As Miami New Times has chronicled life in the Magic City through the years, we've made some enemies. We have busted police officers, spread the word on crooked politicians, and even called out one of the world's biggest bloggers.
The TruTV reality series South Beach Tow hasn't been safe from our scrutiny, either. When it hit the airwaves in July of 2011, we dubbed it "the worst reality show ever." But America's viewers do not agree. South Beach Tow is the second highest rated program on the network. (And this writer counts herself among its fans.)
So with the premiere of the show's new season tonight, we chatted with one of its biggest stars, Christie Ashenoff, who's hosting a meet-and-greet party at South Beach Tiki Bar tonight. You know her as the self-proclaimed "wildly tattooed daughter" who tells the drivers which cars to tow -- and who has the dubious pleasure of dealing with the irate drivers when they come to collect their vehicles. She told us about the worst incidents at Tremont Towing, addressed allegations that the show is scripted, and even talked a little trash about New Times. (We guess we had it coming.)
Cultist: I am shocked you were willing to talk to us after all the smack we talked about your show.
Christie Ashenoff: Hey, no worries. You guys might hate our show, but I love your paper. I actually check MiamiNewTimes.com daily. But let's be honest: How seriously can I take a site that wrote up the Real Housewives of Miami every day last week?
Touché. Let's get down to business: Did you grow up here in South Florida?
Yep, Miami Beach. I have been here my whole life. There's literally nowhere else I'd rather live. The culture, the people, the nightlife, everything; I love it here.
I have to know -- How did South Beach Tow come about?
We towed Simon Fields, Jennifer Lopez's right hand man, and he was less than pleased with us over it. Like, really less than pleased. He tells us that a few days later a light bulb went off in his head that if he lost his mind, that everyone else must too. The rest is history.
Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting executive producer Jennifer Lopez?
I have not, but I'm hoping to. Her schedule is insane. The timing of our show, then her time on Idol,then touring with Enrique Iglesias. But she did invite us to her concert in Miami a few weeks ago and it was phenomenal.
How long have you worked at Tremont Towing?
Roughly nine years.
Was working for your family's business always the plan?
Definitely not. I took time off after high school to do some traveling and concert hopping around the states. Then after that time of my life was over, I needed to replenish my bank account. Of course I went to dear old dad to help me out, and he suggested I start working at Tremont. What was supposed to be temporary gig turned into this. Life has a funny way of putting you right where it wants you.
What is it like to work with family?
I will let Charles Dickens speak for me: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
We have seen some things go down on the show. What has been the worst thing to ever happen at Tremont Towing?
It's a tie between the Memorial Day war with a whole lot of guns and people jumping my fence to try and get their cars out. Then there was the time my dad got into that fight on a repo where he was almost shot. The guy missed but the condition he came back in left little for me to imagine.
Are people really that insane or is a lot of this scripted?
Have you ever had your car towed?
Yes, I have. I went from yelling to crying.
understand then. We have people's prized possessions inside our yard and
to get it out, it costs you a good chunk of change. People just lose
it, and I am the lucky one at the front desk that gets to see it all. I
see the worst of people when they're here. I mean, I once had a lady
tell me to "suck it" while waiting in line at Starbucks. That woman was a
sweetheart compared to what I get called daily.
What can fans expect from this season?
I can't give too much away, of course. But I'll tell you that I have talked to the producers, and it seems every week, we are leaving viewers with a cliffhanger. You'll see family, friends, love, hate, fighting, car towing, and everything in-between.
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Your show is one of the highest rated on the network. What has been the best part of fame?
I would say being able to spread awareness of charities that I feel very strongly about out on my Facebook or Twitter. One of my good friends owns Cheeseburger Baby on South Beach, and every year they do a Breast Cancer event called "Burgers for Boobs" to raise money for Susan G. Komen. Many of my fans come out to say hi and unknowingly support a great cause.
What has been the worst?
While I get a lot of love for fans, of course there are people that hate me. That is OK -- I mean, I can be a bitch. Then there is also having people I haven't spoken to in years act as if we are the best of friends. Attending middle school together doesn't mean you get your car back from me for free.
What's your advice for not getting your car towed on the beach?
It's simple: Watch for signs! If the lot you are parking in says "Tow Away Zone," don't take it lightly. That sign is there for a reason. Also, pay your parking tickets. If you have too many, we will get a call to tow you. And if, God forbid, you do get towed, don't be an asshole when you arrive at Tremont Towing. If you remain calm, I will always do my best to help you out. Always.