By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
"Ow!" I say, rubbing my cherubically chubby cheek. "Damn, girl, I thought you said you wanted to go to Amsterdam with me. Oh, I see, you want to wait 'til we get on that jumbo jet, Jett, so we can join the mile-high club."
"In your dreams, Kreme," spits the Jettster. "I meant the gay bar Amsterdam, fool. Tonight's their famous Martinis and Manicures Mondays. With cocktails and manicures just $5 each."
And here I was, convinced that I was gonna be the first man on this planet to enter the perfumed garden of Jett's paradise. (Sigh.) Well, keep hope alive, fellas. At least I get to see her huggin' up on her other dime-pieces. Unfortunately, there's very little of that at Amsterdam (www.amsterdambar.com), where tons of gay dudes and straight chicks congregate on Monday nights so the hims-who-like-hims can hit on one another, and the ladies don't have to worry about het knuckle-draggers grabbin' asses and takin' names. Gals and occasionally the guys get manicures, pedicures, and sometimes even henna work done in a corner in the back. And the martinis are killer, with bartenders serving up appletinis, French martinis, and a whole bunch of other bizarre mixtures for the price of Abe Lincoln's paper portrait.
There are plenty of honeys present when Jett and I saunter through, and it occurs to me that tonight both Jett and I may be the only two lovers of the labia in tha hizz-ouse. Either way, it's a posh-looking place. Just a big "A" outside above the door, but inside it's like something transported from the Big Easy's French Quarter: Greek columns, high ceilings, and a huge, mirror-backed bar with the carved, wooden face of what looks like Bacchus gazing over us. Across from the bar is a lounge area with leather chairs, and beside this, a piano bar area that's unattended this night.
Through the back door (no pun intended) is an outdoor bar on a gated patio with a fountain. We grab some drinks -- Jett an Absolut Mandarin and soda, and I a tall Chambord and champagne drink that's kickin' my ass after about six of them. And since the weather is fab, we mosey to the patio, past three tables where gals are having their nails pampered.
Outside we bump into Bryan, a bi-guy from Brazil who's so good-lookin' he could make me give up a furrow in the burrow for a tree in the forest, if you smell me. Bryan, 26, tells us he was born in Chile, then lived in Brazil until he was 14, when his family moved to the Zona. Currently, he makes bank (pun intended) in the mortgage industry.
"Phoenix is a little behind the times," notes the strapping bohunk. "Ultimately, I'd like to move somewhere more ethnically and culturally diverse, like Miami."
"What do you like about Amsterdam?" queries the Janine of tha PHX.
"I like the setting," replies the Ripped One. "It's well lit, and not too loud. You can actually mingle and talk to people. A very sociable place."
"Do you meet a lot of guys here and take them home?" asks Jett, getting bold all of a sudden.
"You could do that," he says, smiling coyly and taking a sip of his citrus cosmo. "If that's what you're looking for. I just like hanging with my friends. If something happens, something happens."
"Have you ever gotten a manicure here?" I wonder.
"Not here," responds Bryan. "That raises a question of my own I've always had: What's more feminine, a manicure or a pedicure?"
"A pedicure, definitely," answers Jett (who, by the way, has adorable little hoofers). "Straight men never get a pedicure."
"But getting a pedicure says so much more about your attention to hygiene," replies bisexual Bryan.
"That's the thing," says Jett. "Straight men are nasty. Like, your feet are probably really nice-looking. But Kreme here, just look at him! You know his are crusty."
"There are crustier parts of my anatomy," I chuckle.
"Eeeeew!" cries Jett, slapping my arm. That's when Kevin Hjellum, a roguish gent in a trucker hat that says "Roughneck," approaches. Kev knows both Jett and bi-Bry, and he too is in the mortgage industry, though I'm guessing he doesn't wear the Roughneck lid to the office. The 23-year-old is from the City of Chi originally, and claims the gay life is better up there.
"It's a much bigger scene with more variety in the way of clubs," K-dog explains. "Here we just have our little handful of clubs."
