#54. I met Luther Campbell/Luke Skywalker of 2LiveCrew [feat. Mons Venus owner, Joe Redner](Tampa, 1999)


Sly motherfucker, Uncle Luke.

Uncle Luke Skywalker of 2LiveCrew helped Tampa strip club impresario Joe Redner teach me a very important journalism lesson.

When I first spoke to Uncle Luke on the phone, he’d recently ditched the 2LiveCrew (who I would meet a year later). Though I’d just begun my journalism journey, I somehow got Luke to explain to me exactly when and why he became a misogynist: “This girl I really loved broken my heart. She left me for a guy with a fancy car and lots of money. It sort of made me distrust women for a long, long time.”

He seemed to really open up to me. We got along extremely well. I now suspect a put-on. But he was damned good at it.

We got on the topic of strip clubs: “You would really like Mons Venus,” I told him. He’d never heard of the famous club. “It’s full nude, so crazy. The owner, Joe Redner, is always getting in trouble with the local authorities, and defying their attempts to reign him in — not unlike you. And you both ran for local office…” Every Tampa musician decorated their amps with the famous “Leave Joe Alone” bumper sticker.

“Man, that sounds great. I need to meet this guy. Help me set up an event there!” Luke exclaimed.

“Hell yeah!” It sounded like great fun to me. How awesome would it be to cop backstage passes from Uncle Luke to write about his event at Mons Venus?! Luke gave me a number to call him back once I’d sealed that deal for him.

I rang Joe Redner and told Joe I wanted to help Luke set up an event at Mons Venus. I rolled out my entire proposal, and Joe Redner listened. When I finished he chuckled and asked, “So you’re telling me that you want to set up a story that you’re then going to write about?”

Hearing it that way, I froze. Redner knew my occupation better than I did. I’d just started learning journalism’s rules, and he’d mastered them. I’d almost stepped down a mine shaft. I deeply appreciated Joe saving me from myself, letting me back out of it quietly. My paper hadn’t always been kind to Joe, and Redner could have easily accepted my offer to set up the event, then publicly announced that a St Pete Times writer had contacted him, trying to create news stories to cover.

Redner really spared my ass. Forever after, my favorite guitar’s case wears a “Leave Joe Alone” sticker.

Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal account (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.

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