By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The strip club is Babe's Cabaret. Joining Evil Ed is his long-suffering personal assistant/bodyguard Eddie DiAngelo. DiAngelo plays a buffed-out Waylon Smithers to Evil Ed's hard-drinking Monty Burns. DiAngelo tolerates Evil, but barely. His facial expressions are a hilarious projection of thoughts not spoken.
"Ed needs, well, 'baby-sitting' isn't the right word," DiAngelo says. "He needs somebody to cover his ass."
Evil Ed and DiAngelo enter the strip club in the midafternoon. The room is nearly empty. Beams of light from a mirror ball wander the burgundy carpet.
"They know me here," Evil Ed has promised. "I've dated a couple of the girls. I'm friends with the owner. We're going to get VIP treatment."
Evil Ed takes a seat by the stage and waits for service.
He moved to the Valley five years ago from California, where he grew up. There he tried a series of career tangents -- tech-support game counselor for Sega, stock manager at Nordstrom. Evil Ed once wanted to be a rock musician, then later a video-game designer. Now he wants to save the world by becoming a TV star.
Evil Ed was worried, though, that the "Trailer Trash Theater" deal would fall through. His partners were negotiating his contract for the hosting gig the same week the Santana High School shooting dominated the news. He watched the TV coverage, desperately hoping the newscasters never said the words "video game" when they talked about what might have inspired the 15-year-old shooter.
"People need heroes," he says, picking up his lecture. "Real heroes. I find my heroes through video games. People need to be challenged. People are not challenged anymore. This is a way people can rebel against the establishment."
So you rebel against the establishment by purchasing video games?
"It's not about buying games. How do I go against all this bullshit that's out there? All this corruption? If you do anything to go against that, you're screwed -- you'd end up like John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King. But if I go into a private world, I can go against it and I'm still a good citizen."
Wait, how do you rebel by playing a game?
"You can only spend so much time in front of a screen," he says. "What I'm talking about is education. If you educate yourself through this medium, that same intellect and feeling you accomplish through this medium will translate into your daily walk of life. I am a fighter because I play video games."
And speaking of fighting . . . Evil Ed has been waiting 10 minutes without any attention.
He swings around in his seat. Where are the strippers begging to give him a lap dance? Where is the waitress offering to bring him tequila? Where is the VIP treatment? Everybody is ignoring him, even the girls on stage, as if some silent command to freeze out Evil Ed has been issued from an unseen Babe's command center.
Muses DiAngelo: "I think something bad must have happened the last time Ed was here."
Evil Ed goes to the DJ to demand attention. He goes to the bar and demands a drink. The God of Video Games is angry.
"Don't you know me?" Evil Ed yells. "You're blowing it! You have real high rollers here! I've got somebody from the New Times with me!"
DiAngelo quickly gets up and leaves. Covering Evil Ed's ass in a bar fight is one thing, he explains. Trying to protect him against strip-club bouncers is another.
As Evil Ed stomps out the door, the Babe's DJ says: "Aw, the kids have picked up their toys and are going home."
When Evil Ed was 8 years old, he had a fantasy about being a gas station attendant. One day he made a paper hat, wrote the word "gas" on it and topped off the tanks of several cars on his block -- using water from lawn hoses. His stepfather was furious. He said that this Eddie kid must be possessed by a demon, he's evil, he's "Evil Ed."
This is Casa de Evil, the home of Evil Ed the adult. Here is a collection of porn DVDs and select feature films, such as The Matrix ("Best movie ever," says Evil Ed). There's the obligatory lava lamp. There's a bunk bed ("Like Tom Hanks had in the movie Big"). There are gobs of action figures sealed in their original boxes and autographed girlie posters. It looks more like a movie set than a home.
"It's everything you wanted as a kid but are afraid to buy as an adult," summarizes Evil Ed.
But Evil Ed does not have to buy his favorite toys. There is a knock at the door and a UPS driver asks Evil Ed for his autograph -- more free video games for review.
Evil Ed tears open the present and finds a collector's edition of Diablo II.
"Oh, cool!" he says. "Look, they even included boards and dice so you can play it Dungeons & Dragons style!"
Yes, at Evil Ed's it is always Christmas.
Except for Evil Ed's Webmaster, who is about to be demoted.