Punk Rock Paradise
After blowing most of our dolo at that swank strip club Skin last week, Jett and I needed a low-rent joint at which to chillax (that's chill and relax, yo). Fortunately, my pally Gatsby, ribald renaissance man and massage therapist to club hotties, had a semi-genius idea for us.
"Monday night is PBR night at the Rogue," explained the G-man, known far and wide in PHX for his ability to spit game. "Everybody goes there, Kreme. Mainly because the PBR is 50 cents a can."
Fifty cents a can?! Sure, PBR ain't exactly Hypnotiq, but for half a buck, I'd knock back Macy Gray's sweat in a shot glass if it were fermented. That is, assuming I was as light in the wallet as I've been since Jett went through all my $20s last week getting lap dances.
So with the lezzie Halle Berry ridin' shotgun, we cruise down to 423 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, where the Rogue shares a parking lot with Friendly Market Discount Liquor. On Monday night, that lot is jammed, as are all the side streets, with motorcycles and hoopties.
Inside, the Rogue is one big, cavernous hall, decorated with neon PBR signs, black-and-white posters of Robert De Niro from Taxi Driver and a young Johnny Cash, and a punk rock mural featuring Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and Sid Vicious. To the right are three pool tables and a big-screen TV playing exploitation videos. To the left is the bar, which tonight is at least three-deep with tatted, Von Dutch-wearin', white-trash-chic chicks, and dudes in tees and jeans with big belt buckles. We ease up to the corner of the bar, where a small cluster is watching a pair of cuties stick their tongues down each other's throats.
I nudge the lesbo Jay-Z, but she's got peepers only for the Rogue's lone bar siren, the lovely Rik Dimmick, 33, who's been slingin' suds at this spot for the last couple of years. She has long, black hair, alabaster skin, and a curvaceous frame, and nearly everyone rocking a PBR at the bar is making pie-eyes at her. But Rik seems fine with the attention. After all, she's used to a pretty rowdy crowd.
"It's tough being a bartender at a dive bar, period," she tells me, as Jett drools. "I've had cigarettes thrown at my back, and cans. I've had to fly over the bar a few times and break up fights. But I don't have to do that anymore because now we have security."
"Cool," says Jett, duly impressed. "So, uh, why PBR?"
"Actually, it was my ex-husband's idea," she responds. "He used to work here, too. He's from Long Beach, and it's a big Long Beach thing to drink PBR. But the kids love it because it's cheap. Normally, it's only $1 a can. But from 7 p.m. to midnight on Monday, it's 50 cents, and the PBR rep comes in and gives away tee shirts and stuff. It's the busiest night of the week for us."
"Give us an example of how crazy Monday nights are," I ask.
"Well, let's say it's the best place to see a girl take off her top or make out with another girl," she says, laughing. "I like to say, 'The Rogue -- the best place to meet a girl, for the evening.' It gets so wild that we've even had guys get naked and dance on the bar."
I try to block that last, unwelcome image of male sexuality as we wade into the crowd, PBRs in hand. The jukebox is blasting that X song "Los Angeles," and the first gal we bump into is punk nymphet Andrea Okamura, 23, whose coal-black hair is pulled back behind her ears and whose arms are crossed over a black wife-beater with a skull-and-crossbones on it.
Reminds me a little of Christina Ricci, 'cept that her flesh is a butter-pecan brown instead of baby-powder white (at least in this light). She tells us she's a roller-derby girl, with the team Smash Squad.
"I've been doing it for about three months now," she explains. "My skate name is 'Krystie I'mahoochie.' I'm number 1-900. You know, like phone sex."
"That's funny," says Jett. "You guys get injuries doing that?"
"I've bruised my thumb. That's about it for me. But one of our girls did break her leg the other day in five spots. We have an injuries page up at www.azrollerderby.com, if you wanna check it out."
"Damn!" I say. "And I thought all that roller-derby crap was fake."
"But obviously I was misinformed," I grin, nervously.
Jett hustles me outside before I get beat down, and there we hook up with a fetching platinum blonde, with fair skin, sporting black horn-rims. She tells us her name is Devn Morris, 21, from Tempe, an aspiring singer-songwriter.
"I spell it D-E-V-N, just cut out the last vowel," she explains.
