The other day the strangest thing happened to me. I’ve had this reoccurring dream for years that I’m playing drums like a maniac in the middle of a mystical beach, surrounded by a pack of wild, beach-bum party freaks.
In some sort of subconscious dreamstate foreshadowing, this dream I’ve had already existed in reality 30-something years ago(!) made possible by “Herman Ze German” aka Herman Rarebell, ex-drummer from The Scorpions. I swear to you people that I was not aware of this music video, nor his cover of the surfer classic “Wipeout”.
I have my barbarian brother Big Mike Ballermann to thank for letting me know about this. Not only does this blow my mind but the music video itself couldn’t be more perfect. It was filmed on Malibu beach in 1984 and is the definition of the ultimate summer.
Once upon a time, a hard working and hard-bodied pack of women known as the hot dog girls ruled the streets of Tampa Bay, Florida.
Seeing as though our nation is celebrating its independence day this week, I can think of no better time than now to do my part as an American and share a little history about the hot dog girls. If you agree with Uncle T that sun-kissed-sizzling skin and a steamy hot dog are a beautiful match made in heaven, please continue to read.
A couple years ago, a 55-year old woman named Valerie Workman spoke to the Tampa Bay Times about her hot dog ‘slangin days. She reminisces and tells wild tales from the streets — while sharing photos, newspaper clippings and her ancient T-backs (thong bikinis) from the early 1990’s when the streets of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and Largo were scattered with hot dog carts. Valerie claims to be the first hot dog girl.
Valerie spent years as a third-degree blackbelt and then transitioned into the exotic dancing world to support her family. After her fun at the clubs was over, she destined to be her own boss and the idea of selling hot dogs on the side of the road was mentioned to her by a friend. She shopped around for a cart, found the perfect chrome weiner-wagon and the future was set.
Valerie stocked up on wet ‘weenies, napkins, chips and condiments. She got her license and started boiling her dogs right in the cart, underneath an umbrella in the hot sun.
According to Valerie, her friends soon followed her lead on the new venture and carts started popping up in areas where there was good traffic. Hungry drivers on break, curious tourists and random wanderers loved to stop at the girls with the hot dog carts. Many would pause on the side of the road just to get a photo.
While Valerie claims to be the first, it’s been well documented in newspapers at the time that the hot dog girl phenomenon was widespread throughout many parts of Florida.
Competition among the girls became a thing and girls were disovering the tricks to the trade in the art of selling hot dogs. For example, T-backed vendors brought in significantly more profits than vendors with regular bikini bottoms. In Fort Myers a woman named Sarah Linksi reported that she could earn nearly $700 in just 16 hours per week at a cart her boyfriend bought for her. She made an average of $125 on busy days with a regular bikini that covered her bottom, and about $200 a day when she went to work in a thong.
While droves of onlookers were enjoying the satisfying combination of tanned long-butts and the smell of frankfurters, this new phenomenon started to cause controversy with some of the locals and conservative types. You have to remember, these were the days of thong-bikinis being banned across local beaches. Crackdowns ensued and the some of the hot dog girls faced scrutiny and fines. Some say the T-backs also were so distracting that they caused car crashes.
“The hot dog vendors wearing tiny thong suits look naked from a block away and not much different on closer inspection. Watching them has caused quite a few drivers to forget the basics of automobile safety,” reported the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 1993. “Gawkers have drifted through red lights, roamed across traffic lanes and become mindless of the cars in front of them.”
“I guess they should have kept their eyes on the road,” said a hot dog girl named Anette in 1993.
During the height of the era, tension between rival hot dog girls was becoming aggressive. Turf wars over sidewalks and territories got so intense, at one point a huge fight broke out over a cart that moved into another girls’ location. In the daylight hours the girls rolled around in the dirt, kicking, screaming and hair-pulling. Eventually the girls were sprayed with mace to stop.
The brawl would lead to “Hala the Hardbody” and “Sizzling Cindy” agreeing to face off on July 5 outside of a liquor store for a mud wrestling event called WEINERMANIA 1. A $500 cash prize was on the line.
The radio station Q105 hosted the event which was captured on a VHS recording. Almost 200 spectators showed up for “the fast food fight of the century”, with refreshments provided such as “muddy Mary” drinks and breakfast hot dogs.
From what I’ve gathered, “Sizzling Cindy” was victorious in her match and declared the weiner. But spirits were high at the end of the event and WEINERMANIA 1 would end up being a nice button at the end of the hot dog girl era. *There was no WEINERMANIA 2*
In the years to come, the hot dog girl lifestyle became harder and many girls were banned from participating in their craft. Valerie Workman sold her cart for $7,000 and went back to exotic dancing.
