Tag Archives: The Honey Pot

Ask The Locals: Okesene Tilo

Okie Tilo Ask The Locals 2014
Ask the Locals: Okesene “Okie” Tilo of the RITZ Ybor
by Heidi Kurpiela

Okesene Tilo is the director of public relations, marketing and events at The RITZ Ybor. He arrived at the storied theater in 2008 after it had undergone a transformation from seedy nightclub to hip new concert venue.

Tilo –– known as “Okie” among Tampa Bay artists, musicians and Ybor clubbers –– is a 34-year-old social butterfly; an Ybor denizen with a weakness for Madonna, music festivals and comfort food.

An Army brat, Tilo was born in Berlin, Germany and moved to Tampa in 1991, where his knack for bringing people together made him the obvious choice for senior class president at Armwood High School in Seffner.

He studied political science at the University of South Florida and in 2005 produced his first fundraising event. The project proved the perfect outlet for a party-going extrovert with an admitted “OCD streak.”

For five years Tilo served as the managing director of Square One Creative, a collective of artists, designers and entertainers best known for hosting raging art parties at venues across Tampa.

In addition to his work at The RITZ, Tilo is the managing partner of the Up Up Up Group, a special event, festival and attractions planning company. He serves on the steering committee for Pride & Passion at the Tampa Museum of Art and the planning committee for Festa Italiana.

Best Ybor watering hole: First Chance Last Chance in Ybor. “It’s not too overwhelming or too loud. It’s a good place to have a conversation with someone over drinks.”

Best place to people watch: The bench in front of Honey Pot. “You’ll see rockers, hipsters, drag queens and people in fetish costumes coming and going.”

Best reason to cross the Howard Frankland bridge: Sake Bomb. “They make my favorite saketini. I’ve tried to replicate it at home and I can’t.”

Best cheap date: Five Bucks Drinkery in St. Pete. “Nothing costs more than five bucks. You can get loaded tater tots, a root beer float and a Frito pie. It’s like a Jack in the Box.”

Best weird food fusion: Nitally’s Thai-Mex Cuisine. “Thai food mixed with Mexican food is a nice little twist. It’s an interesting place. You’ll always leave with your nose and eyes burning from the spices.”

Best food truck: Aloha To Go. “Whenever they feature the Loco Moco I go nuts. It’s a hamburger patty over rice with gravy on top. Their Facebook page tells you where the truck will be. They go to Tampa General a lot. I’ve got no shame. I’ll follow that food truck to the hospital.”

Best hidden park: Edward Medard Park and Reservoir in Plant City. “It’s a gigantic park with hiking trails and tons of outdoor activities. It feels like you’re in North Carolina.”

Best act to play the RITZ: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. “Everyone I know was going crazy for her and she actually lived up to the hype. She was at the merch table at the end of the show talking to every single fan. She was very down-to-earth and natural. I felt like I’d known her for years.”

Best place to stretch out: Yoga Loft. “Yoga actually works! I started going two and half years ago. Now I can completely touch the floor.”

Best new local band: The Sh-Booms out of Orlando. “They’re amazing. I saw them at The Hub. I’m somewhat of a Sh-Boom stalker now.”

Best wild Friday night party: The Filthy Richard Party at The RITZ. “If you want to full-fledge drink and dance this is the place to go.”

Best all-American eating: The Florida State Fair. “I don’t eat fair food regularly, but when I do go all out. My friends and I go on rides first, then eat every ounce of fried food we can find: fried Pepsi, fried bubble gum, fried butter, funnel cakes, elephant ears … This isn’t just one day of cheating, it’s destroying your entire eating plan for the month.”

Best way to burn off fair food: Spin class at Powerhouse Gym. “I take Mike Hammonds’ class every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m. DJ Jason Krouth spins EDM, dance, Top 40s and 90s hip-hop. The guy has a following because his class is always full.”

