The rumors hit over the weekend: King of Diamonds, the legendary hip-hop strip club, was coming to Ocean Drive. By Monday, that idea had been dashed by KOD, which says a former manager had advertised the idea without first talking to the club's new ownership. Then, that former manager claimed all he was really planning on Ocean Drive was a soul food restaurant.
Whatever is coming to South Beach, one thing is clear: Longtime residents and activists are not pleased. To gauge just how enraged they are, New Times requested all the angry emails flooding the city this week.
The emails show a lot of legitimate concern about the idea of a strip club on the iconic beachfront strip, which has already been embroiled in controversy over its future.
But the emails also echo a longstanding fear of black culture in Miami Beach, which was essentially closed to African-American tourists for decades. These days, the ACLU and others have decried the city's reaction to the annual influx of black tourists on Memorial Day Weekend.
Many residents were sparked to write the city after receiving a mass email with the subject line: "King of Diamonds - Your new neighbor," and this photo:
Marian Del Vecchio,
Attached to her email was this (NSFW) photo:
Another regular at Miami Beach Commission meetings, Dr. Morris Sunshine, emailed his objections to the mayor and commissioners, citing the potential dangers of "touchy feely lap
"I am especially concerned about enterprises that operate on the margins of the laws that govern adult entertainment establishments, e.g., enterprises that sell alcoholic beverages, whose entertainers are very skimpily clothed but technically are not nude, who socialize with customers and function as so-called B-Girls. Furthermore, as far as I know, Miami Beach has no regulations that would prevent King of Diamond's entertainers from selling touchy-feely lap dancing services to their alcohol-laced patrons. Perhaps new regulations should be considered now to deal with future business operators who want to exploit certain legal loopholes to sell unsavory services."
Others cut right to the chase, objecting not so much to the club but to the fact it would be run by "hip-hoppers."
"A strip club run by hip-hoppers smack dab in the middle of the most heavily residential area on North Ocean Drive?" wrote Beach resident Jo Manning in an email to commissioners. "How could the city let this happen?"
In another email to Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales, Manning wrote: "I cannot tell you how upset people at the north end of Ocean Drive are... they are calling it the final nail in the Ocean Drive coffin. :( This will be the worst aspects of Memorial Day Weekend... every weekend... Drugs and guns and the degradation of women. Ugh."
One of the first to email a city official was Betsy Hotel owner Jonathan Plutzik.
Last Wednesday, Plutzik — who began receiving emails about the club in early June — emailed Hernan Cardeno, director of Miami Beach's Code Compliance Department. Plutzik wrote:
Re: KING OF DIAMONDS
"Reaching out again to see if there is any update on this matter as both residents and business owners on Ocean Drive remain very concerned.
"Thanks in advance for any thoughts."
"Code has been conducting proactive site inspections at the location as recent as last night around midnight. The business has not opened and they have received a violation from the Building Department for doing some work without a permit. We've checked with Planning and Zoning and Finance and no applications have been made for any business at this location—despite their advertisements on the web—and they're all aware to flag any such applications. Our intelligence office at the police department is also providing information regarding information found on the internet, as well. It is my understanding that the zoning in this area does not allow for an adult establishment. We're staying on top of this as much as possible."
Others have drawn attention to some real concerns about the club. After the owner of the Ocean Drive space, Akinyele Adams — the rapper behind hit "Put It In My Mouth" — told the Miami Herald that all he planned to open was a soul food restaurant, some residents — including realtor Michael de Filippi — pointed to this video Akinyele had recently filmed suggesting the establishment would indeed have nude women:
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De Filippi told New Times today he still believes the club is wrong for Ocean Drive. "I feel we should be attracting businesses that are family friendly," de Filippi says.
The real KOD, meanwhile, continues to insist it has no affiliation with whatever Akinyele plans to open.
"My client... has absolutely nothing to do with the proposed KOD club on Miami Beach," writes attorney Daniel Sands, who represents the strip club. "My client only learned of this proposed Miami Beach club based upon the media reports published over the last two days, and anticipates taking appropriate legal action if a club is in fact opened."