The Miami Herald

South Beach club crowd stumbles into politics at “Morning Joe” broadcast

Even well before sunrise, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” politics program met a rowdy crowd at a South Beach diner early Monday. But the most noise didn’t exactly come from political junkies glued to Florida’s Republican primary.

“Who is Newt Gingrich?’’ asked Skrawberry, a 26-year-old Miami stripper occupying a back table at Jerry’s Famous Deli during the live broadcast. She and friends gathered there for a post-clubbing breakfast, drinking from a $450 bottle of Moet pink champagne left over from their night at the Fontainebleau’s LIV.

“The mixture here is pure South Beach,’’ noted University of Miami statistics professor and Jerry’s regular Bill Younkin.

With “Morning Joe” fans gathered at tables closer to the front, Skrawberry and fellow stripper Tipdrill emerged as one of the main audience sensations. Both women turned out to be local celebrities. The Miami New Times named Tipdrill 2010’s Top Stripper Under 40. And Skrawberry’s 15,747 followers on Twitter give her 72 percent of the following of @Morning_Joe itself.

Politic’s top morning show had collided with South Beach’s nightlife in the early hours of a new work week.

“Mike, we [freaking] love you, brotha,’’ yelled one back-table occupant to Politico reporter Mike Allen, there for his regular spot as a Morning Joe contributor. Allen was posing with Tip Drill and BurgerBillionz, a self-described Miami entrepreneur successful enough to have bought the Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial sparkling wine.

It was not the kind of pre-dawn crowd Morning Joe’s hosts saw in other local broadcasts during primary season.

“In Des Moines, there were fewer women wearing skirts where I could see their butts through the fabric,’’ said Morning Joe co-host Willie Geist as he posed with the show’s modestly-dressed fans at Jerry’s. He recalled arriving at the diner shortly after 4 a.m., as the post-club breakfast rush was building.

“I would say the ratio was 70/30 of club kids and strippers to Morning Joe fans,’’ he said shortly after 7 a.m. “Now it’s kind of balanced out.”

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