Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Vince and the drag queen

So of course not everybody rejoiced when former Sen. Vince Fumo was convicted this week of 137 counts of, as one juror said, running his State Sen. office like a family business. Down here at the shore, where Fumo operated outposts of his dynasty, Fumo had his fans, and none more loyal than Mortimer Spreng (see photo) the famed drag queen and past winner of the inimitable Miss'd America Pageant held every year the day in Atlantic City after the Miss America Pageant until the pageant mother left town (sigh). Fumo, along with Gay News publisher Mark Segal, was a regular judge at the raucously joyful event (at which Spreng dispensed with generous doses of his signature lipstick kisses.) Fumo leant the proceedings some of its absurd gravitas and was never anything but a good sport. It's stuff like this that makes the Fumo saga a bit complicated and not a little bit sad. It's hard for Spreng to see people celebrating Fumo's downfall. "See, the problem is, I really liked Vince," he says. "He used to judge our Miss'd America pageant. He was always nice to me."

Vince and the drag queen

So of course not everybody rejoiced when former Sen. Vince Fumo was convicted this week of 137 counts of, as one juror said, running his State Sen. office like a family business. Down here at the shore, where Fumo operated outposts of his dynasty, Fumo had his fans, and none more loyal than Mortimer Spreng (see photo) the famed drag queen and past winner of the inimitable Miss'd America Pageant held every year the day in Atlantic City after the Miss America Pageant until the pageant mother left town (sigh). Fumo, along with Gay News publisher Mark Segal, was a regular judge at the raucously joyful event (at which Spreng dispensed with generous doses of his signature lipstick kisses.) Fumo leant the proceedings some of its absurd gravitas and was never anything but a good sport. It's stuff like this that makes the Fumo saga a bit complicated and not a little bit sad. It's hard for Spreng to see people celebrating Fumo's downfall. "See, the problem is, I really liked Vince," he says. "He used to judge our Miss'd America pageant. He was always nice to me."


Fumo also had his hands and his non-profit moneys in the protracted fight to block the building of sand dunes in Ventnor, which were opposed mainly by people from the Philly area who, like Fumo, had summer homes whose views might be blocked by the dunes. His involvement, always suspected and ultimately confirmed, irritated locals to no end, who saw the dunes as necessary to perserve their town. Fumo lost that fight in Ventnor, but the dunes were never built in Margate, where they would have obstructed Fumo's view from his home on Kenyon Avenue. I'm sure the future occupants at that beach block home will be grateful.


 Today, the feds are back in court seeking to seize Fumo's properties, including his homes in Margate and condos in Ventnor (see photos above, including the Fumo hot tub), though there was no word if they were trying to seize his half-million boat, christened the 888. Over in Ventnor this morning, at the docks outside Fumo's house, Mark Worrell was working in his little motor boat at the adjoining docks and also had some sympathy for Vince, who sometimes asked him for boating advice. (Worrell gave Vince another acronym, BOAT, which stands for "break out another thousand" though presumably that thousand came out of Vince's OPM stash (other people's money).


   The 888 wasn't docked out back, but two other boats were, belonging to friends of Vince. It was the gushy side of Fumo who named it the 888 because the number, when turned on its side, looks like x's and o's. (You begin to see where Spreng, he of the lipstick kisses, and Fumo, he of the sideways 888, found their common ground). Worrell said he hasn't seen Vince since September. "He has a lot of class," Worrell said. "He's losing everything. His boat is a real nice one, top of the line, it's like a Rolls Royce." Vince never offered Worrell a ride in the boat, but Worrell doesn't hold it against him. "He was a very nice guy. He held himself with a lot of class, took care of people around him. Everything was done first class."


    Including the parking signs out front with the little metal shell adornments and the proud "Reserved for Senator" space that drove home the point that Fumo only realized belatedly that he might have something to hide, and presumably, will very shortly be reserved no more.

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