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Lounge Addicts

I'm perched on a stool at The Merc Bar, a bucket of vodka-Red Bull before me, with the superstylin' sounds of Britain's Groove Armada pulsing through the stereo, and -- if I get any more relaxed -- Mary-Kate Olsen's bony butt could knock me over by bumping into me.

Jett's seated next to me, sipping an Absolut Mandarin on the rocks, scoping all the eye candy on display at this suave, P-town lounge, where the hip and the beautiful congregate, conversate and hook up. It's a meat market, but one that peddles only filet mignon. Ya smell me?

Drop-dead dime pieces in backless black dresses nurse pink martinis, while GQ-gorgeous guys enjoy their Belvedere vodkas straight-up. Everything is dimly lighted and swank, with low chairs, couches and ottomans where clusters of Coolios kick it.

The name ain't for the Mercedes of the dude who owns the joint. It's short for Mercer Street in Manhattan, site of the first Merc Bar, of which the PHX version is a spin-off. Gives that phrase "the jerk in The Merc" a whole new meaning.

I'm requesting another round for myself and the L-word Kimora Lee Simmons when two supermodel types saddle up beside us and order French martinis, frou-frou concoctions of Ketel One, Chambord and pineapple juice. Like the song, these gals are ebony and ivory, and each thin enough to give their boyfriends paper cuts. The ebony one has laryngitis and so declines an interview. But the ivory lass, she of the dark, hennaed hair, is up for a little confabulation. Her name's Andrea Gregg, big sis of Monika Gregg, executive editor of Switch magazine.

"I turn 27 on Tuesday," explains the looker, dressed in a slinky purple number that leaves her pale shoulders bare. "This is sort of a pre-celebration."

"Do you have to work on your birthday?" I wonder, thinking that would explain a pre-b-day outing.

"Oh, noooo," she answers, somewhat amused. "I don't work."

"How do you swing that? You're not one of the Hiltons, are you?"

"Unfortunately, no. My family's not really prominent. I'm more the prominent one, though no one knows who I am. What I do for a living is live!" she says with an aristocratic toss of her mane. "I travel. I've been traveling for four years now. Hawaii, Alaska, Europe. This year I'm going back to Europe. I'll be living in Amsterdam for five years, and then Germany for life."

"Germany for life? Sounds like a pretty harsh sentence," I kid. "Amsterdam, though, is another matter. That's where you get the good ganja, and it's all legit."

"I don't like staying in one place for too long, but Germany is my favorite place," she says, oblivious to my ganja reference. "It's also my heritage, as I'm half-German, half-Irish."

"I must admit, they've got great sausages, the Krauts. And beer."

Countess Gregg chuckles, "Depends on what kind of sausages you're talking about."

"Are German men hung like NBA stars?"

"They are, actually," smiles the Countess, slyly. "Not that I discriminate."

"But they tend to be allergic to soap, eh? They like that natural scent."

The Countess was ready to object when she of the lipsticker tendencies elbowed me in my flabby side. "Check out the babe-a-licious one I'm rapping with," she whispers. "She's married, but at least we get to look."

Of course, Jett's gravitated to the most gorgeous piece of eye candy in the place, Farah Quinn, 24, who's from Indonesia, and has short, black hair and caramel-colored skin. Cute and curvaceous, she's wearing a long, slit skirt and matching FCUK purse and top. Come to find out, she's newly married to Carson Quinn, The Merc Bar's assistant manager, and one of the mightiest Sir Mix-a-Lots in the drink-slingin' game. Certainly one of the most attractive, as the tall, blonde Quinn resembles a better-looking Colin Wilson. As we're chatting up his woman, he slides up next to her.

"You and Carson need to make a baby," says the Jettster, going all Oprah on me. "That baby would be sooo beautiful."

"Thank you, but we're only married a year and a half," she says in her exotic Indonesian lilt. "I would like one of each, boy and girl."

"How did you two meet?" asks the J-grrl.

"Farah came in the bar and was asking for another bartender," says chick-magnet Carson, who's dressed like that dood Farnsworth Bentley from the OutKast videos, in a long-sleeve pink shirt, pink belt and striped gray dress pants. "When I saw her, I was instantly smitten. It was like she had lights shooting out from her hair. I knew she was the one."

"You're a lucky fella," says Jett.

 

"And a nervous fella. Her parents are coming to visit from Indonesia. They're Muslim, and I'm a bartender!"

