By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
By Frank Owen
By Allie Conti
The signs went up about a month ago, stapled high on light posts along I-95, the Julia Tuttle Causeway, and Biscayne Boulevard. They're nothing more than a hand-scrawled message on fluorescent cardboard, yet they're weirdly compelling: "Hungrerapper.com," they say, and nothing more.
Visit the site, as thousands of people have done this month, and you'll find one of the oddest business propositions ever conceived: A professional roofer and sometime hip-hop artist named Hungre Rapper wants you to give him $100,000 to buy "armored vehicles," roofing supplies, and video cameras.
And why does he need such an odd array of items? Simple!
Hungre Rapper wants to hunt hurricanes, fix roofs in the aftermath, rap about the experience, and — oh, yeah — film the whole shebang for a surefire reality-TV hit. "I'm sure I can make millions of dollars in the next hurricane!" he proclaims online.
Is this guy for real? Oh, yes. And frankly, the more the man talks, the more reasonable his dream sounds in the age of Jersey Shore.
Turns out Hungre Rapper is a 31-year-old Daytona Beach resident named John Longenecker. As Hurricane Katrina blew through the nearby Redneck Riviera, Longenecker and some buddies bought roofing supplies and drove through the maelstrom to beat the competition to the wrecked buildings.
"It was just a bunch of crazy characters with a Bronco, a Blazer, and a pickup," he says. "It got pretty hairy out there."
But Longenecker claims he pulled in more than $1 million with the gamble. He used the proceeds to help further his rap career, record an album called Hungre Life, and establish a company called Hungry Roofers.
Now, six years later, cash is running short and Longenecker worries the window is closing on his music career. He needs to make a splash.
Thus the plan: Find an investor, buy some hard-core storm-hunting gear and roofing supplies, and film away.
Longenecker spent the summer driving from the Panhandle to Miami and back, stapling his signs everywhere he went. Now he's simply waiting for a true believer — and a big-ass 'cane.
"I just need one person who says, 'I'll back you,' and then if it's a real bad storm, it's just crazy-dramatic out there," Longenecker says. "It's crunch time, and I'm trying to get rich any way I can."