It's Raining Energy Drinks

Miami is awash in power beverages. Might as well drink up!

It was time for me to follow this step up the evolutionary ladder of energy drinks. It was time to do it myself.

In other words, anyone can have an energy drink — not just Pitbull, not just Hef. And screw the ingredients — forget the horny goat weed, the artichoke extract, the hocus-pocus vitamins and amino acids. I could have my own energy drink, and it would be better than the others because it would look cooler and have a better name: Speed Slut.

I recruited Alex Izaguirre, assistant art director at Miami New Times, to design the label. A PDF file, about $60, and two weeks later, the shipment arrived. Speed Slut had come to the Magic City.

Hoby Buppert and Christina Staalstrom founded Bawls two years before Red Bull arrived.
Jacqueline Carini
Hoby Buppert and Christina Staalstrom founded Bawls two years before Red Bull arrived.

The cans were slim, like Red Bull's, and all black except for the logo, featuring a Bettie Paige-esque tart sporting a little red teddy and matching devil horns, her eyes wide with a look of evil, energized glee. "Speed Slut energy drink," the can read in slanted red and white letters. "You'll do anything for it."

It was time to introduce the people of Miami to Speed Slut. I shanghaied a folding table, a giant red bucket, and a few cans of Red Bull, and headed downtown. Suddenly I understood how the Zin Master himself, Tizol, must feel: like an insurgent. With all its millions of dollars in marketing, could Red Bull actually beat Speed Slut if the two were pitted in a fair fight, on the street, no holds barred? I doubted it. I doubted it very much.

Hoping I wouldn't be arrested, I quietly set up the table next to a hot dog stand outside the family courthouse just off Flagler Street. On one end, I placed a can of Red Bull. On the other, Speed Slut. It was to be a taste test. Almost instantaneously, it began to pour rain.

My first "customer" was Caroline, the young woman who owned the hot dog stand. She felt bad watching me get wet, she explained. Caroline didn't think much of either drink but asked a man who worked with her to try the two.

"This is Red Bull," he said after tasting an unmarked cup of Speed Slut.

"Ay, no!" Caroline shouted happily. "That one is Red Bull."

Hallelujah! It worked!

Caroline's little sister was there too. "I like the name," she said, grinning from ear to ear. "Speed Slut. I like that."

Another man came along but didn't want to try the drinks. "She look bad," he said in halting English, waggling a finger at the figure on the can.

"Do you know what slut means?" Caroline asked him in Spanish. He shook his head.

"Puta," she whispered. She then translated the drink's name as "Puta Rápida." The man laughed. He picked up a can, laughed some more, and took it with him, still chuckling.

"You should sell that stuff," Caroline said, scooping a hot dog out of the boiling water and dressing it for a customer. "You would make a lot of money."

Maybe she was right. Maybe with enough money, enough girls, enough gimmicks, sponsorships, and giveaways, Speed Slut could make it. I cracked one open and began sucking the stuff down. It was as good an energy drink as I had ever tasted. In other words, it was awful.  

A homeless man named Virgil appeared, lugging a suitcase with a broken wheel. I offered him the taste test, but he took a single sip of Speed Slut and scrunched up his face in disapproval. "Too thick," he said, wiping his mouth. "It's too thick, too sweet. But I sure do like the can!"

I bent my mouth to smile, but it was no use — my lip had stuck to my teeth again.

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