Like most tourists who fly down to South Beach for a vacation, Marianela Pereyra was on a mission, but she wasn't necessarily seeking out surf and sun, which was a good thing since those were in short supply during her rain-soaked trip. Instead she came here to promote her fast-rising music channel, Fuse TV.
Fuse, as a few discerning teenagers will tell you, is a 24-hour music channel that claims to be "saving music one video at a time." It began life as MuchMusic USA, an affiliate of the well-established Canadian network MuchMusic, before disassociating itself and changing its name to Fuse in May of 2003. Fuse competes with MTV by sticking to a strict diet of hip-hop, rock, and Latin music video programming, which MTV often seems to ignore in favor of bad reality sitcoms such as The Ashlee Simpson Show.
Along with fellow VJ Steven, Marianela is the host of Daily Download, a weekday program on Fuse that charts the most popular legal music downloads from a studio in Manhattan. Optimistic and confident, the happily urbane 24-year-old, an Argentine who graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland in 2002, likes to drop a lot of names. She laughs over the time D-12 tied her up in a chair during a Daily Download episode, and often refers to 50 Cent, Yellowcard, and other pop stars as her friends.
So Marianela's South Beach adventure, which she embarked upon with Fuse's media relations vice president, Theano Apostolou, and Apostolou's assistant, Andrea Ferguson, was something of a working vacation, a crusade to spread the good word about the fledgling music channel. Still she made everything seem like it was a blast. On Friday, she hung out at the Billboard R&B and Hip-Hop Awards, introducing "Never Scared" rapper Bone Crusher's performance before an audience of industry folk at the Jackie Gleason Theater. "He's a total ham. You know him," she says. "So the shirt came off, you know what I mean? You saw his whole fabulousness," she adds in reference to the Atlanta star's massive 300-pound frame.
After spending much of Saturday shopping on Washington Avenue and Ocean Drive, and hiding from the summer showers sweeping the county, Marianela emerged with Apostolou and Ferguson to attend her own party at Prive. After all, what's a promotional trip without a bottles-and-booty affair at a South Beach nightclub? "The promoters decided to throw a party for me," explains Marianela. "They flew me down, and actually prepared the whole thing for me. It was, like, öFuse in Miami! Blazing hotness!'"
The trio held court in the VIP section, dancing in the balcony to a heady mix of new-school jams and old-school classics. "I had a good time. The DJ, Mr. Mauricio, was awesome," she effuses. Deciding to get some fresh air, the trio walked out into the courtyard at Opium Garden next door, where a release party for Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle was going on. "Kal Penn [Kumar] was on my show ... before, and they were there at the party," she says. "So I said hi." A few cameramen from MTV were also at Opium Garden that night, scouring the club for potential footage to show during its upcoming Video Music Awards coverage, but Marianela says she didn't see them. "Maybe they were trying to sneak into my pahtee, see what was going on," she laughs.
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After a few minutes, Marianela and her friends tried to go back into Prive, but the doorman turned them away. They haggled with him for a few minutes to no avail, forcing Apostolou to place an urgent call on her cell phone. Finally an executive from the nightclub emerged to whisk them back inside. Only in South Beach would a doorman try to lock someone out of her own party.
On Sunday afternoon, Marianela wrapped up her weekend by throwing out the first pitch before a Florida Marlins game at Pro Player Stadium. Beforehand, she posed for pictures with a baby tiger brought there from Thunderhawks, a nonprofit preservation organization. "That was really fun," she says. "I took all these pictures with the tiger, and I fell in love with the tiger. I was like, öCan I take it home?'" Unfortunately the Marlins were subsequently shut out by the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-0.
So how was Miami? "I had a great time. I can't wait to go back to Miami," says Marianela. Did anyone recognize her from Daily Download? "I don't know ... I was kinda running around here and there," she admits.