"Maybe," I state. "But at least you won't freeze your nads off down here. Gotta keep them brass monkeys inside in Chi-town."
"So what kind of boys do you like?" interjects Jett.
"Tall, dark, handsome ones. You know, upper 20s, successful, cute, good-looking."
"Do you consider yourself a top or a bottom?"
"I consider myself versatile, but more of a top," he says. "I know some guys out here spread for everyone, but I don't. That's a big deal to me. But everything else is fine."
"And why Amsterdam?"
"I'd say it's the best gay bar in Phoenix. I like the atmosphere, the music, the crowd. But one thing I don't like about it is that there's no dance floor. It'd be really awesome with a dance floor. They say that's in the works, so we'll see."
We figure it's time to check out those getting their nails painted, so we swing back to just inside the back door where there are a trio of manicurists on duty, tending to digits. Leslie, a pixie-ish gal with short brown-blond hair, is having her hands massaged in prep for polishing when we approach. Her manicurist tells us the process should last about 15 minutes.
"I'm here with a bachelorette party, man," explains Leslie, who's an electrical engineer for a microchip company. "My friend's getting married. She's back on the patio."
"Is she drunk yet?"
"Not yet, surprisingly," says Leslie, who's from Chandler and looks to be in her early 20s. "This place is great! Every bar should be like this."
"What kind of martini do you have?"
"It's caramel-apple with nuts," she says. "Kind of like a milk shake with alcohol."
"How long did you have to wait, and how much does this sort of thing usually cost, outside of a Monday night at Amsterdam?"
"I waited, like, 45 minutes to an hour, but it's a good deal," she says. "Normally, I'd say it costs me around $20 for a manicure. Here it's just $5, plus whatever you want to tip."
I'm getting a little lightheaded from the fumes, which normally I might like if I weren't on duty. So we ease past the manicure tables, and head to the bar for another round. There, we saddle up next to a good-looking African-American man in a red polo sweatshirt named Clif Dowdell, who tells us that he's a waiter at Oregano's on Camelback. He's sipping on a strawberry-peach concoction as we conversate.
"So, Clif, ever make a love connection here?" I ask, a tad hopefully.
"You know, I just go out to have fun. I'm not shopping around for the hookup."
"Did you just come from work?"
"No, actually I just came from the rehearsal for a beauty pageant I'm going to be in at BS West, the gay club in Scottsdale. It's called Filthy Gorgeous, and it's very kitschy, and a little naughty. I'll be playing Miss Milky Way, a.k.a. The Black Hole."
"Funny stuff," I chuckle. "Can't wait to see you in the swimsuit competition. So what's your talent?"
"I sing," he tells us. "And I'll be doing an illusion of Tina Turner, a proud, post-Ike Tina."
"Yeah, that way you won't have to dodge any boot heels," I crack, thinking of a scene from the Turner biopic What's Love Got to Do With It?, the one where Laurence Fishburne nearly goes to town on Tina with some shoe leather. "Are you a performer at heart?"
"Yes, and since I'm not involved in any of the local theater, this is my outlet. It's all about the two T's, the tape and the tuck. You use some tape up top to get a little something there. It's the tuck downstairs which is the challenge."
"Yowza! Talk about suffering for your art," I spout.
I'm beginning to wonder where Jett's gotten to when I see her near the back door, yelling, "Yo, Kreme, get over here."
Seems Jett's hunted down the chick who's getting hitched, Vao Lee, Leslie's friend. Miss Lee's a cute lass who met her groom Mark at their workplace, Motorola. She says they're getting married within the week.
"What do you guys do for Motorola?" I ask.
"We're both engineers, but we work in different departments," she says. "At the time, we were working together, and we kind of asked each other out as friends. Then he asked me out on a date. That's how it all began."
"And now you're going to go forth and make little engineer babies," I suggest.
"Maybe, maybe," she says, laughing. "In like two years or so."
"Hey, stop trying to get the lady pregnant," joshes Jett. "Keep that cream to yourself, Kreme."
"Don't worry," I say. "With my luck, it'll probably turn to cheese before anyone else comes in contact with it."