Best bargain basement finds: Revolve Clothing Exchange in Ybor. “I once found this Michael Jackson Thriller jacket. It was such a rare find I got a call from someone at the store asking if I still had it. Apparently it was in high demand.”

Best way to tick off your dentist: Binge on croissant donuts at Piquant. “Everything they bake gets reserved. Basically you have to call and place an order. There’s a waiting list. My friends made fun of me for loving this place and then they had a croissant donut and now they’re hooked. It’s heaven.”

Best guilty-pleasure greasy chain: Church’s Chicken. “I’ll go to get my fried okra on. A big box of okra at Church’s is cheap!”

Best way to spend a silly Sunday: At an auction at Myers Fine Art & Antiques. “Once or twice a year my friends and I get dressed up and go to Myers in St. Pete. We don’t go to bid. We go to watch. It’s crazy what some of these things sell for. People are actually on the phone with bidders. You’ll see someone throw down $5,000 for a spoon.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013

Jokie 2013

Jocelyn and I are no strangers to the historic entertainment district of Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City.  If Jocelyn and I were pugs, all of Ybor City would be our marked territory: We have eaten here.  We have drank there.  We have partied here and there to the front, to the back, to the right, to the left, to the left – everything you own in a box to the left, sideways, diagonally, zigzag and back.  So when the opportunity arose, and after heavy suggestion for both J and I to officially show our backyard to our friends that were strangers to Ybor City, we immediately devised a plan.  Born was The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut.

Here’s how it worked:

The Hosts:  JOKIE…  and for those readers lacking any common sense: just as Brad + Angelina = Brangelina and Ben + Jennifer = Bennifer before them, Jocelyn + Okie = JOKIE!

The Players:  John Fontana (Jocelyn’s leading man, Material Boy and Italian stallion), Kali (Jocelyn’s work baby and Hyde Park Village heir-apparent), Andy (Kali’s main squeeze and boo) and Lorena (no stranger to Ybor City, but a friend in need of an Ybor City refresher after her recent two-month stint in Los Angeles)

The Plan:  The Hosts must show the Players key Ybor City destinations, with stops at JOKIE’s signature hang-out locations.  May the odds be in their favor!

Jokie 2013 Gaybor

The Details:  We began the evening with ear candling (yes, ear candling!… don’t ask) at mi casa and then strutted on over to The Columbia for a pitcher of their famous Spanish sangria, James Joyce for a Framboise, Bernini for 1/2-priced dinner entrees and $2 mango martinis, Tampa Bay Brewing Company for the sampler beer tray, The Bricks for an art show and Pisco Sours, Liquid Tampa for a twirl, Bradley’s on Seventh for a whirl, Reservoir Bar for second-hand smoke inhalation and a beer, Hamburger Mary’s for the 10pm Drag Show, Hurricane pitchers and a photo with Mark & Carrie (above), The Castle for dungeon photo-ops and a vodka cranberry minus the cranberry, MC Film Fest for a lil’ shopping, The Honey Pot for shots of Patron and dancing and G.Bar for more dancing but this time with blurry vision and slurred speech.

It was indeed a long night, but the Players threw their hands up in exhausted and inebriated defeat and called it a night.  The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut failed to reach the final three destinations: an ice shot at CZAR, a hookah at Zoya and a slice of pizza at New York, New York Pizza / Shepherd’s pie at The Dog’s Bollocks.

The Players (minus a few still recovering from the night before) reconvened the next morning at Gaspar’s Grotto for the Booze Cruise Brunch and to officially conclude the inaugural JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013.

Conclusion:  While the Players showed bravery, dedication and very admiral attempts at hanging with the Hosts, and as much fun was had by all…  another JOKIE Strut must and will be planned at a later date and time.

Special Thanks:  Jocelyn and I would like THANK all of our friends who we texted, messaged & called for any special favors, along with their wonderful staff for showing our Players true Ybor City hospitality at its very finest!

