Meatmarket of Dreams
It's a hot, humpalicious night in the 'Zona, and yours truly's pounding down pistachio at the local Baskin-Robbins. Suddenly, a fembot frame darkens my dish.
"Knew I'd find you here," says the Jettster. "We have to work tonight, Porky. Besides, aren't you supposed to be on a diet?"
"Yeah, I've been trying -- unsuccessfully -- to lose 116 pounds of lesbian. Where you wanna go? Another skeezer bar?"
"Wednesday night is ladies' night at Myst in Scottsdale, fool," she spits. "Eat up, and let's roll. They've got more fly bitches there than in a Nelly video."
About 15 minutes later, we arrive at the labyrinthine Snottsdale club, previously known as Sanctuary (Skank-tuary to its detractors), but recently rechristened Myst. We do a quick tour of the environs: the dance floor with go-go dancers dressed in negligees; a large, swank billiards room with folks smokin' cee-gars; various lounge rooms with babes curling up against stud-muffins; and a big VIP section upstairs with skyboxes and more thick-necked security goons than at a Hollywood première. At the moment, the DJ is rockin' J-Kwon's "Tipsy."
We head for the huge, modernistic patio, where there's a bar, and plenty of couches and tables filled with the beautiful people of the 480. Straight up, we hit it off with two of the hottest shorties in eyesight, Renee Benefield, 23, and Kathleen Grigg, 26, both freelance belly dancers, which of course pushes Jett's libido into fifth gear.
"I work part-time in day care," says the petite Benefield, who has long, inky-black hair with barrettes and pale white skin. "I'm also an actress, and I belly-dance. Right now, I dance at this Middle Eastern restaurant named Sinbad in Tempe."
"Sounds like a lot to jiggle, uh, juggle," says Jett, her mental film projector whirring. "But I'd love to watch you dance."
"Thanks," says Benefield, so far unsuspecting of Jett's lipsticker tendencies. "Day care isn't what I really want to do, but it's okay. I do the belly-dancing for exercise and self-expression. And I'm going to be acting in an independent horror film this summer called The Darkness."
"I could see you half-naked and screaming," leers Jett. That's when I decide to interrupt before things get out of control.
"Uh, what she means is that you have the perfect look for a scream queen," I explain, jabbing Jett in the ribs. "Is it going to be shot around here? How did you find out about it?"
"It's going to be filmed in Arkansas, in the forest somewhere. I heard about it from an e-mail I got. I went in and auditioned, and then they called me back and told me I got the part."
"Arkansas, eh? Are you sure it's on the up and up?" I ask. "We don't want to read about you in the paper as missing in the Ozarks somewhere."
"I asked the filmmakers about that, and they said they're not high-budget enough for it to be a snuff film," she says, laughing. "They seemed pretty cool. It's gonna be a slasher movie -- in the woods, an unknown killer, with a little bit of the supernatural thrown in."
"Sounds kinda like The Blair Witch Project," I remark, "where those filmmakers get lost in the woods."
"Well, we're supposed to be staying in a hotel when we're not filming, but who knows what's going to happen. It's sort of exciting. It's my first real acting gig other than high school or local theater."
Jett turns to Benefield's friend, a long-legged brunette stunner. "Mmmm, you've gotta be an actress, too!?"
"No, but I'm a belly dancer also," she says, smiling. "I work in a Greek restaurant in Phoenix called Bacchanal, and in a hookah bar in Tempe called Oasis."
Jett's eyes bulge. "A hooker bar!?"
"That's hoo-kah, not hooker, ya dope." I grimace. "A hookah is a water pipe."
Before Jett sticks her Pradas in her pie-hole again, we wish the girls luck with their respective careers, and move on to a table of three fellas and one gal sitting nearby. They introduce themselves as Joseph Dominguez, Danielle Stark, Tod Kaplan and Alfredo Martinez. Stark, 21, is a pretty blonde from New Orleans, at ASU studying communications. She's not dating any of these guys, as one might suspect. Instead, they seem to be cock-blocking for her.
"So how did you meet?" I ask.
"Actually, I met them on my first night in Arizona. I was so drunk that I pulled over into a parking lot and said, 'I can't drive.' These two [Dominguez and Martinez] were there. So they drove me to the club I was trying to find."
"That's trusting," I say. "I mean, they could have been, like, serial killers."
