By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
"Can I rub your tummy for luck?" asks the gorgeous dime-piece before me in the lounge of the James Hotel's J Bar in Scottsdale, her smooth skin the color of Ghirardelli chocolate. As her hands are already caressing my abdominal protuberance, I figure it's best to reply in the affirmative.
"Uh, by all means," I state, as she pats my paunch like it's that of a plump jade Buddha in a Chinese curio shop.
"Here, let me kiss it, too," and she lays one on me, right about where my pothole-like belly button lies beneath my triple-XL cocktail shirt. Her name's Erica, and I know she's just playing, but damn it, let a fat man dream, y'all! Jett's been in the ladies' room nearby, losing some excess J Bar martinis. And that's when I bump into the enticing Erica amongst the booful people kickin' it in the James' lounge-like waterin' hole.
It's 11 on a Saturday night, and the spot's tight with bodies, most standing, some eased into the low chairs and couches before the gleaming bar. The crowd's spillin' out onto a patio to the right, and into the hotel's chic lobby to the left. Up above us all is a big screen showing, for some inexplicable reason, a boring-ass documentary. But that's okay, because folks at the J Bar are too into eyeing each other to pay much attention to anything else.
"Are you a model?" I query Erica Eyecandy.
"No, I work for a living," she sighs. "I'm a server at a restaurant in the Four Seasons, actually."
"I can't believe it," I say, mock-shocked. "You're not a kept woman? You don't have a retinue of servants tending to your every need?"
She flashes me a smile that'd melt platinum. "You could be one of my servants if you want," she tells me, laughing. I try to stay on track with this interview, but honestly, this chica is finer than Amerie, Brandy and Ciara combined. It's all I can do to keep from jabbering incoherently like a two-ton Ozzy Osbourne . . .
"I already am, your servant, that is," I say, grinning. "So what are you doing here tonight?"
"I come here to visit friends. I have friends who work for the bar, and there are always cool people here," she replies.
I suddenly remember that the Jettster left her purse with me and I'm holding it in my hand like I'm the freakin' Queen of England. Aaaah! I switch it behind my back as I continue conversatin' with the alluring Erica. I'm gonna clobber Jett if she ever returns.
"Yeah, people seem very chill here. How would you respond to the haters who think everyone at the J Bar is snooty?"
"I love Scottsdale for that reason," she explains. "There's nothing wrong with being snooty. There's nothing wrong with knowing that you're prettier than other people. You have to recognize your own flawlessness, and have other people recognize it, too."
"Thanks for holding my handbag, Kreme," Jett announces loudly as I grit my teeth. "Who's the babe?"
I make the introductions, but Erica has to bounce, and leaves me alone with the J-girl. I'm ready to wrap my hands around her neck.
"Let's get another drink before I kill you," I tell her.
"Who pissed in your Frosted Flakes?"
"You and your effin' purse," I grumble, as I signal the barkeep to set us up with two vodka-Red Bulls. "I'm not holding that shit again for you."
"Ease up, pardner. After all, who showed you the back way into this joint?"
I have to admit she's right. Out front of the James was a doorman and a line to get in, but we blew all that off by going 'round back and up the ramp to the J Bar's rear patio. Reminded of this, I reluctantly decide to let the bi-Ashlee Simpson live.
We snag our drinks, which are mostly vodka with a splash of energy drink for flava. We'd started off with a couple of the J Bar's $10 martinis, but then switched over to our old reliable libation. As we guzzle, the Jettster nudges me about a nearby couple, a tall Caucasian dood, and his companion, a petite Asian beauty in a shoulderless, turquoise-print dress. Her name is Vivian Dao. His is Jeff Blankenship. And this is their first date.
"I think it's going pretty well," he remarks of the date, as the Jettster hijacks Dao and drags her off to the side to compare designer purses.
"This is one of the top 20 most fashionable handbags," I hear Dao telling Jett, as the J-doggie-dawg oohs appreciatively, admiring more than just Dao's purse.
"So, Jeff, what do you do for a living?" I ask.
"Gay porn," he replies with an almost straight face. "So I got that going for me, which is nice."
