August 20, 2013

Don't Poke the Mario Lopez

Keep the lights low.
In an effort to broaden its demographic from the elderly, chain smokers, and/or addicts, The Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa began "Hot Summer Nights Poolside Parties" on Friday nights. Held in the renovated pool area, getting in the pool seems against the rules. Instead, there are drink stands, music, and hundreds of cougars clawing for free drink samples and male attention. But as summer continued to boil, Hard Rock made some strategic changes to its pool parties - add more entertainment and push the time back past sunset to help hide the guests' crow's feet.

Each pool party has had a DJ, and a few added a celebrity guest. Early in the summer, I heard Mario Lopez would be coming, so I marked my calendar immediately for that event. The only other celeb who'd be coming this summer was a former Playboy Bunny. Pass.

 For the Mario Lopez event, we had no details - just that he would be there. That's all I needed, but we had theories about how he'd arrive. Would he just show up in the DJ booth? Would he parachute in? Would he come out of the pool? Was he that eerie silhouette looking down on us from a hotel room window? After a lot of speculation, the best bet looked like the roped off area with the pedestal and Hard Rock promotional backdrops.

After 2 hours of chatting, watching cougars dance, and avoiding a former classmate, there was a clamor by the pedestal. We fluttered to the area surrounded by rope and bouncers to see he had arrived - The Mario Lopez! Hundreds of people pushed the limits of where we could stand, cameras in hand, incessantly flashing at the spotted celebrity. For a few minutes, he did an on-camera interview, then shook hands with the interviewer and other few people on that side of the rope. He then walked up to the private sofa and table of drinks on a platform. The celeb gave a little smile and wave to the crowd of cameras, causing all sorts of clucks and screams, then sat down and had a drink.

The music played on as Mario drank in the soft lighting of camera flashes. He sipped on his drink. He chatted with his small possy. He lit a cigar. And that's what he did. It was watching Mario Lopez in his
living room, plopped into the public. With each little sip and puff, fans slowly lost interest, as their dreams of touching him faded. He was the lion out of its cage that took a nap. There are only so many dark snapshots of Mario Lopez puffing a cigar that one needs.

After what seemed like an eternity of high-end lounging, Mario came off his pedestal to shake a few common hands on the other side of the rope. Those patient enough to endure him being normal had a chance to dive in for a photo opp. He was a fast mover and selective. We all warbled and clucked to get his attention so he'd pause for 5 seconds and pose on his side of the rope. When he stopped, anyone within 10 feet shoved their way into the frame, creating ever lasting moments with a celebrity and strangers. When he stopped, one poor friend 11 feet away was hastily deemed photographer, as she had every electronic device chucked at her.

Just when we almost gave up hope that his quota for 4 poses was filled, he stopped one last time as my hen friend, David, dropped the "birthday" card to grab his attention. The Mario Lopez slowed, stopped, and posed. We had one chance for Tarahen to capture the moment on her phone. Blinded by the flash, he faded back to his vodka and cigar. The lion went back to napping. Maybe next time we'll catch a feeding.

Success X 4!

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