Palace of Perversion
Hey, Phoenix, where the freaks at, baby?
Your 300-pound mack of wack and his lezzie Lara Croft been hankerin' for some underground weirdness of the first water. We craved the bizarre, the bugged-out, the deviant -- and the plain ol' nasty.
Luckily, a light bulb illuminated above Jett's spiked 'do: Hit the Goth/Industrial drama palace Area 51 at Anderson's Fifth Estate in Scottsdale (www.area51club.net).
Named for the super-secret military base in Nevada about 90 miles north of Sin City, Area 51's half of Anderson's, the other 50 percent being the Piranha Club, which is supposed to be, according to the chick at the door, "'80s alternative, New Wave, old-school punk, traditional ska and rockabilly."
Damn, why not throw in some Tejano!
Five Washingtons apiece get the Kreme Team in the door. Piranha's to our left, and looks less happenin' than a Clay Aiken concert. There's one bald dude on the dance floor in (I'm not kidding) a white, John Travolta-esque suit, and the big-ass bar's got nobody sitting at it. There's a lot more goin' on next door at 51, where DJ AKA is spinning a metallic grind with licks from Lords of the New Church, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus, and Nine Inch Nails. The one-floor hall is so dark everything's the color of black velvet. Here and there, glowing green-plastic space alien heads hang. It's a nod to the name, since the real Area 51 is where conspiracy buffs believe the government keeps alien corpses hidden.
Toward the back is a stage, with the DJ and caged-in go-go daises to either side. The dance floor is crowded with goth types writhing to the harsh, scraping sounds blasting from the speakers. On the other end of the club, a large-screen TV is playing one of them Hellraiser movies. Our eyes adjust, and we make out a small bar where we grab a couple of the drink specials (Long Island Iced Teas for $2.50 a pop) and head out to the tiny patio.
"I've got to lose some water, dawg," says Jett, setting down her drink. "Watch this for me, sumo-man."
While Jett's enjoying the pause that refreshes, I converse with Toby Heidebrink, who claims to be 29 (not many admit to being older in clubland). He's got shaggy black hair, a black shirt and enough black jelly bracelets to plug Star Jones' piehole. Says he's an only child and a military brat.
"My parents sort of ruined me," he confesses. "They're secret drug addicts."
"What kind of drugs?" I wonder.
"My dad's a pothead. My mom's a pill-popper. They got arrested in Disneyland when I was 10 for doing speed in the parking lot. I got dragged behind the scenes by the cops, because my parents left me on a ride so they could go out to their car and do drugs."
I rub my chin and say, "I wonder if that's why Mickey Mouse is always smiling. Guess it really is the happiest place on Earth."
"The Magic Kingdom," he adds.
"You ever score dope from your 'rents?" Look at me, the two-ton Dr. Phil, but with hair.
"Actually, I have!" he exclaims. "One time, my tooth was rotting out and it was really hurting. And so I asked my Mom, 'Do you have a painkiller or something?' So she gives me two Somas, Percocet, two Vicodin, and three morphine pills. And I was just hoping for a Tylenol! I asked her where she got them. She says, 'Remember when your grandma was sick? I took the pills that were left over when she died.'"
"Nutty. So tell me why you're here tonight."
"I'm handing out these fliers for my new club," he says, handing me one. "It's called Sadisco, like 'Sadistic Disco.' It'll be once a month at that club Jugheads, 5110 East McDowell."
"Sadistic Disco? What do you play, the Village People? Heh-heh. That would be pretty sadistic."
"No, it'll just be mostly danceable stuff, nothing non-danceable. Power noise, mostly. I'm going to be the first DJ there, Dr. DJ will be my name. But I'm thinking of changing it to DJ Squalor."
Suddenly, Jett flies through the swinging door, nearly knocking us down in the process.
"Whoa, you look like you just saw a space alien!" I say.
"Creepy stuff. I just got hit on by this dude in the bathroom. Looked like a big bull dyke, but actually he was a slave whose master was out of town. You know, a lifestyle submissive. Had the leather collar on his neck with the rings that they wear. Anyway, she/he/it followed me into the bathroom. Kept telling me I was the dom of his dreams, and that he'd love to have me stick a dildo where the sun don't shine."
"So where is, um, he? Why didn't you bring him out so we could talk to his ambi-sexual ass?"
Gives me that eat-shit-and-die stare. "Under the circumstances, Kreme, I didn't think of that. But anything for the cause."
She takes off like a crackhead after a loose quarter. Meanwhile, I bump into Ramon, who's wearing dark eyeliner, white makeup, a sheer black top and vinyl pants. Looks like he just stepped out of a party scene in that Aaliyah flick Queen of the Damned. Unfortunately, he doesn't speak much English.