"Yeah, vowels are a pain in the butt," I reply. "I love the hair."
"Thanks. I've been a platinum blonde for a long time. My hair's really soft. Wanna feel?"
Devn allows me to molest her follicles, for which I'm eternally grateful. As she shares her life story, she bends one leg, then the other behind her back -- catching her foot with one hand, and balancing herself on one leg, back and forth. Flexible lass.
"I'm moving out to L.A. in July. I plan to live right in the heart of Hollywood. A little ghetto, I know. But I'm gonna do what I can while I'm there."
Suddenly she breaks into song, snapping her fingers. "'Everybody comes to Holly-wood/They wanna make it in the neigh-bor-hood.'"
"You go, girl," I tell her, doing my best Ryan Seacrest. "Are you in a band?"
"Yep, it's called Up Against Transit," she says. "I used to be in a different band called Between the Lines, but they were all 'straight edge' and I couldn't handle it."
"Straight edge," repeats the Jettster. "You mean, like vegans who don't drink or smoke or anything?"
"Right," says Devn. "And you can imagine how hard that would be for me, hanging out at the Rogue on PBR night, sucking back brews."
"Why do you wanna move to La-La Land?" asks Jett.
"I think I've conquered Arizona," she responds. "I've done all I can out here. I've played with all the people I want to play with. Hollywood's a dirty place, but a lot of fun. And it really inspires me -- the energy, and all the culture in the clubs. But before I move out, we're gonna play a night at Hot Pink, I think. Sometime 'round late May."
Reckon I'll have to check that out before Devn heads to L.A. and blows up. I wish her luck, and she and Jett both run back into the club. I'm left out on the stoop with various other meandering souls. One of them's Arrow, 27, a fella sporting stringy black hair and a black tee. I didn't plan it this way, but come to find out, he's Devn's partner in Up Against Transit. He tells me he plays synth in the group.
"Dude, where did you get that name?"
"My hippie parents gave it to me," he says, pushing the hair out of his eyes. "It's kinda embarrassing. It's from this really old, animated film The Point, which Ringo Starr narrates."
"Nutty. So how long you been coming to the Rogue?"
"For a while. I came here once when it used to be called Sneaky Pete's, a couple of years back. That was after I moved out here from Yuma."
"Yuma. Wow! One place that's actually hotter than P-town. Phoenix must be like Paris to you, bub."
"Yeah," he says. "There's nothing in Yuma. Now I live right across the street."
"When you don't have to drive to your drinking spot, you're in good stead," I comment. "So what do you do to maintain, when you're not playing keyboards?"
"I work," he says, nonspecifically. "Nothing special. Just four hours a day. Enough to live."
"Ever gotten lucky at this place?" I wonder.
"The Rogue? Yeah, a few times. But if you wanna get laid, just go to some jock hangout. Like Dos Gringos, or some place like that. Those bitches are really easy."
I thank Arrow for the advice on where to score, and go back into the club to see if I can find Jett, when I run smack into the side of a mountain named Simon Rohrich, who happens to be pounding brews with the near-ubiquitous Gatsby. We conversate, while I scan the crowd for Jett. Simon's been showing Gatsby the play-by-play of the night on his digital camera.
"I always carry one of these around," says Simon of his high-tech Instamatic. "Otherwise, people wouldn't believe me."
"'Bout what?" I query.
"Like, the other night, there were three girls beating the crap out of each other, and here they are. I also have a Web site, www.imageevent.com/larjman. It's a photo dump site with about 1,500 pictures in different albums, all about my lifestyle."
Seems Simon, whose head is shaven and looks like he could go toe-to-toe with Goldberg in the wrestling ring, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and some of his site is devoted to the bouts he gets into, where he and his comrades wear full body armor and beat the bejesus out of each other.
"It's not choreographed," he explains. "It's a real fight. We get together every Wednesday night at Encanto Park and go at it. Come check it out sometime."
"Hey, I wanna see that," says Jett, coming up from behind, a beer in each hand and as tight as Horatio Sanz's BVDs. "I wanna see someone get hurt."
"Check your bathroom mirror tomorrow morning," I tell her. "I have a feeling you're gonna see one lightweight in a world of pain."
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