With Michael Bay's big-screen adaptation of Pain & Gain opening number one at the box office last weekend, masses of moviegoers discovered what Miamians already knew: Pete Collins' tale of bodybuilders gone bad is one hell of a yarn.
But the Sun Gym Gang's capers barely scratch the surface of Miami's real-life, made-for-movie madness. Here are five other true capers that deserve the Hollywood treatment:
The Hack Pack: Led by Albert Gonzalez, a charismatic hacker who called himself "soupnazi" and made his name by cracking NASA's security codes when he was a teenager, a brilliant squad of wayward Miami computer youths in 2009 engineered the biggest identity theft in history and blew tens of thousands of dollars on drugs, strippers, and parties. Then it all fell apart into decades-long prison terms, massive fines, and, for one member, a bullet through the head. It's Rounders meets Ocean's Eleven with a seriously dark ending.
Five Miami Tales That Need Movie Adaptations
From Porky's to Prison: For two decades, Tony Galeota managed Miami's most infamous strip club, Porky's in Hialeah. Then he got pushed out, tried to take his game to Panama, and ended up rotting in the world's worst prison, possibly after getting double-crossed by the local mafia. Strippers, mobsters, exotic locales? Someone get Paul Greengrass on the horn.
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Versace's Murder: OK, Hollywood, what the hell? Miami served this one on a platter of melted-down Golden Globes and you still haven't turned the life and death of Gianni Versace into a big-budget thriller/biopic? The guy reinvented the fashion industry, made South Beach his personal fiefdom from an opulent palace on Ocean Drive, and then was murdered in broad daylight by a twisted spree killer with mysterious motives.
Ana Alliegro and David Rivera: Mystery, sex, international intrigue, a Carl Bernstein-ian political conspiracy? We got ya covered, Tinseltown. Ana Alliegro, a self-proclaimed "Republican bad girl" and tight friend — if you know what we mean — of then-U.S. Rep. David Rivera's gets fingered for managing the campaign of a dummy candidate set up to challenge Rivera's Democratic rival in a primary. When the dominoes begin to fall, Alliegro vanishes. Rivera loses his seat, and months later, Alliegro emerges in Grenada, Nicaragua, where she's been managing a hair salon and may or may not have fallen off a horse and lost her memory. Romantic comedy? Political thriller? Who cares?
The Los Miami Drug Gang: Even by South Florida standards, the Los Miami gang of drug bandits carved out a particularly cinematic path to narcotic glory. Local leader Álvaro Tardón worshipped Santería and hired a santero to bless the crew's transatlantic drug empire. His brother, Artemio, had been beaten blind, shot through both knees, and left to die in the street by a rival. The siblings were locked in a bloody war with their former boss, a one-legged man named "the Dwarf," and were tied to at least five murders. Give this thing to the Coen Brothers and you'll have a sunshine-noir classic in six months.