My 5 Favorite Things: Billy Corben
As a matter of professional business, Billy Corben, one-third of the Miami documentary crew Rakontur, has logged countless hours thinking about decadent night scenes. His company's breakthrough documentary, Cocaine Cowboys, traced drug barons' '80s exploits in this sunny-shady city, both during and after daylight. He also counts among his oeuvre a web series, Clubland, that tracked the tempestuous months leading to the opening of Mokai, and Limelight, a full-length feature about the storied Peter Gatien club in New York.
A retrospective of Rakontur's past 10 years concludes tonight at O Cinema in Wynwood, with an interactive Q&A with Corben and partner Alfred Spellman. But you won't find Corben partying at any glossy boites after the film screenings. Perhaps because of his first-hand closeups, he now prefers locals-only spots like these.
1. Mike's at Venetia. I like places that you can't see just by driving by on the street. You could drive by the Venetia condo building six million times, and there's nothing to indicate that on the ninth floor pool deck of this private building, there is this secret Irish pub. There's an almost speakeasy quality to that! And miraculously, it also has some of the best pizza in Miami. That doesn't even make sense, but it's true.
2. Magnum Lounge. It's got an ambiance unlike anything else in Miami. If you want a dark piano bar with great food, you're not flush with options here — that's pretty much the only game in town. Luckily for us, it's great.
3. Le Tub. It is basically a dive bar and restaurant built on a dock, on what used to be a gas station in Hollywood Beach. It's decorated with toilet bowls and bath tubs. It has an amazing burger, seafood salad, sliced pork, and the best key lime pie I've ever had in my life.
4. Blue Collar. This is a restaurant in a motel in the MiMo district of Biscayne Boulevard! This used to be an area that my parents would drive through as fast as possible, making sure the doors were locked. Now, you can sit there and have brisket and hangar steak, which is so cool.
5. O Cinema. Of course this is where we're having our retrospective, but it's a real chill place. It's the antithesis of the typical Miami moviegoing experience, which usually involves some shopping mall monstrosity. This is a cool adult experience — they've got beer and wine and baked goods on sale, and if you're lucky, you can get that couch down in front.
A conversation with Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman, hosted by CBS' Jim DeFede. 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 30 at O Cinema, 90 NW 29th St., Miami. Call 305-571-9970, or visit o-cinema.org