By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
There's a good reason Shady's is the chillest destination since the regal TT, where the J-unit and I last hung out about a year ago ("Roadhouse Rules," June 17, 2004): They boast the same papa bear, Brad Henrich, a tall, friendly cat whose rockabilly, London-punk-style TT is named for the deadly "Tourist Trophy" motorcycle race held each year on the Isle of Man, a self-governing island that sits in the Irish Sea between Ireland and England. Henrich bought and revamped Shady's as a unique sort of college fund for his newborn son. Outside, it looks like a little white house with green trim, its big sign featuring the well-known black-and-white logo from ska label Two-Tone Records.
Shady's insides are old-school cool, with dim lighting, a kelly-green-topped bar, wood paneling on the walls, a pool table you can rent for 50 cents a game, black-leather banquettes, deep sage chairs in front of a stone fireplace that Henrich has filled with lighted candles, and kitschy-swank knickknacks nailed here and there that Henrich's picked up at flea markets and such, giving the place a bachelor pad feel.
Everyone knows TT has one of the best jukeboxes in the Valley, and Shady's box is equally slammin'. Here Henrich, who carefully selects all the CDs his jukeboxes play, has opted for an eclectic mix that best reps that retro-lounge thing he's going for, everything from Dick Cheese, Johnny Cash, and Pizzicato Five to Wall of Voodoo, Bobby Darin, and Hot Chocolate. And on the TV? No sports, bro. Instead, it's Dean Martin in those old Matt Helm flicks, James Coburn in Our Man Flint, or Peter Sellers in any of the Pink Panther movies.
What about the name? Seems Henrich, who regularly travels to the Isle of Man for the road race and to visit pals, named it after one of his close friends from there, Ron "Uncle Shady" Speirs, a retired godfather of sorts for the English mob who shuffled off this mortal coil a couple of years ago. Near the back door hangs a photo of Uncle Shady with a dedication, and up on the bar is this huge English pound symbol paperweight that used to sit on Uncle Shady's desk.
"He was a bit like the character Brick Top in Snatch," explains Henrich. "He was like the guy who never did anything himself, but could get things done. The old guy whose word was law. See, the Isle of Man is its own country, like Australia or Canada. It's a tax haven and an offshore banking place. In the late '60s, Uncle Shady went to the Isle of Man to handle money laundering for the English mob. They're the ones who gave him the name Uncle Shady, and it stuck."
We thank Henrich for the history lesson and tour, and decide to order a drink. I snag a pint of my favorite brew, Stella Artois, which the place has on tap along with Newcastle, Guinness, and a few others. The J-girl cops a pint glass full of Bloody Mary. Shady's is fillin' up with hipsters and squalies on this Saturday night, and we're scopin' the crowd like Ted Bundy for victims.
"The bartender is cute," exclaims the Jettster, battin' her eyes at the poor bloke.
"Looks like Elvis Costello," I state.
"Never mind. We're here to chat up the crowd, dude, not the drink-slinger you wanna lay tonight."
"All right, Kreme," huffs my sidekick. "How 'bout that pair of girls over there? They're cute."
Indeed they are, so we hustle on over to where they're hangin'. One is a Fran Drescher look-alike named Danielle. Her bud Heather is a lass with straight, chestnut hair who's wearing a conversation-piece of a tee that reads "M Is for Milkshake."
"I'm feelin' that shirt," relates Jett, eyes glued to Heather's top. "Or, uh, I'd like to be feelin' it. So, what's your milkshake, girl?"
"That's my theme song," answers Heather.
"That theme song's a little musty," I comment. "Maybe you should change it up to something like 'Ain't No Hollaback Girl.'"
"Don't listen to that fool," spits Jett. "That tee is hot! But don't you get tired of guys asking to see your milkshake?"
"Or girls," I say, as Heather giggles for a reply. "You know, they're naming a new Mexican ice cream after Jett here. They're calling the flavor dulce de lech."
