BRADENTON BEACH – After a brief absence, Mannie the mannequin is back at the Drift In.
Over the past decade or so, five different mannequins have served as the Bradenton Beach establishment’s lifelike female mascot. Mannie 5.0 debuted in early January after her predecessor was damaged beyond repair in late 2018.
“I came in after Halloween and she was missing an arm, a hand and she had three broken fingers. It was impossible to fix. I’ve fixed other ones over the years, but that one was totally trashed,” Drift In manager Doreen Flynn said.
Unable to find a replacement online, Flynn pieced a new Mannie together using parts from her own mannequin and spare and salvaged parts saved over the years.
“This mannequin is actually mine and I’m donating it back to the bar, but it’s the last one. I tried to replace her and I couldn’t. That’s not even her real leg. I bonded it with epoxy and you wouldn’t even know it unless you lift up her dress, which some people do. I used red duct tape to make it look like a garter and I put the garter over it. I glued both hands on and someone made her some fake bracelets,” Flynn said of her handiwork.
Mannie 5.0 is accompanied by the new sign that says, “Please do not move our Mannie. Photos Only! We have tried to replace her, they do not make her anymore.”
Regarding the sign, Flynn said, “That’s the last Mannie, that’s why I wrote this sign. Martha Kelley’s going to make a nice one for me and I’m going to frame it. I’m asking all our customers to help me and keep an eye on her because she just can’t be replaced. She’s our Mannie.”
Flynn also reflected on the tribulations suffered by previous Mannies.
“One time, her hands went missing and I found them next door at the Sports Lounge – somebody was drumming on the bar with them. A couple years ago, one of her legs got broken off when somebody picked her up and tried to dance with her. I took the leg to the hardware store and the man thought I was going to make the leg lamp from ‘A Christmas Story,’” Flynn said.
Someone is now making Flynn a leg lamp using a previous mannequin’s leg.
The origins of Mannie
“It was my husband’s idea. Years ago, he had one in his bar,” Flynn said of Mannie’s origins.
Flynn shared the idea with Drift In owner Joe Cuervo and asked if he’d buy a mannequin. Cuervo said yes and the legend of Mannie was born.
“Everybody loved it. People would bring in their own clothes. They changed her for football games and different holidays. It’s been a smashing success. She’s the most photographed woman on the Island and she’s known all over the world,” Flynn said.
“The first time I brought Mannie in I didn’t tell anybody. I had the seat down in my car and all you could see was this perfect body with a sheet over it. The first night, I put her by the end of the bar and it startled everyone, so we found this spot for her,” Flynn said of Mannie’s traditional place between the back door and the package to go cooler.
Beach House chef Donald White carried the original Mannie into the bar.
“That was at least 10 years ago. The cops watched us carrying a body and asked what it was,” he recalled.
“Mannie looks good. She’s more popular than ever and loving life,” White said of the new Mannie.
Every week or so, Flynn changes Mannie’s outfit, hairstyle and hair color and her ever-changing appearance adds to the mystique. Some outfits are work-like and conservative, others are revealing and risqué. As Hurricane Irma approached in 2017, Mannie donned a lifejacket.
Local business owner and Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce board of directors chairperson Bev Lesnick appreciates Mannie’s photographic nature and social media presence.
“It’s a good Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest picture. Mannie is known worldwide,” Lesnick said.
“I think Mannie gives men hope,” her friend Amy Tobin joked.
“When you walk in and see Mannie you know you’re at the Drift. If you don’t know Mannie, you’re not a local,” said Seafood Shack bartender Delanie Herlihy-Kos.
“Mannie has feelings too,” Kos said to those who might mean her harm.
Bradenton Realtor Andy Cochran became a Mannie fan back when he still split his time between Florida and Vermont.
“She’s the main attraction of Bridge Street for me. She keeps me coming back. After recovering from her plastic surgery, she’s just as beautiful as ever. Welcome back Mannie,” he said.
The Drift In is located at 120 Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach.