Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The fight of strip club owner Joe Redner's life

With politicians and journalists ready to descend on this city for the Republican National Convention — and some of them likely to seek entertainment beyond the official receptions and rallies — surely Tampa's strip club king is busy readying his world famous Mons Venus club.

Related News/Archive

Surely Joe Redner, the city's best known antagonist and atheist, has his dukes up over protest zones, free speech rights and the sort of libertarian causes that have landed him in jail before.

But lately, Joe has been busy with a different kind of fight.

Last fall he was in Las Vegas for, what else, a gentleman's club convention, when the pain hit his back and middle. Stage four lung cancer, the doctors said. Inoperable.

"I could tell they thought I was a goner," Joe says.

And this was the New Joe, the vegan gym addict who had quit booze and cocaine 25 years earlier. But he smoked pot, he says, lots of it, figuring his diet and workouts would balance things out.

"I did it," he says. "I did it to myself."

So Joe did what Joe does: He stuck out his chin and started a fight, like back when politicians pushed for that six-foot rule to keep his dancers and the customers apart. Like when he was arrested for protesting at a Jeb Bush rally attended by his president-brother and then he sued over it. Like when he claimed to be gay and gave himself standing in a federal lawsuit over a discriminatory county policy against gay pride. Like when he called out holier-than-thou types and then scared them by running for office himself.

Joe did not ask about his odds. He also declined to make a news story of his condition. He knew people would say they were praying for him. "Praying, sympathy and all that — I didn't want that. I'm not very receptive to it," he says.

He tells me all this in the warehouse space he owns not far from the Mons, where his son Joey runs the busy Cigar City Brewing operation. Joe looks thin, but still in better shape than any 71-year-old I can think of. He takes off his ball cap, which has ACLU, Planned Parenthood and Sierra Club pins decorating the bill, to show his hairless dome. He shaved off what the chemo didn't take.

The office is like a Joe Redner scrapbook. The Nation and Mother Jones litter his desk. Provocative signs from protests past lean on walls, and stuffed orange cats are piled on a shelf, each one a prize for asking the best question of whatever Important Person spoke at Tiger Bay Club that day. There's a newspaper clipping of a political cartoon when he was running for office showing him as the devil, horns and all, walking the streets with his campaign sign. And you would think the big yellow Buckhorn for Mayor placard near his desk was a joke, since the two of them got into it pretty good over that lap dancing ban way back when. But Joe is a practical man, and he thought Buckhorn was the best choice in the runoff.

Today, he will tell you he loves the very police chief he once called an ugly name, and he actually thinks the City Council is doing a pretty good job.

But then he gets up a head of steam over the lack of compassion in the city's recent panhandling ban, and don't get him started on Marco Rubio, or health care.

"This stopped being about cancer, didn't it?" he says, and smiles.

During his treatment, he kept on working out. Contrary as always, he did not suffer the worst effects of the chemo and radiation. His family and others close to him rallied. He never even had to ask.

And a couple of weeks ago, he got news.

"He's had an excellent response," says Dr. Scott Antonia from the Moffitt Cancer Center, as in remission.

"It still can come back," Joe says. "I just don't believe it will." He says he doesn't put anything he shouldn't in his lungs anymore. He won't even wear cologne.

And that big Republican party in August? He says he's not an anarchist and doesn't do violence. But a 60-minute limit on a public gathering? Forget it.

Count on Joe to be there, exactly where he belongs.

The fight of strip club owner Joe Redner's life 04/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 5, 2012 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  2. Funeral held for U.S. soldier at center of Trump fight

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  3. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.
  4. Unforgiving wildfires affect vineyard workers and owners

    Nation

    SONOMA, Calif. — When the wildfires ignited, vineyard workers stopped picking grapes and fled for their lives. Some vineyard owners decided to stay and fight back, spending days digging firebreaks and sleeping among their vines.

    Wilma Illanes and daughter Gabriela Cervantes, 8, found their home intact, but had lost a week’s wages and sought aid.
  5. O'Reilly got new contract after big settlement

    Nation

    Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network's top-rated host at the time, Bill O'Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, two people briefed on the matter told the New York …

    Bill O’Reilly was fired by Fox News after multiple allegations.