dish_banNiece of the Week: Nikki Brockman

It seams like just yesterday that our niece was a poinsettia flower in her first grade class. Now she might be all grown up with a husband and teenage daughter…but to us she will always be the beautiful poinsettia!

You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

The year was 1997. We had our pride store on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. Totem International , a London-based company, introduced to America the adult version of Billy Dolls. There were at first four 18″ dolls: a cowboy, sailor, leather master and a San Francisco doll. All of the dolls were “out and proud” and, if slightly exaggerated, were anatomically correct too.  Of course we sold these in our store. There was a banner in front of our store and we sold hundreds of these dolls.

Then one day Manny Alvarez, Larry Bernstein and both of us put our heads together. Manny was promoter for a gay night, “Mecca,” Sundays at The Castle in Ybor City. We did a big promotion and billed the event as  “The Billy Dolls’ Coming Out Party in Tampa.” Four dancers were brought in who looked like and dressed just like the dolls. There were Billy drink specials and giveaways all night. Then, much to our surprise, here came the TV stations and newspapers to cover the unique party! They were actually interviewing all the hot, sweaty dancers on TV.

Billy Dolls and an added special friend, Carlos, are still around, but very collectable and pricey!

New Mexican Restaurant in Ybor City

Congratulations to Jason and his staff on the opening of Tequila’s! The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony was packed. We don’t know how they got him to do it, but…Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn was caught wearing a Mexican sombrero hat! There must be something in the air in Ybor City!

The Tampa Citizen Police Academy: Week 7 of 9

Mark had missed the class the week before. Carrie and the rest of our classmates were so very thoughtful and allowed Mark to experience being tased before the class started. He said it really didn’t as hurt much as you might think; he thought it was like in Star Trek, getting the Vulcan shoulder freeze! The 10,000 volts freeze and contracts your muscles. You can see how when it stops you feel like falling down. The shot last five seconds but it felt like five minutes.

Out on the police training field, we started vehicle operations.  They can describe it all in advance but nothing prepares you for this experience. We were passengers in the cars for all the demonstrations. The first is called J-Turns.  In this scenario a bad guy just pulled a gun and is pointing it you in the car. The officer puts the car in reverse and floors it to a speed of 40 mph, then spins the car 180, turns and drives off at top speed. I thought he was going to flip the car! In the P.I.T (Pursuit Intervention Technique) we had the chance to be both the good and bad guys. At a high speed the officers hits the rear or front of the bad car sending it into a spin. At the Tampa police training facility there is actually a curvy, up and down course complete with blind spots and hidden surprises. Just to drive the course would be hard for anybody. (Read the full police column at