"And not just any bartender," Jett tells me, as she knows the couple from previous outings. "He's actually invented drinks. Like the South Beach martini, and the Carson City martini."

"You are so busted," I tell him. "Allah's gonna kick your ass."

"Hey, don't rub it in," he says sheepishly. "I feel bad enough as it is."

"Just charm the mom, and you're in," says Jett. "You know from your job that it's all about the women."

"That's true," he concedes. "At least at The Merc Bar, it's all about the women. The men are just here to pay for the drinks."

"Tell me about it," I grouse. "Who do you think picks up the tab for everything Tara Reid here gulps down?"

Jett grinds her lovely heel into my big toe and pulls me away from Carson and Farah, P.O.'d that I'd embarrassed her alkie ass. We then bump into Edward Cota, a handsome fella in a white shirt, silvery silk tie, and black suit jacket --very Rat Pack. He's president of a venture capital/political consulting firm called the CK Consulting Group, and he explains that he just got out of a Democratic fund-raising-type event at the Arizona Biltmore.

"I was there on behalf of one of my candidates," relates the 20-something powerbroker. "Don Harris. He's running for Maricopa County Attorney as a Democrat."

"Very cool," I say. "Did you see that Fahrenheit 9/11 flick?"

"Awesome film!" he answers. "The truth will set you free."

"Yeah, unless you're Martha Stewart," cracks Jett. "So why are you here tonight?"

"The Merc Bar is a great place to be seen and to meet people," he shrugs, taking a quick swig of his Jack and Coke. "They've got great drinks, and it's a nice, clean environment if you wanna have a good time and relax."

"Not too clean, I hope," says Jett. "I'm still lookin' to score tonight."

I shake my head. "Sorry, Ed. This gal's got a one-track mind."

"And right now, the track is leading me to that lesbian foursome over there," she says, gazing over to one corner. "Come on!"

We head over to where four lovelies are seated on couches and chairs, close to each other, but, unfortunately for Jett, both pairs are in committed relationships. Seems they've all come from the same event as Cota. One is Devin Rankin, deputy finance director of the Arizona Democratic Party. She's a blonde gal with glasses who's holding hands with her date, a brunette named Jennifer Schiltz, a software developer. Both are late-20-to-early-30-somethings.

"I dig your Kerry button," I tell Rankin. "What do the polls have Bush and Kerry at in AZ, 50-50?"

"It's ridiculously close," says Rankin. "You're going to see both Kerry and Bush out here on a regular basis for the rest of the campaign."

"There's nothing I like more than the idea of licking bush," says Jett, her tongue wagging.

"Some people think of Arizona as a conservative backwater, but you watch, we're gonna start winning a lot of races," says Rankin.

"I know, I just moved here six months ago, and I'm impressed how liberal people are in the PHX," I comment. "And of course, there's a big gay population, too."

Rankin nods. "We just elected an openly gay Native American up in a rural district in this state: Representative Jack Jackson Jr., the first openly gay Native American politician in the country!"

"And Phoenix has openly gay state senators, like Ken Cheuvront," I add. "And, of course, we have a gay governor."

"Kreme!" yells Jett. "We're not going to talk about that!"

"I think she's denied that, actually," says Rankin.

"It's really cool to have a gay guv, even if she's not out," I exclaim. "Though, I guess she is a bit of a mullet . . ."

The conversation doesn't last long, and Jett's furious with me.

"You really know how to stick your fat foot in it," she swears as we amble back to the bar.

"Sheesh, everyone's so sensitive in this town," I reply.

"Buy me another stiff one, Mr. Big Britches, so I can try to forget what a dork you are."

This I do, and soon we're partying with this handsome group of guys and gals; a couple of them are on break from waiting tables at the coolest restaurant in the AZ, Durant's. I fall madly in love with Julie Daniels, this tall beauty with short, pixie-ish black hair. She's wearing a slinky, ink-hued dress that could pass for her second skin. Though I've got no chance with a honey like this, Daniels takes pity on me and puts her arm around my shoulders.

 

"You know, you look just like one of my best friends from high school," she tells me.

"Was he a great lover?" I ask, blowing it for the umpteenth time this evening.

"Uh, I wouldn't know. We never got out of the friends-zone," she tells me.

Sigh . . . "That, and pissing off lesbians, seems to be the story of my life."


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