I'm at home splashing on some Pierre Cardin musk, preparing to step out and get skunked at the illustrious Bikini Lounge on Grand Avenue, when the celly beeps to the tune of Too Short's "Shake that Monkey." Of course, it's that lezzie lady-pimp of renown, my partner in nighttime inebriation, the J-girl herself. Sounds like she's about to fly through the phone and wrap her digits around my chubby neck.
"Kreme, where the fuck are you, bubble butt?!" Jett practically screams over the din of drunken horniness around her. "I'm here at Bikini with my girls. We've been here for almost 10 whole minutes. Isabelle's 'bout to pitch a fit." Ah, the gorgeous Isabelle, she of the bedroom eyes and honeyed tresses! The queen of Jett's lezbo harem.
"That long, eh?" Channeling Barry White, I add, "Tell Izzy I'm worth the weight."
"Just get your fat, Ruben Studdard-rump out here before I have to hunt you down and put my foot in it!" she screams, hanging up on me.
Unperturbed, I ease into my dark glasses, my purple gators and my supa-fly red-velvet sports coat, and hustle on over to Bikini, which tonight, as on all First Fridays is filled with hipsters, weirdos, geeks, artists, musicians and just about every variety of humanity under the moon of Satan.
Bikini is your typical old-school Tiki joint with bamboo, colored lights, and portraits of grass-skirted island wenches. The watering hole hasn't changed since 1947, according to co-owner, Mary O'Malley-Fimbres, a Phoenix native who jokes that she's "Irish by birth, Spanish by injection." Mary and business partner Richard Gordon bought the Bukowski-esque bar two years ago, after she retired from 27 years with Phoenix's finest as a CSI investigator.
On most nights, Bikini's a neighborhood hang right out of that Steve Buscemi flick Trees Lounge: hardcore elbow-benders from the Oasis Hotel across the street stop by for a liquid breakfast, lunch and/or dinner; locals come in to watch Monday night football in season or shoot some stick on the one pool table. But on First Fridays, the place turns into a beer-guzzlin' free-for-all with art-students, businessmen, Tempe hotties, and escapees from Snottsdale squeezing into the taproom post-art walk to imbibe as many $3 pitchers as they can before 1 a.m.
Mary's the jovial, middle-aged den-mom for this romper-room of dipsos. You'd never guess to look at her that she used to crack the rigor mortis in corpses to get their prints for PHX homicide dicks.
When I arrive, the herd's four deep at the bar. I see Mary's black bouffant hairdo bobbing here and there as she serves 'em up. I don't spot Jett & Co. Try hitting them on the cel, but the place is so loud that I can't hear. Passing through, the press of flesh forces me to rub up on this dorkus who's trying to make time with some blonde bimbette. Se--or Shmegma looks over his shoulder at me, sneering, "Why don't you decide where you're going and stay there, chump?"
"Because my cock feels so nice up against your ass," I smile, giving him a little homo-hump for emphasis. Normally, this would get a fist cocked at my face, but the chick starts laughing, thus checking his punch.
"Very funny," he says.
I move on before things turn ugly. Beside the women's room, leaning against a tall table and making love to a pitcher of Bud is my pal Mark Cady, guitarist for the P-town-based Industrial-Goth group Second Skin (www.secondskin.net). With his spiked hair and black leather jacket, he looks like a young John Doe of X-fame, which wouldn't be too hard these days. How old is Doe now, like 105?
"They tell me this is a good place to meet women," I comment, glancing at the sign on the door.
"It is actually," Cady grins. "Especially if they, uh, run out of supplies."
"Dude, are you here, like, every First Friday?"
"Yeah," he says wistfully. "I wish every night were First Friday. I like the sardine effect. What's your excuse?"
"I'm looking for a lesbian," I answer.
"Two's better than one, I think," he says, lech-like.
"How Ôbout five!" Jett says, popping me in the head. I turn around and eyeball the Valley's own Gina Gershon, her entourage of rug-munchettes in tow. There's Terri, Rose, Alex, and best of all, Isabelle. Jett whispers into my ear: "We've got to find a booth, every scumbag in this joint is hitting on Iz."
"That's been known to happen in straight bars, guys hitting on girls," I say.
Jett lets loose an anguished howl and drags us toward the booths in the back, all of which are occupied. Isabelle finds an opening in one and grabs it, only to have to give it up when Jett and I strike up a confab with its occupants and need to interview them. I accidentally sit on Izzy's coat, which she tugs out from under me and sniffs.
"Eeeew. Kreme, don't you ever douche?"
"Hmmm, maybe next time I should try a less musky cologne. Do they still make Hi Karate?"
