It's midnight and a would-be monarch gives Washington Avenue his best Saturday Night Fever strut. He's dressed in jeans and a black guayabera, and resting atop the future majesty's clipped brown hair is an exquisite plastic gold coronet.
"Nice crown, asshole!" shouts a crass underling in a passing car. But the royal shrugs it off, for tonight he embarks on the holiest of quests. No, he's not searching for a grail, a dragon, or even a sword in a stone. He wears a large fluorescent green sign around his neck for all to see: "Vote Me KING of Miami Beach!"
Sure, as this paper goes to press, snooze-fest Matti Bower seems almost certain to be re-elected as the city's mayor. But a competent individual who advocates female empowerment (yawn) and gay rights (double yawn) isn't the kind of leader America's Sodom and Gomorrah needs! It longs for a political muse indicted on 41 counts of bribery or a 28-year-old millionaire capable of bouncing a $1,360 check. It craves a visionary with a blatant disrespect for democracy.
King of South Beach
It needs a sovereign!
"I think establishing a monarchy in South Beach is a great idea," says Ted, a good-looking, dark-haired 34-year-old who rocks an Adidas jacket, black Chuck Taylors, and a demeanor typical of actors in an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. "Nothing gets done when too many people have conflicting opinions. What we need is one person who's pure of heart to hear everyone out and then call the shots."
The wannabe king, Lord Christopher de los Reyes of Normandy Isle — armed with the same moral fiber as Hugo Chávez or Kim Jong-il — pledges that Ted can create a new law if he joins the effort to right Miami Beach.
Ted ponders for a moment. "I know the right thing to say is equality for everyone, but... I think it'd be really rad if everyone got their own belt with a special knob that, when turned, would play their own theme song. So whenever a person entered a room, their signature melody would play. Mine would be some kind of disco/funk/hip-hop combination."
So would Lord Chris's. Law approved!
Ted's lady friend, Mel, a 33-year-old wearing a tailored dress and blond hair pulled back into an elegant bun, thinks all subjects should be allowed to eat Five Guys burgers and fries for free once a week. This could be the official royal food of the new kingdom.
Then a girl with not just junk — but a spare tire, jumper cables, and a dead body — in her trunk waddles by in short shorts.
"I also think there should be a ban on short hems for women," Mel adds. "None should creep past two inches above the knee."
As the king-to-be considers Mel's ban, a model type walks past in the opposite direction. She sports a tight red cocktail dress that shows off two long, shapely legs that, like Heidi Klum's, should be insured for $2.2 million.
After passing hordes of peasants who bow, grovel, and then gob into the gutter, the crowned one arrives at the east end of Lincoln Road, where he spots a tall, generic-looking 40-something Caucasian man in fitted jeans and an Affliction T-shirt. The serf holds hands with a short, artificially busty Latina who's scantily clad in a, uh, hmm, dress that looks like it was originally intended for a Bratz doll. Following the couple like a chaperone is a squatty, androgynous, Pygmy-like creature that at some point in development might have been a human being.
What would they decree in the Royal Republic of Reyes?
"I would like to institute a law where there's no taxes and commissioners stop stealing money from the people," Generic Tall Man says.
"I think they should let more Colombians into the country," says Tall Man's most likely rented date.
"Yeah, more Colombians so we can have more drugs!" the Pygmy beast adds with more sarcasm than you would expect from a half-human.
"Oh, and they should legalize prostitution as well," Rental Date says. "Everyone's selling their bodies anyway — might as well make it legal."
As the groundlings quarrel, a bum stumbles forward, dribbling (or maybe salivating), and nods enthusiastically at the idea of harlotry.
Well, the candidate for king declares that if a Pygmy pimp and a hobo who smells like urine believe whoredom should be permitted, consider it a citywide mandate!
Next, approaching Española Way, King Reyes meets Rosie, a gothic-looking gal wearing a black cat suit with diamond-shaped rips cut into the outside bottoms of her pant legs.
"If I could, I'd prohibit cars on the Beach. Cars don't belong here and neither do all these obnoxious parking garages. Plus everyone could finally stop getting harassed by the Beach's parking-ticket and towing Nazis."
And create a city where the leader can't skim off the kickbacks? No way. That's not what tyranny is all about. If Rosie keeps running her yap, she might be beheaded.
Parched, Rey Reyes swings a left onto 14th Street and heads into Mac's Club Deuce (222 14th St., Miami Beach; 305-531-6200) to grab a pint of ale. There he and a kid in a zoot suit discuss establishing royal grow houses. Then he meets Brandon, a white-haired, weathered Beach resident in his 70s who offers some advice: "If you're trying to meet the locals to get votes, you're in the wrong place. South Beach is 90 percent illegal aliens. And they can't vote. Are you Cuban?"
A royal nod is the reply.
"Good. I like Cubans. They're more American than most Americans. What you need to do is have a picture of you and your Cuban family taken in front of Beach High. Then go stand outside of a Publix and shake hands, kiss babies, find other Cubans, and tell them that your Cuban parents made it here and that if they elect you, you will help their children become successful. Then when you're done, go to Whole Foods and do the same thing. That's where all the yuppie liberals who are too good to cook for themselves get their dinner. Choose your words carefully there. You want to say the right things in order to get everyone's vote."
In exchange for his excellent advice, Brandon is granted the right to create not just one, but two laws.
"I don't want to be involved with a monarchy," says the coot. "I still believe in democracy."
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The dreaded D-word propels the royal to Club Madonna (1527 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-534-2000), where two leather-bikini-clad wenches with a plethora of bruises on their legs occupy a throne. As they lounge, sexually slumped on top of one another, a bouncer is asked his proposal for a law.
"I'd just like to wash all of the filth off the street," he says.
Cleaning up trash, eh? Where's the fun in that?