Super Bowl: Don't forget the parties in Miami

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2007

By John Marshall

Associated Press

MIAMI — The orange glow of the city lights reflects off low-hanging clouds — just above monstrous cranes that loom over the open-air nightclub.

Impossibly good-looking people are spread throughout this downtown hotspot, some sitting on white couches surrounding a rectangular fountain on the lower level, others sipping margaritas on the roof as eyeball-jangling beats thump into the night air. Women gyrate on tables, then mingle with the athletes and other guests, posing for photos along the way.

Greetings from South Beach, where flesh and flash rule. And at no other time is it wilder than during the Super Bowl.

*

It’s a surreal scene, to be sure. Then things get downright strange.

A hippy-looking dude with a Greg Brady ‘fro capped with a halo, wearing billowy white pants and a pair of wings, lumbers past us on a pair of stilts. The man angel has decided he needs some stars on his stomach, so a member of the staff breaks out a stencil and goes to work applying white paint to his shirtless torso.

The mangel is having trouble keeping the paint off the inside of his arms, so he raises them up to his sides, stretching out into the form of an odd-looking crucifixion as he blankly stares out over the crowd.

Sensing the oddity of the moment, a security guard wearing a small earpiece and with a linebacker’s build that stretches the width of his black suit glances over his shoulder at the scene, gives a smirk, then shakes his head.

“Welcome to South Beach,” he says before getting back to his duties at the door.

From the thongs and topless women on the beaches to the celebrities and high-rollers showing only a little less flesh in the clubs, South Beach rocks like no other place when the big game is in town.

Every night is a party, whether it’s put on by Playboy or Penthouse or by celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Shaquille O’Neal. But you’ll need to be on the list to get in — and even then it might not matter if you don’t have the look (attractive, female) the bouncers want.

*

One of the best of these parties is called Pure Rush, and I somehow finagled a pair of passes for myself and a colleague.

After winding past at least a dozen skyscraper cranes and constructions sites, we arrived outside Bricks Nightclub, which looks almost like an abandoned house from the outside. We were then greeted by the angel on stilts and his female counterpart, making us wonder what we had gotten ourselves into.

But after a quick stop on the red carpet — why no one wanted our picture, I don’t know — we walked through the front door and … Xanadu!

I’ve been to some wild parties before, but this one ranked right near the top of the list.

The front room featured a large, shallow, rectangular pool lined on the bottom with flat stones, surrounded by white couches filled with beautiful people sipping colorful drinks.

We lingered a little while before moving on. OK, we lingered for quite a while before moving on.

It didn’t seem like a pair of sports writers should be allowed to hang with athletes (Terrell Davis was the only one we recognized) and models, but we were going to stick it out as long as we could, not knowing when an opportunity like this would come again.

But, in typical fashion, I hit the wall. Paul, my colleague, seemed like he could keep going until 4, maybe 5 a.m., but I was wiped after a day of traveling and had to call it a night around 2 a.m.

And it’s a good thing, too. The next day we got invites to the Maxim, the king of all Super Bowl bashes.

*

Ah, the Maxim party. Celebrities, top-name athletes, plenty more flesh, loads of drinks — this is what we expected from a Super Bowl party.

Held at the Sagamore Hotel in the heart of South Beach, the lad mag’s party had just about everything. The only thing missing were the A-list stars we were hoping for.

Celebs who made an appearance included Snoop Dogg, Jamie Fox, Spike Lee, K-Fed and David Spade (though the final two are more like B or C list). Didn’t matter. They had already left or were secluded away somewhere when we arrived, leaving us with the likes of Nick Lachey, Kid Rock and Pauly Shore — not exactly top-level talent, but celebs anyway.

There were plenty of athletes, though. Donovan McNabb, Venus Williams, T.O., Andy Roddick, Franco Harris, Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush and Lennox Lewis were just some of the stars that made their way past our precisely-placed, near-the-red-carpet spot inside the hotel.

*

But even with all the glitz and glam, there was one did-that-really-just-happen moment. Standing at our perch up above the entryway, we see a guy who looks familiar but we can’t quite place, who’s yukking it up with a muscular, supremely attractive woman.

After a few minutes, we realize who it was: John Rocker.

That’s right, John Rocker, the baseball player who sabotaged his career by running his mouth about gays and minorities was playing peek-a-boo around a huge column with a woman. We weren’t sure what to make of it. Perhaps even more disturbing was the half-mullet he was sporting and the black shirt he had unbuttoned halfway down, exposing what looked to be a shaved chest.

Even the best of parties get a little weird on South Beach.

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