By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
"I hit a plate-glass window instead of a very good friend of mine," the Emperor Jules says over the phone. "So I've been painting with my left while I recover. But that's not why I called. I'm inviting you down to Wet Paint's back-to-school party. It should be insane. They haven't had a Final Friday Art Walk in a while, and you know how it is when you meet up with some hot bitch who likes to fuck but hasn't gotten fucked in a while, right?"
"That hasn't happened to me in way too long," I sigh. "But I smell you, Cap'n. We'll be there."
I drop a dime to the L-word Lea, and we coordinate our arrival at Wet Paint at Seventh Street and Forest in downtown Tempe. Aside from serving as an art-supply store, an alternative gallery, a performance space and a record shop, the W.P. is also hosting a bangin' Final Friday blowout with art, fashion, spoken word, rap, and plenty o' cuties with fine boo-tays.
When we arrive, the event is slammin', spilling out onto the street, while the baggy-pant crowd inside is eyeballin' the art on two floors: ground level, where a performance area has been set up for the bands to go on later; and the second floor, which is more of a catwalk with a guardrail that runs around all four walls, so playas and playettes can peep the ghettofab ones below.
Upstairs we find Jules pouring shots of Southern Comfort at the bar, not too far from his piece titled A Brush With the Law. The bifurcated canvas depicts Officer Not-So-Friendly on the right, and a big-assed hog on the left. (Seems Jules has had issues of late with the po-po.) Jules is sportin' a black tee that reads "Alpha Monster" in red, and when we ask what's up with that, he points us in the direction of lead Alpha Monster Baron Gordon, who's seated next to his expressionistic painting of a ghostly Ray Charles and is also rockin' the Alpha Monster tee.
"Alpha Monster, is that like Alpha Male?" asks the J-grrl.
"It's more than that," explains the bearded, bohemian Baron. "It's about being the best of the best, Alpha being number one, and monster being hungry and very aggressive. So that's where we're coming from. It's an artists' collective, and we've got everyone from Jason Rudolph Pe--a, Dumperfoo, Jess Jordan, Jules, and a lot of others. This is our first show under the Alpha Monster umbrella. We're all about getting people to appreciate the art."
"Cool. Right now I'm appreciating this TV set over here," says Jett, indicating a regular TV set that's been painted over by the Baron so you can barely make out what's on the screen through the paint.
"I guess you could say I'm not a big fan of television," he smirks.
"What, you don't like Skinamax? You know, the soft-core stuff they show on cable at night?" asks Jett.
"See, the Baron's art is deeper than that," I spit.
"Deeper than the bitches on Skinamax?" asks the J-grrl. "Have you seen them ho's? I don't think so."
It's getting a little too thick with folks up in here to conversate properly, so we head downstairs. There, some chick in a whacked-out paper dress reminiscent of those green-and-red Chinese handcuffs you get at the State Fair is singing a cappella with some backbeats as her only accompaniment. It's none other than designer/performance artist Camille Messina, who's also designed two other paper dresses being worn by models parading around the gallery. As we're waiting for Funky Cold Messina to finish her set, we rub up on two of the finest dimes in the joint, Lolita Sahwany and sis Venus. These sloe-eyed, olive-skinned lovelies have recently bailed on the Big Apple and relocated to Tempe to be closer to family, and to judge by their words, they seem to be feelin' the Valley.
"So what do you think about P-town so far?" I inquire of the duo, who could pass for twins, but swear they ain't.
"I think it's awesome," gushes Lolita, a video artist who studied film at NYU. "I was a little surprised. I wasn't sure how it was going to be coming from a really big city. But I totally changed my opinion of the desert. I didn't think anything was going on over here. I thought this was going to be a pit stop for me on the way to L.A. But I've kinda settled in, and I'm thinking I can do things here."
"How 'bout you, Venus?" wonders the Jettster.
"I love it," asserts this raven-haired Aphrodite, who was a lawyer in Gotham, but has yet to practice in the Zona. "It's not as diverse as New York, but some areas are diverse. It's interesting, there's a lot of opportunity out here. I think that's what brought me out. And there's money to be made."