"Yeah, I know," she replies.
"Er, and you weren't inebriated enough, so you had to go to another club?"
"Egg-zactly," she says, taking a swig from her Corona. "Now, they're kind of like my entourage."
I look around, but Jett's disappeared on me. Probably scoring coochie on the dance floor. (Sigh.) But I shouldn't be playa hatin'. I continue the confab with Danielle's pals: "So, Joseph, gotten any phone numbers yet, playboy?"
"Not yet," says Dominguez, a tall Latino dude who's 31. "But I'm getting ready to go out there."
"What's your approach, if I may ask?"
His friends answer for him in unison: "The accent!"
"I use this British accent," he explains. "I just bump into them and say, 'Oh, pardon me.' Then they ask, 'Where are you from?' Chicks love the accent. Plus I'm Hispanic, right? And I'm in Arizona, which is pretty white. The accent's a big help. How do you think I won Danielle's trust?"
"Awwww," she cries. "That's not right."
"Wanna hear a funny story?" he asks.
"Does the pope shit in the woods?"
"Okay, so I'm living near Lake Havasu at the time, and we used to go up to Laughlin a lot to party. This one time, I'm in one of the casinos, drunk off my ass, and I meet these three girls and hit them with the accent. They're all, 'Oh my God, he's sooo cute -- and British!' I end up staying with two of them all night, with my accent going the whole time. But I'm so drunk, I don't remember anything. The next morning, I wake up and I'm so hung over, I fall out of character and go, 'Ah, where am I?' I see these two women getting dressed, and they look at me and say, 'What happened to your British accent?' I'm like, 'What accent?' They left me in the room all by myself, and I had to call my friend to come pick me up. Never saw 'em again."
"So how long have you been a professional con artist?" I ask.
Joseph chuckles. "Actually, I'm an aspiring actor. I've got a head shot and everything."
"What? Another actor? What is this, Universal Studios?"
"No, really, I was briefly in Ocean's 11 with George Clooney. I was in the scene where they take the Asian guy to the vault -- right in the back, playing poker. I got paid like $1,400 for three days, which is not bad."
I could chat with this dude all night, but just then Jett taps me and says she has a couple of live ones I should talk to. So we leave the Joseph-Danielle posse, and head over to one of the couches where Mandy and her homie Bernice are kicking it. Bernice is drunk off her ass and talkin' smack about the 'Zona.
"It's really good in heyer," says Bernice in heavy Brooklynese. "Nwot bad fwor a Areezonean club."
"I take it you're not from Arizona," I remark.
"I'm from New Yawk, originally," responds Bernice, who's not bad-lookin' for her age (40 must be pushing her). Nice bod, long brown hair. The accent could be forgiven, but it's hard ignoring the 'tude.
"I'd never have guessed," I lie. "But, come to think of it, didn't you used to act in The Nanny?"
"Naaaaa! But I live heyer now, in Gilbert. And I fowkin' hate it! It's like The Stepford Wives. They're all zombies. But that's okay. I'm getting a divorce and movin' to Floor-ee-dah."
"Well," I say, "you must know the one that goes, 'What's a Brooklyn princess' favorite wine?' The punch line is [I do my best Fran Drescher], 'I wanna go to Miami!!!'"
She looks puzzled, but then the J-girl chimes in, "Well, invite me to the divorce party, girl." She looks at Mandy: "How 'bout you, Lady Day, what's your story?"
"I'm visiting from Cali," says Mandy, who has short dark hair, and, natch, is a bunch mellower than her bud. "I'm a server in a really great restaurant in Napa."
"Napa!?" exclaims Jett. "I'm so jealous. I love wine."
"Yeah, you get to drink a lot of great wine in Napa," she says, smiling. "I'm pretty desensitized to good wine by now."
"But you're not drinking vino tonight," I observe.
"No, this is Makers Mark."
"Makers Mark!?" I spurt. "Finally, a lady of distinction and class. I think I'm in love!"
Mandy laughs. "The bartender was impressed, too. He poured me a really tall drink. I guess not a lot of women order it, but I really like bourbon."
Jett pulls me aside and whispers, "Lay off, ice cream ass. She's mine. I've always wanted to visit Napa."
"Maybe you should take it up with Mr. D," I say.
"Yeah." I grab my crotch, Brooklyn style. "Deez nuuuts!"
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