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Plan To Visit Miami? Can’t Be Too Careful

Scott Ostler San Francisco Chronicle

“Cover me, honey,” I said to the wife, “I’m going to make a dash for the lobby.”

You can’t be too careful in Miami. Even though police here claim there was a 61 percent drop in tourist robberies last year, you wonder if that’s not because there was a 61 percent drop in tourists.

The danger is mostly around the airport, which has an access-road system that the Super Mario Brothers wouldn’t be able to figure out. Recently the city put up helpful signs. To get away from the airport, you follow the signs that have a yellow sunburst symbol. Do not follow the signs that have a symbol of a white chalk outline of a body (yes, I made up that part).

Just to be safe, I spray-painted the side of my rental car with notices such as “NOT a German tourist!” and “Driver carries no cash; he gets by in life on his good looks.” The reasoning is, if I get shot, laughter is the best medicine.

The local car-rental people have printed up a handy list of safety precautions. I read my list and then ate it, not wanting it to fall into the wrong hands, but I think I can remember some of the tips:

Don’t pick up hitchhikers, especially in groups of four or more.

Carry your purse like you’re a fullback trying to score from the 3.

Use automatic-teller cash machines after dark ONLY if Dr. Kevorkian is unavailable.

Never carry cash or travelers checks. In Miami it is possible to get by on your good looks.

Always carry an interesting book, because if you dial 911, you might be on hold for a while.

By using a little common sense, and by driving at 90 miles per hour on tiny side streets, we escaped the danger zone and found ourselves in balmy Miami, host to the Super Bowl and assorted festivities, which will include a nude limbo competition.

The limbo event will be held aboard a cruise ship that will set sail Thursday eve and will feature 200 naked women, casino gambling and a swimming pool filled with Jell-o.

I don’t want to single out this event and make it sound like Super Bowl week is one depraved drunken orgy, but this gambling cruise does convey the spirit of Miami and the Super Bowl. This is the wildest week in an anything-goes kinda town.

In the newspapers Monday were stories about a huge local mafia bust, and a drug sting that went awry and caused several innocent people flying out of Miami to be tortured in a rat-infested Bolivian prison where the cockroaches ate the paint off the walls.

In other words, in Miami, the emphasis is on fun.

For journalistic purposes, I phoned to get information on the gambling cruise and spoke to a woman named Alisa. She told me that her boss, Michael J. Peter, has a dream of combining adult entertainment and gambling under one roof, but that parlay is too hot for Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

Alisa explained, “So he said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to take it to international waters.’ It’s going to be hedonism on the high seas.”

Indeed. Admission is three-tiered. For $300 you get on the main deck, with a full-action casino, “five-star, all-you-can-eat buffet,” dirty dancing contest and pool full of Jell-o.

Use caution when diving into Jello. A person could wind up stuck in the middle of the pool, like a fly frozen in an ice cube, and be jiggled to death in rough seas.

For $900 you ride on the Gold deck, which will have topless “friction dancing” (lap dancing) and a coed hot bubble bath.

Your $1,500 puts you on the Platinum deck, with all-nude friction dancing, all-nude message, nude gambling hostesses and mingling with VIPs, including Mr. Peter. The Platinum deck will be so naked, you won’t even be able to get dressing on your salad.

Or there’s the economy package. For $5, you sit in the crow’s nest with a telescope.

The Platinum deck will be the venue of the coed naked limbo contest. I recommend you do your limboing before you hit the all-youcan-eat buffet.

Due to space restrictions, there will be no naked touch football or pole vaulting.

The NFL got worked up because the cruise people promised in their advertising that 50 NFL stars would be on board. Now Alisa is saying, “There’ll be NFL alumni on board,” and “I’ll bet you there will be a lot of (current players) on board.”

I’ll bet you Alisa is full of baloney. Some players are claiming they were scammed and their names used without permission. With all the heat from the NFL, the love boat folks will be lucky to recruit a cousin of the guy who used to work the first-down chains at Lambeau Field.

But even though this is Super Bowl week, many patrons will probably feel the same way as Mark Twain, who once said, “You give me a gambling boat with 200 naked women, a Jell-o pool, nude limbo and 50 NFL stars, and you can keep the 50 NFL stars.”

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