What: the Michael Jayne Project
Where: Wagon Wheel Flea Market, 7801 Park Blvd., Pinellas Park
When: Mid-day on a Saturday
Must-Do? Says Who? Billy Leather and a bunch of drunk bikers
Casualties: Possibility of death-by-laughter. You might enjoy yourself that much.
Ted and I approached building B at Wagon Wheel Flea Market with high hopes of haggling for the most absurd item we could find. We had done some role-playing in the car, imagining booths full of tarnished Purple Hearts and chipped Nazi dinnerware. I had emptied my wallet of everything except for a crisp $5 bill. Ted brought no cash at all. We were ready.
But after twenty minutes wandering past vendors hawking crates of Crocs (those hole-ridden rubber shoes designed for the fleet-of-foot, $5), exotic forms of weaponry, and bulk shipments of incense sticks (which come in a variety of fragrant flavors including âChurchâ, âCountry Potpourriâ, âMusky Amberâ, âMidnight Loversâ, and the ever-odiferous âJuicy Pussyâ), nothing had enticed me out of my moneyânot even the âJP.â
And then we heard him. The strains of his powerful tenor wafted above the buzz of bartering in the marketââYou are so beautifulâ¦to meâ¦canât you seeâ¦?ââtranscending the transactions and drawing us trancelike to the performance pavilion. There stood a thin man in his 40s. He had long, wavy, golden locks, and wore tight black leather pants, biker boots outfitted with chain metal, a silver pistol-shaped belt buckle, a black leather vest on his bare torso, a crucifix around his neck, and two pairs of yellow sunglassesâone on his eyes, and one perched high in the nest of his curly blonde hair. He grabbed the mic stand passionately as he belted one high note after another over the karaoke track, flexing his biceps and rocking his hips to ascend into the songâs climax, knees bent in a scandalous Elvis-stance, blood vessels bursting through his sweaty forehead. âYouâre everything I hoped forâ¦Youâre EVERYTHING I needâ¦â
He had more stage presence than Evel Kenevil. It was called the Michael Jayne Project, and as far as we could tell, he was an intensely professional karaoke-ist.