass bitches" who want to get $150 to embarrass themselves, and everyone else gets free beer. Dutifully the extras clap and whoop. (No free beer actually materializes. Shoestring budget, people.)
In keeping with the Halloween theme, the band members change into surgical scrubs and squirt themselves with ketchup. A brave extra steps into the chicken suit, and the crew passes out cheap plastic C-3PO and Yu-Gi-Oh (for that tween demographic?) masks to a few others. The mosh pit starts again, and the chicken becomes a target. Then he topples over and sits at the front edge of the plywood stage as the band finishes up "Monster Mash." After a take or two, the whole thing is done.
But what about the pumpkin scene? I'm ready to forget about it and on my way out of the club about an hour and a half later, when I notice the movie crew has set up just inside the patio's side fence. It's clearly visible to anyone walking by, which, granted, is only neighborhood residents or people leaving Churchill's.