By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
"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.
"I did a day there for DUI," says Miller. "My girlfriend here [meaning Rude] supplied me with some Imodium so I wouldn't have to go to the bathroom. Basically, I just chilled for 24 hours. I did see a dude get beat up for a pack of cigarettes, though. And this was the DUI tent, not exactly hardened criminals."
Henry's story was best, because he was thrown in lockdown for speaking out against Arpaio.
"I was only supposed to do two or three days, but I ended up doing nine days in lockdown because of it," says Henry, whose Cali style of talking reminds me of "the Dude" in The Big Lebowski. "Sheriff Joe was doing a PR piece for some news station. He was a dick. I asked him, 'How come I read in the New Times that you're going over budget year after year?' And he denounced me as a hippie, and said I must be homeless because I read New Times."
Like they still say in Cali, that's bogus.
We thank this quartet of coolios for the confab, and move on down the rows to Kristopher and Natalie, who're tearin' up a lane together. Natalie's a cutie who's studying Spanish at ASU, and Kristopher, a buff fella who works as a pharmacy technician now, wants to go back to Sun Devil U. to get his Ph.D. in African-American history. As he happens to be wearing a red sweatshirt that reads, "Sober," I inquire whether he is.
"Nah," he says, grinning. "It's for the cops."
"That's a good idea," I respond. "Because with that, five-o might figure you for a member of one of those Christian men's groups."
"So who's winning tonight?" interjects Lady J.
"He's kicking my butt," divulges Natalie. "This is our first time for cosmic bowling. But he's bowled more than me."
"So, Natalie, do you know a lot of Spanish slang?" I ask.
"Well, I've been studying Spanish for 11 years," she says, shrugging.
"Okay, let me test you. What's a sucia?"
"It's kinda like calling someone a 'ho,'" she translates. "A dirty girl."
"Heh-heh, those guys 'Da Nutz' on Power 92.3 are always using that one. What about conos? I think Snoop uses that one, like, 'Get your conos in the lo-los.'"
"I don't want to repeat that!" she cries in mock horror. "Basically, it's like saying 'cunt.'"
"Well," I say. "I need you around when I'm listening to music."
Suddenly, Jett nudges me and whispers in my ear, "Two hot bitches at four o'clock!"
I turn my head faster than Michael Jackson as a busload of Cub Scouts passes by, and I do indeed see two fine squirrels over at the next lane suckin' down some brews. One's a brunette named Michelle, and the other's a blonde named Rachel. Jett, in full lezbot mode, compliments Michelle on her shirt, a brown tee with a pink cow and pig that reads, "I love carbs."
"I got it from Mervyn's, actually," responds Michelle. "I just bought it today. You guys are the first to say anything about it, and I thought for sure everybody would be going like, 'Yay, carbs!' because of the stupid Atkins diet."
"Take a look at him," says J-lowbrow. "'Carbs' is his middle name."
"And sucia is hers," I sputter back. "Are you a student, Michelle?"
"I was at Mesa Community College for the last year and a half in biology, but I'm not going this semester," she replies. "I'm changing my mind about that whole school thing."
"Maybe you could be a model," purrs the Jettster.
"I don't know what I'm doing yet. I'm coming up with a new plan. It's in the making," she says.
"How 'bout you, Rachel, are you a student, too, or do you work?"
"I'm a mother of two," she says proudly. "I have one who's 8, and one who's 2."
"Hey, these don't look like regulation footwear," comments the Jettster, ogling Rachel's open-toed shoes.
"I'm just hanging out tonight. I got my toes done today, with stones on them," she says, wiggling those rhinestoned piggies. "Cost me $50, so I don't want to ruin them."
"Very nice," I say. "Anyone tell you that you look too young and attractive to be a mom?"
"Sometimes I get that. I'm 26, actually. I live right down the street in Tempe. But this is my first time here. I like to smoke, so I like to go to the other cities," she says, referring to the Tempe smoking ban.
"I smoke, too," leers the J-Unit. "But only after sex."
"Change the batteries in your vibrator next time, Jett," I smirk, "and maybe you won't have that problem."