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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. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    They were black marker scrawled on dirty, caution-yellow paint, about six inches tall, and shapely.

    Three buttocks, formed by four unbroken lines. A simple yet mind-bending design that conjures a police lineup of backsides, or an alien race anatomically different from our own. They stood out among downtown's indecipherable graffiti, the signatures of bandit artists who mark up buildings undetected. People prone to walking might know of "blob dylan," and "dgen" and the person stenciling "fat guys with beards are everywhere."...

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  2. Brandon couple's photos, taken 24 years apart, go viral around the world

    Human Interest


    His beard had turned white. His husband's blond hair was streaked with gray. But in the photo, it was unmistakably them.

    What started as a quick snapshot turned Nick Cardello and Kurt English into freshly minted Internet celebrities. The couple were in Washington, D.C., for last week's Equality March for Unity & Pride and thought it would be fun if Cardello posed for a photo kissing English's cheek, just as he'd done at the same spot during a march 24 years earlier....

    Nick Cardello, left, and Kurt English decided to re-create the photo at top taken in 1993 when they revisited Washington, D.C., this month. 
  3. Five things to watch out for at St. Pete Pride, including the Babadook


    As St. Pete Pride returns for 2017, here are five trends to look for during this weekend's celebrations. Click here for parade times, parties, pride events and more.

    The Babadook

    Last fall, a Tumblr user introduced the idea that the titular monster of the 2014 Australian horror film The Babadook is a gay icon. It's part of a rich history of LGBTQ people taking relatable cinematic moments to find some semblance of representation. Or perhaps it's just a tongue-in-cheek nod to society viewing queer people as monsters. But it totally works: the Babadook's drama is as intense as his nails and top hat....

    Trans pride flags flutter in the wind at a gathering to celebrate  International Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, 2017 at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles, California. 
International Transgender Day of Visibility is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
  4. How do you pronounce Amalie Arena? Hint: you're doing it wrong

    Human Interest

    Amalie Arena wants to get something out of the way.

    Before going any further with major concerts by legendary performers or nationally televised sporting events, there's the simple matter of the downtown Tampa arena's name and how to say it.

    Amalie, apparently, should rhyme with family, though some people have been saying it so it rhymes with homily. They've been saying it like Amélie, the sprightly protagonist in the 2001 French film of the same name....

    Amalie Arena officials noticed varying pronunciations of the venue and have sent a news release with the correct one.
  5. ICYMI: Beyonce's twins; Cosby mistrial; Caitlin Jenner shooting joke backlash; baby gets free airfare for life


    Weekends are great for unwinding, and maybe even unplugging for a little while. Here's what trended that you might have missed if you weren't on social media the last couple days.


    Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z haven't announced anything officially yet, but TMZ, Us Weekly and CNN were among the news outlets that cited unnamed sources on Sunday in reporting that Beyonce had given birth to her twin babies....

    Beyonce performs during the Formation World Tour at Raymond James Stadium on Friday, April 29, 2016, in Tampa, Florida.
  6. He tried to profit from St. Petersburg's murals, then felt the artists' wrath

    Visual Arts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Artist Derek Donnelly walked past the bars along Central Avenue, looked into his phone's camera lens, and cracked a mischievous grin that hid how angry he was.

    As one of the muralists whose paint transformed downtown into a destination for street art, now defining the look of the city for TV commercials, travel brochures, tour groups and Instagram posts, he believes it's up to him to guard against people exploiting the murals....

    Brenton Bruns stands in his gallery with prints of local artists' murals on June 9, 2017. [Christopher Spata | Staff]
  7. Review: Chance the Rapper preaches to his Tampa congregation with uplifting, playful set


    Chance the Rapper took Tampa fans to church on a Wednesday.

    Except let's call it a megachurch, since there were 14,000-plus people at the Grammy winner's Amalie Arena concert, the final stop on the Be Encouraged Tour.

    There was a choir, four members strong, plus a drummer and a keyboardist and the sidekick/trumpet player Donnie Trumpet, all member's of Chance's band the Social Experiment, and all good on their own, but never straying far from their main purpose: making their leader look great....

    Fans cheer during Chance the Rapper's concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  8. Jim Jefferies plays Tampa the same night as Tig Notaro, but the similarities stop there


    It's a rare night for standup comedy at the Straz Center this Friday, with two, big-name comics taking different stages there at the same time.

