There's a whiff of brimstone in the air, or is it that I forgot to bathe? Sniff. No, it's definitely brimstone. The fires of hell lap around me, and there are a number of hot devil chicklettes naughtily flashing their pointed tails as I await the arrival of the Jettster, a Jäger bomber and Bud Light for company.
Maybe this is how it will all end, after I overdose on Oreos and Red Bull, and head for that hella-hot Hades in the center of the Earth, waiting for the J-unit to buy the farm so she can join me in an eternity of molten lava and licking flames. But we ain't dead yet. Instead, I'm chillin' at one of the many bars in Scottsdale's Sugar Daddy's compound for the first-ever Saints 'n' Sinners Ball, where folks are supposed to come out in white duds if they're a goody two shoes and crimson if they're selling their souls to Old Scratch. So far, as in life, the sinners way outnumber the saints, and I'm adding to the former, because you know I got my red shirt on.
The theme's perfect for the three-year-old club, which has a pre-Katrina New Orleans-Catholic feel to it, with flames painted on the walls, thick candles on mantels of antique-looking fireplaces, a Sistine Chapel-like painting on the ceiling of one room, and creepy touches, like an old-fashioned fortune-telling machine with a mechanical turbaned dude behind glass, whose plastic eyes move as you do. The lounge bar where my keister's parked opens out onto an immense patio strung with red and white Christmas lights. I'm checking out all the party peoples when I feel a tiny fist smash into my kidneys, followed by a high-pitched cackle.
"What's up, lard cheeks?" asks Jett, pulling up a stool as I rub my sore spot. "I ever tell you that you're the only person I know who can break a sweat sitting still?"
"Hardy-har-har," I say, mopping my brow with a paper napkin and taking note of her black dress and white halo. "I thought you were going to come suited and booted for the occasion."
"Whaddayamean?" she replies. "I swiped this halo from some other chick fair and square."
"Yeah, but you're supposed to be a devil-girl, like our mascot," I tell her. "And you definitely ain't no angel, unless it's a fallen one. The freakin' Minnesota Vikings don't see the kinda action you do on a regular basis."
"Whatever, Kreme." She tosses her pretty head. "Buy me a drink and let's get to work."
I'm so shocked to hear the word "work" cross the Jettster's lips that I order her a Jäger bomber-Bud Light combo pronto. We shoot back the bombers and head for the patio, where we run into these two extremely buff cats, Dennis and Danny, both of whom have just moved out here from Cali. Dennis is shirtless with red wings on his back and a red halo on his head, and Danny's got a retro-swinger thing going on -- in dark glasses and a red jacket, also baring his pecs for all to see.
"Since you're obviously not right with the Lord, Danny, have you got any sins you'd like to confess?" I ask.
"The last sin I can confess took place in Santa Cruz on the boardwalk where I had sex in the public bathroom," answers Dirty Dan. "I had just got done surfing over there, and it was in this nasty-ass bathroom with flies all over the place. I was all hot and sweaty, and so was she. If it had been a clean bathroom, it wouldn't have been as fun. It was more of a high because it was so gross and disgusting."
"Boy, you really are a sinner," Jett tells him. "So what do you do for a living?"
"I'm an aesthetician," he responds. "You know -- skin care, facials, peels, all that. I'm looking for a position in town right now, actually."
"Good luck with that, playboy," I say, patting him on the back, then turning to Dennis. "And what's your line, mon?"
"Well, I just got here four days ago," he explains with a smarmy grin. "But I am successfully charming to women of all ages, and I plan to start off making money in that genre."
"Ah, yes, romancing desperate housewives," I comment. "So how exactly can I get into that line of work?"
"Lose about 150 pounds of blubber and grow some male genitalia," cracks Jett. "I hate to break it to you, pardner -- you jiggle, but you ain't no gigolo."
We leave Danny and Dennis to their cocktails and stroll over to this trio of top-shelf dimes, Nicole, Jae, and Melinda. Nicole's in a red dress, high heels and devil horns. Jae's in a white top and micro-mini-skirt. And Melinda's in a red corset, carrying an Indiana Jones-style bullwhip. They're all models, of course. And Jezebel Jett's in seventh heaven.
"Are you really a saint?" Jett asks the white-clad Jae.
"Yes, I'm a good girl," she coos.