Who run this mutha?  For all-intended purposes of this blog post, please press play and replace the words “WORLD” with “YBOR” and “GIRLS” with “JOKIE”…  “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce

Please click on thumbnail to enlarge/view photo:

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Could’ve Been

At 7-years-old, it was routine for me and my brothers to crowd around the radio, tapping our feet and fidgeting until the clock struck 8pm.  We spent nearly every weekday afternoon calling the local radio station in Fayetteville, North Carolina requesting our favorite songs for the “Hot 8 @ 8 Countdown.”  We’d eagerly await to see if the one song we aggressively requested would top the countdown yet again.  That song was “I Think We’re Alone Now” by then 16-year-old Tiffany Darwish.


Tiffany was GIGANTIC.  At the time, she was the biggest star in pop music, even bigger than Madonna.  “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Could’ve Been” were huge huge huge hits in 1987.  All of the girls at Montclair Elementary School wore jean jackets because of her.  And the boys all thought that she was pretty.  Tiffany was one of my childhood idols.

It was a retro-thrill seeing her perform those songs for the first time ever last night!

…with Tiffany at The Honey Pot – Tampa, FL
Friday, May 11, 2012 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Cheri’s Visit: August 2011

One of my absolute most craziest (& in a good way) friends, Cheri a.k.a. Emily Rose, came to visit Tampa this past weekend mainly to spend time with Kristin, who is a mere week away from having her first baby.  Cheri currently lives in Los Angeles, and moved there three years ago for a change in scenery and to be closer to her boyfriend (the just-as crazy) Michael.

I always love when an old friend comes to Tampa to visit, because it gives all my other friends a reason to come together and do something as a group.  This weekend was no exception.  Thursday night, we all congregated and partied at our old stomping grounds, The Castle, a nightclub in Ybor City.  Friday night, we had dinner at a tapas restaurant called SPAIN downtown and partied at The Honey Pot.  Saturday and Sunday, we pretty much just hung out and spent the day with one another.

What will stick in my mind from Cheri’s visit this past weekend will be our car ride with Nicolas to Taco Bus at 3am.  Listening to music loudly, singing together, making silly jokes, having the time of our lives.  Suddenly, I was transported back to the year 2006 where Cheri, Nicolas and I could find ourselves in the same exact setting.  Five years later, and here we were doing the same routine.  It felt nice to feel like nothing had changed, that Cheri still lived in Tampa and to feel like we were young again.

Cheri, I cannot wait until November when I will see you again!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

OMG 2008: The Soundtrack [12.19.2008]

Originally posted on MySpace on December 19, 2008:

Whoever first said that time flies by faster the older one gets is hopefully experiencing an afterlife of well-deserved bliss, because that statement could not have rang more true than it did this year. 2008 rushed by faster than the speed of light. Never have I met so many new people or experienced so much change. Every year around this time, I typically post some fancy year-end blog set to a soundtrack of the year’s most memorable songs… however this year’s blog was a bit more difficult given the 365 +1 days of memories that crammed 2008.

Seriously, this year was ABSOLUTE madness… but in the best way possible.

These are the songs that remind me of the year’s most memorable moments and people. These are the songs that truly capture the momentum and spirit of 2008. So here goes kiddos and blog stalkers, hike up your speaker’s volumes… make sure you’re sitting in a comfy position… and PRESS PLAY below… for this is the soundtrack to my life (the ongoing musical) in 2008…

IF I WERE A BOY BY BEYONCE: Five people will forever come to mind whenever I hear ‘If I Were A Boy’ by Beyonce.

(1) Jess, my Asian Persuasion who first bonded with me over a conversation on Freeport, Illinois at the now defunct 7 14 Lounge. She played the hell out of a Beyonce Greatest Hits disc that I made her which included this song. Plus her ‘hoe phone’ is constantly blowing up every time I am around her. Any guess on what her ringtone is? My favorite memory of 2008 with ‘Okie’s sister’ (as Dallas loves to call her) is our night out together at Eric’s Birthday Party at The Columbia. It was her very first night stepping foot into Steam where she has since become a regular club staple, and the first night that we ever danced together. I wouldn’t want to sing ‘Hot Summer’ or ‘Dirty Pop’ with anyone else but my dirty pop lil’ Kim Chee hot mess on the cob named Jess. Plus, she plays this song at the drop of a dime whenever I am shouting song requests from her car’s back seat at 3am.

