A plush, blue-lit chapel of sin, with a black square bar for an altar: That's Scottsdale's Next on the inside. Slanted wood beams give the illusion of a church's peaked ceiling. Arty pics of nude chicks line the walls, and equally hot waitresses keep the booze flowing like the Colorado River.
It's Wednesday night, Batucada night, and that means P-town's high priests of house, Pete "Supermix" Salaz and DJ Senbad are spinning tables and dropping science on their congregation of club cuties, house heads, and b-boys, most of whom seem to be dancing with themselves. Here in the mix, of course, is your beloved Jabba the Butt (that be me), and the Zona's own Queen of Home Team Play, the Sapphic Selma Blair, a.k.a. Jett.
"Damn," I say, checkin' the capacity crowd. "If this is hump-night, imagine if Batucada was on Fridays."
"It's because of Salaz and Senbad," replies the Jettster, ready to bitch-slap the evening. "They are Batucada, and people come from all over to party with them, playboy."
"I hear ya. Let's step outside and conversate with folks as they take a break. It's too live in here to do anything but get your swerve on."
Out on Next's postage stamp-sized patio, we run into two striking lovelies, the first being Azure Jones, 26, a tall beauty with skin the color of a caf-latte and a short afro with blond highlights. Beside her is her girl Chrissy Lopez, 22, an adorable lass with brown locks past her bared shoulders. Lopez is in a beige halter, and Jones is rockin' an off-the-shoulder blouse with a pink floral pattern.
"Why are you gals here tonight?" I ask, innocently.
"I'm a huge fan of house music," explains Azure. "And I'm an especially big fan of the DJs, particularly Senbad."
"Azure is Senbad's girlfriend and life-partner," says Jett, who knows Azure from way back. "She's really into big guys, Kreme. Like Senbad."
"I certainly am," says Azure, noting my obvious excitement. "But I'm taken."
"That's what they always tell me," I sigh. "So when you're not out supporting your man, what do you do to maintain?"
"I'm a massage therapist," says the alluring Azure. "I have my own clients, but I also work out of the Sanctuary resort."
"Ever have a client you'd rather not touch, no matter what the chedda?" inquires Jett.
"Well, really hairy men do bother me," she responds.
"Like hair on the back?" asks the J-grrl, all grossed out. Azure nods her head.
"What about hairy man-teats?" I ask in half-jest. "Assuming you do fronts."
Jett slugs my shoulder like Iron Mike on 'roids. "Kreme, be nice!"
"Ow! Sorry, Azure -- just joshing," I say. "Sanctuary's a swank spot. Ever rub down anyone famous?"
"Oh, sure," she replies. "Robin Williams, and Britney Spears."
"Wait a sec, you got to rub down Britney? You mean, you saw her nekkid?" I ask.
"Only as much as you do with the outfits she wears," says Azure slyly. "I really shouldn't elaborate further."
"How 'bout you, Chrissy? What's your story?" Jett asks.
"I'm a stylist at Sachi right down the road here," she tells us, beaming a set of pearly whites that'd put Maria Sharapova to shame.
"So what's big in hair now?" I wonder. "Bangs? I see bangs everywhere."
"It depends on your facial structure," says Chrissy.
I strike a profile. "Would bangs work for me?"
"Uh, I think short works for you," she says, taking in my globe-like puss. "But most guys in Scottsdale like the metrosexual look. About 80 percent of guys who live here are metrosexual. They look gay, but they aren't. A lot of guys get pedicures and get waxed."
"But would you want to date a guy who's prettier than you?" asks Jett.
"I would," says Chrissy. "I've dated guys like that."
About this time, Azure excuses herself, and this fella named Cadre Hanson, 23, takes her place. He's got on a sharp, striped shirt, has dark, spiked hair, and is "sweating balls," having just come from the dance floor. Cadre tells us that Chrissy does his hair. He's also a massage therapist, and a valet at the Phoenician.
"I don't like to brag, but all my clients would marry me if I popped the question," bubbles Chrissy. "I'll show you: Cadre, if I proposed to you while you're in the chair, would you marry me?"
Cadre smiles, "No."
"Ouch!" yells Jett. "That's cold."
"I don't just marry anyone," shrugs the stud muffin. Chrissy sinks back, a little disappointed. I change the subject, though I figure Cadre must be loco (or have a girlfriend nearby). Chrissy's a babe!
"So, Cadre, what do you think of that term 'metrosexual'?"
"I don't like that word," he shakes his head. "It's like borderline swish, for me."
