College football superfandom is a pastime best served politically incorrect. Just ask the proud members of LSU’s Tiger Pimp Nation.
You may not have heard of them, but if you closely follow SEC football, chances are good that you’ve seen them. For the past decade, this collective group of Bayou Bengals supporters has rolled into the tailgate of a conference rival once a year sporting custom-made pimp suits, jewelry and hats while toting chalices and throwing parties replete with booze, food and stripper poles for everyone.
“It’s bringing the circus atmosphere that is LSU football to an away game,” explained the fan known as Cholly Mac Daddy. He, along with two other gentlemen known as Poppa P and Crizzown Royale, make up the three “OGs” of Tiger Pimp Nation.
(For this story, the OGs asked that they go by their pimp names only. “In this day and age of political correctness, using our real names might not be wise,” Cholly Mac Daddy explained.)
For a sport whose fan base is drawn mostly from socially conservative parts of the country, this is as “out there” a group of fans as it gets. What started as an excuse for three former LSU classmates to get together at least once a year has turned into an annual epitome of a Bayou Bengals bacchanalia.
The three OGs all arrived at LSU in 1992 and spent the next four years playing sports, hitting the bars and hanging out together. They stayed in touch after graduation and, in 2002, reunited for a road trip to Blacksburg, VA, to see LSU play Virginia Tech in the season opener for both teams.
After a disheartening 26–8 loss, the OGs were in no mood to recap the game on the drive home. Instead, their collective minds started looking forward to the next road trip they’d take together.
“On the way back we said, ‘If we’re going to travel all over the country, keep in touch and go to one game a year, we’re going to have fun whether we win or lose,’ ” Cholly Mac Daddy recalled. “The ideas we had for what we’d dress up as were 1980s basketball stars, with the afros and everything, or pimps. Out of that was born Tiger Pimp Nation.”
The following fall, the trio spearheaded a trip to Ole Miss consisting of two dozen or so LSU fans that were, literally, pimped out for the occasion. While Ole Miss boasted a strong tailgating tradition of its own, from a presentation standpoint it differed greatly from what TPN brought to the table.
“It’s an uptight crew at Ole Miss,” Cholly Mac Daddy said. “We rolled through The Grove, and the reception we dealt with was out of control.”
And with that, an annual and irreverent rite of passage was born. The Tiger Pimp Nation grew exponentially, so much so that the OGs introduced a screening process by which to judge anyone who aspired to join the group.
“It starts with ‘What is your pimp name?’ and ‘What is your idea of clothing choice?’ ” Cholly Mac Daddy explained. “We’ve tried to keep the membership to people that are going to bring it.”
“Bringing it” equates to having tailors around the country working on their suits and ordering custom-made jewelry and hats. It means surviving “three days of Mardi Gras on the road,” having a good time but not drinking to the point of passing out and missing the game.
It also means perpetuating an LSU-esque appreciation of the game day experience to those with no connection to the school. TPN prints and passes out custom stickers for every game they go to. Same with custom t-shirts in the vein of “Girls Gone Wild” as well as custom Mardi Gras beads.
In under a decade, Tiger Pimp Nation has introduced itself to SEC rivals (Ole Miss [’03 and ’07], Georgia [’04], Alabama [’05], Tennessee [’06] and South Carolina [’08]); out-of-conference teams (Washington [’09] and West Virginia [’11]); and BCS title game opponents (parties thrown in 2004, 2008 and 2012 on Bourbon Street in New Orleans).
The group has garnered its fair share of critics — including from within the LSU fan community — who bear witness to its annual shenanigans and shake their heads. But considering how fandom can easily descend into all-out hooliganism, Pimp Nation’s pursuit of fun is more often lauded.
“Everyone’s gainfully employed in the group,” Cholly Mac Daddy pointed out (perhaps another reason to keep their real names under wraps). “We’ve never been in fights or had anyone arrested. We’ve had the LSU chancellor, members of the 1958 national championship team and players’ moms come to our tailgates. And every year we get people asking where we’re going.”
Sadly, Tiger Pimp Nation is on sabbatical for the 2012 season. Cholly Mac Daddy explained that LSU’s loss to Alabama in the BCS title game put a hurting on the group and they opted to sit this year out and recharge their batteries for 2013. Needless to say, the last-minute, 21-17 loss to Alabama again on Saturday wasn’t easy on the group either.
But don’t worry. Come next fall, Tiger Pimp Nation could be annexing your favorite team’s tailgate real soon.