(2) Nathan, my morning ‘Christmas present unwrapper’… because for weeks straight he was ALWAYS singing this song. Tired of the club scene, he and I decided to cook dinner together one Thursday night and avoid The Castle at all costs. One shepherd’s pie, one pasta salad, one ‘better than sex’ chocolate cake and two bottles of wine later at his place… here I found myself partying at Georgies in St. Pete with him and then Patron shot-downing at The Castle later. Mind you… I was preparing for an evening of staying indoors, so I was dressed in a wine stained shirt, flip flops and torn shorts. To make sure I wasn’t the only gutter trash hobo present, I forced Nathan to change into matching attire and show off those hairy ass legs before we ventured out. 2008 was the year Nathan and I paraded around the nightclubs and streets of Tampa and New York City as the year’s Partida Drinking Champions.

(Rubbing Nathan’s surprisingly hairy lower back) Okie: Gizmo? Is that you?

(3) Hilary, my unemployed Manhattan socialite favorite… my birthday this year was the best ever because of my New York trip to visit her and Sammie. I remember lying in bed together and playing ‘If I Were A Boy’ on my iPod for her. She loved the song so much that I had to whip out the laptop and You Tube the music video for us to overanalyze and dissect as if it were a Federico Fellini cinematic masterpiece. I still cannot help but laugh and smile at the thought of us walking down the streets of Manhattan on our way to G-Lounge singing this song, changing the lyrics to reference Sammie’s camel toe or forcing Nathan to play his Beyonce ringtone on the subway so we could have our “If I Were A Boy” fix for the moment.

(4) Victoria, or as Cheri likes to call her… VICCCTTTOOORRRIIIAAA VICCCTTTOOORRRIIIAAA… on our way to Doug and Linley’s Annual Halloween Party, Steven popped in the new cd I burnt for him that had ‘If I Were A Boy’ on it. As the song finished, Victoria repeated the track only to post a Myspace bulletin with the song lyrics later that night. ‘Sometimes… Beyonce surprises me.’ As serious as Victoria was when she made that statement, I still giggled a little bit. I believe she’s still rocking out to that burnt cd, because Steven never got it back from her.

(5) Steven MichaelRay, my twin MESSiah brother… if 2007 was our downfall, then 2008 was our comeback. My most favorite memory of Steven has got to be smoking on Neil’s balcony in Chicago trying to figure out what the graphic was on his hat. Was it an astronaut? Was it a seal? Or maybe both? My stomach hurt so badly from laughing so hard with him. Given the juvenile extremities of our conversation, was it necessary to constantly interrupt Neil and Cheri watching their movie by doing ‘Sparkle Grape Soda’ impressions? Amid the excessive silliness, we were reminded of how blessed we were to have our friendship rejuvenated. The overnight layover in Atlanta would have been annoying if it were with anyone else. We slept in those nasty leather seats with the harsh fluorescent light blaring down and that damn custodian vacuuming around our area for what seemed like 4 hours. Reuniting with Steven this year only reinforced the truth that no matter what direction life takes us or how far time separates us, we will irrefutably return back to one another.

I would turn off my phone
Tell everyone it’s broken
So they’d think that I was sleeping alone
I’d put myself first
And make the rules as I go
If I Were A Boy by Beyonce

Give It 2 Me by Madonna: The Seattle crew was in town for Harry’s 29th Birthday Weekend, and it was my first time meeting the much-hyped Jae Jae. I was literally falling asleep when he and Mel arrived in town that Friday night, but their infectious excitement to be in Tampa for the weekend along with Jae Jae’s constant demands for this song to repeat on the way to Ybor remind me of the berserk moments of that weekend. For starters, Jess and I have not ‘twirled’ on the dancefloor since Jae Jae went back to Seattle.

