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Christopher Spata, Times Staff Writer

Christopher Spata

Christopher Spata is a web producer and features writer for the Tampa Bay Times, focusing on entertainment, pop culture, social media and things to do. He also contributes to The Feed blog. A lifelong Floridian, he previously worked as a web producer and entertainment reporter for the Tampa Tribune, and covered sports for the Ocala Star-Star Banner. He graduated from the University of South Florida in 2011, and joined the Times in 2016.

Phone: (727) 893-8719


Twitter: @spatatimes

  1. 25 years later, the Castle stands alone as Ybor's goth mecca


    It has been said every night is Halloween at The Castle. So, it was a fitting story for their website that the nightclub began its journey to becoming a Tampa icon during Guavaween — Ybor City's now-defunct Halloween celebration.

    Turns out, it wasn't true. But the Castle, the multi-story, gothic nightclub where it's not uncommon to see someone on the dance floor in a Batman cape, a leather corset or a Peter Pan costume — or really anything you can think of — is nothing if not theatrical. And it did actually turn 25 this year, which the club is celebrating with a party this weekend....

    Hundreds of patrons of all races and sexual orientations gather to dance and be social at the Castle nightclub on a rainy Friday night in Ybor City. The Castle was recently accused of allegedly allowing Nazis into their club. Management of the Castle has denied these claim and said Nazi’s are not welcomed there. On the night these photos were taken there were no Nazi or white supremacy symbols or attire to be seen.  [Friday, September 1, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. A rare peek inside that spooky all-black house in Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — The mystery started when the white house turned black.

    Starting a year ago, the eight-room house on a prominent stretch of Nebraska Avenue sat among brighter bungalows, a lone raven. Black siding, black chimney bricks, black awnings and a new, black roof.

    Neighbors wondered about it. A neighborhood kid thought a witch lived inside.

    The owner was not a witch, but a 41-year-old estate planning attorney named Rose Wilson. She pulled up to give a rare tour of the 75-year-old building this week in a black Mercedes with black, tinted windows. She wore an all black suit and black heels that matched her straight black hair....

    Rose Wilson — a 41-year-old local estate planning attorney, not a witch — has filled the eight rooms of the house with an eclectic, sometimes chilling, collection of antique items. She does not live there, nor is it open to the public.
  3. Frog Pond restaurant opens new location in downtown St. Petersburg


    There's a new option for breakfast and lunch in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Frog Pond, a brunchy fixture for more than 35 years at its original location in North Redington Beach, has opened a new location in Webb's Plaza at 890 Third Ave. S.

    The restaurant, known for hearty, egg-centric meals amid amphibian-themed decor, began serving customers at the St. Petersburg location last week and held an official grand opening with mayor Rick Kriseman on Monday afternoon. ...

    Mayor Rick Kriseman, center, attended the grand opening celebration of the new Frog Pond restaurant in St. Petersburg.
  4. St. Pete and Tarpon Springs filmmakers pitching local movies to Hollywood's Duplass Brothers


    If all goes well, filmmakers from St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs could see their Tampa Bay-set films get a funding and production boost from the Duplass Brothers.

    St. Petersburg's Vitale Bros., best known for their local mural art, and Tarpon Springs sisters Koula Sossiadis Kazista and Katina Sossiadis are among the finalists in the Hometown Heroes Rally contest, drawing the most "followers" and funding for their projects on the Seed&Spark crowdfunding site....

    A scene from "Epiphany."
  5. Find every new Shine festival mural in St. Petersburg with this map and photos

    Visual Arts

    The leaves don't really change in Florida, but go outside and it's clearly that time of year when St. Petersburg's walls get a little more colorful.

    The third annual Shine Mural Festival wrapped up this week as artists from around the world finished 14 new, urban murals scattered around the city's core.

    In addition to artists from Los Angeles, the Netherlands and Australia, this year's festival featured five painters from Tampa Bay. The work by locals includes the 22nd St. Legacy Mural by Thirst and Zulu Painter. That one is still in progress, but will cover two large embankments underneath Interstate 275 at 22nd Street South and pay tribute to the cultural impact of the Dueces Live corridor....

    There are 14 new murals up in St. Petersburg for the Shine Mural Festival. [Eve Edelheit | Staff]
  6. St. Pete's traffic signal boxes are being covered in public art


    If you have an eye for detail, you may have noticed a splash of color here and there around downtown St. Petersburg recently. 

    There's a new public art initiative by the Shine Mural Festival titled Corner Canvas, and the project features art by local artists wrapped around traffic signal boxes.

    The art is intended to be a permanent addition to the city's streets. There are currently eight boxes completed with several more to come....

