By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Y'all are gonna think I'm crazier than Houston plucking his eyeball out in that London hotel room, but I'm here to spit the truth like Twista, Jesus, Buddha and Kanye West, and that truth is: Most strip clubs bite big, hairy camel balls.
Now, no one loves lookin' at nekkid women better than me and my home-girl Jett, a.k.a. the AC/DC Keira Knightley, but the majority of chichi bars in the world are all about the chedda, and nothing else. The chicks are as cold and hard as their implants, and the management would just as soon have one of their door goons grab you by the ankles, turn you upside down and shake you 'til every last nickel falls out. The customers ain't much better. They sit there like zombies, hoarding dollar bills and taking midget sips off their overpriced Heinekens, looking as if they'd whip it out and jerk it if they didn't know they'd get their hineys whupped. Usually, it's a sorry-assed, humorless scene. D-u-double-l, dull.
But like I say, there are some exceptions, one being Pantera's Show Club, at 4139 West Indian School Road, near 43rd Avenue. First off, folks there are friendly, and there's not the constant hustle to separate you from your paper. The girls seem sweet, and all-natural, at least as far as the Jettster and I could determine. And just as important, there's a nice racial mix in the stable of chicklettes, as well as in the crowd. On any one of the three stages, there are bouncy black badunkadunks, tight butter-pecan booties, and dimpled, creamy white derrières, all clothed only in the thinnest wisps of G-strings. It's a veritable Rainbow Coalition of butt cheeks, all clappin' to the finest joints in hip-hop and R&B, dropped by none other than my man DJ Turtle on the decks.
The vibe at Pantera's is akin to a neighborhood sports bar, albeit with some titty on display. But what really makes the spot dope is that, unlike the majority of the competition, Pantera's management has some freakin' imagination. The other clubs just put the bargain ballerinas on parade and let 'em work the pole. But Pantera's dice are loaded on Tuesday nights, when the crowds flow in for the weekly bouts of Foxy Boxing. That's where topless tarts pull on oversize boxing gloves and smack each other up for three rounds, with a $100 purse going to the winner, $50 to the loser.
"People really get into it," relates GM Ray Muñoz, Pantera's de facto Don King. "We've been doing it for about two months now, and the response is overwhelming. Guys come in from all over. It started with us just showing boxing on our big-screen TVs, and it was like sardines in here. That's where we got the idea to get the girls involved."
Two fellas are chosen from the audience to be corner men for the ladies, and "advise" them on the finer points of the sweet science. Injuries are rare because the gloves are almost as big as the girls, so there's not much damage they can do to each other. Usually, there are two bouts beginning around 10 p.m. But when the J-girl and I arrive one recent Tuesday night, we're a little late, and the first fight has already gone down. So while intermission's still on, we perambulate over to the VIP section to kick it with Chi-town R&B artist Sergio and his pal Michael Moore of Star Status Entertainment.
"I was in R. Kelly's first group, MGM," explains Sergio, a good-lookin', buff dude with an easygoin' way about him. "And Will Smith and I did a song together called 'Boom! Shake the Room.' Now I'm just searching for a new major deal, so I'm finishing my album and getting it ready for the summer."
"What's the name of the album?" inquires the Jenna Haze of P-town.
"It's going to be called Any Positions," he says, smiling. "A little something for the ladies."
"Ooooh, I like that," squeals the Jettster. "So tell us, why are you in the PHX?"
"I'm a snowbird," laughs the singer. "I came out here to buy a home because it's so cold in Chicago. When I got out here, everyone was like, 'Oh, my God, what are you doin' living here?' So I've been doing some concerts. I did one with Too Short and Cypress Hill's Sen Dog at the Celebrity Theatre November 6. I have another one coming up in March."
Come to find out Sergio has the same manager (Ms. Kia Kanei of Star Status Entertainment) as Soul Ghetto, the four-man group we caught singing at Jackson's on Third's Showcase Sunday a few weeks back ("All Keyed Up," December 23), and that Sergio's going to feature them on a joint from his new album. Sergio imparts the 411 that Soul Ghetto has been signed to an indie label in California, and that they're still in the running for the Showcase Sunday finals. So big ups to Soul Ghetto, who're reppin' for the 602, the 623, and the 480.