The sunshine state gets a bad ‘rep these days for a number of things. But let it be known that we here at the Land of TNUC will always be indebted to Florida for being the epicenter of classic strip clubs. female mud wrestling bars and now thankfully, the hot dog girls.
Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Pops TNUC. Also a Happy Father’s Day to all the ’90s TGIF dads. This video is for all you guys.
I have the best memories of our Friday nights which were made up of TGIF shows, Papa Gino’s pizza, a movie from Blockbuster and my dad making popcorn which was served in my family’s yellow Tupperware bowl, a hunk of plastic that is still going strong today.
YouTube restricted the video from being played for copyright reasons, but this Vimeo link seems to be working just fine. Enjoy!
Chris “Manimal” Holmes. The mere notion that this guy and his car made it out of the decade alive is a miracle in itself. We’ve all heard the tales told from the heavy metal bible about the original W.A.S.P. guitarist. The guy was a living, breathing, nasty wildebeest both on and off the stage. I mean, Blackie Lawless discovered Chris posing inside of a Hustler magazine in a section for the ladies called Beaver Hunt. Under his photo were the words “rock ‘n roll animal”…
Needless to say, we all know the real manimal of W.A.S.P. wasn’t Blackie. As much as I love the guy, he was only playing a character on stage. Chris Holmes on the other hand, was a 6’6″ bonafide hellraiser whether he was shredding a guitar, shopping for produce or burning rubber down the Hollywood 101 freeway in his 1987 Pontiac Firebird.
Who could forget when Uncle Chris put his Firebird up for sale on Craigslist a few years ago. The veteran mean-man didn’t attempt to clean up the car or hide any of its crustiness. Warts and all, the ’87 Bird was sold and lord only knows what innocent victim purchased it and blew it up the following day.
More fascinating and frightening though, is imagining all the trouble Chris and his beloved ‘Bird got into during their day. Again, the fact that he and the ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ survived the decade in one piece is astonishing and head-scratching if you’ve heard about the multiple DUIs, arrests, fights, divorces, blackouts, mopary and so on.
To honor this iconic pairing, TNUC rented a late-eighties Firebird and took to the streets each night for a month straight, road-testing songs in attempt to gather up the best anthems for ripping down the boulevard in a Chris Holmes state of mind. Enjoy at your own risk…
***Pre-orders for a limited run of cassette tapes will be announced soon***
A note from the author: We STRONGLY urge listeners to experience their 1st listen to this mixtape on the road. Don’t give it the background music treatment while you do other stuff on your computer or dare I say it…cell phone. Yuck. Give this deadbeat tape the power it deserves. Get in your vehicle and turn it up. Do it for TNUC. Do it for Chris. Do it for your country. Do it for P O N T I A C.
*Huge thanks to my compadre Dan Gray for hearing my artwork idea for this tape and knocking it completely ‘outta the park!
Sometimes you wake up on a sunny, spring day and all you crave is a nice drive to an abandoned insane asylum.
So last weekend we did just that.
In the town of Medfield, Massachusetts lies a slowly decaying campus of brick buildings that made up what was the Medfield Insane Asylum. The property took 4 years to build and opened in 1896. This hospital was different from many others of its kind because it was constructed to a “cottage plan”, meaning that it would be made up of multiple infirmaries and wards, offing different levels of care instead of just one large one building tending to every patient.
In 1914, the name of the facility was changed to Medfield State Hospital, a decision made by the superintendent who thought that calling it an asylum portrayed a sense of hopelessness and isolation. The hospital saw its most patients during the 1930s and 1940s. As the decades progressed, less and less patients were admitted any many were approved to leave thanks to new, effective medicines. By 2003, buildings had reached serious despair and there were less than 200 patients left.
The eerie atmosphere of this place was felt during the entire visit, but never so much as towards the Northern part of the property where we discovered extremely tall, fenced-in areas. This appeared to be an area for patients of the “exited wards” who were not allowed to roam the grounds freely. There were old rotting benches and non-working electrical alarms at the gate entrances.
For those interested in making the trip, the site is currently open to the public for visiting. There are over 30 buildings so you’ll have plenty to check out. There are signs posted all over the place to keep out of the buildings, which I assume are decaying away and for this reason it was painful not to get a glimpse inside. I kept imagining what the interiors looked like, boarded up for the last 20+ years. Especially the basements, attics and crawl-spaces. Good lord.
Medfield State Hospital has been used as a filming locations for Shutter Island, The Box and The New Mutants. That’s nice to know, but I couldn’t help thinking of the future TNUC photo-shoots that are most certainly going to be happening at this beautiful abandoned site.