When we walked into the 2014 Firefighter Calendar Debut Party, it was obvious that this event was skewed to a certain demographic. Women of all ages and a sprinkling of men were allowed to drool over the firefighters for two hours before the main event began.
The hors d’oeuvres from the Green Goat and the bar kept people sated while they waited for their favorite tight-shirted man of the month to pass by, with groups of women giggling when a fireman spotted them. The firefighters didn’t seem to mind the attention, especially since it all went to support Toby’s Fund, which finances medical procedures for the Charleston Animal Society.
Firefighters, fire dancers, and tater tots
The culmination of the night was the date auction. Travis Howze, former Charleston firefighter and current comedian, was received warmly by the crowd as the emcee. He assured us that “someone is getting pregnant tonight.” Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fact-check that at this time.
Each month was introduced by a video describing the fireman and his love for animals. Nine of the 13 men were auctioned off, but they all did a little dance and strip for the ladies. The ladies’ harmonious “Wooohs!” encouraged even the shy guys. When a bidder won, she was invited on stage to receive a rose from her date and maybe a lap dance, if she was lucky.
Josh Turner as Mr. January was one of the most coveted prizes of the night, scoring a $2,000 bid for a date at La Fourchette. He’s no stranger to saving animals: “I actually have saved a kitten from a tree. We sprayed her with a fire hose to get her down,” he says. Unorthodox, but a save is a save.
At the end of the night, animals were helped, eye candy was savored, and thousands of dollars were raised. Who knew that charity could look so good?
Friday night we became tourists in our own town. Tides on Folly held its second annual luau, complete with hula dancers and a fire dancer. The crowd seemed less like locals and more like they had wandered down from their hotel rooms to enjoy the pig roast buffet and tropical drinks.
The hula dancers got the crowd away from the dessert bar and performed about five different dances. Each came with a bit of history or a story, but the performance made us feel like we were on a cruise excursion.
The finale was the fire dancer, who twirled, danced, and breathed fire. A near collision with a man trying to snap some pictures told us it was time to move on before we lost an eyebrow.
Saturday, we made a quick jaunt to the farmers market and got sucked in by the street performers. The acrobatic group sent one member flying and flipping through the air and over six kneeling volunteers.
We moved on to the stage to see the Kristi Starr Duo (who had also performed at the luau), but the real showstopper was the little girl who tried to steal the tip jar. She would have made some serious bank if she had gotten away with it too. Other than that, the Market was the Market. The Pickle Lady had delicious pickles, the herb man packed up shop before we got to buy our mint, and the food vendors were packed.
Monday night found us at Recovery Room for the tots and beer dinner. With five courses of tots and beer, we probably should have fasted beforehand. As we sipped on our first beer, the Ginger Snap, Chris “Boston” Dimattia jumped up on the bar to welcome us all to the dinner. He promised it wouldn’t be a stuffy, snobby one, and he was right.
The taters were served on paper plates with plastic cutlery, music played on the jukebox, and guests were content just to sit back and get spud happy. The only downside was that there seemed to be a couple of guests who didn’t have seats.
We started with the Rec Room’s late-night standard of tachos before moving on to the guest chefs of the evening. Brannon Florie was the first one up with a hashbrown-like tot invention paired with an egg, pork belly, and apple jam served with Palmetto’s Aftershock. We tried not to eat the whole thing to save room for the other courses, but we failed.
The Palmetto Amber came out before Wild Olive’s pesto-inspired tot creation. Again, we weren’t very good at waiting and finished that before we got Will Fincher’s creation. But we’re sure the flavors would have worked well together — especially with the hint of orange in the dish.
Corey Burke from Roti Rolls and the Green Door was up next, as was the classic Palmetto Pale Ale. We got an extra course too, a mini tot burger. We were happy to see the size of this dish, but then the real course came: a heaping bowl of oxtail, grits, kimchi, gravy (pig head, if you were wondering), and about five tots on the side. The dish — cleverly named “oxy-tot-in” — seemed to be a crowd favorite, and some people may have hidden their leftovers to take home with them.
Then the fifth and final course came, which reminded us of the British dish of toad in the hole — a sausage wrapped in Yorkshire pudding. This one had a Southern twist with sweet potato tots being subbed in for the pudding. Holy wow, Todd Garrigan. If only we hadn’t just eaten four starchy dishes before that.
The bar had specials on all Palmetto brews for the rest of the night, but we had to roll ourselves out of there — almost literally. At least it was for the kids ($10 from each ticket went to the Ronald McDonald House).