"I am vampires," he tells me, lisping. "I wanna jew your neck."
"Jew my neck? Don't get anti-Semitic," I say. "A Mexican vampire, huh? Are you a Chupacabra?"
"No, they like goat. I like boy," he grins, showing me a pair of apparently hand-sharpened cuspids.
Where's Sarah Michelle Gellar when you need her? "Do you really drink blood?" I ask.
"I drink de blood, sweat. I drink all de fluid," he says, giving me a coy look.
"A gay, Hispanic cannibal. Someone should consult the penile code on that one," I smirk.
"You are de bad man!" he spits. Stomping off, he shrieks, "You are de crime!"
Jett's back, swigging another Long Island like it was water.
"Where's your slave, dude?" I inquire, sweetly.
My lipsticker pal waves her hand. "He-she doesn't want to be interviewed. Says 'massa' wouldn't like it."
"You could always tell her/him I'm the S&M Nat Turner."
"Huh?" she says. Then, "Look at that! Let's talk to the cat in the suit. For this club, he's the freakazoid."
We sidle up to Marius Lupascu and his gal-pal Anna. Lupascu's a handsome fella, with angular, European good looks. Says he's a computer network engineer. Anna's dressed more to code, in black Doc Martens, fishnet stockings, short skirt and dark mascara. She's of Mexican descent, but raised in the AZ.
Turns out Marius hails from Romania. The Tolstoy Foundation, which helps those fleeing Communist regimes, moved him and his mom to Phoenix a decade and a half ago.
"So, dude, were you guys partying when that Romanian dick-tator Nicolae Ceausescu got axed back in '89?"
"Yes, it was a time of celebration," he says. "You know, Ceausescu's wife, as they were in front of the execution squad, pointed to each individual soldier and told him, 'I know your mother!' She still thought she could intimidate them."
"By the way, wasn't Count Drac-u-la -- alias Vlad the Impaler -- a fellow Romanian?" I ask, doing my best Bela Lugosi voice. "In this place, you get serious goth points for that! Despite all the blood-sucking, the count was some sort of national hero, right?"
"Yeah, he did a good job against the Turks. But it's a long story, really," he says slyly, sipping something that makes his ruby red lips glisten. Did the room just go cold? I'm starting to wonder if this guy casts a reflection.
"Are you always here in your suit?" I query.
"Normally, I have a specific style that would fit within the classification of a goth. Basically, it's a crapload of black," he says, laughing. "I've dyed my hair before -- pitch black, black and blue, red. You know, everyone here at one point or another probably thought they were a vampire."
"Interesting choice of words, Count Marius." I turn to the girl, looking for teeth marks on her neck. "And Anna," I ask, "how do you maintain yourself in the style to which you're accustomed?"
"I tried whoring myself, but that didn't work," she jokes.
"Maybe you just need the right manager," I say, looking at Jett. "Allow me to introduce the Heidi Fleiss of P-town."
"Kreme!" Jett barks, smacking my arm. "You've gotta quit saying I'm a pimp, just because I've got a lot of bitches in my stable. It's bad for my rep with the Lesbian Nation."
Suddenly, I'm drawn to an attractive woman with a Louise Brooks bob, wearing a black bustier thingee that emphasizes her natural assets. Her name is Poppy; beside her is her friend Jax, a dollar ballerina (read: stripper) with hennaed hair and a leopard-skin tattoo on her neck and arms, which she claims covers her entire body. A large entourage surrounds them, including this guy who's a dead ringer for Simon on American Idol who keeps massaging the girls' shoulders.
"Don't mind me," says Simon, kneading away at Poppy. "I'm just the behind-the-scene bodyguard for all these beautiful babes."
"It's a Renaissance corset," she tells me, adjusting herself. "See, I love cleavage. I'm a big fan of T&A."
"I'll bet your outfit is a hit with men," I say.
"Women, too," she chuckles. "Though I prefer boys. Wild boys!"
"And what about you, Jax?" I query. "Since you're an exotic dancer, I'm guessing you hate men."
"I have to admit that nine times out of 10, I find guys disgusting. Especially when you're trying to give a guy a lap dance and he's got a big boner."
"The beasts!" I chime in. "So why don't you get out of the biz?"
"Well, I need the cash to put myself through motorcycle school," she says. "I want to build custom-made bikes."
A waitress calls time, and Jett and I stumble past the glowing alien heads, and a hefty chick in a long, dark goth gown dancing with herself (she likes her quarter-pounders rare, I'd say). Nearby, some pale skinny gal's explaining to her hook-up that she's really into the mysteries of the tarot.
I turn to Jett. "The truth is out there, Scully. Now let's just hope it doesn't ask us to take a Breathalyzer test."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.