Jeremy Gloff and I ran the same circles of mutual friends but never had an open opportunity to realize how connected we truly are until our ‘Hard Candy’ album release party field trip to the Virgin Megastore in Orlando with Harry and Nicole. We played the entire “Hard Candy” album on the way back to Tampa, but it was ‘Give It 2 Me’ that managed to waken a comatose Harry in the backseat.

Beautiful Boy by Jeremy Gloff: What a delight it was for Jeremy to ask me to help him with his 1987 album release party! After a meeting of the minds at The Cheesecake Factory one weekend afternoon, he and I both came up with the best pr gimmick… the 1987 Cassette Wall photos. Everyone wanted a photo taken in front of the wall. Everyone had a photo taken in front of the wall. Everyone else had their photo photoshopped in front of the wall. It was an exciting time that helped propel us in abandoning any notions of moving to New York City and Chicago next year. Who else would I share hot tea and pie at the St. Pete diner with?

Give a warm round of applause for… Square One presents… because this is a fcking Square One production you btches… Jeremy Gloff’s 1987 Show.
– My heavily intoxicated introduction of Jeremy’s performance at Crowbar

(Shout-out to J-Gloffa: You commented on last year’s 2007 blog about being a complete outsider to my life. How the times have a-changed?)

Let Me Think About It by Ida Corr: Nicole (a.k.a. McShizzle) and I decided to see Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour in Chicago with one another. $500.00 for a tenth row floor seat was a bargain, especially considering that both of us were contemplating plunking down a cool grand each for any floor seat. From the moment we arrived, we were cracking our corny jokes and giggling at the smallest idiosyncrasies. The highlight of that Chicago trip has got to be devouring a huge food order from Duck Walk at Neil’s apartment while You Tube-ing our favorite songs. We were both three sheets to the wind but in complete denial of how loaded we truly were. I kept downplaying the situation, making every attempt to remain cool. Once Nicole played ‘Let Me Think About It’… all bets were off and out came the dancing and singing.

Nicole: ”Yeah, you’re not fcked up!’
Okie: ‘NOT. AT. ALL!’

Holler by Spice Girls: Neil in Chicago is a chef extraordinaire who cooks up the best homemade seafood paella ever. And being the guy who is not afraid to unleash his inner fat boy, I would persistently ask him to make me breakfast every morning or whip up a Bloody Mary for lunch or concoct his famous spinach dip. Every single time like the giving person he is, Neil would oblige. His only request when being my personal Top Chef was that “Holler” play on Rhapsody so he could dance while he cooked.

All I See by Kylie Minogue: A sign that you are getting older: All of your close girl friends either got married or engaged this year.

The apparent year of romance kicked off with Stephanie Brooke marrying Jason. Then Jen married Max. Next up was Katina‘s wedding to Justin. Followed by Kristin‘s engagement to Ben. And then Sterling got engaged to Shira. Accompanied by Donna accepting David‘s wedding proposal. Not to be outdone by Nick popping the question to Gina. Concluding with Linley and Doug finally making plans to get hitched.

If 2008 is the year of romance, then 2009 will be the year of the weddings. I am already slated to be in 2 weddings next year… just 25 more to go to fulfill the starring role in my own version of the movie “27 Dresses.” The song lyrics to “All I See” perfectly capture the happiness of my friends finding their other halves.

Single Ladies by Beyonce: I don’t exactly remember the precise moment that Jonathan and I clicked with one another, because it seems like I have known him forever now. Whether it’s forcing him to cook me lunch or watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta Marathon on Bravo all day, I always picture his “Laze Milan” dancing when “Single Ladies” blared out any given speakers.

Right now, Jonathan is currently overseas in Qatar with the Air Force so everyone pray that he gets back home very soon. He and I have a date at the Buddhist Temple when he returns.