She stomps off as Jett and I begin quizzing our new friends, Angie Montgomery, Rachel Robless and Tabitha Bell. A cute punker-gal with short fair hair in a sleeveless black Tee, Tabitha does most of the yacking for her group. Angie's an artist, Rachel an interior designer and Tabitha, well, Tabitha has sort of a cool, Melissa Joan Hart thing goin' on. For bucks, she works at the Marquee Theater, and gets to see all the shows for free.
"My favorite was Lou Reed," she tells us. "I've wanted to see him forever."
"Did you ask him if he needed any band-aids?" I query.
"Nah," she snorts. "I didn't like him that much."
"What's your tattoo?" Asks Jett, looking at Tabitha's arm.
"A Japanese angel. She's half phoenix, half-woman. On my back, I have a phoenix rising. I'm interested in that concept of the phoenix and rebirth," she explains.
This is too deep for me: "And let me guess, you're from . . ."
"Phoenix -- how amazing is that?!"
"Eerie," I say. "Like an X-Files episode."
"How about you?" she queries Jett. "Do you work for New Times, too?"
"Yeah, it's even hard for us to believe, sometimes," I quip.
Jett kicks me in the shin. Ow! Now Iz is back with us, her hand cupped over Jett's ear, telling her something. Jett stands up. "That's it, we're going! These guys can't leave Isabelle alone," she says, making for the door. "Some creepy dude actually just asked for her number!"
Horror of horrors! "Straight guys trying to pick up a hot chick in a hetero bar. What a concept! It would be a waste, but Iz could put on about 50 pounds and sport a mullet . . ."
Jett's not interested in my theories on false advertising.
I rise, apologizing to Tabitha and the others, "You'll have to forgive them. They're, uh, non-meat eaters."
By the time I get to the end of the bar nearest the door, the lezbos-a-go-go have a-gone-gone. Mark's made his way to this end, and he's hanging with Dustin Biggs, a Matthew Modine-lookalike who designs computer chips for his dolo, and Biggs' boss, Harry McCaleb, wearing dreds and a red shirt with a flaming napster logo on it. McCaleb's pretty lit and is making eyes at these two girls near the juke box wearing skimpy outfits and pink boas.
"Right now, those two chicks are trying to decide what to say to me."
"Yeah, Beavis," I smirk. "Like, ÔCan we party in your hot tub, stud?' Not!"
"I actually have a hot tub. But I don't want a girl who wants me for material things. I want her to want me for me," he slurs, staring at the broads in front of us.
"You mean you want them to want you for hot, nasty sex," says Biggs.
"No, no," he says, almost tearfully. "I'm suh-seriousssssussusss."
Ah, the lovelorn. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, there's a mass exodus. It's almost last call, but this is ridiculous! Then it hits us: the funk. Someone's dropped a stink bomb in the back. Despite the stench, none of us abandon our beers.
"Man, that's rank," says McCaleb. "Smells like ass."
"Like warm garbage, and ass," I say. I feel myself regressing to that Neanderthal stage all het guys get to when they hang out with each other for too long. Women are, on the whole, a civilizing influence.
I ease away from the sausage party and over to two dime-pieces standing by the door, waiting for the funk to dissipate: Jennifer Turner, 27, a cute brunette with short hair who looks like she should be in that group Sleater-Kinney, and Maria Larson, 26, a blonde with long hair who's a WASP version of platinum Latina lovely, Isabelle.
"Are you a rock 'n' roller?" I ask the brunette. "You look like you should be in a band."
"I'm going to really disappoint you," she says. "I teach government and history. Grades 9-12."
I comment to Isabelle-lite. "You don't look like you're in a band."
"I'm not," answers Maria. "I'm in law-school at ASU."
"ASU has a law school? You sure about that?"
She's incredulous at my incredulity, "I'm taking constitutional law right now!"
"You ladies here to pick up guys?"
"Art," says the teacher, swigging a Corona. "We came to see the art next door, and came in here for a drink."
Straight women . . .. Sad thing is, they're probably telling the truth.
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They roll their eyes at me as I exit. But before I do, I bump into Paul Moreno, who tells me he's here to rub up on "something nice" tonight. His black ponytail is longer than Martin Lawrence's rap sheet.
"I mean, you can't not get close to some gorgeous girls," he lets on, grinning. "There are so many fine asses jiggling about in here.
"I'm in retail," he adds. "Oh, and I used to smoke a lot of crack. But I gave it up for Lent. No more drugs. Just full on drinking. Love the drinking, the action."
I stumble back to my Big Wheel, past artists spilling out of galleries, girls and guys making out in the alleyways, and one seven-foot homeless dude, completely fried, telling this petite artist chick he loves her very much. "Hey, I love you too, big fella," he yells to me as I scoot past. How could he not? It's First Friday outside the Bikini.