Nadya Suleman, known as Octomom in the media, came to international attention when she gave birth to octuplets in January 2009. She is a single mother of 14 and recently declared bankruptcy, listing assets of no more than $50,000 and debts of as much as $1 million.
You can think of it as battle of civic pride, a fight between neighboring South Florida counties for the bragging rights — or maybe it's sagging rights — to America's most maternally-burdened underemployed single mom.
"It means so much to be the first one to get her nationwide," explained Gary Odle, the owner of T's Lounge in West Palm Beach. "With this sort of thing, you have to be the first one out of the box."
Nadya Suleman, the California woman who gave birth to a set of octuplets three years ago after having six previous children through in vitro fertilization, became a D-list celebrity whose notoriety has led to a slow descent toward South Florida's adult entertainment venues this summer.
Her scheduled debut this week as a stripper coincides with the release of her new solo-performance porn video: Octomom: Home Alone. (I know. How somebody with 14 kids can be home alone is a mystery as intriguing as the Higgs subatomic particle.)
T's Lounge signed a contract with Suleman and her manager last month. In it, Octomom agreed to perform eight shows at the club this week. But two days after signing the contract, Octomom's representative sent a text message to the club.
"Dance gig is canceled after Michelle the manager or employee of club made comments about Nadya saying she is crazy etc and Nadya is now not doing that club ever," it read.
The text referred to a local TV news interview from T's Lounge that featured a bartender saying about Octomom: "She must be a little crazy. Normal people don't have that many children."
At this point, calling Octomom a "little crazy" hardly qualifies as a scathing assessment. After all, this was an unmarried woman on public assistance who went through extraordinary means to give birth to 14 kids.
That's not a little crazy, that's all-the-way crazy.
Nevertheless, Odle, the club owner apologized for any offense Suleman might have taken from the remark.
"There was no malicious intent," Odle said. "The name of the club is T's, so we like to tease."
But things never did get patched up. And last week, Odle learned that a rival strip club in Broward County, The Playhouse South, in Hollywood, had booked Octomom for her stripping debut this Friday, which coincided with the time she would have been stripping at T's.
"I was supposed to be the first, and no one else around here was supposed to get her," Odle said.
The T's Lounge contract had a provision that barred her from being booked at any other strip club within 50 miles of the West Palm Beach club, 90 days before or after her appearance there.
Octomom's manager, Gina Rodriguez, told a California gossip site that the contract with T's wasn't valid anyway, because the club never put up the deposit money required after the signing. But Odle disputes that.
"There was never a question about the down payment," he said. "They've got our charge card on file."
So now the West Palm Beach club owner is asking a Palm Beach County Circuit Court judge to intervene and stop Suleman from performing Friday in Broward.
"As there can only be one '1st Feature Dance Performance' it would be impractical, if not impossible, to establish damages" if Suleman dances elsewhere, the lawsuit claims.
The text notification of cancellation from her representative was 34 days before her scheduled performance, one day shy of the 35-day prior cancellation allowance, the suit also claims. And if she dances elsewhere, Suleman should compensate T's Lounge for the "extraordinary costs" of replacing her, the lawsuit claims.
Replacing Octomom? Is that possible, short of a last-minute, save-the-day arrival of the rumored-to-be-nearby Casey Anthony? But Odle hasn't given up on Octomom.
"I'm still holding out hope that she will call and patch things up," Odle said. "If she does, we'll send a limo and welcome her with open arms."