"I'm with you, mon," I say, patting him on the back. "It's too fruity for a straight dude. Don't want anybody calling me that."
"Kreme, you'd be lucky if anyone used your name and 'sexual' in the same sentence," says Jett.
"True dat," I spit. "Hey, I wanna talk to that chick with the big-ass hair over there."
We scoot over to the other side of the patio where Jessica Chavez, 22, and Reagan Rose, 26, are chillin' like villains. Reagan's got her locks pulled back and has on a white shirt open at the neck with stone-washed jeans. But it's Chavez who stands out with a head of bushy black hair, a pierced lower lip and a black tee, all of which make her look like she's in a band. And at Next, looks don't lie, folks.
"I'm visiting from Vegas," says Chavez, who's part Asian. "I work as a barback in the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. But I also got my own band goin' on. It's called Never Enough. We're gonna start playing everywhere this summer. We've been practicing for a year, and we're really ready to show everybody what's up."
"I'm feelin' that name," I tell her. "What kind of music is it?"
"I'd say it's alternative-slash-rock-slash-punk, kind of a mix of everything. I play lead guitar and do lead vocals. We've mostly been doing open mic nights, but we're primed for bigger things."
"Yeah, I can see you stage-diving into the crowd," I say, raising my glass. "Here's hoping you blow up."
Jett nudges me from behind and jerks her head toward the inside. "Let's go talk to Senbad, yo, before it gets too late."
I follow my lipsticker pal into the blue light, nearly tripping over the various break dancers cleaning the floor with their backs. Off to one corner, awaiting us, is DJ Senbad, a big fella with a short grizzled beard and glasses, sporting a blue tee emblazoned with the word "Phunknfusion." Seems like a very kick back guy, not at all like one of the most talented spinmeisters in the PHX, who can make up to three or four turntables hop at once, if need be.
"Break it down for us, Senbad. What does Batucada mean?" I ask.
"Batucada is a Brazilian word that describes festival music down there," explains Senbad. "Like during Carnaval, all the drum bands that march with the dancers, those are batucada bands. For our purposes, we wanted a word that describes what we play -- really percussive, Latin house, along with deep house."
"Hey, Kreme, you know Senbad loves Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles," interrupts Jett, who's pals with the wax wizard. "He's from the South too."
"Louisville, Kentucky," smiles Senbad. "Where are you from?"
"Mayberry, NC," I tell him. "Actually, Raleigh, but that's the same thing. I dig Lo-Lo's too, but I'm loyal to Stacy's on Jefferson. I admire your lady, by the way."
"I appreciate that," he says.
"Senbad is also really good at goin' downtown, if you know what I mean," smiles Jett. "Or so I know from his reputation."
"Yes, I will go on record with that," says Senbad. "We should sit down and compare notes one day, Jett."
"In general, I think us big guys have a lock on that particular activity," I grin.
"Yeah, it's an oral fixation," says Senbad.
"I see," says Jett. "You like food, and the squishy stuff."
"Is Pete Salaz a big man, too?" I ask Senbad of his partner, who's been on point while Senbad does the interview.
"Yeah, I like to refer to Pete and I as the Ôfat underground,'" he says. "We give guest DJ's a hard time if they're too skinny. One more question 'cause I've got to get back to it."
"Why the name Senbad?" I query.
"It's a combination of my first and last names -- Sean Badger," he replies. "Plus it used to be my login way back in '94, the first time I ever signed on to an Internet account."
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So now you know. And with that, Senbad bids us adieu so he can go relieve his bro in the DJ booth. Jett and I head back to the bar for more libations, and there we bump into Ryan Keller, a self-described house head from Chi-town. Cooler than Kanye, Keller's a tall guy with a huge fro and a Van Dyke beard. Tells us he moved down to AZ because he got drafted by the Cardinals, but tore a ligament and moved on to entertainment and real estate.
"I have my own entertainment company called Live Nights Entertainment," Ryan relates. "We do parties in Chicago, Philadelphia and DC. We also do Tuesday nights here at Next, and Thursday nights at Six. Right now we're planning a big white linen party. It'll be here around the beginning of August. You'll have to be dressed in all white to get in, and the whole club's gonna be in white. We're trying to bring a little flavor to this area. White linen parties are really big in other cities during the summer."
"We'd love to attend, Ry," I say. "I look really fly in my white suit."
"Yeah, he looks like Big Pun's ghost," laughs Jett. "Or Chris Farley's -- whoever's bigger."