Until the day comes when Phoenicians can crack open a beer in the middle of an opera or sip a martini at the symphony, the options for getting simultaneously buzzed and entertained are not only limited, but predictable.
"You either go to clubs and see bands, or you go to comedy clubs and see comedians. There's really nothing funny and funky and surprising and original," says Jim Cherry, one of the creators of Gullabaloo, downtown's strangest gig.
The ongoing Sunday-night variety show promises "10 acts in 60 minutes" -- an onslaught of fast-paced appearances by local singer-songwriters, comedians, and an odd assortment of spoof characters, such as badly bewigged Screaming Ronnie Sizemore, who belts out '60s garage tunes; Viva Knievel, who comes on stage every week to explain why he can't do his stunt; or Johnny Bionic, who basically thrashes around on the floor. No two shows are alike.
Cherry, who started out as Gullabaloo's tuxedoed host, is known around the Valley as promoter of the Swank parties, a series of lounge events that took the local party scene by storm in the late '90s.
About a year ago, Nita's Hideaway hosted the very first Gullabaloo, the effort of Cherry and Torchbearers' front man Vic Masters. When it got a glowing reception, the two considered turning it into a regular happening. Several months later, Gullabaloo took residence at the Emerald Lounge when Christopher Pomerenke, the one-man band known as Lovers of Guts (and one-half of Less Pain Forever), offered to share his ongoing Sunday-evening slot.
Cherry's dapper show host charisma, paired with the straight-up glamorous looks of svelte co-host Patricka, created a swank atmosphere amid the seediness. When Cherry moved to Los Angeles and Pomerenke took over the role, Pomerenke says he couldn't pull off the same kind of suave manner in the face of hecklers.
"One night I came in and said, I'm not gonna be nice tonight,'" says Pomerenke. He dropped the sharp suit and revived an old Halloween costume. "I ended up putting on this mullet wig and a baseball cap," he says. "When I saw myself in the mirror, I'm like, Hi, I'm Terry, your new stepdad. I work a lot of hours. We won't be seeing much of each other.'" Pomerenke's new persona -- officially called Terry Yer New Stepdad -- was born. Like a bad Andrew "Dice" Clay, the tough guy swills cans of cheap brewski and sings the praises of Internet porn between acts.
Now Pomerenke heckles the audience before they have a chance to heckle him. "They want to yell at Terry, and Terry wants them to," says Pomerenke. "So we get to give them what they want, which is to be drunk hooligans, but then we get to present theater at the same time."
Pomerenke reasons that if guerrilla theater is a bitter pill for the downtown late-night crowd, then he's happy to help it go down a little more easily with some faux aggression and off-the-wall skits. "We're going for a Lawrence Welk kind of thing meets The Gong Show."