Fort Lauderdale, FL- To all the people who think that Fort Lauderdale Beach is loaded with crazy party animals chugging beer, out of control spring-breakers, fake boobs, steroid injected bodies, drunken tourists, drunken locals, G -strings, and unfortunately on occasion, the bright green speedo, you’re absolutely right. But some of these beach locals have interesting stories behind them. If you frequent the beach, chances are you’ve been offered a character sketch from Mickey Clean.
Mickey was born and raised in New York City, and during the infamous 1960’s hippie and sexual revolution he was a teenager right in the middle of it all. He describes this period of his life as “a laid-back, hedonistic time. I enjoyed hugging trees.” Mickey claims to have taken acid with Timothy Leary, who was an icon of 1960’s counterculture and is most famous for being a proponent of the therapeutic, spiritual and emotional benefits of LSD. When asked if Mickey ever had a drug problem he replied with a smile, “Only when I couldn’t get any,” which, during that era in NYC, probably wasn’t very hard to do.
At age sixteen his parents moved him to Athens, Greece. While finishing high school in Athens, Mickey enrolled in many art classes and embraced the opportunity to experience a different side of the world. He enjoyed traveling Europe and absorbing as much knowledge as he could from every new culture he experienced. Seeing the world outside of New York City at such a young age helped him develop his artistic nature. It was in Europe that Mickey found himself and told his parents “I was born an artist, I’ll die an artist. It’s not the profession I choose.”
After graduating, Mickey returned to the US where he attended college at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, located in Boston, Massachusetts, a school dedicated to the visual arts. Mickey’s college days spanned from 1968 – 1971 and it was during this time that he discovered a second passion in life and began playing the guitar. Mickey concentrated on his schooling and spent all of his spare time working on his music and art. His artwork and creativity earned him a fellowship which Mickey used as start-up money to form a punk rock band.
Once Mickey was done with school in Boston he returned to New York City and pursued his music career with his band, Mickey Clean and the Mezz. The genre of punk rock developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Guess who was right in the mix of the New York scene partying with Johnny Ramone? The band had success and played at venues all over the city including the legendry music club CBGB, and opened up shows for ZZ Top. Mickey is proud to have been of the pioneers of punk rock and you can check out his skills Wednesday nights at the Treasure Trove on Fort Lauderdale Beach, which, ironically, is covered wall to wall with Mickey’s sketches.
Mickey moved to Fort Lauderdale ten years ago and currently lives with his girlfriend in Victoria Park. He can be found walking (sometimes stumbling) up and down Fort Lauderdale Beach almost any day of the week, but particularly on weekends. He can usually be found just north of where Las Olas meets the sand, right in the mix of the drunken madness. He is the one carrying a sketch pad and asking people if they would like a character sketch. It only takes him a few minutes and he lets you pay pretty much whatever you want for it. This is what he does for a living so if you run into this crazy character with a legendary history, give him a few bucks and let him turn you into a cartoon.