10-Pin Pimpin'

Lane-lubbers, kingpins and strike-aholics converge on AMF Tempe for Xtreme Bowling

Some chicks just hate to see a man enjoying himself. And Jett, the PHX's bisexual Rachel Bilson, is one of those. The other day, I'm lounging in my New Times office, feet up, halfway through a box of peanut-butter Girl Scout cookies, crumbs all over my shirt, when the bizzatch walks up behind me and starts rollin' her head like her neckbone's made of Twizzlers.

"You need to get your two tons of fun on a program, Kreme," spits the Jettster, arms crossed like Miss Crabtree. "And I don't mean Jerry Springer, Special K. For real, if you don't kick the carbs to the curb and start sweatin' to the oldies, they won't let you near the Pacific Ocean no more."

"Pacific Ocean?" I croak in mid-snarf.

"Yeah, for fear your fat ass will start a tsunami as soon as you hop in! Why, if you get any bigger, I'm gonna paint lipstick on your grille and tell people you're Kirstie Alley!"

"Whoa, there, Tae Bone-licker," I interrupt, cleaning cookie residue off my teeth with my tongue. "Maybe you're right. And I've got just the way to get some exercise and simultaneously bag our next column."

Fast forward to the AMF Tempe Village Lanes (4407 South Rural Road, south of Highway 60) during Xtreme Bowling (also called "cosmic bowling" by some), which happens from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The regular lights have been dimmed, and the disco lights are going full blast. Metallica's on the box, and we're halfway through our second round of drinks -- suds and Jäger shots, what else? I've just rolled another strikezilla, and the Jettster's whinin' like an L.A. prosecutor at Robert Blake's acquittal.

"You call this exercise?" she squawks, as I suck down some more Killian's. "You've inhaled 10 times the number of calories that you've burnt off."

"You're just steamed 'cause I'm throwin' rocks out there like Woody Harrelson in Kingpin," I chuckle. "Besides, I'm like John Goodman. If I lose weight, I lose a perfectly good shtick."

"Save it for the aquarium, Shamu," growls P-town's Laura Prepon, glancing around. "Looks like this place has finally filled up with hotties. So if you're finished fingering your ball, let's make like Larry the Cable Guy and git-r-done."

I can't speak for other cosmic bowling scenes, but here at the Tempe Village Lanes, perhaps because of the proximity to ASU, there are indeed plenty of sexy 20-somethings filling up those 32 lanes, and making the pins fly.

We first hook up with this fab foursome of two dudes and two dudettes who're in the house tonight on a whim. Krystel Gutierrez and Laura Rude are holdin' it down for the ladies, while Nathan Miller and Daniel Henry are representin' for the studmuffins. After some lip-flappin', we discover that both Rude girl Laura and the comely Krystel work as enrollment counselors for Phoenix's Western International University. But their former jobs are far more fascinating to the Jettster and me.

"I used to be a photographer for the East Valley Tribune," explains the Rude One. "But they laid me off. It was fun while it lasted. I got to use their camera, which was cool. I'd go to a lot of schools, movie theaters, bars, things like that. I still freelance, though."

"If Annie Leibovitz here screws up, I'll give you a call," I tell her.

"Annie who?" asks Jett.

"Never mind, Madame Curie," I crack. "And what did you do again?" I ask of Gutierrez.

"I was a phone operator for an escort service," confesses the Krystel Method. "Guys would call the ads you see, and I'd send the girls out. Actually, I got the job through an ad in the paper. They told me they paid cash and I could work graveyard hours. I was a student at the time, so I did it for a little bit."

"What was that like?" wonders the J-girl.

"Pretty scary stuff," replies Krystel, eyes widening. "There's a girl that almost OD'd one time when I was on my shift. She took a bunch of pills with alcohol. That's why I stopped doing it. I couldn't handle it."

"They must be really desperate," says Jett. "Willing to do anything for money."

"So, uh, how much does it cost exactly?" I query, curiously.

"You send an escort out on a call for $150, but the escort doesn't get any of that money. The operator and the driver together get $50 of that, and the house gets $100. Whatever the escort gets is in tip money to do the things that they do. And those girls in the ads are not the ones that come to your door. On a Friday or Saturday night, the girls look pretty hot, but on a Monday or Tuesday, they may not even have all their teeth. A lot of the guys get pissed when they learn that it's $150-plus. Then the drivers have to come in with the Mace and the club to straighten things out."

Somehow the conversation turns from this delightful subject to doing time in Tent City, which seems to be a rite of passage for many in Phoenix. Both of the guys admit to having experienced the pleasures of Sheriff Joe's outdoor lodging.

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