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Bite Me's been encouraged to check out Hamburger Mary's since she pulled into town. The gay joint on North Seventh Street is supposed to have amazing food and the most delicious atmosphere ever. So she decided to see what all the fuss was about and attended Gong Show Karaoke night last week. To prepare herself for the spectacle, she ordered up a Cadillac margarita and a Proud Mary burger before approaching the drag queens who run the show and provide much of the entertainment. And let her tell you, Bite Me's never interviewed a friendlier group of folks in her life.
Of course, your heroine had to stuff napkins in her ears at certain junctures of the evening – it was karaoke, after all – but that said, she had to admit that many of the singers were pretty damn good. When the crooners sucked, folks paid two bucks a pop to hit a gong and end the misery. Hey, everybody wins – the singer has to shut the fuck up and the dough is collected and given to charity.
The service at Mary's was stellar and the cocktails stiff. And the food? Oh, the food. The hamburger is the best in town. (Well, don't take Bite Me's word for it -- she's still so new to town she hasn't done her first load of laundry and she's got at least three more fresh thongs before she hits the bottom of the underwear drawer. But New Times proclaimed this burger the best in town, and who is Bite Me to differ?) And the cottage cheese that came with it? Holy Jesus on the cross! See, Bite Me is something of a cottage cheese junkie, and this stuff is so divine she'd walk a mile to taste it again. This heavenly goo had to have like 5 percent milk fat – trust us, it's hard to find cottage cheese with even 4 percent these days – but Bite Me's learning that if there's one thing she can count on here, it's that y'all believe in the most fat-saturated, calorie-bulging of foods in heaping amounts. Praise heaven.
Also 2017 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-945-MARY. Breakfast served at Scottsdale location.
Part owner and dancer, Hamburger Mary's
Bite Me: Karaoke is an age-old favorite of mine.
Gary: Yes, but it tends to get a little stale after a while, so we brought in Woody, who's one of our bartenders and servers here. And our other karaoke host is Victoria London, who just won our contest to be Hamburger Mary for a year.
Bite Me: How did she do that?
Gary: We have a show and a contest and people dress up to look as close to what Mary looks like on the menu. Victoria's been around for a long time in this town. She'll be on the float for Gay Pride, April 12.
Bite Me: Wow. (Bite Me can't help recalling the Gay Pride parades at her former home of West Hollywood. All good. Except for the time her friends came down from San Francisco and decided the pool at her apartment complex was the best place for an orgy. When a manager complained, one of her friends claimed to be Bite Me, which explained the knowing glances she endured from other tenants until she finally moved out in shame.) So tell me about this joint.
Gary: Well, we have the best burger in town. We show Queer As Folk on Sunday nights. We're trying to get DJs and stuff on Sunday nights, really get Sunday night going.
Bite Me: So is this karaoke thing a contest?
Gary: I was in Chicago with one of the other owners and we saw gong show karaoke. And we definitely wanted to do a karaoke night here because it's popular, but, like everything we've done here, we've done it with a little twist. So we've got a drag queen host, and to gong somebody, you have to pay two dollars, and if you want to keep singing, you have to pay two dollars to continue.
Bite Me: Hey, where's that money go? (Bite Me wondered if they were making cash off the humiliation ofAmerican Idol wanna-bes. Like Simon with a collection plate.)
Gary: All the money goes to charity, 100 percent. The first three months we donated to Arizona Central Pride and, though I'm not sure exactly how much, I know it was over $3,000. And that's just the gong money on a Tuesday night.
Bite Me: I love that.
Bartender and hostess "and anything that doesn't leave a paper trail"
Bite Me: Your last name is Target? (Bite Me is careful to say it the way this drag queen wants it – the French way, with the accent on the last syllable.) I like that. Are you a Target shopper? I am.
Suzanne: Oh, I'm very much a Target shopper. And any queen this size is a big target anyway. So it just makes sense.
Bite Me: I'm so excited.
Suzanne: I am the biggest mess in the West.
Bite Me: People are very friendly here. Everyone told me to come. But I love you.
Suzanne: It's always a party here at Hamburger Mary's. (Steps up on booth brandishing the microphone.) New Times is here tonight, so if your mama don't know you're gay, she might find out tonight! (Which reminds Bite Me of the frenzied phone call she got from her mom after she appeared on TV on the back of a lesbian-driven Harley during a gay pride parade in West Hollywood. Bite Me calmly explained that if she were comin' out of the closet, she'd be kind enough to call her mom before tellin' the viewing public.)