Hot Summer by Monrose: My theme song for 2008, and one of the many songs that Gina, Steven and I always play at Linley‘s house parties where we find ourselves to be the only ones dancing.

Push The Button by Sugababes and Primitive by Roisin Murphy: The “unmentionable” title of Jon La May‘s iPod playlist dedicated to moi was a collection of songs I introduced to him. The two songs that Jon would jam out the most to during our weekly Winghouse Wednesday luncheons were these two irresistibly catchy pop ditties that he initially hated.

Damaged by Danity Kane: David Phan has an enduring tendency to text me random lyrics to any given song of the moment. I never understood why. Neither did Jon La May. It was just something that made the loveable David Phan David Phan. Of all the 129,078,380,397.42 texts messages that he sent to me this year, “Damaged” has got to be his most referenced. The funny thing about his texts is that I can vividly picture him singing the song while pumping his fist in the air each and every time that he messaged me. Waking up to a text message that read “Do… do you have a first aid kit handy?” was not uncommon this year thanks to my special Jacksonville friend who claims I wear butt pads.

INTO THE NIGHTLIFE BY CYNDI LAUPER: I had been friends with Ryan Prado for years, but never had we bonded as much as we did this year. Every morning at work, I would wait for him to get to his job so that we could begin endlessly e-mailing one another throughout the day. Even with how stressful my job became, just talking to him was like a breath of fresh air. When we both decided to travel to Chicago to see the Janet Jackson Rock With U Tour, I had NO idea how much fun was in store. Being the old man that I have inevitably become, I left Ryan at Club Berlin that Friday night to go back to Neil’s apartment to go to bed. When Ryan texted me to come back and save him from the onslaught of attacking trannies, I put my shoes back on and went downstairs to go bring him back to Neil’s place with me. I walk in Berlin. I spot Ryan at the bar. He motions to me that he is ready to leave. “Into The Nightlife” starts emanating from the speakers and suddenly Ryan and I both decide to stay a little longer… well at least one song longer. I literally saw Mr. Prado come to life in Chicago and am eager to go back up there with him next August for Market Days. Corner diner here we come!

Rock With U by Janet Jackson: Ryan Prado. Screaming his head off like an 8 year-old girl suffering from an intense adrenaline rush and sugar high. Nuff said.

Want to dress for you tonight
Under the light
Shot up like a satellite
Into the night
Shirtless wonder wreck my sight
Under the light
Into The Nightlife by Cyndi Lauper

Motownphilly by Boyz II Men: The Saturday get-together at Neil‘s place in Chicago for Ryan Prado brought out the usual favorite suspects: Sara, Aaron, Danny, Firecrotch Rob, Vince and of course… my soul mate, Chicago Gina. I am not sure how we got into our 90’s music kick, but there we were dancing up a storm in Neil’s living room to old-school X-Scape, CeCe Peniston and of course Gina’s request that she just had to hear… “Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men. Up went the hair in a ponytail on top her head and out came the surefire ridiculousness that everyone loves about Gina. I’m not even sure she realizes how side-splitting hilarious she is when she is in her full-on “Gina” element.

I Wonder by Kanye West: Sterling scored us box-seats to the Kanye West & Rihanna concert in Chicago. I had just flown into Chicago that afternoon, so by the time we arrived at the United Center Arena… I was literally suffering from headbobs trying to stay awake. As huge of a Kanye fan that I am, the exhaustion began taking over and I was falling asleep at my idol’s concert. It took my favorite song from Kanye’s “Graduation” album to bring me back to life and join Chicago Gina to rock out to the remainder of the Glow In The Dark Tour.

4 MINUTES BY MADONNA WITH JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE: It was a random Saturday night at Gbar. I walk inside and notice a group of familiar guys just whispering to one another and pointing my way. I thought, ‘what the hell did I do now?” I ignored their whispers and went over to the other bar. A tap on the shoulder and I turn around to see one of those guys standing behind me.

“Do you think you can give me advice on an event that I am planning?” he said.

