Mayor Gonzo Mays
Honorary Mayor Key West, Florida Keys USA
Most people try to break out of prison but this crazy not so demure Southerner actually broke into one! Sammie Mays earned rank as a gonzo reporter when commissioned by the notorious editors at the National Enquirer to snag a picture of baseball’s fallen bad boy, Pete Rose, while incarcerated in the infamous Marion, Illinois SuperMax Penitentiary. The lure of $100,000 proved too much for her to resist. The plan was only concocted after some dirty low-life broke into Sammie Mays’s saloon in the Navy shipbuilding town of Pascagoula, Mississippi and stole her blind. “The thieves didn’t only steal the money, liquor, and beer…they stole the pool table, barstools, cash register and even the air conditioning unit!” Mays then joked, “I’ve always heard a bad artist borrows and a good artist steals. I wonder what they named the new bar???” Sammie’s Key West Bar n’ Grill was the only bar in town deemed “resort” status which meant she had the only bar licensed to remain open after the 2am curfew for all other bars. A twenty-four hour hell raising honky tonk, it was the location where Jimmy Buffett played to his first audience (refer to his song Pascagoula Run). A regular at the bar was Jimmy’s one-legged Uncle Billy Buffett who struck a deal for his underage nephew to sweep and mop spilled swill from the floor in exchange for stage time. “Clever Uncle Bill drank for free!” The burglary devasted the saloon-keeper. Left flat busted and desperate for a quick fix, Mays weighed her options and briefly considered posing nude for Hustler but instead decided to take the lower road. A weekend entertainer in her own bar, Mays posed as a musician, hiding two identical 35 millimeter cameras inside an old worn-out speaker cabinet and sweet talked the warden and herself right into, at the time, the nation’s toughest penitentiary. It was literally through hook n’ crook that she managed to score the coveted $100,000 photograph of baseball great Pete Rose in the Pokey!
Meanwhile back at corporate headquarters in Lantana, Florida, National Enquirer marketing gurus aggresively worked through the night leaking word to the Associated Press of the beer-slinging reporter’s espionage operation. The media was primed and Hollywood’s curiosity peeked! Back in Marion, Illinois, the humiliated warden was being dismissed of his duties but didn’t step down until he issued this final statement to the press, “Where Sammie Mays is going she’s not going to be able to spend a dime of that money!”Trouble was beginning to mount for Mays. The morning after scoring the infamous prison shot she pulled into Denny’s for a quick bite of breakfast and from a row of newspaper vending machines bold black headlines screamed, “Pete Rose In Prison / National Enquirer World Exclusive!” Sammie’s immediate response was that she had been hung-out to dry and left to her on demise. Her personal photo and private information were being used by the tabloid to sell papers. Suddenly she began to fear for her own freedom and soon went underground. Long story short, when the smoke started to clear Sammie’s “Pete in the Pokey” photo had been named as Best of Year by Sports Illustrated. And when she finally thought it was safe to come out of hiding, British tabloid peers had begun referring to their new hotshot celebrity reporter as The Gonz. When the Coconut Telegraph first read the story I Shot Pete Rose and watched the remake on the t.v. series Tabloid, rumors of a big screen movie by the writers Of Mice and Men began to surface with Ellen Barkin playing Mays’s character. The Gonz homeport is Key West, Florida, USA where she hails as the Honorary Mayor Gonzo Mays and is celebrated by both locals and tourist for overtly giving as many free political favors as humanly possible and accepting all bribes, no matter how insignificant. And, yes, even the Keys county Sheriff carries one in his wallet. The Gonz eventually tired of the yellow journalism gig and of the tabloid prankishness and crazy Hollywood celebrities who “believed their own press” but, still, you can sometimes see the adventures of Mayor Gonzo Mays on Comcast Tourist Television, in the local newspapers and travel magazines.Note: At sunset you can usually catch the honorary mayor bellied-up and holding court with the locals at the tiki bars. Just look for the cigar, straw hat and sunglasses – even at night! Mayor Gonzo tells us that living in the islands and writing sordid adventures and drunken tales of characters she encounters along the way sure beats the hell out of working for Southern Bride Magazine. Says the famous writer and photojournalist, “Nothing, but nothing, is as bad or as painful as that gig with the bridal magazine. To this day I hate pink chiffon!”
When we probed into Mayor Gonzo’s 1982 arrest on corruption charges which resulted in her being deported from the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten (yet another entertaining adventure) she claimed to have only been trying to help enlighten the islanders. And, on that particular night, the law simply rounded up all high-profile locals because they were pissed off for having missed intercepting a substantial load of Jamaican Lamb’s Bread being distributed. “I unfortunately received none of it!” Mays said. Mays is a survivor of unconventional sorts, a prison break, deportation from a third world country, survivor of two direct-hit Category 5 hurricanes and thus far has managed to dodge a death threat from an old editor in chief at the National Enquirer. The Honorary Mayor of Key West is like no one you’ll ever encounter. When she showed up at the Pilot House Bar for this interview her presence was undeniable. She strolled in chomping on a real Cuban stogie and offered me a smoke. I politely declined which prompted the response, “Well why not? You probably smoke everything else!!!” When asked what first brought her in 1974 to Key West, in a charming offbeat Southern-ease she was quick to blame it on “that smugglin’, gun-runnin’, womanizin’, Captain Tony Tarracino!” And then added, “it’s as good a place as any to lay low while things cool down!” In a final question the Coconut Telegraph’s wrapped up the interview by asking what she had planned to do next. Without hesitating she declared, “Not a damn thing but sit right here and have another cold one!” However, to be more accurate, I do believe she had more than one. But then who’s counting.
Be Sure to check Mayor Gonzo’s Website
(Taken from the Coconut Telegraph interview)