"In case your stock portfolio tanks?" I wonder.
"Yep, then I've got a backup," he grins, joshing me. "It pays well, and I'm always up for it."
"Well, you've got the looks for it," I kid back. "What do you like about the J Bar?"
"What do I like about the J Bar?" he repeats as two fine mamas saunter by. "You mean other than what just walked past us?"
"Dumb question, I know."
"I tend to come to the same establishments over and over," Blankenship confesses. "We had dinner at Fleming's, then figured we'd have a drink or two at the J Bar. It was better earlier. Now there seems to be an influx of dudes. There were more girls before, but I'm on a date so I don't really care."
I don't argue, though to me, there appear to be plenty of hot, high-class bitches around. Right now, it's about 50-50, XX to XY. A well-heeled, attractive scene, though a little more mature than I'd expected -- late 20s to late 30s. Still, it's all good. Blankenship and I chat a bit more before he rescues his gal from Jett's grip, and they continue on their night out. Like Dao and Blankenship, people seem to be club hopping, and the J Bar's just a way station to other venues. By 12:30 a.m., it's like someone flipped a switch, and about 60 percent of the crowd vamooses for parts unknown.
Outside on the patio, there are gaggles of chickees here and there. We espy a trio over by the fireplace, Melissa, Annie and Priscilla, who seem to be enjoying their bevvies. They're a frisky lot, tumbling all over each other, and Jett's lovin' them. Melissa owns up to being a schoolteacher in Chandler, though she's from New Joisey, originally.
"Oooh, a hot schoolteacher!" exclaims the Jettster. "You're not going to be one of those who seduces her students?"
"No, no," she says, shaking her head. "I love my job. I teach first grade."
"Yeah, first grade is a little young; you gotta start teaching high school for that," squawks my salacious sidekick to Melissa's denials. "Anyone ever tell you that you've got a nice ass?"
"I'm very lucky that way," she agrees, checking herself out. "I don't have to work for it."
I can tell the switch-hittin' Jennifer Esposito is about to pounce on her prey, so I pull her off, toward a cluster of studs for a change: Ryan, Shaawb and Jason -- a Web designer, a lawyer and a Realtor, respectively.
"You fellas getting any digits this evening?" I query.
"I don't fuck around with numbers," says cocky Ryan. "I go straight for the kill."
"What do you do, bang 'em in the bathroom?" asks Jett, ever the smart-ass.
"If they're not in the car by two in the morning, they're out," responds Ryan. "No callbacks. We're not really on a mission here. We're just out having fun."
"Why the J Bar?" I inquire.
"It's got a good atmosphere. It's relaxed, not a keg party. And no Mexicans . . .
"I'm just kiddin'," he chuckles.
"My girlfriend's Mexican," explains Shaawb. "He's pullin' my leg."
I turn around and see that Jett's flirting with this Korean chick with great gams named Mindi, so I decide to hit the head. Inside, I see a couple of dudes in one stall and hear some nasal action going on. I spot one fella we were chatting with before, whom I've left out of this column for obvious reasons.
"Hey, New Timesguy," he says to me. "Wanna bump?"
When in Rome, eh? Afterward, I step back outside, slightly buzzed, hoping there are no telltale signs. Jett's now on a couch, talking with this guy in a tux with curly black hair. (I don't see the Korean girl anywhere.) Says he's a Master of Architecture student at Taliesin West's Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and just came from an exclusive black-tie event there. I miss his name, but we'll call him Mr. Architecture.
"I'm working on this club as a design called Sexus," Mr. Architecture explains. "Think of it as smooth, sleek and sexy. It'll be a music venue, art gallery, restaurant and lounge, as well as assembly rooms for business meetings, which can be turned into private party rooms at night. It's going to be in downtown Scottsdale, or that's the idea, at least."
"Yes, I've ordered that book. I'm very interested in reading it. I should state that Sexus is not going to be a strip club. I've never even been to a strip club. It's just going to be a very sexy place."
"What's a nexus?" pipes in the J-unit.
I pat her on the head. "My dear Jett, wait 'til we get back to the car. Then I'll drop trou, bend over, and show you the biggest nexus you've ever seen."