I had already began drinking and agreed to do so, but initially shrugged off the random question. Sure enough, Gary Randall called me the next day asking for advice on a show called Square One that he was planning at the old Masquerades. What started off as simply giving advice turned into helping him plan this Square One event which escalated into taking over a suddenly successful business venture when he moved to New York City this past May. I had known Gary for years, but never did we ever exchange any words besides the standard “hello” and hug. Gary seeking me out for his event at the beginning of the year completely rearranged my priorities in 2008, and he and Julia in New York have become family to me.

I met the majority of the people that I speak to on a daily basis through Square One with most of them being acquaintances I had previously known for years.

He may claim that I am always mean and never spend enough time with him, but from never having a conversation with Jason Moriarty the years of knowing him to talking to him daily for at least 4 hours should prove how much he means to me now. He is absolutely hilarious when he makes his obnoxious comments on my weight or his “twink assembly line” of workers that will unquestionably work our events. I’d be lost the last half of this year without “my Daddy,” the Russian Jew… Tampa’s Edward Cullen. I cannot wait to hit up NYC and Chicago with him next year.

Jason: Where the hell did you come from? It was like you were suddenly everywhere overnight.
Okie: I came from Chambers.

Rory and I go way back as friends. Back in the day, she could out drink anyone under the table and was undeniably one of the wildest girls that I know. She since gave up drinking, calmed down, graduated from Ringling and continually kept in touch with me throughout the years. Square One literally recharged our friendship. When I began planning GO! in May, she literally saved the day with the event promos. She will stay up until 2am working on graphic design work I need done for clients on a very last minute basis, and can still ‘slut’ it up like no one else.

Because of Square One, I finally felt that I was doing something that I was meant to do. When I recently got laid off from my accounting day job, I actually felt a sense of relief… as if I was being done a favor. While some of my coworkers were crying, I actually walked out of the office that afternoon with my belongings and a huge smile on my face. Corporate day jobs were never intended for me. Granted I lost my job, but I had Square One and The RITZ Ybor to fall back on. Both of those jobs mean more to me than any job before because I am finally doing something that I am completely and madly passionate about.

Who knew that Gary randomly asking me for advice would turn into a new career path where I was fortunate to meet and befriend some of the coolest people in the universe. Melissa Fair (the regulator). Gina Rathbun (my biggest fan). Jedd Lancaster (my web master). Melissa Ora-ath (my Harajuku baby). Linda Alexander (my favorite teacher). Amel Samuels (the one man corporation). Michelley QueenofQueens. Robert Wegmann. And the list just goes on and on.

If you want it
You already got it
If you thought it
It better be what you want
If you feel it
It must be real just
Say the word and
I’ma give you what you want
4 Minutes by Madonna with Justin Timberlake

Untouched by The Veronicas: A morning without speaking to Robby is like a day without air. Or as he likes to put it, “a morning without speaking to Okie is like a morning without wood.” Whether it’s selling the hell out of his bumper stickers down the streets of Ybor or showering his face with drunken kisses at my birthday, I had a blast with him this year.

Read A Book Parody by D’Mite: I first met Kat Wilson at the GO! Meet & Greet at Streetcar Charlie’s last May. It wasn’t until we toured The RITZ Ybor an hour or two later that she took the gloves off and made a smart comment about the cologne I typically bathe myself in. I always love a smart-ass, so I instantly knew that we’d get along fabulously. She has proven time and time again that she is an asset to Square One and to alopecia.

If We’re In Love by Roisin Murphy: I asked Jose to do Virgin 2.0 way back in May, and am shocked with how long ago that seemed. The highlight memory of him this year is FINALLY seeing him walking out onstage after (eve)olution with the biggest smile on his face, a true representation of the six months he busted his ass for his collection. He may criticize my two-slice pizza eating ways, even though Grace would smile and approve… but I still love him.

Hot N Cold by Katy Perry: Paging the cigarette thief named Ernesto. This is our dancefloor anthem for 2008 because it seems like you and I were always dancing together to this song.