"She's really an undercover sinner," Melinda remarks. "I know because I'm the Devil and she sold her soul to me."
"I love the whip," Jett whispers, caressing its leather. "Ever use this on anyone?"
"All the time," says Melinda, cocking an eyebrow. "In fact, some people beg for it on their knees. They actually like it when it leaves marks."
"Oh, do me, please!" begs Jett, turning her backside to the sultry succubus. "I want to see what it feels like."
Melinda obliges, not by unfurling the entire piece of cowhide, but with a few sharp smacks on Jett's posterior with the whip still curled up. My only regret is not tipping Melinda a $20 to lay it on thick and draw some blood out of that bee-ahtch.
"Ow, that hurts," whines Jett as she caresses her sore fanny. "I think I need another Jäger bomber to recover."
"There's the bar, go get yourself one," I tell her.
"Oh, Kreme, please!" she blubbers, shedding a crocodile tear.
I buy another round to shut her up, and we head over to one of the high common tables with our glasses to set 'em down, and then knock 'em back. We begin to conversate with these two fellas, Mike and the Dark Knight. Neither is really decked out for the ball -- just tees and regular britches. Why the Dark Knight calls himself the Dark Knight, I have no idea. But, hey, we'll roll with it.
"Is it hard being the Dark Knight?" I inquire of the tall, scruffy, balding cat.
"It's hard being hard, baby," he growls, sucking on a brew-ha-ha.
"They make pills for that now, you know," the J-unit advises him.
"What?" he says.
"Oh, nothing," she says, smiling sweetly.
"Uh, are you guys saints or sinners?" I interject, trying to save the confab.
"Sinners," the Dark Knight burps, then yells, "Cast the first stone, motherfucka!"
"I dig your enthusiasm," I say, then, apropos of nothing, "So, Darth Bald, seen any ladies tonight who're gonna have your baby?"
He holds up three fingers, then says, "And I think I see one now." Before we know it, God's Gift to Womandom has bounded over to the next table, and is spittin' game to this hot African-American lass. I continue talking with Mike, as the Jettster takes one of her many powder-room breaks of the evening.
"So what's the story with you and the Dark Knight, Mike?" I ask.
"The Dark Knight's an academic counselor at a small, local university," he relates. "I'm self-employed. I put up Christmas lights around the Valley. Me and the Dark Knight, we're both from Utah. Both grew up Mormon."
"Now that explains everything," I declare. "You're not sinners, you're Latter-day Saints! So tell me, does all that pent-up repression make you act like a nut?"
"Yes, it does," Mike states. "Grow up that way, and you end up getting a little smart about life after a while, if you know what I mean."
"I hear ya," I respond, watching the Dark Knight's futile attempts to woo the fair lady. "Looks like your pal's really goin' for it."
"He has a little help from Jim Beam," mutters Mike. "He's the guy who declares war, turns on the Millennium Falcon, revs it up to light speed. And I'm the guy who slows it down, and makes sure he gets home all right. We're a team."
Jett's AWOL again, so I go in search of her, going back into the club, through the dance floor where DJ Devine is droppin' some dope hip-hop: The Game, 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas, Too Short. I buzz past the ladies' room, then go back outside where I find Jett on the far end of the patio, chatting with this tattooed gal Gina. I bite back my urge to slap the J-girl upside the head for disappearing on me, introduce myself, and begin to interview Gina, who has a big heart tattoo, among others, over the center of her chest.
"How do you fit into the whole sinner/saint thing, Gina?" I query.
"Let's just say I'm nice to girls and mean to boys," she says, smiling.
"Why no outfit tonight?" I wonder.
"I didn't know this was going on. I bartend at the Rogue. I wasn't working tonight, but I'm down there almost every night. A bartender from here got off work and came down there and said that there was a crowd, so I thought I'd check it out," she says.
"Love the tats," I tell her. "Does that help with tips, having tats like that?"
"Not really. Actually, guys are intimidated by it sometimes," she confides.
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"So what if you like a guy? How do you let him know?"
"Either I just tell him," she shrugs. "Or I might get him drunk and take him home."
"Sweet!" I cry. "Hear that, Jett? Girls actually buy guys drinks sometimes."
"Only if we want to bone 'em, doofus," she snarks. "Plus, the only bone you'll ever be gettin' comes in a bucket of Kentucky fried."