By Ray Stern
By New Times
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By Stephen Lemons
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By Chris Parker
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Tricky T's on the tables at Camus this Sunday, dropping tracks as diverse as Damian Marley, Devo, Nine Inch Nails, and old-school Michael Jackson, while mixologist extraordinaire Carson Quinn prepares another one of his amaretto-infused Carson City Martinis for your 300-pound Paul Wall of the PHX. Yep, it's the Lord's day, or His eve, to be precise, and this plus-size People's Champ is being fitted for a suit of light inebriation, which, because of my tolerance levels, could still be several libations away.
My sometimes Sapphic sidekick is late, as usual, but I don't care, as there's a Wells Fargo full of dimes to ogle in here, and plenty of chill cats with whom to jawbone. My man DJ Al Page of The Shop at Hidden House is nearby, and that talented fashionista Tiffe Fermaint is living La Vida Bonita on one of the bar/restaurant's red banquettes, a hunky male on each arm. There's designer Emilie Uriarte of Arte Puro, chatting with some lucky stick-bandit, and her occasional model Carolina, one of the most alluring femmes in Phoenix, is on the other side of the room, an awestruck admirer in tow.
Carson's fetching wife, Farah Camus' pastry chef makes an appearance with a pal on vacay from NYC, and sharing a table with promoter/DJ Joe DiPadova is my old buddy Pete Deyo, one of the PHX's finest preparers of foodstuffs, formerly of The Table and the Welcome Diner. Soon they'll be noshing snacks prepared by another of the city's most creative culinary maestros, Camus executive chef Cullen Campbell, the dude I'll always remember for that killer bread pudding he made once out of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I still have diabetic dreams about that one. Among the small plates Campbell has on offer are the truffled egg, sunny side up on toasted brioche with duck prosciutto, and a wicked PB&J: that is, pistachiobutter and vanilla strawberry jam, also on toasted brioche, with everything made in-house by the master's hand. I'm telling you, that PB&J's so effin' scarfalicious that I'd eat the damned thing off the men's-room floor of an Exxon station with a side of urinal cake, if need be.
All of these elements, the food, the drink, the vibe and the DJ, conspire to draw out the creative types on a night when most people are at home, parked in front of the boob tube in their underwear, a cold brew in one hand and the A/C on blast. This is Pink Sunday, a night thunk up by promoters Ali and Bigie (he spells it with one "g") of MeanMugg entertainment. The event jumped off about six months ago, and has built a regular clientele of those in the fashion, restaurant, music and nightlife industries, offering drink specials, no cover, and a rotating list of DJs. And despite the fact that most folks need to rise in the A.M. for the Monday-mornin' drill, Pink Sunday is often a swirl of activity right up until closing.
"It's basically an industry night where we showcase local DJs," Ali explains as Carson sets another glass of amaretto-flavored liquid crack before me. "It's more about mingling, with not too much dancing. Always fresh, not grimy. A little more clean-cut, but with the younger, downtown artsy crowd in mind."
Ali's a hella-suave sophisticate and man about town who never wears the same pair of kicks more than twice. His pal Bigie is as big as me, lookin' sharp tonight in a green-plaid chapeau, a gregarious gent with a hip-hop bent.
"A lot of people know me, and I know a lot of people," Bigie relates. "That's why this night was perfect for us. I was like, all we have to do is make a whole lot of phone calls, and they're gonna come."
What I like about it is that you can show up at Pink Sunday and hear fly DJs in an intimate setting, like DJ Tranzit, Tricky T, Lady Gizmo, Mamastrosity, KGB, and others. And you're just as likely to bump into a DJ taking a breather for the night, like the aforementioned Al Page, or even the legendary Sean Badger, a.k.a. Senbad of Batucada fame which we hear is now at The Biz on a weekly basis, as Batucada Saturdays.
Still, the networking's laid-back, and most people in attendance would likely agree with that devilish P-town design maven Desiato, when he calls Pink Sunday his "nightcap for the weekend." Pink Sunday's the place to go when you don't want to finish the party you started on Friday, but don't wanna blowout, either, allowing you to prolong the high for a few more hours before you finally have to come down off that mare and put her up wet.
"Belvedere and tonic, Kreme, with a lime," orders the Jettster, appearing out of nowhere, without even bothering to acknowledge how tardy her pretty tush is. "What sort of food do they have here? I'm starving."
"You know, kiddo, sometimes I'd swear you actually work for me," I tell her as she studies a bar menu.
