Illustration by Bob AulWhen a local television news show did a story on the launch of Dennis Rodman's website—which features around-the-clock video feeds of his Newport Beach party house—producers decided to get a reaction from local police.
After all, the former NBA bad boy has kept that force and others busy with noise complaints, assault charges and driving-under-the-influence traffic stops. Oh, and there's this boast posted on Rodmantv.com (www.rodmantv.com): "Not even the police can shut down this haven of wild parties."
So a TV news camera zoomed in on a portly cop leaning against his Newport Beach squad car. With one of those serious squints they must teach at the academy, the man in blue vowed that the Newport force is going to closely watch Rodmantv.com.
Hey, Worm, how does that grab you?
"It doesn't surprise me," Rodman said nonchalantly in a telephone interview from "Club 4809"—the name he's given his pad on the strand. "I expect them to watch Rodmantv.com. I feel good about them watching. I'm not ashamed."
But does he feel singled out?
"It's all good, brother, all good," Rodman said. "As long as they protect me, it's okay."
But, Dennis, considering everything cops have to do in Newport Beach and all the area they must cover, it must freak you out—just a little—that they devote so much time and energy to your life.
"It's amazing," he said, seeming genuinely flattered. "The cops call me the black John Wayne."
Oh, yeah, like they'll erect a Dennis Rodman statue at the airport.
"That's what I said: a statue at the airport," he said. "Could you imagine?"
Come on, Worm, think about it: What is it about you—a 6-foot-8 black man with tattoos and piercings and white women and green hair—that has Newport's finest so infatuated?
"Hey, I'm just me, brother," said Rodman, his accompanying shrug actually audible on the phone. "I'm just one of those types of people. Everyone was so into me as a basketball player, but I do it all—and I'm not afraid to do it—and that's why people like me. People like being different. They see a person like me, and they crave that individuality."
Rodman obviously craves people craving his individuality. And for $19.95 per month, you can crave your life away. Rodmantv.com subscribers can download video clips and photos from his parties and his careers as a movie star, basketball star and celebrity. But the main attraction is the live streaming video—courtesy of eight strategically placed cameras—that expose the Club 4809 circus sideshow.
Rodman is more or less the ringmaster. He has a porn star for a co-host. Various adult entertainers about the place ensure things get hot when the various local hangers-on fail to flash enough T&A. You don't even have to be inside the house to get in on the act: one camera points at the alley outside Wormy's garage door.
Since the site's August launch, you've had to check in several times during the day to see if anything's going on at Club 4809. For about a month, Rodman was off on a national tour promoting the site. He promised parties would rage on without him, but when I checked in one day, the only action I got was two painters redoing the living-room walls. One of those guys did have a nice butt. But that's not important right now. What is important is that by the time you read this, Daddy should be back home, and things will return to normal—well, as normal as "normal" is at Club 4809.
His site makes it sound as if Club 4809 had to happen. "I came to a point in my life when I decided to live life on my own terms," flashes one quotation on Rodmantv.com. He had to decide whether to be a "product for other people's profit" or "his own person free, to do what he wanted to do." He decided to "turn his back on everything society says," and as a result, he felt free at last in this "place where there are no boundaries."
During our phone chat (which was conducted before he left town), Rodman was much less highfalutin', explaining, "My life is basically in the news every day, so why not put it on the Internet" and be the one to make some dough—and have some fun—for a change?
"Click on it, and then you'll know what's happening," he advised.
In streaming video?
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"No mainstream media—it's just me, Dennis Rodman," he said. "You've got Survivor and The Real World and Big Brother. I got all that at once at my house."
Speaking of which, with all that, uh, stuff going on all the time, does his house ever get cleaned?
"Oh, yes, I have a maid," he said. "She cleans up every day. And she's a good one—that's why she's been with me for five years."
And now you can see her, too—in streaming video.