    But while Jim Jefferies, playing the center's Carol Morsani Hall, and Tig Notaro, performing in Ferguson Hall a few yards away, are both funny and technically working in the same genre, Jefferies' pointed commentaries on politics and culture have little in common with Notaro's easygoing musings on bees flying alongside her car....

    Comedy Central
  9. Where can Tig Notaro's comedy go now? Tampa will find out on Friday


    There's a moment in Tig Notaro's now-legendary 2012 standup set at the Largo in Los Angeles where she considers the perfect absurdity of making an online dating profile.

    This was The Set, after all, that career-defining performance that changed everything after Notaro opened with, "Good evening. Hello. I have cancer," and then for 30 minutes wrung tense humor from her mother's recent death via a freak accident, her own health issues that included at the time not one but two life-threatening illnesses, and the cherry, a fresh breakup with her serious girlfriend....

    Creator and star Tig Notaro stars in comedy “One Mississippi.”
  10. Three tried, but only one Tampa Bay resident earned a coveted white apron on 'Masterchef'


    When Part 2 of the eighth season premiere of Masterchef came to a close Wednesday night, 20 amateur chefs had earned "white aprons," and only one Tampa Bay resident was left standing. 

    Jeff Philbin, a marketing director for a Tampa-based property restoration company who lives in Carrollwood, will continue on the reality competition series in hopes of becoming the next Masterchef and winning the $250,000 prize and a cook book deal....

    Jeff Philbin, of Tampa, has advanced to the Top 20 on "Masterchef."
  11. Al Pacino to play Joe Paterno in Jerry Sandusky movie


    Al Pacino will play Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno in an HBO film about the Jerry Sandusky child abuse sex scandal, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

    The movie will reunite Pacino with director Barry Levinson, who also directed Pacino is his most critically acclaimed performance in recent memory, playing Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the HBO movie You Don't Know Jack, which earned Pacino an Emmy and a Golden Globe....

    Al Pacino will play the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
  12. From golf at Raymond James Stadium to bowling at Ferg's, take sports outside the box


    There's a recurring story among publications that write about golf. Call it the golf course bucket list.

    "Thirty incredible courses every golfer should play in their lifetime" or the "15 golf courses to play before you die" or the "10 iconic courses every golfer must experience."

    And yet, no such list has ever included a course as rare, or as strange, as what's coming to Tampa this weekend at Raymond James Stadium....

    Passengers on Kraken Cycleboats' "pedal pubs" power the boat through pedaling, and bring their own drinks aboard during a two-hour tour leaving from Tampa or Gulfport. [Kraken Cycleboats]
  13. Three 'MasterChef' contestants from the Tampa Bay area talk cooking inspiration and more


    When Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef begins its eighth season tonight, the Tampa Bay area will have three contestants to root for. A marketing director from Tampa, a dentist and Palm Harbor native, and an employee for a steel supply company are all trying to impress a trio of judges with their home-cooking skills.

    Ramsay's show is all about the home cook. These people are not professional chefs; you'll find those over on Bravo's Top Chef. Instead, contestants often have other, unrelated jobs that they balance with their passion for kitchen creativity. It's often like that in our own lives, reality show or not. ...

    Danny Flores at his Land O' Lakes home. (LUIS SANTANA   |   Times)
  14. Why do people even hold hands, anyway?

    Human Interest

    Nothing lit up the internet this week quite like hand holding, or the lack of it.

    President Donald Trump reached for Melania Trump's hand on Tuesday. She seemed to pull it away to brush her hair aside instead.

    Being the second time this week the first lady was on video appearing to avoid that powerful hand, it kicked off a flurry of amateur analysis and internet jokes, plus a not-so-veiled trolling of the Trumps in the form of a photo of the Obamas blissfully holding hands, posted online by former White House photographer Pete Souza....

    US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on May 23, 2017. AFP PHOTO / Filippo Monteforte.
  15. Meet 'rave pops,' the EDM-loving, hard-dancing 72-year-old who went viral via the Sunset Music Festival (w/video)

    Music & Concerts

    Alan Grofé is a 72-year-old, semi-retired entrepreneur and former tech executive with frost-white hair, two grown children and five grandchildren.

    He's also the guy in that viral video, dancing his face off among the bikini and neon-clad kids at the 2016 Sunset Music Festival. More than half a million people watched it, posting selfie after selfie they'd snapped with the always smiling Grofé in the comments....

    Alan Grofe dances at the Sunset Music Festival in Tampa in 2016. [Courtesy of James Coletta | Sunset Music Festival]