"Oooh, French dip looks good, maybe with some garlic Asiago pommes frites," she reads, oblivious to my observation. "Do me a flavor and order it for me, Kreme, while I go potty. I drove all the way here from Scottsdale."
"Sure, go right ahead," I tell her. "Have fun in the bog, and, uh, think of me."
"Ugh, you're so disgusting," she huffs, flitting off toward the loo. I order her drink, but no grub, nada. The price of arm candy is set not to exceed my modest Inferno expense account, you see. And plus, she could stand to shave five pounds off her hips, curvaceous though they may be.
Nighthawk Joe DiPadova gets in where he fits in, right next to me at the bar, and we chop it up about what Joe's got going on. He explains that his Straight No Chaser event, which used to be at The Loft in Tempe on a weekly basis, will soon be at Homme on Camelback Road, just west of Central Avenue.
"It'll be on Friday nights," Joe explains. "We're billing it as 'Straight No Chaser Presents: One.' The first 'One' will be on August 18."
"And what can the people expect, señor?" I inquire.
"Well, Homme has two floors," he informs me. "Downstairs will be all about dancing: deep house, Afro-beat, nu jazz, brokenbeat, Paradise Garage classics. Upstairs will be down-tempo, slow disco and all kinds of creative music. We're bringing in a big sound system for it, so people can really feel the music."
"Sounds dope," I note. "But isn't Homme a gay club?"
"Primarily, but everyone's made to feel welcome, which is what I dig about the place," asserts Joe. "That's kind of what I'm trying to address with the name 'One.' It's an attempt to unify, and bring together the gay and straight crowds, which have been on different paths musically for a while now."
"Here comes the living embodiment of just that sentiment," I state as the bisexual Cassie crosses on over to us. "In Jett you find the lez and the het fused together into one femme fatale."
Jett grabs her bevvy and looks around: "So, where's my food, Kreme?"
"On its way, my dear," I reply, handing her the digital camera. "As soon as you snap a few pics, in fact."
"You better not eat my French dip when it comes, Fat Boy," she warns, snatching the camera. "Or I'll bitch-slap you black-and-blue."
"Promises, promises," I say, as she begins her paparazzi shtick. During this exchange, Joe began chatting up some dark-haired shawty sitting nearby, so I meditate with the remainder of my martini until I spy my favorite anarchist Joey G. over to one side, sippin' on a Kronenbourg and lookin' right demented in his blue-tinted aviators. So I amble on over to his side of the waterin' hole.
Joey's the philosopher in chief of this clothing company-cum-anarchist collective called Mob Action. He's also the author of the fularious (fucking hilarious, yo) and thought-provoking tome Traveling America Broke: The Life and Crimes of Joey Grether, sort of a modern-day, real-life On the Road meets Road Trip, with Joey in the combined role of Sal Paradise/Kerouac, with a touch of Tom Green thrown in for good measure. This P-town Peter Kropotkin heads up the weekly Anarchist Library Monday night at the Counter Culture Cafe, with readings, films and discussions. And sometimes he hosts CCC's Wednesday open mic event, Speak Up. According to Joey, Speak Up can get pretty hairy once in a while.
"We get a good crowd for it sometimes," says Joey. "A coupla weeks back, this guy Manifest hosted it, he pissed a lot of people off and it started to get confrontational in there."
"Really?" I wonder aloud. "Throw-downs in a coffee shop?"
"Yeah, Manifest is kind of a control freak," Joey tells me. "They had to hold the barista back from swinging on him."
"Nutty," say I.
"We even had a knife pulled at one of the Speak Ups last year," claims Joey. "Some dude gets up there and gets aggressive, then he grabbed a girl's ass. Then some dudes confronted him, one pulled a knife, and he hit the dude holding the knife. Of course, that kinda stuff doesn't happen there usually."
"Damn, and all that without alcohol?" I ask rhetorically as Jett returns to the bar.
"Here are some pics, Big Daddy," she announces, handing me the camera. "Now where's my grub?"
"Um, sorry, we didn't get the order in on time," I lie. "They stop serving at 1 a.m."
"This car doesn't run on empty, Sir Kreme-a-Lot," she spits. "I get ill if I don't have something to munch on."
"Hey, whatdya want me to do about it?" I shrug.
"Carve off a hunk of that flab of yours and fry it up," she tells me. "Maybe I can make a BLT out of you. You know, blubber, lettuce and tomato."