Rolex vs. Rollexx
Go on let ya top down, fuck it blow a couple grand/Treat her like an animal, make her do a handstand/Club Rollexx (lex), you can stunt yo/I stood on a Rolex smokin' on a blunt hoe.
Rick Ross, "For da Low," Port of Miami
The video for Rick Ross's thug anthem "Hustlin'" begins on South Beach's Ocean Drive. The bearded giant blows cigar smoke pensively against the shoreline. He chats up a bikinied honey, gets her number, and in his trademark husky voice, pronounces the entire scene "a façade."
Making his way west over the MacArthur Causeway, Ross narrates, "The bridge separates South Beach from my Miami, the real Miami. The MIA. This is where we hustle. " While rapping, he travels past Carol City drug spots, dingy motels, and low-end supermarkets.
Ross's journey concludes at a strip club, but not in typical rap video fashion. He isn't lounging in some dim, swanky interior. Instead he's towering against flood lights on the roof of Club Rollexx, a timeworn gentlemen's establishment on the corner of Unity Boulevard and NW 119th Street, just south of Opa-locka. Ross stands alone, crimson pennants flapping behind him. With massive raised arms, he lords over a teeming crowd of well-wishers on the ground: King Kong has come home.
Club Rollexx, Ross tells us, is thug Miami's Empire State Building. Trina and Trick Daddy have hung here. Jacki-O was allegedly dragged out. Strippers attest to visits by Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne. Ludacris and P. Diddy are linked to the club's MySpace page.
"It's important to Miami, period," said Ted "Touche" Lucas, owner of Slip-N-Slide Records label of Trina, Trick, and Ross. "Club Rollexx has been around for 30 years, since we were kids. It's a movement, an institution. It's something that's been holding down Miami for a long time. Anybody that comes out, they wanna come see Club Rollexx."
Maybe it's become too famous. This past December 6, a band of Swiss-watch swine unleashed its lawyers on the Miami landmark. Rolex Watch U.S.A. is suing Club Rollexx, accusing owners Carl Cruise and Reuben LaBrado of sullying the expensive brand name, and demanding "permanent injunctions, treble damages and/or profits, compensatory damages, prejudgment interest, attorneys' fees, investigators' fees, and costs from the Defendant." In its 45-page legal gripe, Rolex claims to be furious with the club for ignoring nearly a year's worth of letters demanding it change its name and sign.
Rolex's Manhattan attorneys have refused to comment, and the perky spokesperson who answered the phone at the firm's Sixth Avenue headquarters remained equally mum. "If the lawyers won't say why we're suing them," she said, "then neither can we."
It's safe to say there is nowhere in Miami quite like the Rollexx. The place exudes a kind of pleasant, communal torpor. On Tuesdays, the club extends free admission and half-price drinks to patrons. On Thursdays, center stage (a small glass-brick enclosure surrounded by the bar) becomes a boxing ring. Strippers contend in amateur fights during the wee hours of the morning. "We gonna get you into that ring," an older woman with a clip board recently told New Times at 2:00 a.m.
On a recent evening, raunchy lyrics and phat beats surged from the DJ booth, rattling the little remaining life in the club's four neglected fish tanks. The Rollexx is a kind of shrine to the female rump and the music seems to be wired directly into the generous buttocks of the rotating center-stage dancer. The act mostly involved some dancers standing still and performing miraculous genital puppet shows, while others clapped their buttocks together in a wild cacophony.
"I wish I had more ass," complained Lilac, a well-proportioned dancer standing at the bar. "A lotta people say I'm built like a white girl," she sighed, sipping Rémy Martin from a plastic cup. Lilac toyed with her long black hair. Her boyfriend had nearly torn it out during a fight the night before, she said. She giggled as she recounted his blows. When her favorite song came on, she smiled and erupted into applause. After a brief dance, she returned to her seat and marveled at another dancer's acrobatic shimmy. "That's a lot of ass. If I had ass, I'd be a millionaire."
Lilac said she knew she wanted to work at the Rollexx soon after moving to South Florida from California last year. Rap lyrics foretold the fame and fortune to be had here. She was hired, on the spot, with no prior experience, she said. She made $2000 her first night.
There's food too. A pair of heavy-lidded fry cooks served up plates of chicken wings and conch from a kitchen off in the corner. A group of men purchased several Styrofoam containers' worth of food and sidled up to a pair of grimy blue pool tables.
Joe, a husky patron clad in sparkling gold grills and a Pablo Escobar T-shirt, regretted that he couldn't make it to the Rollexx much anymore owing to the demands of his "pharmacy" career.
Indeed the place has gone through its share of rough spots. Miami-Dade Police and the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) raided the place March 24, 2004. They made multiple arrests on charges of narcotics, maintaining a nuisance, lewdness, prostitution, and unlawful use of weapons. ABT cited Pirts Inc., then the club's nominal owner, for the same charges. A $40,000 civil penalty was levied against Pirts, and the club's liquor license was suspended for 30 days. But the Rollexx persevered.
Then, at 5:30 a.m. this past December 26, a 22-year-old named Tavaris Gisslander was shot in the gut while walking out the front door. He survived. Witness accounts differed. So far no arrests have been made.
"Things gonna happen at a club," Kevin Duncanson, a.k.a. DJ Krunch One, argued. "But most people come in here to sit down and have a good time. The vibe is good; you get that impression."
Wearing a black leather jacket and a beenie, Duncanson shuttled between a laptop and a pile of scattered CDs in the club's frigid DJ booth. He finds the lawsuit laughable. "Man, why?" he asked. "It's spelled different. It doesn't have anything to do with watches."
Owners Cruise and LaBrado couldn't be reached for comment about the lawsuit. Registered agent Ingrid Beckles did not respond to three phone calls. No one answered the door of her Miami Lakes home during an unannounced visit. And she did not respond to a note left in her mailbox requesting comment.
"If Carl [Cruise] thinks he can sit back and ignore that lawsuit, he's in big trouble," said Trick Daddy, a onetime Rollexx regular. "No lawsuit goes away." Asked why he no longer visits Club Rollexx, Trick responded, "Because they don't show no thug love anymore."
Ross could not be reached for comment. He and Trina are planning a Super Bowl strip-off at nearby Coco's Lounge. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize. "We couldn't get the Rollexx for the strip-off," said one of Ross's associates, a man who said his name is E-Class. "But we still support 'em."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.