    This art by Justin Wagher is part of the Corner Canvas public art initiative by Shine.
  7. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance


    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    But the triangle can rock, apparently, as a member of the Florida Orchestra demonstrated in a recent Coffee Concert performance at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.


    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  8. The #BrooklynCow delighted Twitter for one glorious afternoon


    In the long tradition of social media delighting in news reports of a non-native animal running loose in an urban setting, Twitter, for a few blissful hours this afternoon, turned its collective attention to #BrooklynCow, a bull that escaped a slaughterhouse and began roaming free near New York's Prospect Park....

    A bull was on the loose in Brooklyn for a little while on Tuesday afternoon.
  9. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105


    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

    Rich Fields, who once served as the announcer for daytime game show The Price Is Right alongside Bob Barker and Drew Carey, is the new personality weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on the station.

    Dave "Flash" Morgan, who previously had the 3 to 7 p.m. time slot will move to nights.

    Since leaving the Price Is Right, Fields has been the staf meteorologist at KCBS / KCAL-TV and an on-air personality on K-Earth 101 in Los Angeles. ...

    Rich Fields will be heard on Q105 from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays.
  10. We asked Neil deGrasse Tyson to rate 'space things' like 'Star Wars' vs. 'Star Trek'


    Neil deGrasse Tyson is making a habit out of visiting Tampa.

    Last fall he was here talking film in An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies. On Thursday, he'll be at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts to perform An Astrophysicist Reads the Newspaper, a multimedia lecture touching on current events.

    "I use pop culture, or what's in the news in this instance — things that people are already familiar with — as a scaffolding to build on," Tyson says. "From there I can take you wherever I want to take you."...

    Neil deGrasse Tyson will speak at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. We talked to him ahead of time. Check out what he had to say. [Patrick Eccelsine/FOX]
  11. Sports anchor Tom Korun leaving WFTS after decades in Tampa Bay TV


    WFTS ABC Action News sports anchor and director Tom Korun is retiring from broadcasting after more than 14 years at the station and 31 years on Tampa Bay TV screens.

    Korun announced the news via Twitter, saying that he'll leave the job on Dec. 15. 

    Tom Korun is retiring after 31 years on Tampa Bay television.
  12. WEDU now airing some PBS shows lost to the WUSF shutdown


    WUSF TV went off the air Sunday after more than 50 years, a victim of the University of South Florida selling off its broadcast license to the Federal Communications Commission so they could auction off those valuable airwaves to commercial wireless service providers.

    While content that was produced by USF's WUSF stations is gone, many of the PBS shows that appeared on WUSF are moving over to Tampa Bay's other PBS member station, WEDU....

    PBS series "Doc Martin" is among the programming being added by WEDU.
  13. The artist who may or may not have created St. Petersburg's butt graffiti has a legit art show and a new mural


    Remember the local artist who would neither confirm nor deny creating the triple-cheek butt graffiti that was frequently spotted around downtown St. Petersburg a few months back?

    You can now own an original work by Jeremy Trevino, whose comical pen and ink drawings often feature feet being used as hands, which means that butts often end up being heads. Hard to picture? You'll just have to see it....

    The flier for Jeremy Trevino's art exhibition at The Bends. The opening was last weekend, but the drawings will remain on display through October.
  14. These Tampa Bay 'swolemates' work hard at fitness and love


    ...You know the couple. The one posting those sweaty gym pics with the #fitcouple and #mealprep and #coupleswholift tags, with expressions of absolute bliss.

    They're swolemates, soul mates who like to get "swole" together, and they're making it look fun.

    And why not?

    A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that after participating in a physical challenge or activity, couples reported feeling more satisfied and in love with their partner. Various studies also have shown that working out with a partner can increase frequency of workouts and boost performance during those sessions....

    Parker Lennon, 31, and Christina Martin, of Temple Terrace. They post fitness photos to the account @Xtina_M_Martin. [@Xtina_M_Martin]
  15. Want to be Santa? Be ready for tough questions and heartbreaking requests

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Santa and Mrs. Claus drove their red Dodge Grand Caravan with the "Kringle" license plate from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to a Hampton Inn near Tampa International Airport last weekend. There they paid $299 to attend a two-day school for Santas.

    In the hotel's meeting room, two dozen older, naturally bearded men, and one "Clark Kent," the industry term for fake beard wearers, sat in reindeer bowling shirts and red leather cowboy boots. They read textbooks titled Behind the Red Suit and scrawled pages of notes....

    Bob Elkin, president of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas sports a pair of red boots during the weekend-long School4Santas at Hampton Inn Tampa-International Airport/Westshore on Saturday, October 7, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times