When it comes to concerts and music festivals, there seem to be two Miamis: one populated by hipsters and the one that's a little more ratchet. The former is artsy and pretentious and politically correct while dressing like an expensive laundry pile. The latter gives zero fucks and only wants to get nasty on the dance floor.
For the past few years, III Points Music, Art & Technology Festival has brought those worlds crashing gloriously together through a smartly curated roster of musicians, visual artists, and surrounding events.
Nowhere is that more evident than at Gramps for the annual Booty Bass Bounce House Party. Created by installation artist Veronica Gessa and Miami’s electronic weirdo genius Otto Von Schirach, it's the one event where Miami can get properly dirty for free. Admission is complimentary, and so are the beer, pizza, and tequila while supplies last. The crown jewel of the evening is the papaya-eating contest.
"Papaya," as most Miamians know, is a slang term in some Spanish-speaking countries for a lady’s special place. It’s a pervy, inappropriate, completely R-rated good time.
Naturally, I had to try it.
I volunteered/begged for the assignment and then arrived at Gramps with no idea of what exactly I was getting into. My first goal was to find a stranger to be my partner in fruit debauchery. When you make friends with the head drag queen in charge and the crowd has been drinking since at least breakfast, it becomes a very short search.
My partner, Amelia (who requested that her last name not be published to preserve some sense of dignity), came up with the team name, Fruta Bomba, after we discarded our initial idea, Golden Showers. (I was wearing a Golden Girls T-shirt.) I understood. That shit is just gross.
After officially signing up for the contest, I did some ridiculous and totally useless stretches to warm up my hammies, glutes, and, of course, my mouth. I was fully prepared for a speed race. My mom always told me I ate too fast. This would be a piece of cake, a food I also would’ve crushed if that were the goal of the competition.
There was only one problem: It wasn’t a speed race. It was a battle of who could get the most sucia or sucio. My boring yet passionate display of hetero munching was too 1950s.
To survive and succeed in the Miami papaya-eating game, you must be creative and shameless. Normally, that's not a problem for me. However, I didn’t know until I was onstage that team Fruta Bomba had no plan, and it was showtime. I dropped to my knees like a starving diabetic and went to town on that sweet, succulent papaya.
Because Amelia and I were the first contestants, the following seven teams were able to diagnose our lame act as DOA and upped the ante on every successive try. Ass-eating rock stars, sensual newlyweds, and 69-ing girl-on-girl action won the hearts of the audience, with the last taking home the grand prize of two tickets to III Points.
Yes, the loss was a blow to my ego, but more important, it was a learning experience. The Booty Bass Bounce House Party reminded me of the important lesson that the Miami booty-music legends of 2 Live Crew shared with us a long time ago: We can, and should, be as nasty as we wanna be (and sometimes win prizes for it).