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One of the most popular cats on the FM dial locally is Power 92.3's JX3, who keeps things fresh and fantabulous weeknights from 7 to 10 p.m. on the Valley's No. 1 hip-hop station. That is, there's always something different going down on his show, whether it's Suns stud Amaré Stoudemire stoppin' by for a visit, battles between up-and-coming rhymers, his spotlight on future flavas and local artists, or just him, actin' a fool.
So when the booful Vivian Ware at UrbanAz.com, the party people behind many of the live-est events out there, invited Jett and myself to JX3's celebratory get-down at the Hard Rock Cafe in honor of his 28th year on the planet, you know we weren't gonna be staying home playin' GTA: San Andreas. We'd never graced the Hard Rock, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Moreover, JX3's bash would in effect be a preview of his regular Saturday night gig as the club MC, beginning this week.
Anyway, when the switch-hittin' JoJo and I hit the club about a quarter to 11 p.m., it's filling up with an assortment of regular clubgoers, as well as friends and fans of JX3, whose real name, by the way, is Jarard Just'on Johnson. Security is tight at the door, with ladies' purses getting checked and fellas getting the wand. But that's cool, as the airport treatment makes it less likely there'll be any thuggery in da club.
Inside, the Hard Rock is circular, with a dance floor in the center, some tables and chairs pushed to the sides, and a "crown" of different electric guitars hanging above everyone's heads. This being the Hard Rock, the place is filled with music memorabilia, like signed guitars from the likes of Metallica, Chet Atkins, and Aerosmith. From the right edge of the club is a rise that wraps around the dance floor and above it. This begins with a small lounge area, continues with a long black bar and a narrow walkway, and ends with a VIP area opposite the club entrance with a big, comfy couch and Easy-boy-type chairs.
People are milling around, waiting for the birthday boy to arrive and the party to jump off. The crowd's a cornucopia of urban styles and fashion, everything from home-girls in high-heeled booties and athletic socks to fly guys in Italian silk suits. There are playas wearin' cowboy hats over heads of dreads, saucy mamacitas bustin' out of bustiers, fellas who could pass for Pharrell with knit caps on, and ladies with low-cut lingerie tops that leave little to guess about. Rocawear, Enyce, Kangol, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana all co-exist with less prestigious labels. The vibe is friendly, with the unofficial drinks of the house this night being champagne, or Henny and Coke.
However, it's Belvedere and pineapple that's the drink of choice for Paul Ivory, the nattiest gent in the joint, decked out in a canary yellow jacket, black dress shirt and gold-striped tie, with plenty of blingage on his fingers and wrists. Puffin' on a "mild-mild Black and Mild" cee-gar, Paul explains that he shops for his couture in "California and Dallas," and that he heard Power pimpin' the JX3 event on the radio and decided to check it out. Tells us he's from Oklahoma, and he moved out to Phoenix a year and a half ago for the sunshine. He has a business on 43rd Avenue between Indian School and Camelback, P&P Classic Grilles and Automotive Accessories, and presents us with a silvery card announcing the same.
"That's impressive that you've got your business up and going after only a year and a half," comments my aide-de-camp, in awe of Paul's finery.
"There's no time to waste," replies Paul as he smokes that stogie. "Life is too short. We got to have fun, get money, take care of family, and enjoy people."
"That's the lesson of that tsunami," I interject. "You never know when it'll be your time."
"Yes, and being from Oklahoma, you know I know about tragedy just like that one," concurs Paul.
"Turning to a more pleasant subject, you see any lovely ladies you might be talking to tonight?" I inquire.
"Hey, man, lookin' at them ladies, I am like Lotto, I'm just trying to get the right numbers together," he says, smiling slyly.
I run up to the bar to fetch a drink for myself and Princess Jett, and when I return, wouldn't you know, she's chatting up two of the finest females in the drama palace, Tanettra Dawkins, 22, and her friend Nina, 24, both college students studying psychology.
"So why are you two boofuls out tonight?" purrs the J-girl.
"It's something to do," says Miss Tanettra, stunning in a green, backless blouse. "We didn't go out last night, so tonight we felt like being out and enjoying ourselves."
"Are you two students?" I wonder.
"I'm studying sex psychology," responds Tanettra. "I'm going to be a sex therapist."
"Then let me present you with your toughest challenge," announces the Jettster, her open hand indicating her Gorilla Black-size partner-in-crime. "They're still trying to locate Kreme's male reproductive organs beneath all that."