By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
It's small and dark, and woven rugs depicting JFK hang above the low bar, along with about 50 numbered, ceramic mugs for the use of the regular patrons. The two-room club at Seventh Avenue and McDowell reminds me of a spot I used to hit when I lived in Gotham, and was usually one paycheck away from homelessness. I would go in late when it was good and crowded and crawl along the beer-spattered floor in the hopes of coming across a 20 some hammered patron had dropped. One night, I found 50 bucks and a crack pipe with half a rock in it. Boo-yah!
These days, life ain't as bleak. Still, Jett and I enjoy going low-maintenance once in a while. Sure, sipping Alize and champagne in Snottsdale can be fun, but we like to change the game as much as possible to keep our flava fresh. So the Emerald Lounge it was, where we'd heard some cool bands would be hitting the stage about 10 p.m.
Once there, Jett and I saddle up a couple of stools and order a couple of brew-ha-has from our man Don Baber tending bar. In the poor light, Don looks like a cross between Ric Ocasek and Mr. Spock, and he soon sets us up with dueling $3.50 pints, as the throng starts to thicken in anticipation of headliner Hell on Heels and this other band named Balls.
Next to us, we strike up a confab with Gene Grimwood, who's wearing a white tee shirt and sporting long sideburns and a goatee, and his pal Paintbrush, who's wearing a black Social Distortion jacket and a red tartan golf cap.
"'Sup, fellas," says my lipsticker pallie, nodding her head like one of the guys. "What's the story tonight?"
"I'm here to blow off some steam," answers Gene. "I'm an elementary teacher on the west side, and it's been a rough week."
"I'll bet," I say. "I hope you're not in a bad-ass school where the kids come to school packin' heat?!"
"Not really. They're pretty young still, from 5 to 12. Most of 'em have good hearts. But some have bad backgrounds and different disabilities."
"How about them parent-teacher conferences?" I ask. "Ever had a throw-down with some kid's parent?"
"No, no," says Gene, who reminds me of a pre-Kill Bill David Carradine. "When you walk up to anybody and you have a good disposition, they'll respond in kind."
Looking toward the other dude, Jett says, "So, I'll bite. Why do they call you 'Paintbrush'?"
"I used to have a Mohawk, but I got rid of it for my job," he says.
"Oh, so now you're legit?" I ask.
"I'm not legit," he says, defensively. "Look at these tattoos! I've got 13 piercings in my ears."
"And don't forget that hat, dawg," I say, laughing. "That thing's raw. But it's missing the furry white ball on top."
"Hey, this hat matches my kilt," he says, seeming serious. "But I'm not wearing it tonight, obviously."
"So what do you wear under that kilt, sailor?" Jett asks, smirking.
"Nothing. I don't own underwear. There might be some hanging at my house, but I haven't worn any for four or five years."
"Let me guess: You're single, eh?" Jett cracks.
"Whew," she says, pulling me away. "I wouldn't want to get a whiff of his britches."
We move on to a chick with jet-black hair and white-white skin in a sexy black miniskirt and a low-cut top. Shara's sucking back a golden cocktail and playing one of those video bar games that's a little like Wheel of Fortune, minus Pat Sajak. I help her spell out "Porno for Pyros," and she tells me about the day she spent in Sheriff Joe's Tent City.
"I live about two blocks away, but since I had this DUI, I always call a cab when I go home. Usually I go here first, then Hot Pink, then home."
"Where did you get the DUI?" I ask.
"I was coming home from a place in Scottsdale," she explains. "I spent $4,000, and my lawyer still didn't get me off -- some guy at Phillips and Associates. So I had to spend a day in Tent City."
"Was that scary?" Jett wants to know.
"Very scary," Shara says. "I mean, I'm just a normal girl. I have a good job. I'm a research director at a real estate company. I pay my taxes, make decent money, all that. This was a big tent, double bunks."
Jett's eyes expand, her mind replaying scenes from chicks-in-prison sexploitation classics like Caged Heat or Big Bird Cage, or maybe just the behind-bars sequences of Chicago.
"Gulp, so your tent was all women?" inquires the lezzie Sean Paul.
"Yeah, but you didn't have to wear the pink underwear or the stripes. Since people like me weren't in for long, we just had to wear what we wore in. I layered up, because it was cold at night. The food was really shitty. The bologna was green."