Levi Fox knows a thing or two about the Jersey Shore. A lifelong Somers Point resident, the 36-year-old Temple PhD student and lecturer has worked as a tour guide at both Lucy the Elephant (“My best summer job ever!”) and the James Candy Factory, as well as along the Atlantic City Boardwalk, where he used to give Nucky Johnson–themed tours back when Boardwalk Empire was all the rage. And now, Fox is taking tourists on a Donald Trump–focused tour.
Through his company, Jersey Shore Tours, Fox will lead you along the Boardwalk and tell you all about Trump’s former properties there and his influence on the gambling town. The cost is $15.
You’ll learn about the little-remembered Trump’s World’s Fair, a small casino that was housed in the old Playboy Hotel and Casino. Fox will tell you about the dramatic bidding war between Trump and Merv Griffin over what would become the Trump Taj Mahal, which may or may not have been the world’s largest casino at the time. (Naturally, Trump maintained that it was.) And, yes, you’ll hear all about the infamous bankruptcies and those junk-bond deals.
But Fox points out that if you’re a Trump-hater looking to learn more embarrassing details about him, this is not the tour for you.
“My role is not to influence politically,” Fox says. “My role is to tell the history. I’m a historian. I deal in facts. Not rumors.”
Besides, observes Fox, the Donald Trump Atlantic City history is not all bad.
“I talked to a lot of employees who were around for the ‘golden age’ at Mr. Trump’s casinos in the ’90s, and they have a lot of great things to say about him,” Fox says. (He’s also behind an initiative to open a Trump museum in Atlantic City.) “Mr. Trump was once the largest employer in town, and some people have very positive recollections. This is certainly not a one-sided story.”
Fox, who is completing his PhD in American history and public history at Temple, adds that he’s considering a “red” tour, specifically for Trump fans.
“Some people have suggested that I talk too much about Mr. Trump’s bankruptcies,” acknowledges Fox. “So I would do this tour, which would highlight more of the positives, talking more about the ’90s and less about what happened after that. But it would still be facts. It’s just a matter of emphasis.”
Fox swears that the tour is nonpartisan and unbiased, but we couldn’t help but notice that he called the subject of his tour “Mr. Trump” dozens of times throughout our interview. Wouldn’t “President Trump” be the proper thing to say?
“Oh, sorry,” says Fox. “It’s President Trump or Mr. President. This is just somewhat akin to me still writing 2016 on checks. My brain simply hasn’t caught up yet.”
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