Thursday, March 10, 2016
The Speakeasy was an Orlando institution for decades. Tod Caviness organized the monthly showcase of poets, authors and storytellers who would converge on Will's Pub (1042 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL3) once a month.A documentary was shot about the speakeasy when the first Will's Pub shot down. The documentary covered the history of this spoken word event in Orlando. When Will's Pub re-opened at a new location, the Speakeasy was also resurrected.
July 21st however marked the final evening for The Speakeasy' The literary scene in Orlando has grown by leaps and bounds. Todd is now a married man with a young son. Whatever the reason might be, The Speakeasy has faded into history. Cardboard Tod Caviness masks were scattered on all the tables. On the all was a sign from the now demolished Coach Dining Room which was part of The Red Fox Lounge where Mark Wayne and Lorna Lamby used to perform their over the top camp and fun lounge act. The Red Fox Lounge was a beloved Winter Park watering hole for 50 years. Mark and Lorna entertained crowds for 23 years but sadly Mark passed away. Their act is rumored to have inspired a Saturday Night Live skit, "The Culp Family Musical Performances," starring Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer.
Michael Pierre read the most memorable piece on this historic evening. He walked among the tables rather than stand on the stage. His poem described the speakeasy history while lampooning many of the writers who had shared drinks and read over the years. I have sketched at The Speakeasy quite a few times over the years, and I've seen creative types drink and do things that are best left to the blurry reaches of unrecorded history. Michael couldn't see his handwriting in the dark, so Frankie Messina illuminated the pages by following Michael with his his cell phone. Then Frankie covered his face with a Tod mask to add an extra touch of humorous magic to the moment. It was a somewhat sad evening but the best way to face that sadness is with a laugh and more than a few drinks.
The curtain falls and time marches on but I'm thankful I got to witness just some of the magic and mayhem that each Speakeasy generated.