"Droll, very droll, Jabba the Butt," sneers the Jettster. "Are you two single?"
"I'm married -- three years now -- but she's single," says Danielle, Dairy Queen's pal. "We're here for a friend's B-day, actually."
"Married? My sympathies," cracks Jett. "So what's the secret to keeping all that monogamy from boring the crap out of you?"
"Role-play, different positions, that sort of thing," she replies. "Like he'll be Batman and I'll be Wonder Woman."
"And Kreme is Blubberman and I'm Foxxy Cleopatra," says the Jettster, as she rudely pulls me away from Heather and Danielle. "C'mon, I see some hotties over here we have to talk to."
Near the fireplace, kicked back in those deep chairs, are dimes Soraya and Evie, in town visiting from La-La Land. They live in Hollywood right now, attending FIDM, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Soraya's an exotic mix of Italian and Moroccan. Evie reminds me a little of Charlize Theron (and not in the film Monster), maybe even better looking.
"So do you guys hit the L.A. party scene a lot?" I ask Evie, who says she lives in Los Feliz.
"We hit it some," responds Evie. "Right now Basque is the hot club there."
"Ever see any celebs while you're out?"
"We went to Lindsay Lohan's party a couple of weeks back, and saw her in the bathroom."
"Was she doing something naughty?"
"I couldn't tell, but she was in the stall with a friend of hers for a long time," says Evie, eyes widening. "Oh, and I was at the party at Rick Solomon's place, where that girl hit Leo DiCaprio in the face with a beer bottle. We left literally just minutes before it happened. He had to get a dozen stitches."
"Nutty," I say. "That'd be a shame if it messed up pretty boy's face. Did you talk to him? Maybe exchange numbers?"
"We just talked. He seemed really messed up on something."
"I couldn't go, I had finals the next day," interjects Soraya, a little depressed over what she'd missed.
"Would you have made out with a drunken Leo if you'd had the opportunity?" asks Jett.
"Oh, I would've done so much more than made out! I would have been on my knees in a second!" cries Soraya.
Jett nudges me in the ribs, and asks me to grab her another Bloody Mary. Such are my duties as the man with the credit card. Or maybe she just wanted to get rid of me. As I'm at the bar waiting for the next round, Jett's encouraging Soraya to remove her top.
At the bar, I'm standing between this dude in a cowboy hat and a little Mexican fella barely as high as the bar. The Mexican guy says his name is Carlos, and judging by his heavy accent, I'd say he's a relatively recent arrival to the States. He watches all the lezzy action behind me furtively, drains his pint and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
"You must be a genius," he tells me. "How do you get all those women to do what you want?"
"They're doing what they want, hombre, but I admit it's fun to watch. I do have a secret, though." I look around, then bend down to his ear. "If you run with one hot bisexual chick, it's like bait -- others will follow."
"You're evil," smiles Carlos, who says he works at a nearby Chinese restaurant.
I ease back over to Her Majesty with her Bloody Mary, squeezing through the bodies. Shady's is not a huge place, and right now, there are so many peeps in here, I feel like I should be chargin' for lap dances.
Soraya and Evie have vamoosed, and Jett's chatting up this handsome couple, Tina and Jarom. For the record, they're platonic roommates. (The worst kind.) Jarom designs sexy clothes for his company, www.helterskelterclothing.com, and come to find out, many of his models are pals like Tina.
"He's got the coolest-ass clothing," Tina tells us. "Like, he's got this women's underwear, black with a vagina diagram on it. You have to see it."
"I've got a pair of those," says Jett. "Can I model for you guys?"
"Sure," responds Jarom. "We're coming out with a whole new line in a week or two."
"Yours is the job I want," Tina tells Jett, looking at her card. "Going out to clubs all the time and taking pictures. How do you get a job like that?"
"She had to sleep with me several times," I snort.
"Sort of like body-surfing a big ol' wave of Jell-O," Jett shoots back, scowling, as if in remembrance.