Watching the city grow suspicious of Muslim-Americans following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Mandvi turned his comedy political. In off-Broadway plays, he mined the "idea of sitting between cultures, between East and West, being Muslim-American but having that experience of being a kid in Florida." The Daily Show asked him to audition in 2007, and he was hired the same day.

During the past four years, he has traveled the country for segments, but many of his most memorable moments have happened in the Sunshine State.

"Florida is such a huge piece of the pie in terms of national elections," Mandvi says, "so it becomes a kind of lightning rod for all kinds of political energy. There is a reason why the Republicans are having the convention in Tampa this year."

He pauses before offering another explanation for the locale of next week's event: "You can't ignore the fact that the Republicans are coming and having their convention in the city that has the best strip clubs in the world."

After five years on the job, Mandvi has learned what to expect from moments like the RNC. In Tampa, there will be a vastly different scene from the one at the Dems' convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The Tampa convention also dovetails with two of The Daily Show's most recurring themes: the mainstream media's failings and money's expanding role in politics.

"We all love watching CNN during debates or on election night," Daily Show Executive Producer Rory Albanese says. "It's like they have Q from the James Bond movies in the basement saying, 'Okay, Anderson [Cooper], here is the new jetpack. You're going to be flying around the studio.' What weird piece of technology will CNN have spent $50 million on and have no need for tonight?"

In May, The Daily Show's close cousin, The Colbert Report, poked fun at a mysterious South Floridian named Josue Larose for forming more than 600 PACs and 64 superPACs, supposedly representing everyone from supermodels to Taco Bell customers.

As usual, Comedy Central's pranks hint at a deeper, darker truth. For months, the Tampa area has been flooded with political attack ads by shady, well-financed superPACs, says Mayor Buckhorn. On a national scale, these anonymous expenditures could decide the election.

"There is so much political advertising coming through here, none of which is saying anything nice about anybody. And that's true of both sides," he says.

For a moment, Buckhorn sounds almost as cynical as Mandvi peeking behind the political curtain and finding nothing but frat boys drinking and screwing.

"The ads are just nonstop," Buckhorn admits. "It's gotten to the point where we see so much of it that I almost long for the days of those Cialis ads."

Under the black lights of the Mons Venus strip club, Monica's eyes and teeth glow like St. Elmo's fire. Six-inch stilettos dangle from her toes as she sits at a waist-high table. She smells like mint chewing gum and cigarettes.

It's a Monday afternoon. On an octagonal stage, another stripper grinds against a pole as a few customers watch.

"It's going to be as big as the Super Bowl," Monica says of the convention, over the heavy thumps of a hip-hop song. "Why do you think they are having it here in Tampa? It's the Mons. People have got to see what it's all about, even Republicans."

For millions of Americans, the RNC will be a pivotal political moment. In picking Romney and Ryan, Republicans will commit to a radical vision in which government and its social role are decimated, while the rich pay lower taxes than any point since the Spanish flu ravaged the earth.

But for strippers, porn stars, and a small group of savvy small-business owners, the convention means something much simpler: money. And lots of it. They're banking big on the fact that the same guys waxing nobly about family values will be lining up at titty bars after midnight.

"The history we've heard about the RNC is that there are people who will come out and spend," says Tony Hernandez, the manager of the Tampa Gold Club, "whether it's the delegates or the construction guys setting up and breaking things down."

Strip clubs have pimped themselves out in anticipation. The Gold Club has installed more black granite and marble tile than a McMansion. There will be $7 grouper nuggets and $18 veal shank on the menu, Hernandez says, plus Dom Pérignon and cigars, of course. There will also be giant flat-screen monitors so delegates can tweet about the convention even while getting a lap dance.

But if that isn't elite enough for 1 percenters, they can rent a private sky box with its own bar and stripper stage. A private entrance allows limos to pull right up to the door and prevents paparazzi from snapping politically embarrassing photos. And as a special convention bonus, delegates will also be treated to an assortment of their favorite adult-film stars.

"I'm going to do my Palin show," says Lisa Ann, a porn star who over the past four years has impersonated the Alaskan VP candidate in classics such as Who's Nailin' Paylin? and the point-of-view flick You're Nailin' Paylin.

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Ha! I guess the 3 republicans in SF converged to troll this page tonight. I usually loathe the SF Weekly as too libertarian for my taste, but this time they aced it with this story! Excellent analysis in my opinion. As a former FL resident, I attest to everything in the article being absolutely true! That's why I don't live there anymore, thank goodness! Overheated, godforsaken barren wasteland if there ever was one. It's the land of runaway capitalism, although in fairness you could say that already about this whole country. Greed will finally destroy it, as already has done in FL, a place where dog-eat-dog is the norm for every interaction, and almost complete destruction of the public sector has taken place. Good job, 1%! Soon you won't have a country to exploit anymore, thanks to your own moronic short-sightedness and self-interest!


Wow! Who pissed in your cornflakes?  Amazing the ranting and raving going on here when the excesses of the other party are just as great, if not more.  I would rather attend an 'orgiastic' event than a massive rock style festival set up to pay homage to a demagogue with no practical experience.  I guess it's all ok under the new era of subjective journalism.


Illustrations by a Rick Sealock... That's a 'Nom de Plume' for Ralph Steadman , right ?

I'm thinking 'copy rights' and so on...

red.marcy.rand topcommenter

What a rant ! Did either Big Bruce Brugmann of the SFBG or Big Bruce Anderson of the AVA buy out SF Weekly ? Your rag is starting to read like a print version of KPFA.

All Commie crapola, all the time. I bet your face looks like Robert Gammon's hemorrhoids.

We have enough of a one party state around here with goy boy Miller's 69ing for the Marxist in the

Black House.


Wow maybe a little harsh, although your frustration is understandable, perhaps not everyone in Florida is all bad.

Isn't it almost amusing to see very rich people from private Gated-Communities organize their very own private Gated-Republican Presidential Convention. They are pretty busy making elaborate preparations, so that they won't have to see or make contact with any of the Riff Raff, or as we lovingly call them Mr & Mrs America, Mom, Dad, Granma & Granpa or Plain old American Tax Payers.



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