Miami Monkey, the reality show that features the inner workings and drama of a new bar in Miami Beach and the antics of its employees, premiered on VH1 last night.
Oh, did we forget to mention the owner of said bar is Angela "Big Ang" Raiola, mob wife extraordinaire and newly minted star in her own right?
Miami Monkey is absolutely not rocket science. But it is absurdly entertaining -- if only to see the war brewing between Staten Island and Miami Beach.
For years, the world (and New York City) has considered Miami Beach the Big Apple's unofficial "sixth borough." Plus, some New Yorkers (like snobby Manhattanites) don't even consider Staten Island a part of the city -- and would probably switch out Miami for the borough that's closer geographically to New Jersey than New York anyway.
So it's a fun ride to see the similarities and differences between the girls of Miami Beach and the girls of Staten Island and wait for the inevitable escalation (and weave-pulling) that's bound to happen.
The first episode, like all premieres, is mostly exposition for future cat fights, and begins with Big Ang and her daughter Raquel on the beach talking about their new endeavor, Miami Monkey. Big Ang, by the way, already owns a Staten Island bar called the Drunken Monkey, a successful neighborhood establishment where locals carouse.
Of course, a Miami version has to be a little glitzier (with bigger boobs -- both mentally and physically). We're made to believe that Big Ang isn't the sharpest tool in the shed (an obvious exaggeration), so Raquel, a mini-me with brains, will handle the opening, aided by her Staten Island "besties" Ryan, Roxanne, and Marissa. Add in Gabby, the 20 year-old live-in girlfriend of Big Ang's son, AJ, and you've got "Team Staten Island".
As the opening day approaches and finishing touches have to be made, the Staten Island girls get to work, forming what looks like a hair-sprayed and spray-tanned cohesive working unit...until the Miami Beach employees enter the scene.
Like any good fiction writer knows, if there's little conflict, you must add some. So Big Ang announces she's hired a group of locals to give the Monkey some Miami
flavor sabor -- each specially chosen for their hotness factor -- and their high-drama quotient. Cristina is the ditzy token Latina who works at Hooters; Nate Ryan is the token Boy-Toy who DJ's and models; and Morgan is a pair of 34 DDD's with a Mansion bartender attached to them...somewhere.
Immediately there's rivalry. And who would have thought that Staten Island can kick SoBe's ass? But, it's not looking good for Miami Beach, friends. On opening day, while everyone gets into their Monkey-branded bikinis to take to the beach for a little "guerrilla marketing," the Miami team is nowhere to be found. Apparently Morgan needed her beauty sleep and Cristina couldn't find parking, although she lives five blocks away. When the Miami hotties finally arrive, instead of working the beach, they sneak off to Palace Bar to dance with drag queens and pound mimosas.
When the girls get caught and slink back to the bar, Big Ang tells them not to be late again in much the same way I tell my Chihuahua not to piddle on the rug. And somehow, I have a feeling that
Boobs-on-a-Bartender Morgan will listen in exactly the same way my little dog does.
But, despite these little disasters, the bar opens to a packed crowd. After all, when there's booze, boobs, and Big Ang in the picture, what's not to like about the Miami Monkey -- both the bar and the show!
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.