About this time, Ray taps us on the shoulder, and asks if we'd like to conversate with the honeys who'll be squaring off against each other for the next bout. He then leads us back to Pantera's dressing room where Jett's eyes nearly pop out of their sockets staring at all of that hella fine womanflesh in various states of undress. While she's slobbering all over herself, I play the gentleman with Monique, a curvaceous cutie with long, brownish-blond hair who'll be wearing the red gloves tonight, and little else.
"I fought last week for the first time, and won," Monique tells us. "I've never boxed for real. Last Tuesday, I actually got my lip busted a little bit. But there was no blood, thankfully."
"What's the worst part about Foxy Boxing?" I ask the champ.
"Those friggin' gloves are heavy!" she exclaims. "My arms were sore after last time for four days. The best thing about it is the money."
Monique has to go get her game face on while her opponent Ryan, a darling little brunette, steps forward. Ryan will be donning the blue gloves for the first time ever this evening.
"Ever been in a fight before?" wonders the J-unit, coming out of her stripper-induced stupor.
"Never," answers Ryan. "Unless you count those I got into with my sister when we were younger."
"Are you worried?" I query. "After all, you're going up against the champ."
"Nah, it's all for fun. But I am thinking maybe I should take this piercing out I just got," she says, indicating a diamond stud piercing over her upper lip.
"Good idea," advises the Jettster. "And remember, keep your left up, girl."
Soon, the babes are on stage and topless, and with the theme to Rocky playing on the stereo system, DJ Turtle rings in the first round. Almost immediately, booful bad-ass Monique rains down a blizzard of punches with her jumbo boxing gloves on Ryan's pretty head. Monique's veteran status helps her, as does the fact that she's wearing strap-up shoes with thick rubber soles, giving her a commanding height advantage over Ryan, who's gone barefoot. A big mistake, despite the fact that she has lovely feet. In the second round, Ryan regroups and rushes Monique, but this Million Dollar Baby quickly regains composure and punishes poor Ryan with a series of whacks upside her noggin. By the third round, it's over, with Monique the victor and still champion.
Back in the dressing room, both gals' bods are glistening with sweat, but they're unharmed save for being winded. Ryan says she's not sure she'd do it again, though, only because the gloves are so hard to lift.
We amble back to parlay with some patrons, the first of whom is Shawn, a muscular cat in a yellow Indiana Pacers jersey, with a ton of gold chains and even some gold teeth in his grill. Shawn tells us he's been in the military for four years and is a senior airman over at Luke Air Force Base. Shawn's originally from Atlanta, and he's poppin' bottles of Mo tonight with his homie G. from back East.
"Why are you here tonight, soldier?" asks Jett, getting all hot and bothered, admiring how perfectly pumped Shawn is.
"I'm mainly here to get my drink on," answers Shawn. "But I like the music they play, and the way the girls look. Also the boxing's kind of interesting."
"Are you a Pacers fan?" I ask.
"Oh, no. I just like the way the color yellow looks on me. Gold, too."
"So we see," remarks the princess of P-town nightlife. "Nice bling."
"Thanks. This is how we do in ATL. We keep it real O.G. out there," he states.
Shawn divulges that he's done four months in Kuwait so far as part of his service, and we thank him for protecting America abroad and at home. We must've lucked into military night at Pantera, because nearby is Vietnam vet and ex-Marine William, a.k.a. Kalif, who's a martial arts expert, a philosopher and a spiritual teacher. A profound fellow, dressed casually in a blue-and-white jacket and a beige hat, he drops some knowledge on the Jettster and me as we're ordering beverages at the bar.
"In the metaphorical universe, where the body and soul meet is where perversion takes place," he explains like a Jedi master. "That's when the animalistic body comes more alive. This place is a place that perpetuates the soul meeting the animal. And this type of place usually wins."
"It's sort of like there's a time and a place for everything," I say, grasping the essence of his teaching. I feel like Grasshopper on them Kung Fu reruns.
"And that's okay, as long as we recognize it, and don't let the animal side of us overwhelm the spirit."
"Pardon me," interrupts Jett. "But the only spirits I'm interested in feeding my body are in that Absolut bottle over there."
"Forgive her, Kalif," I say, shaking my head. "Both her spirit and her effin' flesh are oh so weak. You have no idea."