Robert Hodges, better known by his self-styled moniker Prince Mongo, is a Memphis eccentric and minor political personality. He claims to be the ambassador of the planet of Zambodia and claims to be 333 years old.
Hodges is famous in Memphis, where he has owned several large nightclubs. For many years he met the public via Prince Mongo's Pizza in midtown Memphis before moving on to such endeavors as the giant Prince Mongo's Planet — three stories and 30,000 square feet of partying — and another called the Castle, which was housed in a century-old stone mansion, Ashlar Hall. He has also run for and been defeated as a Mayoral candidate on several occasions. When Willie Herenton beat Dick Hackett, by less than 200 votes, Mongo got 2000, perhaps spoiling Hackett's chances. He never wears shoes and refers to everyone as "spirit" When he was planning the 3-story Planet he is rumored to have asked a topless dancer if she would like to work there, on the third floor, and offer "more than lap dances." He told her this would serve to thumb his nose at city authorities. (She declined.) Hodges is apparently financially secure, rumored to have family money, but nobody has been able to verify the source of his wealth. Before assuming his current nom de guerre, Robert Hodges owned a clothier that sold the finest imported men's clothing on Union Avenue. One legend has it that he was insured against mental illness and keeps his money by continuing to act crazy. Prince Mongo's mother was an immigrant from Lebanon. He is rumored to own a $2 million Fort Lauderdale home near Las Olas Boulevard. He is also rumored to own homes in Virginia Beach. His primary (verifyable) residence is in Memphis. In the 1970s, when he lived in Central Gardens on Eastmoreland, he asked permission to bulldoze his front yard to park a cabin cruiser. This was strenuously defeated by his neighbors. In apparent revenge, he piled sand, dirt, toilets etc. in his yard and declared it "yard art." This seems to have been his start. Once, he was jailed for dumping trash in the yard of one of his enemies. He was also dogged by lawsuits over the drunk-driving deaths of two teenagers who died after they were served beer at the Castle in 1992.
He is also notable for a September 2002 run-in with the Shelby County General Sessions Court, which had ordered him to remove a collection of patio furniture, beach umbrellas, mannequin heads, toilet seats, and other items from his East Memphis front yard. He challenged the order in court, appearing in a green cape and goggles, green body paint, and festooned with a rubber chicken. He was charged with contempt of court, sent to prison for ten days, and was fined $13,875. He vowed to fight the case, but on June 10, 2004, pled guilty and paid a $500 penalty.
His stunts have made him a household name in Memphis, and got him featured on the 1980s television show Real People.
Recently, an elderly stand-up comic purporting to be Prince Mongo's brother has begun making the open-mic rounds in Memphis. However, Prince Mongo's actual brother is Warner “Rusty” Hodges III, former mayor of nearby Germantown, TN.