A bout six months ago I met with the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jack Seiler, at my home in Parkland. He told me that the city of Fort Lauderdale wanted to name a street after me. I suggested that this event take place sometime in May because that would be the 50th anniversary of the filming of the movie Where the Boys Are and that my name and Where the Boys Are were synonymous; that 75% of the time when I meet people they always say …
A bout six months ago I met with the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jack Seiler, at my home in Parkland. He told me that the city of Fort Lauderdale wanted to name a street after me. I suggested that this event take place sometime in May because that would be the 50th anniversary of the filming of the movie Where the Boys Are and that my name and Where the Boys Are were synonymous; that 75% of the time when I meet people they always say, “Oh, Connie Francis! Where the Boys Are!” We talked about projecting a more positive, wholesome, fun-loving atmosphere in Fort Lauderdale and about trying to dispel the negative reputation the town had earned in the last twenty years with all the weirdos and the druggies.
A month ago, I hired John McLaughlin my new PR person. He’s more than a PR person, he’s an entrepreneur. I just throw the nucleus of an idea at John and he makes it happen. John previously worked for Michael and The Jacksons for ten years and for Danny DeVito.
I said, “Let’s call it ‘The Great American Beach Party’ and let’s see what happens with that.” So he scheduled a kickoff press conference on Friday the 29th of January to announce that we would be celebrating Memorial Day weekend, May 28th and 29th, with ‘The Great American Beach Party – Fort Lauderdale, Florida.’
I’d like to preface this story by saying that as far as the gay community is concerned, I am in their corner 110%; and, for decades they have been amongst my most loyal supporters. As a matter of fact, at my concerts before I sing Where the Boys Are I say, “Ladies and gentlemen – the gay national anthem – Where the Boys Are.” So I have a very large gay following. And that’s the name of that tune.
“John, run with this,” I said. So he planned this whole big event. D-Day didn’t require this kind of preparation.
John called me several times. “Connie, would it be alright if I get four good looking boys in bathing suits to accompany you to the beach in a vintage Cadillac convertible?”
“Yeah, great,” I said. “That’s cool.”
“Do you want to wear a bathing suit, too?” he asked me.
“My bathing suit days are over, John. By the way, what kind of bathing suits would they be wearing? Not bikinis, I hope. Like boxer shorts, right?”
“Well, we’ll try,” he said.
Two days later John called, “We’ve looked all over the place – we’ve searched all the department stores and the boutiques, and we can’t find any boxer short bathing suits,” he said. “They don’t make them anymore. We do have suits though that are a cross between a bikini and a boxer short.”
“O.K., John. But remember the catchphrase, ‘Everything in good taste,’” I told him. “I just don’t want to see their family jewels, you know.”
“Connie, in order for their family jewels not to show you’d have to put a blanket over them. Hot Spots tells me they’ve got four great-looking guys. I tried a lot of other places to get boys for this, too, Connie. I tried The Zoo, LA Fitness, The World’s Gym, and no one responded to my calls except for Hot Spots; and, they were very gracious enough to provide the four boys.”
“Great,” I said.
So on Friday the 29th when we arrived at The Bahia Mar Hotel I was amazed at the turn-out and the enthusiasm of the crowd – a total surprise to me. The hotel had a suite ready for us and refreshments, too, which was very nice of them. I arrived at The Bahia Mar with my entourage: my girlfriend Anne Fusari who was visiting from New Jersey, my friend Lois Prokocimer, my two assistants Mickey and Dotti, Tony Ferretti, my hairdresser, Jairo; and, my friend, Mickey Havens; we came in Mickey’s limousine. When we got there we saw the four boys – Gabriel, Tony, Glen and Dallas. That was the first time I’d ever seen them.
“Hi boys, I’m Connie Francis,” I said. “There’s one thing wrong with this picture, fellas. I don’t like to hang out with guys who are prettier than I am.” Meanwhile, my girlfriend Anne was going ballistic over these fellas.
“Pull yourself together, Anne,” I said. “I could be these kids’ grandmother, and so could you.”
“It’s all up here, honey,” she said pointing to her head.
Then Jairo summoned me over and he whispered to me, “Connie, I don’t know how to tell you this, but these four guys are gay porno stars.”
“Oh my god! Tell me your joking, Jairo. Say – how do you know? Are they famous?”
“Oh my god! I don’t know what to do. We’re about to leave. I can’t hurt their feelings. Everybody’s gotta make a living. I think it’ll be cool, Jairo. But who knows? With my mazol some sickie like you in the crowd could recognize them.”
Anne was still carrying on, spiraling out of control over the four fellas as we left. “Annie, do me a favor. This is embarrassing already. We’re going to send you back to New Jersey. Lauderdale is too much for you.” And then I whispered in her ear, “Don’t knock yourself out. These guys are gay.”
“Who cares?” she said. “Look at those muscles.”
So a couple of days later, John McLaughlin called me. He had a headache. He’d been on the phone all day with the mayor’s press people, The Sun-Sentinel; and, specifically, Sean Piccoli, a staff writer with The Sun-Sentinel. They had somehow discovered that I had been escorted to the beach by these porno stars and put it on a blog.
“Oh, that,” I said nonchalantly to John, “I knew that two minutes after I met them at The Bahia Mar. Jairo told me. He said, ‘These four guys…’”
“FOUR? I thought it was only one!”
“I think maybe you’d better talk to the mayor, John.”
“I spoke to his press people, Connie. I have to apologize. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before!”
“You mean to tell me you were with The Jacksons for ten years and nothing like this has ever happened to you before? C’mon, John.”
“I still have to apologize to you. I should’ve vetted these people better.”
“They weren’t running for vice president, John. It was only a photo op. Don’t feel bad,” I said. “What are you supposed to do, check out every member of the orchestra, too?”
I feel this way about the whole debacle. I certainly wouldn’t jump at the chance to do a photo op with porn stars. It wouldn’t be cool. So it didn’t matter to me if the photo op people were male or female – gay or straight.
At our first meeting with the city officials when I suggested The Great American Beach Party, they said it was impossible because between May and September it was turtle season on the beaches.
“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” I said. “Hey, I know what we’ll do. We’ll recruit Sarah Palin and tell her to bring her biggest rifle. She’ll think she died and went to heaven when she can shoot all these helpless, defenseless creatures.