DREAMS (DEEP DISH REMIX) BY FLEETWOOD MAC: Whenever Cheri and I have too much to drink, we find ourselves the victims of the “I love you” mushy fest. There we were on her 26th birthday at 2am at Flirt, hugging each other and crying about how happy we were to be friends. Fast forward to the Boom Boom Room in Chicago last year where we were just holding hands in the middle of the dancefloor telling one another how much we loved eachother. Of course this past February when I went to visit her in Los Angeles was no exception. V.I.P. balcony of Club Avalon and the DJ played this song. Anyone who passed by the two of us sitting in the lounge area would only hear the following silliness: “I love you Cheri… I’m so happy that we are friends. No, I love you Okie… I’m so glad I reunited with you after all these years… No, I love you more Cheri.” (Someone cut off our drinks next time we approach this territory.)

WALKING ON AIR BY KERLI: It is human nature to constantly push ourselves in seeking life’s ‘next big and next best thing.’ Everyone is searching for “it.” I, for one, can testify to always wanting ‘bigger’ and ‘better’; wanting more more more; wanting it all. Despite how beautiful a moment was, I still found myself never feeling satisfied. I would always question, ‘So what’s next? What else is coming? How can I top this wonderful moment?’ I always strived to get to a ‘next’ level of ‘greater’ and ‘better’ and ‘happier.’ I never sat back and took time to look at the amazement around me. 2008 will go down as the year that I actually opened up my eyes and finally realized… that I am already AT that level of “bigger” and “better” and ‘happier.’ No more pushing myself. No more searching. No more feeling unsatisfied …for it is not humanly possible to be as happy as I was the entire year of 2008.

THANK YOU to everyone who touched my life this year. I love you all and cannot to experience what 2009 brings to the table… besides the nine million engagement parties, bachelorette festivities, bridal showers and open bar weddings that I will be readying myself for.

Feel it

Breathe it

Believe it

And you’ll be walking on air

Go try

Go fly

So high

And you’ll be walking on air

You feel this

Unless you kill this

Go on and you’re forgiven

I knew that

I could feel that

I feel like

I am walking on air

Walking On Air by Kerli

This blog is dedicated to my very good friend Mr. Harry Morgan… for continually being that needed shoulder to lean on, for constantly putting up with my high-maintenance narcissism, for busting his ass during Virgin 2.0 set-up and most importantly… this blog is dedicated as a reminder of how beautiful of a person and wonderful of a friend he is. 2009 will be your year baby! Let’s ‘Demi Moore’ that shit up together. (Gym membership… CHECK. No carbs diet…. CHECK. Anti-aging products… CHECK. Young wigger arm candy… CHECK. Cigarettes & alcohol… X.)

And to Kristin… remember my comment about you never getting married because no one would want to deal with your excessive silliness? Well, I guess you proved me wrong. October next year… it’s MY wedding and you’re just the bride.

Monrose’s Strictly Physicalmy favorite album of 2008

The Soundtrack to 2008:
1. Beyonce – If I Were A Boy
2. Madonna – Give It 2 Me
3. Jeremy Gloff – Beautiful Boy
4. Ida Corr – Let Me Think About It
5. Spice Girls – Holler
6. Kylie Minogue – All I See
7. Beyonce – Single Ladies
8. Monrose – Hot Summer
9. Sugababes – Push The Button
10. Roisin Murphy – Primitive
11. Danity Kane – Damaged
12. Cyndi Lauper – Into The Nightlife
13. Janet Jackson – Rock With U
14. Boyz II Men – Motownphilly
15. Kanye West – I Wonder
16. Madonna with Justin Timberlake – 4 Minutes
17. The Veronicas – Untouched
18. D’Mite – Read A Book Parody
19. Roisin Murphy – If We’re In Love
20. Katy Perry – Hot N Cold
21. Fleetwood Mac – Dreams (Deep Dish Remix)
22. Kerli – Walking On Air

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,